The three events held annually at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway draw a different and unique fan base to the Hoosier State for racing action.
Just like with NASCAR and the Indy Racing League, fans of the Red Bull Indianapolis MotoGP wore their allegiance on shirts and caps as they staked out the best location to watch the riders in action Sunday at IMS.
Large groups of fans were situated around the corners in the inside road course portion of the 2.62 mile track.
Sisters Jamie Nash and Brittany Pickering were camped on the inside of Turn 8 waiting for the day’s activities to begin.
“We’ve been here the last three years,” Nash said. “We’re here to watch Nicky Hayden. We watch all the races on television. I’ve liked motorcycles my whole life.”
Pickering was attending her second MotoGP in Indianapolis, having missed the first event in 2008. She’s a fan of Australian Casey Stoney.
“We usually sit a little further up in the turn,” Nash said of their seat selection.
While Nash and Pickering traveled approximately 40 miles, Shunitaj Sugki and his young son traveled from Japan to IMS for the first time.
“I came for the race,” he said after taking a picture of his son in front of the Pagoda at IMS. “I sometimes follow the MotoGP.
“This is a big place,” Sugki said of IMS, who noted the track’s vast history for racing. “... It’s pretty exciting. It has exceeded my expectations, I thought it would be like for the Indianapolis 500. The track is very good for MotoGP.”
Sugki is spending a week in Indianapolis and has taken the opportunity to see some other sights around the city.
Vess Enev, originally from Bulgaria, has been living in Chicago for the past 15 years and made his first trip to IMS Sunday with his wife and three children.
“I used to race myself,” he said. “I wanted to come and revisit some old memories. I don’t care who wins, I just want to see some good racing.”
Enev said his plans were to walk around the circuit to get a feel for the track.
“I used to race at the club level,” he explained. “I would like to race the circuit, but not now. Not with three kids.”
Ruth Ranalletta, of Indianapolis, said she came for all three days of Red Bull racing events.
“Ever since the hurricane of three years ago,” she said with a laugh, referencing the first year when a rain storm interrupted the action. “It’s the one you remember.”
Ranalletta said many of her family members started following MotoGP when they started riding motorcycles about 15 years ago. It’s the only event they attend at IMS.
“It’s a totally different crowd,” she said. “These are motorcycle people and we like to be around them.”
Ranalletta said the family owns a 1974 Ducatti, BMW and Honda.
“I don’t care what bike wins,” she laughed.
Ranalletta offered some viewing tips for first-time fans, saying the area of Turn 13 has a bump in the track and riders have been falling there.
“You have to walk around and see every point,” she said.
Ranalletta was rooting for Hayden and fellow American Ben Spies, who both started from the front row.
Indianapolis resident Nick Gold was stationed in Turn 8 for his first MotoGP.
“I had friends coming,” he said. “I’m just interested and had the opportunity. I’ve never seen a motorcycle race before, so it just is pretty interesting. I wanted to see what it was all about.”
John Story, Indianapolis, was also taking in his first motorcycle race, but he has attended the Indianapolis 500 about 25 times in the past. Story said he wanted to watch the racing from the turns on the inside of the IMS oval.
“I’ve always wanted to come and watch this,” he said. “I had the day open and everyone else was busy, so I’m here by myself.”