He’s “that guy”. It’s Sunday (or Saturday, with the new sprint race format). You turn on your screen to tune into the races, and he’s there: walking through pit lane, on the grid, by the garages… You always see him, and that smile beaming from his face is infectious. Who is he? He is none other than motorcycle lover and fan extraordinaire, B.T.
My journey seeing a moto grand prix through the lens of the ultimate motorcycle lover began on a Wednesday. I left my home in Chicago, Illinois, and decided to drive to Texas, meeting B.T. halfway along the way.
B.T. was staying in Oklahoma for a night or two, and that’s where I would pick him up. I left bright and early, around 5a.m. and made it to where B.T. was staying in Oklahoma, around twelve hours later.
Once meeting B.T., we had one little thing to do before we could hit the road. Not only does B.T. get to live every moto racing lover’s dream, and is a comedian, but B.T. is also an actor. B.T. had an audition and I helped him record a self tape for it, before making our way to Texas.
Once on the road, we had a stop to make. We drove to a Target in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to grab any little things we may have needed for our trip. We were both in need of some clothing items to tackle a race weekend with, in Texas. I needed some new shoes for bombing around the track, and B.T. needed a new pair of jeans.
We both had fun in Target trying on some things. We bought some refreshments for the road, and we were headed to Austin, Texas for real this time.
Since I was already on the road for many, many hours prior, B.T. took over driving my black and pink baby Prius (Toyota Prius C) for the final leg of the trip.
We were on the road and ready to Rock N’ Roll! Literally! I don’t know much about classic rock, but B.T. blared the radio and turned this leg of the trip into the School of Rock!
It wasn’t long after the rock session, that I took the opportunity to get some shut eye after the several hours that I had driven.
I dozed off only to be jolted awake in Dallas, Texas, by B.T. taking a ramp way too sharply. If you’ve ever met B.T., you would know that his love for racing falls in line with his high energy. This is reflected in his driving, and he took to the road in my little Prius like motorcyclist on the racetrack. B.T. had to remind himself that this was indeed not a rental that he was driving, but my own, personal car.
Late night had arrived, and we finally made it to our hotel in Austin, Texas. Our heads hit the pillow in no time, as we needed our rest for a very exhilarating MotoGP race weekend that lied ahead.
The next morning, Thursday had arrived, and B.T. and I headed out to a magical little place called Circuit of the Americas. We picked up our credentials, and were ready to hit up the Thursday afternoon press conference shortly thereafter.
Now, not only is B.T. a motorcycle fanatic, a comedian, and an actor, but B.T. is also a columnist for Sportbikes Inc. magazine! Being that B.T. eats, sleeps, dreams, and breathes motorcycles, while at the press conferences for Sportbikes Inc., B.T.’s questions to the riders are on another level. Not only does he ask unique questions that give us answers to what we really want to know in the current race setting, but he can’t help but make the racers laugh, as well.
Even the most serious of riders crack a smile when B.T asks his questions. B.T. is actually the first comedian friend I’ve ever had. Comedians aren’t necessarily in funny mode outside of their work, but with B.T., it’s a natural part of his being, as he tends to crack laughs out of the people around him, on a constant basis.
Once outside the media center, B.T. ran into American Racing rider, Sean Dylan Kelly and had a little chat.
After B.T. chatted with SDK, I split off from him for a little while to get some other things done and check out the CotA tower. Shortly after that, I enjoyed B.T.’s lush parking pass, and met up with him in a parking zone not too far from the paddock, where my car was parked. Once leaving the circuit and heading into Austin, our first stop was for some caffeine from Starrbucks.
I dropped B.T. off at a Starbucks in downtown Austin, and waited in the car, as there was no parking in this area. B.T. took my order for a cold foam cold brew. This is a black coffee with a really cool, white foam on top. When B.T. came out of Starbucks, he was holding for me a light colored, iced drink.
I thought, “huh?” to myself, but gave it a try. It was sweeter than I expected, so I turned the cup around, only to see on the cup in big Sharpy writing, the name, “Vinny”. B.T. had grabbed someone else’s drink! I’ll never know who ended up with my drink, but oh, poor Vinny. I decided that I liked Vinny’s drink and continued to drink it. I would think of myself as Vinny, for the rest of this trip.
After the excitement of the “Vinny” cup, I met up with some friends, before heading back to the hotel for the night. We still had three whole days of MotoGP ahead of us, and I needed to conserve my energy to keep up with B.T.
Friday had arrived, and outside of the moto free practice sessions, this was a great opportunity to checkout what else CotA had to offer during a MotoGP weekend.
This was great that I got to follow B.T. around, because this got me out of my normal routine, and I was able to see more at the track. Our first stop was what every USGP round features; Ducati Island. B.T. is actually a Ducatista and rides a Multistrada, so it was only natural that Ducati Island would be our first stop. This area had a lot to offer:
The “island” offered the classics, such as Ducati Owners Club parking. It was only Friday, but there were a lot of interesting Ducs parked here.
The area was filled with Ducati’s newest models that you could check out, as well a leaning Ducati simulator for entertainment, and to B.T.’s delight, umbrella girls! B.T. was like a kid in a candy store.
From here, we headed over to the Honda area, which had a really cool zone setup. Not only were there some awesome motos to checkout, but Honda had a demo area, as well.
B.T. took this as an opportunity to try out one of Honda’s new scooters. I didn’t have my license on me to try out a Honda as well, so I just watched as B.T. had fun scooting around on the little course that Honda had built.
After checking out the CotA fan zones and marketplace, we went back to the paddock, before heading out for the day, as we still had a lot of fun planned for the evening ahead.
One cool thing about following B.T. around the paddock, is that he knows a lot of people, so it’s not uncommon to get stopped and into conversation with other interesting motorcycle people, while walking with him.
B.T. and I were pretty hungry once we left the track, and you can’t go to Texas without having their famous barbecue, so off to Cooper’s BBQ we went.
Cooper’s is a popular spot in downtown Austin. This place is reveled enough, that sometimes there is an hour wait here. Luckily for us though, the line here was very short on this visit. We enjoyed some hearty food, because we needed some fuel for what came next.
After filling up on some of Texas’s finest cuisine, B.T. and I headed back to the hotel for a little bit before hitting our final stop of the night, to check out some hand-built motorcycles.
We met up with friend, Alonso Boden, who just had arrived for the weekend, and headed to the show. The Handbuilt Motorcycle show is held every year by a friend of Alonso and B.T.’s; the owner of Revival Motorcycles, Alan Stulberg.
Not only does Alan and Revival know how to throw a good party, but I was treated to some of the most incredible custom motorcycles I’ve ever seen in my life (and I’ve seen a lot)!
After seeing some incredible hand-built motorcycles, we would get ready for Saturday, and the the first ever MotoGP sprint race to be held at Circuit of the Americas.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, B.T. is able to enjoy some of the most dream-worthy access to the sport, and this weekend, I would get to join him!
On Saturday, before we knew it, it was time for this inaugural sprint race in Texas. B.T. and I got our access to the grid for the sprint race, and we waited for it to start.
After watching a spectacular first ever sprint race at Circuit of the Americas, the excitement wasn’t over yet. The Tissot sponsored “podium” celebration for the sprint races is a little different from any of the other grand prix races, as in they host both parc ferme and the podium celebration right there on the grid. Instead of trophies, gold, silver, and bronze medals are awarded respectively.
Following B.T., we both had front row seats to the grid celebration, and were sprayed by Jorge Martin’s champagne!
Leaving the circuit after the action at the track, that left us with one other exciting thing to do for the day; I tagged along with B.T. to meet some really cool friends of his, whom we both shared dinner with.
Funnily enough, B.T. is a vegetarian, and we ended up at a steakhouse. However, there were still things for him to enjoy. What stuck out the most to me was the tea that B.T. had ordered.
The multiple teas B.T. was drinking reminded me of back in the day, like the one time when we had breakfast together with our friends on a Monday morning after MotoGP at Laguna Seca several years ago. B.T. had a mountain of sugar wrappers stacked up that he used in his coffee. Noticing that B.T. only used a few sugars with his tea at the steakhouse, B.T. had come a long way since his sugar with a side of coffee days, like back in Laguna Seca that one year.
After dinner, we had one last stop for the night before going to bed (well I was going to bed), and that was coffee for B.T. …After his teas at dinner. That’s right, B.T. was having more caffeine, because he would stay up additional hours to watch racing in other series’.
Once back to the hotel, I got ready for bed and draped some clothing over my eyes, so B.T. could stay up and enjoy what he so dearly loved; motorsports.
Not before long, it was already morning, and it was official raceday; Sunday! B.T. and I scurried off to the racetrack, and it was one final day of my getting to see the races through the eyes of the ultimate superfan. The racing gods would bless us on this beautiful Sunday, and I was lucky enough to be able to head out to the grid one more time with B.T.
All three classes made for super exciting racing this round, and by the third class; the “Big Kids” class, it was time to go out to the starting grid. If you’ve never been on the grid before, let me tell you- it’s completely electric! The weather was perfect this day around, and not too hot as it was on Saturday for the Sprint.
I headed out with B.T. to pit lane in a timely manner. Tension was in the air and we popped out to the other side of the garages next to the factory Ducati box. Compared to the day before, there were way more people around this time, ranging from team guests with a temporary grid medallion, to celebrities that attend any given round.
Pit lane started to fill up, and finally it was time to enter the grid. We met up with Allan Lane of Sportbikes Inc., and his wife, before all heading out together. For safety and security reasons, we showed our grid entry medallions to the appropriate personnel, before being let onto the other side of the pit wall.
Once moving onto the grid, it was beautiful chaos. With each and every person filling their personal roles to contribute to making the race happen, they flowed like a river into their places.
All four of us took a quick selfie right after entering the grid, and then B.T. was gone in the blink of an eye. Some shadowing I was doing, as I couldn’t keep up with him. B.T. was on a mission to get the maximum enjoyment out what was most important to him during this very special grid moment.
It was great to be at least be somewhere on that race grid where B.T. was though, and see the things he got to see the rounds that he had access to this very exclusive area.
Before, whenever I’ve been on the grid, I’ve been stuck in one spot: smiling, posing, and trying to get the umbrella in just the right spot in relation to the sun, rider, and fuel tank (it’s actually harder than it looks, believe it or not). Don’t get me wrong, this was incredible, but being free to wander throughout the grid, and find myself face to face with the best in the world in the sport, moments before they performed their magic, was on a whole other level!
I captured some beautiful photos before filing off the grid with everyone else to the other side of pit lane wall. If you’ve never stood right there, opposite of the pit wall from the grid, it is the most elating experience (just make sure to bring earplugs)!
After another exciting round of two-wheel drama, the races were over, as we made our way towards parc ferme and the podium. Having such love for the sport, this is always a thrilling place to be, as the joy in the celebrations is contagious. We are so thankful for this sport.
After experiencing such a high from our favorite racing entertainment, came some sadness, as the whole circus as we know MotoGP to be, almost instantaneously began to pack things up to fly away to their next destination.
We finally had one more thing on the list to top the weekend off with, and that was the Red Bull afterparty. I can’t post about the party, but we both had an incredible time.
After leaving the party, it was a mellow ending. We met up with our longtime friend Kat from Icon. We all concurred that our bellies were growling, so we finished off a beyond remarkable weekend, at the most Austin thing we could find at that time of night: a roadside taco stand.
We enjoyed the heck out of our tacos and shared moto stories, as the weekend that I got to follow B.T. around the races faded off into future motorcycles tales to be told for a long time.