I have been a motorbike fan for many years already but only in recent few years I started to visit the Grand Prix action live. In this post (and also in some next ones as this will be divided into a few parts) I would like to share with you my experience from visiting it.
So far I have visited only one race track and it is probably no surprise that it is my home track – Brno circuit. And I want to say one thing, I love it! But I hope that very soon I will travel to visit some more tracks. I thought I could manage it already this year but now it doesn’t look very realistic. So hopefully next year. I already have on my mind the tracks which I would like to visit the most, so I have to do it somehow.
I have experience from both, time in paddock and time at the grandstand. Both is amazing, both is unique and I love the time spent there.
Actually, my first ever Grand Prix was the World Superbikes one when it was even organized in Brno a few years ago. I want to write about this as well but for now I want to write only about my MotoGP experience.
I still have lots of amazing memories from this year’s GP but let’s take it chronologically so I start with my first ever visit and then continue to write about year by year. I just want to pick the moments which were somehow very important for me. So this post is meant to be written from my own point of view, it is how I felt it in that time, all opinion here is my own. So here are some of the biggest highlights.
2013: Autograph session in the shopping centre
It all started in 2013 when World Superbikes didn’t come to Brno and I really had an urgent feeling to visit a race weekend. But in that time we were in pretty hard financial situation. Me and my sister were talking about visiting some pre-event of MotoGP or something like this. So then we decided to travel to Brno to have a trip and visit the pre-event autograph session which took part in the Brno shopping centre on Thursday ahead of the race weekend. And even some of our favourites were there. So we went. It was for the fist time I saw some of the MotoGP racers on my own eyes. Unfortunately, the organization of the whole event was quite bad and poor, there were lots of chaos. So I was kinda sad and disappointed because I wanted to get closer to my heroes, maybe took their autographs or even had photos with them. But no chance. On the other side, I was happy that I even could see them. The session was divided into two parts. The first one was for the lower categories, the second one then for MotoGP riders.
In that time I was more interested in the first part of the whole thing because Sandro Cortese was there. In that time my big hero and love. Well, he is still one of the riders I like the most. But, back to the year 2013. I was really very far from him but at least I could see him a little bit and I was so happy even from that. There were also Thomas Lüthi, Dominique Aegerter, Jakub Kornfeil and Karel Hanika (Red Bull Rookies Cup leader in that time) in this group. My eyes got stuck on Sandro :-D So these riders were the first ones I have ever seen from MotoGP.
Then some MotoGP riders came. There were Karel Abraham, Andrea Dovizioso, Stefan Bradl, Álvaro Bautista, Colin Edwards and Claudio Corti. Well, now I have to say I am pretty glad I could see Colin. For the MotoGP session me and my sister left the never ending queue of people waiting for the autograph card or something and went to look from the other side of the place. Heh, almost nobody was there so we were quite close to the podium so good view at the boys. And it was pretty cool and I was very happy. For the first time of my life I was so close to MotoGP riders and I was very happy and it all meant a lot to me.
The most I was looking forward to Stefan. And on that time I fell in love with him :-D Well, I already liked him and he was my favourite rider but on that day I saw he was really quite nice guy or at least it seemed so. So I started to support him even more. Well, who could know in that time that I would have to wait many years to finally take a photo with him.
Stefan and Álvaro were sitting next to each other and talking and smiling. Who would guess that one day they would be team mates. Also Claudio Corti seemed very nice and he was playing with his bottle of water. Although in that time I was more disappointed than happy because the organization was a little bit chaotic and I had some high expectations which didn’t happen, now I have to say that I have only nice memories on it all.
2014: Thursday’s paddock / pit walk
I knew that for 2014 I wanted more. Again, I wasn’t in the best financial situation plus some things changed. Actually I had some different priorities for that year (now, 3 years later I don’t understand that). So me and my sister went for the MotoGP Thursday’s paddock event. I was so happy to be at the circuit again. Last time before that was when I was there for WSBK. So I was amazed I was there again. And I went to the paddock. Me and my sister met there some other girl friends who we had known from the internet via social sites or motorbike blogs. Since that year we have been going there together every year. So also from this point of view it was an important year for me.
I couldn’t believe it. Lots of amazing moments happened that year in the paddock in just two hours. It will forever be in my heart and mind because you know, it was my first MotoGP paddock visit. I was amazed and I was happy. I met lots of riders, I got quite a lot of autographs, I took pictures with some of them as well. There are a few highlights of mine from that year which I really would like to share with you because these moments meant so much to me.
Sandro Cortese. You already know how sad I was that I couldn’t get closer to him in 2013 at the autograph session. But in 2014 I was so lucky. Me, my sister and also our girl friends, we all have been his fans. So you can imagine how happy we were to see and meet him. Wow, in that year I was really amazed by the fact that I got his autograph and also took a photo with him. I was over the moon.
Definitely one of the biggest moments for me was meeting Mika Kallio. I have been his fan for so many years. When I started to support him as a teenager I even never thought I could meet him and I could stand next to him. But in 2014 this became a reality and I couldn’t believe it. I got his autograph and me and my sister together took a photo with him. I was speechless. Yes, happy and speechless.
Actually now I’m reading what I wrote about that day to my Czech blog back then in 2014 and I see that I was writing that we also met Maverick Viñales (who was in Moto2 in that time) and that some of my girl friends asked him for autograph and a photo. I didn’t want neither his autograph nor the photo with him. I wrote there to the blog post that I wasn’t his fan and didn’t need that. Well, it makes me laugh now because who would guess what happens with me and my view on Maverick in a few years later.
From Moto2 I also met Johann Zarco. Me and my friends have been his fans so we were pretty happy to see him. With him you can see the big progress which he did during the years. Because in that year he was just standing there with his manager next to the team’s truck and nobody was around. We were one of the few people who went there to ask him for a photo. He seemed to me he looked like shy boy, almost didn’t smile for the photos. But one year later it was completely different person.
Meeting Luis Salom was also amazing. I took a photo with him and got his autograph. My friends loved him so they were chasing him almost all the time there :-D But Luis was always in a good mood, smiling, very happy, very polite. My friends also created Czech fan site for him.
Actually one of the highlights for me was also meeting Leon Camier. In Brno 2014 he was replacing injured Nicky Hayden in the Aspar team. It was not for me the first time to meet Leon as I already met him some years before it during World Superbikes. In his WSBK earlier times I loved him, he was like my big idol and yeah also because he’s been so handsome man. In WSBK I was shy to ask him for a photo. But in 2014 during MotoGP paddock event I just had to ask. I was still very shy but I just went and asked. And now I am really happy that I did it and took a photo with him.
I even don’t remember who was the biggest MotoGP hero for me in that time. But probably it was already Stefan Bradl. After seeing him in 2013 in that autograph session I really wanted to meet him and finally got an autograph. But I wasn’t lucky at all. Actually I saw him going around on his scooter but that was all. Well, it was pretty disappointing for me. But in that time I already knew I would go also the upcoming year so I hoped for another chance and waited another one year.
To meet Sandro was amazing for me, to meet Mika was amazing as well for me. But I think that the most important and most amazing moments in 2014 for me were with the people from Moto3 category.
You all probably already know how much I love the Ajo team. And so it was already 3 years ago (just to make it right, I love them for more than just 3 years, but it’s a long history – maybe for another blog post in the future). And I was so happy that I met all 3 riders of the team in that year. I was super happy to meet Jack Miller and he even signed the australian flag me and my sister had. Karel Hanika was going there around pretty often, I also met Danny Kent. All 3 boys seemed to be super nice to me. I also met Niklas Ajo and it was one of the most amazing moments for me. And what’s more. I saw Aki Ajo, in my eyes the best team manager ever. I couldn’t be happier in that time. But it’s not all. On that day something very important for me happened. I’ve always been a fan of Joan Olivé. He was never like the best rider there, I was supporting him back then when it was 125cc category, but I liked him and supported him for many years. When he disappeared I was a bit sad from it. In that time I would never guess that one day I would meet him. And not as a rider but employee in the Ajo team. Before coming there to this GP I knew he was working there but never thought I could really meet him. And it happened. He was there in the paddock. When I saw him I almost fainted :-D My big idol and crush from my teenage years was just a few meters around me. I was unbelievably nervous and shy but I knew I had to do it. My sister encouraged me a little bit. I went there to ask him for an autograph. He was very surprised and asked me why that he wasn’t a rider. But I was brave enough to reply that he had been a rider and in that times he had been my favourite. Well, I was looking at the ground, not at him as I was very nervous, and probably blushing, but I said it! He was very happy to hear that and he even took picture with me and smiled and I was happy and everything suddenly seemed to be so amazing. It was wonderful moment. I will never forget that.
The most special moment came when we were going to the Mahindra pit box. Me and my sister liked Arthur Sissis a lot, we supported him as much as we could, we even created small fanclub group on social sites. He is somehow very important person for us. We and also some our girl friends came in front of the Mahindra box, took photos of the box, of his bike and we saw he was there but he didn’t look very keen to go out. He was sitting there quietly and listening some music from his iPod. His mechanics were there in the box, yeah, you know, men. They were still looking at me and my friends, did some jokes about us, laughing, smiling at us. But it was funny, we enjoyed that actually. Me and my sister had the australian flag so we started to wave with it to Arthur. We wanted so much him to go out from the box. Mechanics started to shout at him and maybe also clap their hands if I remember it right. Finally we saw smile on Arthur’s face! He came out from the box, took pictures with us and also with the flag, signed some autographs. Later also the mechanics invited us to the box so me and my friends (in that time it meant 6 girls) took photo next to Arthur’s bike. One of the most amazing moments of my life. I will never forget that. Arthur had and has no idea how important it was for me and what meeting him meant to me. Unfortunately I was too shy to say how much we liked him and that we even had his fanclub czech page. He seemed happy that somebody went to him, and even with australian flag! Unfortunately we forgot to ask him to sign the flag. Well, we had no idea that Brno GP 2014 was his last Grand Prix in the World Championship. He probably already knew about it in that time so at least we made him happy, or I hope so.
Well, the rider who I meet every year there in the paddock is Brad Binder. I have lots of memories on him and also some of them are quite funny. Like my first ever memory on him from 2014. We saw him the Ambrogio team hospitality (he was racing for Ambrogio Moto3 in 2014) so we decided to wait for him. My friends even tried to wave at him. But later he really came. Hehe and he was putting his racing gloves on :-D We really didn’t understand why he did it. So with his gloves on his hands he took photos with us. I had to laugh. But, Brad is one of the greatest people there in the paddock. He is always very nice, smiling, always polite. He always asks “How are you?” and says “Hi” and “Goodbye”. Really very nice boy. And actually Brad is probably the only racer in the paddock who I meet every year. Actually also Johann Zarco is the one who I meet often but I have picture with Brad from every year I went there. It starts to be like a collection now :-D
Later we also saw Brad on his bicycle going around paddock. He even did wheelie with it. We didn’t have better idea than to start clapping. He started to look around, to look at us, he was laughing and had to be careful not to fall down from the bicycle. During the next years I realized that Brad does it often that he goes around the paddock doing wheelie with his bicycle :-D
It was one very amazing day. On that day in 2014 I fully realized how much I loved it all.
That Thursday in paddock in 2014 was great day but in that time I had no idea how this would continue and that the best times were yet to come.