US MotoGP Shakeup: Back-To-Back Rounds Could See All Classes At Laguna And Indy

Ever since its return to America, MotoGP in the USA has been something of an anomaly. When the series first headed back across the Atlantic in 2005, it was only the MotoGP class that made the trip to Laguna Seca, with cost and limited paddock space cited as reasons for leaving the (then) 250 and 125 classes back in Europe. When the Red Bull US GP in Laguna was joined by the Red Bull Indianapolis GP at the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway facility in 2008, the two support classes joined the MotoGP riders in the US, but only at Indy. Furthermore, the two US rounds have also always been separated by at least one European race, forcing the teams to fly their bikes and equipment out to the US twice.

It looks like a more sensible approach may be developing, however. According to reports in both the eminent publication GPWeek and in Motorcycle News, the 2011 calendar could be altered to accommodate all three classes at both US rounds. Motorcycle racing's eminence grise Michael Scott reports that Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta spoke to Spanish reporters at Laguna Seca about bringing Moto2 and 125 to the Californian circuit. To make this possible - a move that West Coast racing fans would warmly welcome - the two US rounds would have to be rescheduled, and both races run one after another. Having the two US rounds together would allow the MotoGP teams to cut transport costs significantly, while offering Moto2 and 125 teams an extra race at comparatively little extra cost.

The question remains whether Laguna Seca and Indy would be raced on consecutive weekends or with a free weekend between the two. From the standpoint of costs, consecutive weekends would be preferable, as the teams could travel directly from one race to the next. The only question mark would be over transporting the bikes and equipment from Northern California to the Midwest, with just two days to make the trip of 2,300 miles - or nearly 3,700 kilometers - from the west coast to Indy by road, a cheaper option than using air freight to ship the equipment from west to east.

A bigger question mark hangs over the plan, however. 2010 is the final year of the three-year contract which Dorna has with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and as yet, no news has emerged concerning Indy's intentions to continue the agreement. Although officials involved in the event have been extremely complimentary about the event, there is still no sign of a deal being finalized to extend the Indy GP. If the event at Indianapolis - or Laguna Seca, which has come under pressure from wealthy locals complaining about the noise from the circuit - is dropped from the MotoGP schedule, then the plan to host both classes at Laguna could be called off.

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This plan makes a ton of sense. Makes you wonder why they hadn't done it all along. The Moto2 bikes would certainly be a welcome to Laguna and seeing as they just inked that course for another what 5 years I don't think a few locals complaining are gonna change anything. I'm sure there is a few out there who don't like it but they have racing there pretty much year round so there's always noise and where the track is located is pretty rural imo.

If it was to leave Indy I'd love to see the necessary improvements made to somewhere like Road America to bring MotoGP there. I've never been a huge fan of manufactured road courses like Indy.

I have been to most of the tracks here in America that motorcycles race at and I can say that although Indy is flat and there is a car "oval" that surrounds it, it is one of the nicest facilities in the US. Both riders and fans really like it.

I hope Indy stays on the schedule. I would certainly not be opposed to seeing Road America, Miller, Barber and / or VIR added to the schedule.

I would love to see MotoGP at MMP, but Road America, Barber and VIR would be in the same boat that Laguna Seca was in before 05, the FIM would come in and make them do millions of dollars of changes for it to pass their safety inspection, and with this economy I don't really see that happening anytime soon

I lived in Milwaukee for many years, and have been to many races - 2 wheel and 4 wheel - at Road America. Ask anyone and they will tell you that RA has the best track food in the USA. Ask anyone and most of them will tell you what a great road course it is. It is ~ 4 miles in length, so you need to watch your fuel more than at any other track. It has three straights, the longest being an uphill climb to turn 1. Turn 5 is at the end of the second straight, a downhill rush with fortunately a lot of runoff. Then toss in a decreasing radius carousel for fun. Then it is downhill with a little kink to the tight Canada Corner. He who brakes last makes it through first, but the one who comes off the apex with the most speed and then has the most torque will be the one who roars through Thunder Alley. Can't you hear those glorious big-bore V8 Cam-Am cars of yore!

But as you correctly point out, if the FIM or the FIA ever came, they would ruin the track. The lush forest, the closeness that spectator can get to the track and the openness of the paddock (almost unheard of these days) would be gone. You can be sure that no buck or doe would hop across the track if those changes were made!

There are road racing tracks that EVERYONE wants to see the top series race at, but it is just not going to happen. And the really sad thing is that the FIA / FIM required changes would not do much to improve safety - except for the drivers and riders from the fans who adore them. (Concrete garages are not right).

Yamaha USA just signed another big 4-year contract with Laguna Seca. Why would they bring the entire GP circus when Moto2 and 125/Moto3 does nothing for their brand? If Yamaha are looking to get maximum exposure for the money they pay, they'd want to continue racing the AMA events as support.

This is what i have been saying since 2008, have the two rounds back-to-back, but I don't think they should do them a week or two apart. It should be like the traditional summer break, have a 3 or 4 week break between the two rounds. let the teams go wherever they want during their break, but leave the bikes and equipment here in the US and allow it to be transported from California to Indiana in a 3 to 4 week period. Having the rounds back to back would not be economical for fans who like to go to both rounds, which I did on 08 and 09 (unfortunately I will not be able to go to Indy this year because of money), nor for the teams, because it would be EXPENSIVE to move them across the country in only a couple of days

If they can't rearrange the schedule to put Laguna in sequence with the fly-away races to Asia, then they will need to put at least a couple of weekends between events in the U.S.  And even that may not be enough.

Inasmuch as logistics and cost cutting are concerned,the same thinking should be applied to the Far Eastern/Australasian events,perhaps even including the Quatar round in that sector of the season.
I stand corrected,but I thought there was some sort of 2 stroke racing issue in California.However,it looks as though 125 will be a thing of the past sooner rather than later.
Generally,back to back US rounds makes a whole lot of sense.
Funny how wealthy folks the world over follow the bright lights,settle next door to them and then complain about them !!! Ah,what measure of boredom takes hold when you have everything on your doorstep ?

than people who move next to a race track that's been there for DECADES and complain about the noise. If the sound of engines and racing bothers you THAN DON'T MOVE NEAR A RACE TRACK!!!!!!!! There has been a number of tracks that have either had to cut events or were put out of business because some f'king idiot moves next to it and didn't like the noise and have the money to sue.

RIGHT ON POINT RDawg. What is wrong with these people? Well, I guess that's obvious ... more money than brains. It is these idiots who are encroaching on our love for motorsports not the other way around ... especially with a track like Laguna Seca that has this much history.

Separately, DORNA should get it's act together; properly promote the US Red Bull GP; and find a way to bring Moto2 (and the 125's) to Laguna Seca. The GP fans are currently ripped off by watching only the premiere class. At least there are lots of 'fuel stops' and porta-potties to take up some of the slack! But it is well past the time to have the fans of MotoGP see at least Moto2 (formerly, the 250cc's). A large group of us attend every year but will not go in 2011 unless there is more to watch through the whole weekend.

It's a real shame that the owners of New Jersey Motorsports Park did not have enough vision to build their new track to FIM-spec. The population density is highest in the northeastern US, and a MotoGP and/or WSBK race in NJ would have drawn like flies. What a missed opportunity..

new jersey motorsports park didnt build bigger...not that it's not a nice facility but gp would never go there....and thats the shame of it...last year being the first year the ama ran there, they had the largest attendance of any other round! due in part to the close proximity to n.y.c. philiadelphia, washington d.c. and the fact that more peopld ride motorcyles on the east cost of the u.s. then do in the midwest where its flat and most roads go in a straight line....even a trip down from montreal or toronto is only an 8 hour drive...imo a real shame cuz they could have attendance numbers like europe if they were in the north east

In 2012 a new F1 track in Austin, Texas will be opening.. I heard that F1 has already inked a 10 year deal... That would be a possible 2nd MotoGP location if they dont go back to Indy... That would be closer to Laguna, making a back to back weekend racing totaly possible... I live in Wisconsin and would love to see a world event at Road America, they have put a couple million into the track already, but without more run off, proper garages, and more lodging I don't think it will ever happen... I've been wrong before and would love to eat my words..

look at the times of our posts...we were both writing basically the same thing at the same time,,,i have done track days there and have spoken to the general manager and his take was purely financial...they couldnt even afford ro bring in topsoil to put in more spectator mounds....but again a real shame...problem is most people with money and power(at least in the u.s.) dont think two wheels even though motorcycle track days probably genertate more income then 4 wheel events....

Yes, I know a couple people on the Board of Directors at Road America and your right, no money for improvements... They need a big time investor to make anything happen.. Bad thing about it, they are going after Nascar to help out...

1st off, the # of residences that can hear Laguna during a race weekend is very small. The track is only allowed 5 events a year. If they are that rich they can plan ahead to be out of town 5 times a year. Of course the complaining is all horseshit anyhow. They just like to complain.

So why not do Indy first. Come from Europe, fly to Indy ( I presume a large airport). Do the business then head west with the rotation of the sun, gain 2 hours time, run Laguna. Then take off from SFO and head to the pacific rounds, or at least one Pacific round.

That new track in in Austin sounds interesting. But to run there I would imagine the race would have to be before June or after August. Laguna is still nice in September!

There are large neighborhoods that can hear activity at Laguna Seca. It has been built up steadily over the last 25 years because it's beautiful, you can get large lots. and it's just outside the fog line:

1. Across highway 68 there is a high ridgeline that practically overlooks the track. Just go up Laureles Grade a half mile and turn either left or right. These are semi-gated communities. The entire length of that ridgeline is packed with large homes. Most are on 2 acres. I used to live there during the 80's. The noise isn't annoying but its there.

2. Laguna Seca Estates lies just west of the track on Highway 68. It's built on basically the same ridgeline the track occupies. The noise is probably less there, but I bet that's where the complaints are coming from. Lots of new construction owned by Bay Area retirees.

3. I don't think Laguna is threatened, though. They generate a lot of $ for area charities. Government has supported it for more than 60 years. They've dealt with noise and traffic complaints the whole time.

someone needs to give Espeleta an i.q. test cuz imo he should not be the ceo of anything...let alone motogp....come from europe do indy...take the summer break and slow coach the bikes to laguna...the riders and crew could stay in the u.s. and vacation which alot of them seem to like to do anyway....or fly back from indy then hop over to laguna a few weeks later....then hit the pacific you way west and do the desert race(if its at night who cares what time of year it is) and tell them to shove it...if they want a gp that badly then they can take it when it works for the series not when the oil giant wants it to....this makes the absolute most sense and will save what i can only believe to be millions??..i could be wrong on that, but lets say alot of money saved...isnt that what this is all about?? and even the fat cats that want to line their pockets with money can't argue that money saved is potential for more morey for there greedy hands as well

Wow, I never actually thought about it that way, starting at Indy, going to Laguna, and then to the Pacific rounds! that actually makes the most sense of anything so far!

My guess in the thinking is that since Laguna has been before Indy in the few years they have both been around, and since Laguna is the "US" grand prix, it would sound a bit odd to have Indy first. The Spanish GP is the first one run in Spain for the season, so if Indy went first Laguna would problem have a problem with the title and so on.

Course if that is the hang up, then do the Pacific rim races, ending in Laguna and then head east to Indy and then east back to Europe and finish with Estoril and Valencia.

Below is the current schedule courtesy of the Hungarian round being off a year and a volcano. It isn't that bad as is. Just shift Laguna to after PI and then do Indy and head back for the last two in Europe. Shifts Brno up (do it the week after Sachsenring) take a break for a few weeks. Start the party again with Misano (Italy essentially) or Aragon then flip to the other. After that people are salivating again. 2 weeks later start in Japan, go south to Sepang, south again to PI, across the Pacific to...(insert Brazil in the future), up to Laguna, east to Indy, and east to the penultimate (had to get that word in there) round in Estoril and then finish in Valencia.

Jerez de la Frontera
Le Mans
Laguna Seca
Phillip Island

I would just be stoked if they moved the whole show in the U.S. to a later date. Getting vacation in July is next to IMPOSSIBLE where I work! Still, though, I've managed to do it four out of the last five years...

If Indy gives it up, here's a radical idea: Pacific Raceways in Kent, Washington. It's ALMOST ready for FIM sanctioning. All it needs is more (more than zero...) runoff pretty much everywhere, a complete new surface, ten times as much parking, garages of any kind, three straight days of sunshine... Sure it was called a "goat trail" by one of the few pro riders to have ridden there, but... Well... Come on Yamaha with the $millions in improvement dollars!

I would think back to back US GP's would be a very bad idea for the promoters. They end up competing for the same crowd. If they can't make money then we have no US GP's at all. I vote to let the teams figure out how to make the schedule, but let the schedule be set for the most fan interest.

Regarding the undercard, I don't think it matters that much at Laguna, but Indy isn't a resort like Monterey California. They probably need the whole show.

I'm actually a little surprised that Dorna (AKA "The Man") in the continuing effort to reduce costs regardless of lives taken didn't immediately jump on this the moment the Indy race became a reality 2yrs ago.

I'm no bookeeper but I can't imagine transporting the whole MotoGP circus (undercard classes or not) is cheap, in fact I'm sure it's in the millions of Dollars/Pounds/Lira/whatever...

For those not enjoying the benefit of living in Glorious North America where MotoGP riders are as notable as your neighbour's cat, This is the Distance They'd Have To Drive From Laguna Seca to Indy.


Frankly, I would love it if the rest of the MotoGP circus could race at Laguna Seca. As a Northern California resident...if I want to watch AMA racing, I can go to Sears Point/Infineon Raceway for that. The Moto2 class in particular would be a lot of fun to watch in person, and I look forward to enjoying it at Laguna Seca in the near future.

I think keeping a round of the FIM E-power series would be a nice way to round out the card as well. I'd like to see this race become what the Isle of Man electric race was initially, but for North America: the one race where all the major e-bike manufacturers and teams (especially the American ones) want to compete in and win more than any other.

It'll never happen. Why? Because it makes too much sense. Dorna will find a way to screw it up. Also, phoenix1 is spot on; Yamaha signed a huge deal with Laguna Seca and will want to promote their brand around the AMA events.

"Faster, Faster, Until The Thrill of Speed Overcomes The Fear of Death." ~
Hunter S. Thompson

I was under the impression that Barber was built to both FIM and FIA standards. It appears to have all the desirable features, fast sweeping turns, elevation changes and good runoff areas. Plus its not in a dustbowl (MMP) !

Looking at the Moto GP rules no one, should ever underestimate the power of stupid people in groups.

I think MotoGP in America needs another kick start in popularity and maybe having concesutive rounds would help promote it. I also think that the Nicky was right and that maybe when we see the moto2 people will really get interested. My only concern with the plan is having the moto2 at Leguna. Its such a small track, albiet a fairly dangerous one, and I'm sure there would be a ton of backmarkers getting passes and really messing everything up. Although seeing 40 some bikes hit the corkscrew on the first lap would be an unforgettable sight. Also I think this year proved that the lower class riders NEED some experience at Leguna! Did any of the rookies besides Spies finish?

Mika Kallio... ? He missed the race last year.

I would also love to see Moto2 come to Laguna Seca. Though I'm not sure where they would put all the bikes!

The downside to having back-to-back rounds is that fans would be less likely to attend both events--especially if they were a week apart. The two events would virtually be competing with one another for attendance.

Rabid fans (with money) would still go to both, but your average non-rich fan would probably be forced to choose. The cost of tickets and travel just too expensive for most in a two week period. But separating the events by a month and more can afford it... plus fans that already attended Laguna start needing that GP fix again.

They need to dump AMA at Laguna, that makes room for the Moto2 and 125. During our last visit we were told the reason they did not race was due to CA exhaust laws. Then they need to dump Indy and move to the new Austin track when it opens. I'll never go back to Indy, they way they are trying to 'sell' to the locals is sickening and the rider access was terrible. Let them have their nascar. I think back to back US races with a break in between would be nice and cost effective for the teams.