Since 2008, when the Indianapolis Motor Speedway became a stop on the MotoGP calendar, the Circle City has become a motorcycle mecca in summer. If you’re teetering on whether you want to ride into the heart of the festivities during the Red Bull Indianapolis GP, here’s a list o’ 10 reasons we’re drawn to them like moths to a flame.
1. Riding Into, or Just Hanging Out at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway:
We’ve done it so many times and it never gets old. Dip down into the tunnels and emerge into the grounds of the historic speedway for some goosebumps. It’s like a unique world a kid dreams about; like stepping through the wardrobe into Narnia. The towering pagoda, the massive chunks of steel holding up the grandstand, the fact that every prolific racer has dreamed of winning there…you get the picture. If you ride in, you can park your bike on the back stretch of the oval or pony up for a lap around the track (if you miss the lap this year, there’s always next year!).
2. Motorcycles on Meridian in Downtown Indianapolis
On Friday and Saturday evening, and well into the night, tens of thousands of motorcycles will converge on Monument Circle in the heart of downtown Indy. For several blocks south of the monument, it’s a massive bike show and street party. You’ll see lots of Harleys, cruisers and sportbikes, but there’s still a good mix of interesting stuff down there! Great for people-watching. Here’s what it looked like last year from our lens (click here for a photo feature).
3. Flat Track Racing at The Indy Mile
It’s legendary. The big dirt oval at the Indiana State Fairgrounds will feature some of the best racing in the city during MotoGP weekend (Friday Aug. 8th). Well over a hundred miles per hour on the straightaways, the racers will throw the bike sideways into the turns. To us, it’s a display of pure Americana; these guys battle each other, but trust each other with their lives while banging bars on a track built for horses! See it at least once if you’ve never been. Learn more here.
4. The Pagoda Show
There’ll be close to 200 cool bikes (mostly vintage) to peruse right next to the iconic pagoda. If it’s too late to register your bike in the show, it should still be a nice grouping of bikes to go see during race weekend. Last year’s turnout was great and the venue makes for a great photo opp along the yard of bricks that extend from the pagoda.
5. Top Tier Racing
Three different classes of the best motorcycle racers in the world will be here. In order of fast to faster: Moto3, Moto2 and MotoGP racers will fill three days with practicing, qualifying and racing. Check the event schedule to see what’s happening since there are many race-related things going on between track sessions.
6. XR1200 Harley-Davidson Racing
In addition to the three classes of MotoGP, the speedway will be rumbling with the sound of big twins. The AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series has provided some killer racing in the past; these guys flog the heck out of their race-prepped Harleys. You’ll see some bumping and drafting especially in the first few laps.
7. Red Bull Knows How to Throw a Party
Whether you push your way up to the source of the thumpin’ music or watch from a distance, the Red Bull vibe makes for some interesting energy. Their marketing and event people are organized and creative. While we aren’t the type to throw a hand in the air and sway to some phat beats, we can appreciate their efforts to create a fun atmosphere.
This is a blanket reason that spans the many events, but it’s worth its own mention. If you’re able to explore the city and drop in on the different events, you’re gonna see an interesting mix of people. There is a massive amount of motorcycles parked outside the Indy Mile grandstand; it’s like a bike show in itself, full of the American V-Twin crowd with a sprinkling of choppers, bobbers and the folks that ride ’em. If you sift through the Motorcycles on Meridian crowd, you’ll see some crazy/cool rides along with the characters showing ’em off. At the GP itself, it brings out race fans from all over the USA and beyond; you’ll definitely hear some foreign languages and see fashion that differs from the Brickyard crowd.
9. The Moto Midway, IMS Kids Zone and Vendor Marketplace
Inside the speedway you’ll find food booths, vendor tents, concerts and more. Expect to see tons of brands available to buy at the Westfield Powersports Vendor Marketplace near the Gasoline Alley garages. Don’t wanna carry around your purchases? They’ll have a free gear check or an option to FedEx your goods back home!
Bringing kids to the speedway? They’ll have a chance to have some kid-specific fun in the IMS Kids Zone, it’s free and the Radio Disney road crew will be there. Each time we’ve passed by this area, it’s been a popular attraction, but not overcrowded.
10. It’s History in the Making
We don’t need to get all sappy or wax poetic about what this event means to us and the City of Indianapolis, but it IS special. We don’t know how long it’ll stay rooted in Indy, we hope for years to come. But each year this weekend rolls around, we’re thankful it has infused the entire city with a motorcycle buzz. If you haven’t dipped your toe in the waters during MotoGP in Indy, it might be worth trying at least one weekend so you can tell your grandchildren about it 30 years from now. We’re taking in as much as we can, like little kids hoping the candy doesn’t stop falling out of the pinata.
How excited were we when MotoGP came to town? Like teenie-boppers making fan-tees for an NKOTB concert, we designed and hand-printed our own shirts (above) to commemorate the first year. 🙂
We’re Biased, but Indianapolis Ain’t a Bad Place to Visit
It’s clean. The action is fairly compact. Good restaurants. Nice people. Hey, it’s all relative if you wanna compare metropolises, but to get all tourism-y on you, there are some great places to visit, like the world class Children’s Museum, Art Museum, State Museum, Museum of American Indians & Western Art and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum is right at the epicenter of the action. There’s lots to do.
For more event info, visit the Red Bull Indianapolis GP website here.