When you head to Road America in the beginning of June, what do you expect? Sunny skies, large crowds, and fast motorcycles, right? Depending on the weather, that is NOT always the case, but when I got ready for the 2017 Dunlop Championship at Road America this year, the weather was looking pretty good for race day.
Friday, 7 AM - Gates ARE Open
One of the best things about being at the races is that the track is a short distance from my home. If I had to drive more than an hour to get there, the ride in would be a tough one for me, even though I am generally a morning person. The weather was gray. Possibly a few rain showers later in the day, but for the most part practice and qualifying were going to be cool and overcast.
This is a little easier on the camera work that I do, but when my main focus is fan interaction and things like that, having nice weather is more desirable. When the gates open up at 7 AM, you know exactly what to expect when you see fans lined up to get an early glimpse of what's in the paddock.
The weather didn't really get any nicer that day, but I had a plan for photos, so I made my way around the track. As the practice sessions and the first round of qualifying finished up you could tell the fans were starting to roll in. Turn 5 saw a nice grouping, as well as the campers that were packed into the carousel area, so that was nice to see. Even with the pending rain on the way in the next 36-48 hours, campers were putting up tents and setting up the area they rented for the weekend. The excitement was sure to come.
I finished up Friday a little early and headed home to go through the images and edit the video footage I captured. Tomorrow would be another day.
Saturday & Sunday seemed like a blur
When I got to the track on Saturday morning, things did not look good. And by "things" I mean the weather. There was a steady downpour and that looked like it was not going to let up at all within the next 2 hours. The track was drenched and it was going to be a miracle anyone was going to show up for the qualifying and races later that day.
The crowd of motorcycle fans was not going to let a little rain mess up the weekend. The qualifying started right at 8:30, and since the MotoAmerica series runs in the rain, the fans had to suck it up to see some action.
Yamaha and Suzuki dominated all weekend long and that included the 2 qualifying and 1 last practice session for the groups.
After the last chance qualifier, the Superpole and the stunt show, we were on our way to lunch break and the autograph session. I took some time to setup for the 69 seconds of silence that was coming for Nicky Hayden. His younger brother was taking the commemorative flag around the track for one lap and it was sure to be a crowd favorite.
Racing for the afternoon was going to include:
SUPERSPORT/SUPERSTOCK 600 RACE 1 - Full Results
MOTUL SUPERBIKE CLASS/BAZZAZ SUPERSTOCK 1000 RACE 1 - Full Results
KTM RC CUP RACE 1 (7 LAPS) - Full Results
Knowing that I wanted to be in position for the best possible shots of the leaders as they came around the track. The crowds were starting to really pack Road America at this time making it a little harder to get around, even with the moped.
Sunday was just like Saturday in regards to the racing schedule, but that was it. The weather cleared up, the temps climbed higher throughout the day and the crowd was out of hand! Hundreds of motorcycle fans came into the paddock to park their bikes, chat with other riders and enjoy seeing other custom creations.
Knowing the racing was going to be a blast on a faster track, I parked myself at my favorite corner (Turn 6-7) and waited. You can see my gallery here. With the racing in the afternoon and the long, scheduled lunch break, I knew it was going to be a long day until podium time.
MotoAmerica changed things up a little this time around, allowing fans a little closer to the podium celebration. For the most part, it was a success. The crowds gathered each time and really enjoyed being able to listen to what the racers had to say about their race.
The weekend was great! Even with the cooler day on Friday and the rain on Saturday, I tell everyone the same thing. It was a great weekend with great crowds and even better racing. Next up is the June Sprints and if you like what you see here, come on back for the post race gallery.
Click here to see the 2017 MotoAmerica Dunlop Championship Gallery