The demise of bike racing at Laguna Seca - MVAgusta.net
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-12-2017, 05:08 PM Thread Starter
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The demise of bike racing at Laguna Seca

Sad to say, but the WSB event at Laguna Seca last weekend will likely prove to be the last motorcycle race held at this legendary venue. Moto GP was lost here due to greed. WSB was lost due to a lack of interest. If you saw the grandstands on TV, you'll know what I mean. I was there, and it was very disheartening.

There are many reasons for this, but here is my take.

Lack of competition:

Let's face it, there are only three riders and two teams who are competitive, and, too often, it's just Rea and Sykes. When a 62 YO rider with just two years experience qualifies for your race, it's not world-class racing. You should not brag about it either. In fact, WSB is a joke, and a bad one at that. The participation level of the manufacturers is weak as well. Look at the quantity and the quality of the grid for proof.

Incompetence and/or sabotage:

Nearly a week before the event began, the staff announced that all camping was sold out. The campground I stayed in was in the area above Turn 9 (aka Rainey Curve). This is one of the most sought-after camping and viewing areas. At least 20% of the spots were never used. Other camping areas were even less full. I even asked on Friday morning where they suggested the RVs who were still on their way should park. I was told that was "their problem".

I'm not one who subscribes to conspiracy theories, but I do wonder why they promulgated this lie. If you want to break a contract with the FIM or Dorna, one way to do it is to draw down the attendance.

BTW, Dunlop's handling of their own tire/ticket promotion was equally dreadful. You usually only find this kind of ineptitude in government.

Millennials:

I have been fortunate enough to attend many different forms of Motorsports throughout my life. It's apparent that the average age of the fan base is going up, alarmingly so. My guess is that motorcycles are just too noisey, too dirty, and much too dangerous for the average Snowflake. Experiencing them in 3D is much safer and better. Good luck to them. My advice is not to buy stock in motorcycle companies.

This not an indictment of all Millennials, nor racing in general. I ride with several "young'ns" in their mid-twenties, and I admire them immensely. They are smart, polite, and respectful. Each of them will be successful in whatever they do. Unfortunately, this also makes them exceptional. I'll just leave it at that.

It seems to me that many other forms of racing are suffering from these same things; over-exposure, indifference, incompetence, and corruption on a grand scale. Look at NASCAR in the US as an example of the first two, Formula 1 and World Championship MX for examples of the other two. Eccelstone and Luongo belong in prison.

As racing declines in the US, I believe that it will become even more popular in places like Asia and Eastern Europe where bikes are viewed as a necessity, not an occasional (and dangerous) hobby. Perhaps it's just the natural progression of things.

"Motorcycle racing makes heroin addiction seem like a vague wish for something salty"

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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-12-2017, 05:29 PM
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Interesting.
The coverage I listened to stated that, over the weekend, there were over 60,000 in attendance making it one of the more popular events on the calendar.
I agree with your comments on this being a Kawasaki / Ducati fest.
We are both old enough to recall the Ducati dominance of recent years.

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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-12-2017, 06:19 PM Thread Starter
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Oh how I hope you are right Dave. I am certainly not an expert on estimating crowd sizes, I have been going to most of the races at Laguna Seca since 1991. I was there when it was 500 cc GP (Lawson, Mamola, Schwantz), World Superbike (Edwards), Moto GP (Rossi, Hayden, Stoner), and both of the last two years. I know what 125,000 looks like in that place. I seriously doubt that they drew a total of 60,000 over the past two years combined, even if you took all three days from both events. If you can, look at a replay of the TV coverage. You'll see a fairly packed grandstand at the finish line, but if you look right or left, ALL of those sections were empty. Kind of reminiscent of a Clinton campaign speech.

The most often discussed subject at the race this year was how few people showed up. I shouldn't complain because it's so much easier to move around when the crowds are so sparse, but I think it's reached the point where the FIM and Dorna will simply sell it to another venue with a better draw. Like Spain for instance. Or, they'll sell it to someone with plenty of cash under the table. Like...pick any Arab country for example. Either way, I'm very doubtful that we will see it return to Laguna Seca. If it does, you and your wife are welcome to join us above Rainey Curve. I'll even sponsor your ticke....err....track admissions. To be clear, this is NOT to be confused with airline tickets. You can also have use of any of my bikes while we're there. Just don't take them home with you!

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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-13-2017, 06:05 AM
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Interesting viewpoints, Bob. I can't say I disagree with you. I was surprised how empty the trees leading up to The Corkscrew were.

Cindy and I plan on going, maybe next year if they continue. Perhaps we'll see you at Rainey Curve!

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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-13-2017, 08:57 AM
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One factor you did not mention is the local people. They don't like noise or crowds and especially loud motorcycles. They would much rather see vintage car races
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-13-2017, 09:10 AM
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Yep...move into a house or neighborhood next to a racetrack, then bitch about the noise.

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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-13-2017, 01:16 PM Thread Starter
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Laguna Seca is located within the boundaries of what once was a US Army base, Fort Ord. When I first started going there in 1991, there were signs along some of the access roads warning of possible unexplored ordinance. I wonder if the recent home owners who complain about the noise are aware of this.

One of the attractions of this event is/was the street scene/bike show/party atmosphere that took place on Cannery Row every evening. This year, the cops started turning away bikes at 7:00 PM, claiming that the street was full. This is spite of what our eyes could see. Just like the camping situation. I'm not a detective, but I'm spotting a trend here.

The natural progression:

(A) Build a racetrack, airport, etc., far away from town on land that no one wants. Zone it for commercial/industrial use only.

(B) Several years later, some enterprising developers bribe local officials to re-zone the area to allow for residential development. Land is cheap.

(C) New residents arrive and start complaining about the noise. Old residents laugh at them.

(D) New residents out number the old residents, and eventually vote in (and buy) local government.

(E) Rules change, zoning changes, and the race track, airport, etc., goes away.

The wealthy new residents of Laguna Seca don't give two shits about the impact of what losing this event will mean to the local economy. Those aren't their restaurants, shops, or businesses. They'd be just as happy to see them go away as well. The Concurs D'Elegance at Pebble Beach can stay (their kind of people), but the "bikers" must go.

If, by chance, this race remains on the schedule for next year, I encourage you to attend. There were 20 of us there this year, and we really had a great time. Bikes, BBQ, and our own Tiki Bar. IOW, you will be among friends. Big Sur is only 50 miles south along beautiful Hwy 1, and there are many other roads in the area that are both scenic and exciting. I'll even find you a good campsite!
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-13-2017, 03:10 PM
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I attended Moto GP at Laguna Seca from 2007 till 2012 or whenever last Moto GP was and yes there were huge crowds and it was lots of fun - I then attended the WSB race and it was good but you could see difference in the crowd size. It is a great track with great viewing areas and we luckily were in the suites above the pits with all you can eat and drink And as mentioned above running down to Big Sur on the bikes is a beautiful ride ! I live 4 hours from Austin and would rather Moto GP be at Laguna Seca. Circuit of the Americas is an incredible facility but it ain't Laguna Seca - the whole bike vibe etc...

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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-13-2017, 04:20 PM
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WSBK Champions (1999-2012): Troy Bayliss, Colin Edwards, Neil Hodgson, James Toseland, Troy Corser, Ben Spies, Max Biaggi, Carlos Checa

WSBK Champions (2013-2016): Tom Sykes, Sylvain Guintoli, Jonathan Rea

Motorsport popularity tends to ebb and flow with the popularity of the 'stars' of the league. No offense intended to the last three years' champions, but IMO they are not as popular as many of the champions of previous years. And since Nicky #69 left us, there are no American riders on WSBK bikes (Gagne who?). WSBK and MotoGP tends to do a little better in countries that have riders of their nationality.

NBA basketball dropped in popularity when Michael Jordan retired. I suspect that MotoGP will lose considerable popularity when Rossi retires.

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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-15-2017, 12:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by number2 View Post
One factor you did not mention is the local people. They don't like noise or crowds and especially loud motorcycles. They would much rather see vintage car races
George;

You think a 1935 Maser with a crank driven Roots blower running on bean oil and alcohol with a straight

exhaust is quieter than a silly bike???? I have pictures of me sitting behind it while it was being warmed up

It doesn't get any better than bean oil and alcohol ��

How about Al Unser's Lola T-5000 small block Chevy with megaphones? I wrenched on it at Laguna Seca....

I was my neighbor's father in law's car....... nobody complained about the noise

So I'm in the pits at a vintage race and a 250TR pulls up to the gas pump and adds gas.....

The owner looks at me and says "Hey, you want to start her up?"

You don't have to ask me twice...

I hop in the driver's seat......on the dash is an oval brass placque "Insert 5c to start ride" what a sense of humor

I turn the key on, then the fuel pump and hit the starter........ TOTALLY AWESOME...full race exhaust

I'll assume you know what a 250TR is.....�� a Ferarri 250 Testarossa probably worth $20-25 million

I shook his hand and thanked him......just a nice guy

On the other side look how attendees at motorcycle races act.....at the track and in town......

ffing pigs go to Speed Week in Daytona if you don't believe me

Vintage Racing at Laguna Seca........Mark Donohue's 917-30 TurboPanzer the most powerful road race car ever

and afterwards in German they ask him "if his pants are full" after getting waaay sideways

the what racing used to be...... look who's on the bike
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Last edited by theknurl; 07-17-2017 at 04:53 PM.
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