I know that motorcycle road racing isn’t our main thing here at Open Paddock, but this weekend I’m at Heartland Park Topeka watching the AMA Tornado Nationals. If you’ve not been hooked on motorcycle road racing yet, then watch this video of the Rossi/Stoner battle at Laguna Seca last year. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfPM77TsGaA Like what you see? Ok, now go and listen to two of the most entertaining gentlemen in the podcasting business, Bob and Jules, at MotoGPod. Great stuff! Ok, back to Topeka. Its not MotoGP, or even World Superbikes, but the AMA collection of road racing series did come to my region of the country, Heartland Park Topeka, in Topeka, KS, and its still a ton of fun. Heartland Park is a fantastic facility primarily for its relaxed atmosphere and great sight lines. I’ll be referring to different turns, and I’m sure most of you are not familiar with HPT, so here’s a track map.
Today, we meandered all around the circuit, and although T8 offered a pretty neat place to catch some action, nothing could beat sitting on the hill inside of T12. From there, you can see the bikes coming off the long back stretch and into T10, through T11 with the sun gleaming off the fairings, into the T12 hairpin, and then downhill under the bridge into T13. The fence is low, easily seen over, and the bikes are slow around T12, so it gives the spectator a fantastic view of the machines and riders. I’ve been to no other track that’s offered a better opportunity to see the racers so close while at speed on the track.
The action today was primarily practice, but there was some qualifying including the Superpole for the Daytona Supersports and American Superbikes. There were a couple of off-road misadventures, but nothing serious (from a personal injury standpoint anyway). There was no true racing action since it was mainly practice sessions. We did get to see some close riding from time to time, but nothing done in anger. That will have to wait until tomorrow. I must admit that since I don’t closely follow the AMA family of series, the outward differences in the bikes were difficult for me to pick out. Regardless, it was a lot of fun watching them circulate around the course. My homework for tonight is to read through the program I bought today and start learning some of the riders names and backgrounds. Hopefully for tomorrow’s Moto-GT endurance race and Daytona Supersprt and American Superbike action, I’ll be able to distinguish between the two classes, and spot the favored riders.