OK, I've had a full day of racing and Carlsberg today, so I'm going to give you the quick and dirty Road Atlanta update. Sit down, this won't hurt a bit.
Sometime yesterday afternoon, I was able to talk Jen into leaving for Atlanta on Thursday afternoon instead of Friday morning like originally planned. After all the fun today, I think we're both glad we left last night.
We got on the road - finally - at about 8:30 and drove from Raleigh to Atlanta with only one stop for food and one stop for gas and to pee. We got here before 3am, and crashed out hard at the hotel.
We didn't rush this morning, and crawled out of bed around 9:30. We decided to get ready and grab breakfast at the track. We arrived at the track sometime before 11am, and the woman who gave us our tickets at will-call was the same one as last year who wanted to talk for 10 minutes while I was just ready to get over to the track.
We parked in the infield and immediately headed down to the paddock where we grabbed a couple hot dogs for breakfast. We walked the paddock and I pointed out the teams and the bikes, the best places to watch the trophy ceremony and where to get into the pits.
Almost like clockwork, we came across the Latin contingent - and my biggest fan -Robertino Pietri and Martin Cardenas. Jen completely missed it and I didn't have my Spanish ears on, but as we approached the group, there was apparently some fellatio-related conversation as Robertino was - very realistically - simulating a certain sex act. I've never seen someone's eyes get so big, and Robertino apologized over and over, but Jen had completely missed the whole scenario. They politely switched to English and we talked for a few minutes, grabbed some autographs and Robertino explained to me that his wedding - originally scheduled for May - has been postponed since his dad (former AMA racer Robert Pietri) was unable to secure a visa.
We cruised the paddock for a bit, grabbed an autograph from Josh Hayes, and I pointed out a few more riders. We finally tracked down Geoff May, and I had him sign a photo I had of him and me from his Superstock win last year. He called one of his guys over and asked him to grab me a new #54 T-shirt from the truck (that was pretty cool). We walked the bridge and hung out in the main grandstand for the Superbike and SportBike qualifying.
After qualifying, we hopped a shuttle for Spectator Hill. I wanted to show Jen the spacacle that is the Ducati tent. As we crested the hill, I couldn't see the red flags of the Ducati Mecca, and as we came to the top, Ducati was nowhere to be found - Hopefully, they'll be here tomorrow.
We rode the shuttle back down to the vendor village, grabbed a ribeye sandwich (and a few bottle openers so we wouldn't have to use the seatbelts in the shuttle to open the Carlsberg) and nestled into the corner of Suzuki Bridge to watch Superpole.
P.S. I stand corrected on an earlier tweet - It was Mladin, Hayes and May 1-2-3 for Superbike. Sorry about that.
Jen very easily picked out the different bikes simply by the tone of their engines. She - and I as well - loves the sound of the new Yamaha R1. She definitely now understands the soulful hum of the Ducati, and she thinks the Buell is friggin' annoying.
We saw a few of our (my) favorite - but lesser known - riders like Scott Jensen and Barrett Long, and searched high and low for Johnny Rock Page. I saw Jay Springsteen - who I watched race flat track in my very first motorcycle race EVER - but he was geting ready for Moto GT qualifying.
Finally, we decided we were too hungry (and cold) and decided to head out. We stopped at Tequila Sports Bar and had another drink before we trecked over to the fan party at Cycle Nation.
At Cycle Nation, we ran the Yamaha autograph line and had some great conversation with Ben Bostrom. He told us that Eric was doing well but was itching to get back to racing. I hope he brings some delicious avocados back with him. Larry Pegram was there & says he's still sore from his crash at Fontana, but he's ready to race this weekend, and Barrett Long turned out to be the coolest guy at the autograph sesson (follow on twitter at @paradigmracing).
After the Yamaha guys pulled out, the Suzuki guys sat down for autographs. Mat Mladin was the first in line, and Jen (smart ass) asked if he would sign his autograph "To Jen: DMG is making me sign autographs today." He was a sport about the comment and told us that he really enjoys meeting fans but hates when someone tells him when & where he has to do it. Geoff May was awesome as always, and Aaron Yates had his daughter on his lap for the session. Keving Schwantz was there as well, and it amazed me how many of the people in line had no clue who he was. Blake Young seems like a smug ass, and I still don't like him for running Cardenas off here last year.
We talked to a few regular riders (not racers) about their view on this season, and - for the most part - everyone seems to feel the same way as I do: We love racing, and it doesn't matter what DMG does - or anyone for that matter - we'll keep coming back for the love of the sport.
After the fan party, we headed back to Tequila and had dinner and a couple more drinks. Now we're back a the hotel. Jen is asleep in the hotel bed, and I'm updating you all now. The bed is looking really good right now, so I'm heading there too. If you're going to be at the track tomorrow, send me a DM on Twitter. My updates are off, so that's the only way to reach me.
I'm going to try to give more updates over the weekend, but if I don't, just know I wish you were all here.
This is racing, and this is what I love. No matter what's going on in life, weekends like this are what makes everything OK.
Keep riding. Keep racing. Keep the wrist twisted, and everything will be alright.