Well, I finally figured out how to link a blog directly to my website! What does this mean? This means I now have to move over 200+ posts from my previous blog onto this site (winter project, anyone?).
Anyways, to kick off this fun new feature, I am going to post about one of the highlights of my year so far - the Americas GP at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
It all started when I flew into Austin with my dad on Wednesday before the race. We were standing outside the Austin airport waiting to be picked up by my dad's best friend when I turned around to see a man that looked like Uccio (Valentino Rossi's best friend). He was wearing everyday clothes without a trace of yellow but when he walked past me, I noticed that 'VR46' was embroidered onto his backpack. I got really excited because I thought seeing Uccio was the best thing that was going to happen to me that day... I was wrong. My dad's best friend came out of the airport to surprise us and walking behind him was VALENTINO ROSSI. As he walked past me I said, "Oh my God it's Valentino Rossi." He turned and smiled, then he crossed the street with his friend and into the parking garage. My dad's best friend said "that's the garage where I parked," and he didn't even finish his sentence before I took off after Rossi. I was so excited I was shaking and not paying attention to traffic - I mean, I walked directly in front of cars and busses to try to catch up to them. Rossi was waiting in the garage and talking on the phone, but when I asked if I could get a photo with him, he said yes and told the person on the phone to hold on because he was going to take a picture. After thanking him and wishing him good luck, he gave me a hug before returning to his call. I think I blacked out from excitement because I don't remember anything after that.
Before the race weekend started, I was at an event and met Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo. Judging by interviews and videos with Jorge, I was expecting him to be annoyed for having to attend an event with people, but he turned out to be really friendly.
By Friday morning I was pretty certain my life peaked after meeting Rossi, but things only got better. A friend of my family's flew to the track and called me to tell me he had an extra VIP pass if I wanted to come to the Pramac Ducati garage. I went to Cloud 9 pretty darn fast. Walking into the garage, I came face to face with Danilo Petrucci, who was incredibly nice. In fact, the whole Pramac Racing team was so hospitable! They went out of their way to make me feel welcome. The team manager was so kind and took me around the garage, walked me through the pits at lunch, and when he noticed I had a Rossi shirt on, he made sure to take me over to the Yamaha garage.
When I left the garage, I started texting my dad to see where he was. It was windy so I stood by a large group of people to stay warm and was leaning against a blue scooter. Next thing I knew, the group of people I was using for body heat started shouting "Viñales! Viñales!" and I looked up to see Viñales walking toward the scooter I was leaning against. I've never seen so many grown men pushing and shoving each other to have another man sign their chest, but what happens in the pits, stays in the pits I guess. Since I was the closest to Viñales, I quickly asked if I could take a picture with him and he said yes. The over aggressive men shoved me around a lot, and I got a lot of elbows and bodies in my face, but at least I got a picture!
Just by standing in the Pramac garage, you can just feel the energy running through. It's funny how you can also feel the difference between the two riders by just standing there (Petrucci is more intense while Redding is calmer). Watching the team start the bikes and prep the backup bikes before each session was absolutely fascinating. The team manager explained a lot of the data and technology that they use throughout the weekend and he also explained that all of the teams go to great lengths to keep everything they work on a secret. Whenever a team is working on a bike, they put up a shield in front of it so no one can take pictures or videos or even look at the bike while the bodywork is off. In between sessions, the riders are constantly analyzing their data and working with their team to make improvements before they go out on track again.
Just writing about this weekend puts the biggest smile on my face because it's one that I will never, ever forget. On Sunday during the rider's parade, I sat outside the Pramac garage doors and just soaked it all in. Being an arms length away from the greatest riders in the world was exciting in itself, but getting waves, smiles and winks from them was enough to make me black out from excitement again. Whenever I'm asked about this weekend, the only way I know how to describe it is by saying, "I died and went to MotoGP heaven."