Cycle News

Cycle News 2013 Issue 40 October 8

Cycle News is a weekly magazine that covers all aspects of motorcycling including Supercross, Motocross and MotoGP as well as new motorcycles

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CN III CARRUTHERS SAYS P102 BY PAUL CARRUTHERS THE LITTLE GRAND PRIX THAT COULD N othing against the brandnew and immaculate Circuit of The Americas or the grandiose Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but going to motorcycle races at Laguna Seca always gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling. It's like… well, it's like going home. To me, Laguna Seca and Grand Prix motorcycle racing in the U.S. go hand in hand. Like calamari and cocktail sauce. And now it's gone. Well, at least the Grand Prix is gone I spent a little of my childhood there, a lot of my years as a teenager and at least a few trips annually there as an adult. Little known fact: the second to last race of my father's racing career was at Laguna Seca – during his part-time, semi-retirement season of 1973 when he started to focus his attention to mentoring Kenny Roberts. Dad, though, was never a big fan of racing at Laguna as it was one of those "silly little racetracks" that couldn't compare to the tracks of Europe. And he wasn't alone. Once the place starting playing host to Grand Prix racing in 1988, there was plenty of ridicule of the track in the hills east of the rugged Pacific coastline of Monterey – though it came entirely from the international riders who were already disgruntled by getting their derriere's beaten on a regular basis by an American group of riders the likes they'd never seen. Or that we've seen since. Though many of the Americans were expecting the criticism, it was harsher than they expected. And the Yanks knew that Laguna was the best they had. It was the facility they grew up thinking was one of the finest in the world. Hell, Roberts himself told them it was. So what was with all this complaining? It was like Frenchie coming into your family room and bagging on the couch. You don't do that in 'Merica. On the track, the Americans taught them all a little lesson. You ain't beating us here. Eddie Lawson won that first 500cc GP at Laguna and Jimmy Filice made things even worse by beating the Euros to win the 250cc GP. They all went back to Europe with their tails between their legs. And that generation of GP racers never really did stop complaining about Laguna Seca. The complained about track safety, they thought the paddock facilities were makeshift and they generally turned up their noses at the lack of quality facilities from top to bottom. Wayne Gardner even made fun of the Corkscrew, saying he thought when he pulled in for the first time he was on the ac- cess road. German Anton Mang went even farther in his ridicule, saying that now for sure he knew that Americans walking on the moon was nothing more than a facade. How could they get to the moon if their idea of a Grand Prix-level racetrack was Laguna Seca? And those in the foreign press complained along with them; the pressroom was small and inadequate (it later became the size of a circus tent… well, actually, it was a circus tent), there were no permanent bathrooms, blah, blah, blah. And they were mostly right. In the early days, Laguna was a bit of a shanty compared to some of the well-established circuits in Europe so it fell on me to bear the brunt of the ridicule from my journalistic counterparts from overseas. Then I'd quickly remind them that they needed to remember exactly how much they'd paid earlier in the week for their newly acquired Levis and Nikes (one thing has remained steadfast in the history of U.S. GPs at Laguna Seca - the crewmembers and journalists never, ever complain about the price of clothes and shoes from the nearby outlet malls). That would always shut them up. Temporarily. While the old guard of international riders complained about Laguna Seca, the next generation who rolled through the gate

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