Hellmund denies MotoGP talks
Construction has barely begun on the 970-acre site slated to host the Formula One U.S. Grand Prix beginning in 2012 and there’s already talk that the 3.4-mile circuit could be in line to stage another big race — this one with motorcycles.
Wednesday, in an autosport.com report, MotoGP boss Carmelo Ezpeleta said he has been in preliminary talks with promoters of the U.S. Grand Prix to stage a MotoGP event in Austin in 2013 or later.
Could that mean 100,000-plus motorcycle fans descending on Austin for a weekend?
“MotoGP would be great for Texas and the fans but I haven’t had any discussions with him (Ezpeleta) about that,” U.S. Grand Prix promoter Tavo Hellmund said Wednesday. “Everything is F1.”
Investor and land owner Bobby Epstein added, “A MotoGP championship race would be amazing for the fans and the economy. But I don’t know of any conversations.”
MotoGP is something like the Formula One of motorcycle racing. The schedule this coming year calls for 18 races in 13 countries with two stops in the United States, Laguna Seca in July and Indianapolis in August.
“It’s known more world-wide than it is in the United States,” said Jennifer Capasso, public relations manager for Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. “We get 105,000 to 150,000 fans for the weekend.”
Capasso said it’s the biggest race of the year for the track. “We added it in 2005,” Capasso said. “We love these guys…With the motorcycle guys, (fans) I don’t want to say they’re crazier, but they are fun and enthusiastic…it’s more tribal than with the car guys.”
Capasso said transportation issues, including parking, are reduced because most of the MotoGP fans don’t arrive in cars. “You see fields and fields of motorbikes. It’s very cool,” said Capasso, who added, “They spend a lot of money. They’re older than you might think.”
Kevin Schwantz, the 1993 world motorcycle champion, is an investor in the U.S. Grand Prix project and, along with Hellmund, has provided input in the Tilke-designed circuit. Many assume that —- at some point if not now — there will discussions about Austin staging a MotoGP event.
“I think it would be a perfect fit for Austin,” Capasso said. The Statesman