MotoGP: A First-Timer’s Experience Beyond the Spectating

Races, demo rides, and friends, oh my!

By Kirsten Midura, Photos by Joe Jackson

2023 MotoGP

Every year I'm asked if I am going to the MotoGP race. Moto Grand Prix, or MotoGP, is a core bucket list item for many of my friends. This year I was finally able to experience the excitement of being trackside at a high-speed road race for the first time.

MotoGP is jam-packed with excitement, bringing racers and spectators from around the world to The Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas, the only American venue this year.
MotoGP, is a premier-class motorcycle racing championship that may be likened to a Formula 1 race. It brings together the world's top road racers on heavily modified, GP specific motorcycles for a series of races held across 20 different circuits around the world. COTA is the first purpose-built Grand Prix facility in the U.S. and the sinewy 3.41 mile-long track has hosted the world’s most renowned racers since 2018.

The races are a blast to watch, this year offering numerous upsets and exceptional efforts by all. Honda’s #42 Alex Rins came out on top with a surprise win. Rins was only ranked 13th in the qualifying round, but managed to take it all, bringing home his fifth MotoGP win.

Women at MotoGP

While the number of women on the track is scarce—Spanish racer Ana Carrasco placed 30th in the Moto3 race—MotoGP offers much more than the races. There are many women involved in MotoGP behind the scenes in race teams, national federations (like the AMA), corner workers, medics, and with the facilty, vendors, and sponsors who support the event. It’s also a chance for women throughout our sport to come together and reconnect.

The motorcycle industry is replete with powerhouse women, and I am reminded of that fact every time I am at a national moto event. From industry pros to skilled recreational riders, events such as the MotoGP are a great way to get together and revel in our shared love of powersports.

MotoGP gives us a chance to reconnect with old friends. Here is vlogger Lali (second from left), who shares her journey of riding and wrenching on her YouTube and other social media channels (@anti_parallali). Aya (far left) is not only a model for women riders through her cheeky riding videos (@ayalolwut), but is also an actual model, representing women in industry marketing materials across a wide range of brands.
I love the bond women share with motorcycles, but what I love most is who these women are beyond two wheels. Lali is a PhD candidate studying genome variations in pediatric leukemia patients, due to graduate this summer. I am always so impressed by the depth of the women I meet through motorcycling.

Riding the MotoGP Circuit

Catching up with friends is a big perk at the MotoGP races, but the highlight for me this year was the parade lap around the track that I got to do with CFMOTO. Normally a paid VIP experience, CFMOTO generously allowed me to demo its 700CL-X Sport on the group ride around the COTA track. Of course, we were not traveling at MotoGP paces. I probably topped out at around 55 mph, riding alongside 50 or so other motorcycles. However, it gave me the chance to test out this zippy motorcycle on one of the most famous tracks in the world.

No, this is not the parade lap; however, riding around COTA on the CFMOTO 700CL-X sport made me feel like a pro, even if I was only traveling at an average speed of 35-45 mph.
The CFMOTO 700CL-X Sport was a blast to ride around the COTA track. Sarah Schilke covers the full CFMOTO lineup in her article here, and I have to agree with her assessment. The bike is both spirited on the track twisties and makes for sexy posing on the tarmac.
Many brands host demo rides at the event every year but I got focused on CFMOTO's new models, especially after glimpsing their Moto3 racers (the up-and-coming class) in their demo area. I chose CFMOTO’s new 450 SS, a zippy 370-pound sportbike that holds its own on the Texas high country back roads and the highway. With a seat height of 31 inches and sporty riding position, I am a little cramped on it, given that I am 5 feet 10 inches. However, this nimble bike makes it easy to swerve around potholes and it corners with ease. It’s a great option for those seeking a fun mid-sized motorcycle.

My first ever MotoGP did not disappoint, and I look forward to discovering more at the event next year. This industry is full of incredible people, from racers to riders to everyday fans, and I cherish the opportunity to spend time with fellow lovers of two wheels while watching the best-of-the-best perform.

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