Silverstone MotoGP: My experience



It was a bit boring.

I know I sound like a teenager, a thankless parasite that gets everything but appreciates nothing. The race was at the end of August last year, why do you think it took me this long to write about it?

I had fair warning before going to Silverstone that it was known to be boring, the track is a rider favorite, but not as much fun for the fans. However, I live in Milton Keynes, I can cycle to Silverstone in the morning and be back by night. It would’ve been stupid to miss the race.

In any case, here’s how the experience was for me, and why you may want to avoid it.

Silverstone MotoGP: The experience

Me and wifey reached there good and early on Sunday, 27th August 2017. When we got off the cab it sounded like there were a lot of flies buzzing somewhere close. It was just the Moto3 grid on their warm-up laps.

The first two thoughts in my mind when I entered the circuit were:

  1. Wow this place is huge
  2. Wow everyone is yellow

When you watch a race on TV, the directors do a good job of representing all fan clubs. In real life, 90% of the crowd was in Rossi colors, it was a sea of yellow out there. The most obvious display of Rossi worship are the merchandise booths, everyone else’s stand is empty, and there’s a constant stampede in front of the VR46 one.

I bought a cap, it was the cheapest thing I could find.

We walked around a bit, found our stand, and sat in our seats. I had booked us right on the home straight, in front of the starting grid, directly opposite the pits. It was a difficult decision, I was confused between watching the race close to a corner and getting to see those lean angles, or watching the race close to a straight and getting to see those top speeds. All grandstands in Silverstone are pretty far away from the track, so it was unlikely that I would be able to see the front tire slipping for Marquez, or the rear tire smoking for Zarco. So I decided it would be better to stay close to a straight, enjoy the noise, and the podium celebrations.

There was plenty of time before the Moto3 race was set to begin, I saw a Tweet from David Emmett of MotoMatters about a small meetup on the other side of the circuit. It was hot, we had one of the extremely rare sunny days of the year, but I decided it was worth it to walk all the way to the other side to see the man.

I am a big fan of David, for a writer of my style, inspiration is hard to come by. Most motorcycle-related websites on this planet vomit such ugly content on a daily basis that I try my best to stay away from them all. Since I can’t find much else to read, I end up either spending my time on Wikipedia, or re-reading my own articles.

I would like to become a better writer, and that’s not going to happen if all I read are the academic works on Wikipedia, and the juvenile ones on RiderZone.

David is old school, maybe a bit too much, his articles don’t even contain a single photo, and his website looks like it was designed by cavemen. What I admire about him is the consistency, the depth, and the total lack of fucks given. He doesn’t post selfies with Rossi, he doesn’t brag about what a glamorous lifestyle he has, he gets on with his job. I also like the fact that he’s independent, doesn’t need Dorna’s money. I hope I can do something like him in the future.

I went to the spot where the meetup was supposed to be, but he wasn’t there. Waited for a few minutes, and then it was time to get back to our seats for the race. Maybe it was for the good, meeting your heroes usually doesn’t end well.

By the time we got back to our stand the Moto3 field was just about ready to launch. At that moment I was happy with my decision to book us seats by the home straight. That noise is epic, all those bikes redlining, waiting for the light to go out, ready to shoot away like bullets. Once they went through the first corner, reality hit us in the face.

There was a giant screen in front of us, but it was positioned in such a way that we couldn’t really see it well. I had a small radio thingy through which I could hear the live telecast. But during the race our time was spent waiting for the bikes to come to the home straight, watching them fly by within 5 seconds, and then repeat till the race ended. The race was exciting, I know that because I enjoyed watching it on my laptop once I got back home, but sitting there under the British sun, our skin roasting to a perfect medium-rare, it all felt a bit pointless.

Whenever I watch races at home my dad asks me why I enjoy watching people go around in circles. I’ve tried telling him that there’s more to it than that, but sitting there by the home straight I was wondering what more there was to it.

The race ended, I don’t remember who won, they all looked the same from where we were sitting, they all looked like multi-colored ants.

I got a ping from a Facebook friend, went to see him before the Moto2 race started. Also got a few snacks to eat, and moved out of the sun to keep ourselves from melting. The Moto2 race started and ended the same way Moto3 had. Someone crashed, someone won, we had lost interest.

Then it was time for MotoGP.

If there was one thing that made it all worth it, it was the noise when the MotoGP grid was about to launch. Loud is not adequate a word to describe it, I felt something on my chest, like someone was playing drums on it, and I was sitting about a kilometer away. Good thing we had ear plugs.

Rossi lead through most of the race, and that got the crowd a bit worked up. It was then that I realized one of the reasons why the Moto3 and Moto2 races had been rather boring. British crowd is extremely civilized, all they do is clap at the end, they watch the race like rich snobs watching an opera. When you watch the race on TV, they add in the crowd noise, there was none where I was sitting.

Someone crashed, someone won, and the race was over. We were at the perfect spot to enjoy the podium ceremony, and at an even better spot to enjoy the race the crowd did from the grand stands to the podium. Silverstone is one of the few circuits that allows track invasion after the race, you can just go and walk all over the asphalt, touch the rubber left by the bikes, imagine the lines, the speed, and the rush. We went and walked around a bit too, but by then we were tired and it was time to go home.

There were a lot of things still to do at the track after the racing was done, there were a number of parties, games we could play, probably even get to talk to some of the riders, but we aren’t the sort who liked any of that. I think part of the reason why we didn’t enjoy the race was because we weren’t half drunk, there are very few things in life that are fun sober, and watching a race isn’t one of them.

This experience taught us a lot about why we are nerds. I enjoy reading, writing, video games, my wife enjoys painting, music, and cooking. We are designed to enjoy only nerdy things, visit to a museum, staring at a painting, trying to understand the philosophy of Nietzsche. We can’t get drunk, no matter how hard we try, and getting high is an activity strictly meant for indoors.

I think another reason why I didn’t enjoy the race was because I had seen the Isle of Man TT a few months before. The TT is just so good that anything after it feels rubbish, you get to be so close to the track, the bikes, and the riders. Your expectations from an event become unreasonable afterwards.

I didn’t even bother to take a single photo throughout the event, that should tell you a bit about how disappointing it was. The whole event cost me about 300 pounds, I don’t have much to show for it.

I would like to verify this result though, which is why I would like to watch a European round of MotoGP, maybe Aragon or Mugello. If those races bore me as well, then I’m just a boring person. If I happen to enjoy them, then Silverstone takes the blame. I’m sure they can make things a little bit more interesting by adding a few more screens, and their grandstand speakers could also use an upgrade to a higher volume.

I think Silverstone is a place better enjoyed when you are on the track, rather than sitting by it. I’ve been planning to do one of the Ferrari drives there since last year, I think I’ll do it in the summer to really understand why riders call it one of the scariest circuits around.

Until I do, Silverstone MotoGP remains a weird memory inside my head of something that was supposed to be epic, but didn’t live upto the fame.

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  1. sidhusmart

    I felt the same after watching my only F1 race at Singapore. The noise of the engines and especially the gear shifts took me by surprise. And you’re a lot closer to the cars to see the red hot disc breaks at turns and so on. But I don’t even remember who won and what strategy they ran etc. It was definitely a wonderful experience but I probably enjoy it more on TV.

    1. AK

      It does feel kinds strange saying that doesn’t it? We watched our favorite sports live, but prefer watching them on TV.

  2. AB

    Is it worth going to see practice laps i.e. on Friday on any circuit?
    Planning to get Fri – Sun pass for Assen so if you have any inputs specific, that would really help too 🙂

    1. AK

      I don’t think it is, if the cost is too high. If it’s cheap and you have the time, go for it. Will allow you to walk around, explore, and find different angles to watch from.

  3. AB

    ah ok. Thanks! You back in India btw?

    1. AK

      For now, yes 🙂