I have very vivid memories of sitting in the IMS Media Center, overlooking the front stretch and watching motorcycle two-seater rides during Red Bull Indianapolis GP weekend. Person after person would climb on the back of a motorcycle and be driven around the road course at 150+ mph. “They’re actually crazy,” I’d think to myself. “Never in a million years would I do that.”
But this morning, I found myself like this:
The IMS Public Relations team had invited members of the media to the Speedway for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. They would be taking laps around the road course at 160mph on the back of a Honda Superbike. When there were a few spots leftover, they asked if I would be up for the opportunity. Apparently I seem crazier than I thought…
The day began with a quick introduction by the team at GEICO Motorcycle Road Racing and rider Chris Ulrich. They assured us that Chris was the best there was! He’s been giving two-seater rides for over 10 years without any kind of incident. Of course, there were still a few butterflies fluttering around my stomach as we began suiting up.
We were given professional-grade safety gear. Helmets, full leathers, gloves, and boots – just like the real MotoGP riders.
Once on the bike, I wrapped my hands around the grab handle, placed my feet on the pegs, took a deep breath and we were off!
Before I knew it we were leaning into the first few corners. And when I say leaning I mean pavement glaring you right in the face! We were inches from the blue and white curbs. I tried my best to lean into the turns to make things easier for Chris, but I’m not sure I was much help!
Then came the straights. I ducked my head behind Chris, as instructed, to minimize the g-forces pulling my helmet up and back. And then I learned what it really, REALLY means to hold on for dear life! The bike was reaching speeds of 160mph on the front straight. I had never experienced anything like it!
It was such an awesome feeling when I got off the bike. Such an adrenaline rush! “You’ll be buzzing for a while,” Chris said. He was right – I think I’m still “buzzing”.
This year during the 2014 Red Bull Indianapolis GP as I watch the two-seater rides from my usual spot in the Media Center I think I’ll be a bit envious of the riders. I’d truly recommend the experience to anyone. Maybe I am actually crazy…