Photos from 250+ Feet up COTA’s Petrolsaurus Rex

Standing 251 feet above Turns 16, 17, & 18, the COTA observation tower provides a bird’s eye view of just about every tun on the circuit, if you can stomach its subtle sway in the wind and clear-glass floor at the precipice. Officially called by COTA as the “Observation Tower” – it really needs a better name for casual conversation. We’ve heard COTA Cobra used a few times with some lovely alliteration, but the structure has always struck us as less snake-like, and more like a big dinosaur — we’re going to use the name “Petrolsaurus Rex” until I hear something better, or COTA sends me a cease and desist order. I climbed to the top of Petrolsaurus Rex (read: took the elevator) during the MotoGP Warm-Up session, and snapped a few photos in the process. Enjoy!

MV Agusta F3 800 Ago Now Officially Debuts

We already announced the bike last November, and brought you a bevy of hi-res images of the special edition machine. Although now that we think of it, MV Agusta never released anything on this Giacomo Agostini tribute motorcycle — better late than never, right? Back at the EICMA show launch, where the MV Agusta F3 800 Ago was first shown to the public (and Agostini himself), the Varese brand promised us two additional motorcycle launches in early 2014. MV Agsuta made good on half that promise with the Dragster 800 model, hopefully this Ago special edition isn’t the other half of that statement, and MV Agusta still has something waiting in the wings. That being said, the Tricolore & Gold paint scheme is gorgeous, and looks even better in person.

Isle of Man TT Gets TV Deal for Australia & USA

Want to watch the Isle of Man TT from the comfort of your non-British TV, but haven’t been able to in the past? A new TV from the Isle of Man’s Department of Economic Development will do just that. Inking a new TV contract with North One TV, the Isle of Man TT will be televised in the American, Australian, and of course British markets, making it easier than ever to watch the iconic road race. With a five-year contract with the Velocity Channel in the US, the American cable channel will show seven one-hour race shows. Each segment will air within 24hrs of each race, and be tailored for the American market.

Castiglioni Denies Fiat Buyout of MV Agusta Is in the Works

After reporting 22% growth in Q1 2014, Giovanni Castiglioni had some closing words about the rumors that Fiat could acquire MV Agusta — a popular rumor that has been swirling around in the press the last two months. Denying outright that MV Agusta had, or was in, talks with the Fiat-Chrysler group about an acquisition (some reports linked even MV Agusta to being bought by Fiat-owned Ferrari), Castiglioni said the Italian company solely was focused on building growth, and building motorcycles. “Moreover, I’d like to take this opportunity to deny rumours circulated by the media over the last few days concerning supposed negotiations vis-à-vis the sale of a share of MV Agusta to the Fiat-Chrysler Group,” said Giovanni Castiglioni, the President and CEO of MV Agusta.

A 2WD Hybrid-Electric Motorcycle for the US Military?

In the coming years, US special forces may be riding a tw0-wheel drive, hybrid-electric, multi-fuel motorcycle co-developed by BRD Motorcycles and Logos Technologies. Helping make this project possible is a Small Business Innovation Research grant from DARPA. The goal is to make a single-track vehicle for US expeditionary and special forces that will be nearly silent in operation, yet also capable of traveling long distances. Details on the proposed machine are light, of course, but it sounds like the 2WD dirt bike will be based off the BRD RedShift MX (shown above), and use an electric drivetrain, as well as a multi-fuel internal combustion engine to achieve its goals.

Colin Edwards Will Retire from Racing after 2014 Season

Announcing his decision during the pre-event press conference for the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, Colin Edwards told the assembled press that 2014 would be the Texan’s last season racing a motorcycle. Citing a lack of improvement on his performance in pre-season testing and at the Qatar GP, Edwards decision perhaps answers the lingering question in the paddock of when the American rider would hang-up his spurs after an illustrious career in AMA, WSBK and MotoGP. Talking about his inability to come to terms with the Forward Yamaha, which Aleix Espargaro was able to take to the front of the pack in Qatar, Edwards was at a loss when it came to understanding the Open Class machine and his lack of results.

MSF Updates Its Basic RiderCourse Curriculum

It is no surprise that statistics from the NHTSA show that motorcycle accidents and injuries are on the rise. According to the 2012 Motor Vehicle Crash report published by the NHTSA, motorcycle fatalities for that year rose to 4,957, up seven percent from 2011, while injuries increased 15% to 93,000. While the NHTSA statistics are misleading because the motorcycle category includes mopeds, scooters, three-wheelers, pocket bikes, mini bikes, and off-road vehicles, new riders need every advantage they can afford. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation has taken notice of these statistics and has revised the curriculum for its Basic RiderCourse to include a new Basic eCourse, which students will take prior to in-person instruction.

Yamaha Trademarks “R1S” & “R1M” at USPTO – “YZF-R1M” Trademarked Abroad – But Why?

Are new Yamaha YZF-R1 models coming down the pipe? That’s the question being asked after trademark filings in the US and abroad tipped off Yamaha Motor’s intention to use “R1S”, “R1M”, and “YZF-R1M” for motorcycle, scooter, and three-wheeled purposes. The filings are being taken as hints towards a possible multiple trim levels of the Yamaha YZF-R1 superbike, with the “S” and “M” designations being different spec machines than the current base model. The “S” nomenclature is a popular one in the two and four-wheeled world, though “M” would certainly be a novel designation, outside of say…BMW.

Bell & COTA Create Texas-Themed Limited-Edition Helmet

Continuing its theme of making limited-edition helmets for premier-class US rounds, Bell Helmets has teamed up with the Circuit of the Americas and Chris Wood, of Airtrix, to create a Texas-themed Bell Star Carbon helmet, just in time for COTA’s MotoGP race next weekend. Available only until April 13th, the Bell/COTA helmet features a red, white, and blue flag motif on the front, with both the American and State of Texas flags visible, which then wrap around the rear to merge with a hardwood design, reminiscent of the floorboards in a Western saloon. The helmet is also crowned with a Longhorn cattle skull, which adds to the Texan motif. The specially designed helmet also features a horseshoe, the COTA logo, and the 2014 Red Bull MotoGP of The Americas logo.

Aprilia Mounting a Return to MotoGP in 2016

Towards the end of the 800cc era, MotoGP looked to be in dire condition. Grids were dwindling, factories were reducing their participation, and teams were in difficult financial straits indeed. By the end of 2011, there were just 17 full time entries, Suzuki was down to a single rider, and were about to pull out entirely for 2012. How different the situation looks today. In a recent interview with the official MotoGP.com website, Aprilia Corse’s new boss Romano Albesiano gave a brief outline of their plans. The Italian factory will continue to work with the IODA Racing team for 2014 to collect data on the electronics and tires, which they will use as input on an entirely new project being worked on for 2016.

How Jason Pridmore Scared the Crap Out of Me…Twice

05/29/2011 @ 7:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

How Jason Pridmore Scared the Crap Out of Me...Twice Jason Pridmore two up ride Dan Lo 635x423

It all started innocently enough, as I was having dinner with some friends from Dainese before the West Coast Moto Jam, they suggested that I do a two-up ride with Jason Pridmore on the National Guard Suzuki Superbike. “Yeah, that’d be really cool,” I said in response, trying not to burst with excitement as to how awesome and unique I thought the experience would be. Barely sleeping the night before, I arrived Saturday morning at Infineon Raceway, and got decked out in the Dainese/AGV gear that was provided, and headed over to the National Guard Jordan Superbike team pits where we met up with Jason Pridmore.

I was accompanied by several National Guardsmen and some fans (you can win a two-up ride by following Jason on Twitter), and before we got started the AMA & FIM World Endurance veteran introduced the program to us. “Before we start has anyone here been drinking?” asked Pridmore – the day had been hot, and this was a NASCAR venue after all. Raising his hand and looking at the ten of us, “Oh, so just me?..let’s get started” continued Pridmore. Yeah…it was going to be like that.

Swinging my leg over the pillion seat on the Suzuki GSX-R1000, Jason gave me a run-down again on the instructions, and asked me how I was feeling. “I’m pumped,” I replied. “Go as fast as you can.” Now let us take a moment to evaluate who this is the point where I made my critical error in the day, as I suspect Pridmore takes a special joy in scaring the life out of hapless moto-journalists who find themselves on the back of his motorcycle.

Actually, Jason makes it a point to say in his briefing that the goal is to make the ride fun for every passenger, and consider that a goal achieved, as you’d be hard pressed to find someone getting off the back of Jordan Suzuki without a grin that stretches ear-to-ear. However, I suspect that if you’re a motorcycle blogger with more ego than commonsense, this whole concept is forfeit, and it’s at this point in time that I would like to apologize to every pillion I’ve ever had on the back of my street bikes (you know who you are).

How Jason Pridmore Scared the Crap Out of Me...Twice Jason Pridmore two up ride Infineon 635x474

Going into Turn 1 at the track formerly known as Sears Point, I became keenly aware of the air whipping around my back and ass, and realized that unlike the driver’s seat on a motorcycle, which typically has a bucket shape to it, I was really just hanging in the breeze on the pillion position. It doesn’t sound like much, but for someone that’s never been a passenger on a motorcycle before, the entire experience goes against roughly a decade’s worth of motorcycle riding.

That concept would become amplified as we apexed through the first turn. “I have no control,” I thought to myself, literally along for the ride at this point. This should have of course been painfully obvious before I got on the National Guard Jordan Suzuki, but the idea really sunk in when I lost my telepathic battle with Pridmore on where the first brake marker should be.

It should be noted that Infineon Raceway is an undulating race track, with a wide mix of technical turns. On-camber & off-camber turns, changing elevation, kinks, bends, hairpins, the Sonoma race course has it all. It’s one of only two race tracks California that I haven’t ridden before, which made each turn a bit of a surprise, but what struck me the most was the G-forces we were hitting. With handles built into the tank, it really is quite easy to brace yourself on the Suzuki, and still give Pridmore plenty of room to move around on the machine — though going through The Carousel I regretted just about everything I ate for lunch, and my stomach potentiometer told me we hit at least 2G’s going through the downhill left-hander.

I should preface at this point that our pace is probably faster than what I, an avid track day rider, would consider prudent. I don’t know if this is because of the whole lack of control issue, the fact I have no clue what turn is coming next, or if Jason’s 50% race pace really just is that much faster than my best efforts. If I were a betting man though, I’d factor all three pretty heavily into my assessment, with an extra emphasis on that last point.

Gripping with all my might, we navigated through the rest of Infineon’s turns, as Jason gave me a truly unique perspective on the race course. Making our way through the Esses, and coming into the back straight, before the kink that the AMA runs to keep speeds down, my perspective goes from asphalt to blue sky. Yes, we’re doing a two-up, 75+ mph wheelie that feels like it went on for days. Please sir, can I have another? Our front wheel touches down as we go through the kink, and then it’s ludicrous speed through Turn 10 towards and towards the bus stop that is Turn 11.

Have you ever done a push-up while a small adult sitting on your back? That’s really strange if you said “yes” to that question, but I have a slight understanding of what that must have been like for you (seriously though, seek help). Pushing against the tank with all my might, we go through T11, and back onto the front straight. Our lap isn’t a flying lap, so we stop midway through the straightaway to lure the next unsuspecting passenger onto Pridmore’s Suzuki. Truly awesome, and truly horrifying at the same time, I doubt I’ll ever take a lap around Infineon quite like that again…and if I do, I’ll keep my mouth shut about wanting to go full-tilt.

How Jason Pridmore Scared the Crap Out of Me...Twice Miller Motorsports Park two up ride 635x474

How horrible my memory is would quickly get tested on that last point though, as unfortunately the video of my Infineon two-up ride got lost to the great DOS-prompt in the sky…and let’s be honest, there are more than a few people that want to see A&R‘s creator careen around a race track with tears in his eyes. No longer able to plead ignorance, I readily agreed to go for a second two-up ride, this time during the Memorial Day weekend at Miller Motorsports Park. Joined by more of our fine serviceman from the Army and Air National Guard, and a few AMA rider’s significant others (I may our may-not have helped coax Roger Lee Hayden’s girlfriend into joining us…sorry Rog), I again climbed onto the back of the Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000.

There really is no better rollercoaster than a two-up ride with Jason Pridmore, and much to the ire of my moto-colleauges, you can’t pick two better venues than the mountain ringed Miller Motorsports Park and the dynamically-flowing Infineon raceway. Since I know it’ll be a hit with some of my more inscrupulous readers and fans, find the video our lap around the Outer Loop of Miller below – there’s a glutton for punishment hidden behind that dark-smoked AGV helmet.

Big thanks to Jason Pridmore for the biggest thrill I’ve had on two wheels, and also to the Michael Jordan Motorsports Team which runs the National Guard Jordan Suzuki squad, and Dainese for putting the program together and hosting me. More importantly though, a big thank you to the men and women who serve our country in our National Guard, especially to the few I got to meet these past few weekends. You’re what the BigM weekend is all about.

Photo: © 2011 Dan Lo / CornerSpeedPhoto.com – All Rights Reserved

Comment:

  1. Ades says:

    I had the pleasure of doing this @ Philip Island on the back of the Team Suzuki Factory Australian Superbike with 3 times ASBK Champion Shawn Giles……… Let me tell you, Turn 1 at 180kmph 2-up is an intense sensation. The braking forces compared to when you are the rider are insane.

    Still………….I love my pic of us going over the top of Lukey Heights with my boot about an inch off the tarmac.

  2. wreckah says:

    awesome Jensen, quite jealous here :)

  3. david says:

    the action pic shows you in the position to drop your crap on the track man !
    :-)

  4. I wish all the photos of me taking a crap looked as dynamic as this one David ;)

  5. david says:

    you can’t have a photographer following you in the bathroom everyday unless your name is a french capital and your last name is an hotel…
    :-p

  6. Sounds like an avant garde project…I know just the person for it.

  7. david says:

    Man, THAT would sell !

  8. How Jason Pridmore Scared the Crap Out of Me…Twice http://fb.me/WdJ91so4

  9. Alex says:

    I just love this article!
    And especially the “…the idea really sunk in when I lost my telepathic battle with Pridmore on where the first brake marker should be.”
    I totally understand that felling of no control!
    +1 A&R

  10. Wonder what it's like to take a 2-Up lap with @jp43? Excellent article by @Asphalt_Rubber tells the story http://t.co/PB6Yb018