A Scorcher Down In Texas
It was a hot one both on and off the track at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas. With temperatures at 104 degrees on Thursday, 106 on Friday, 102 on Saturday, and 99 on Sunday, teams, riders, staff, and fans tried to keep cool while enjoying the action. Conditions were tough on the riders with a lot of sticky rubber laid down on the track. The Tytlers Cycle racing team and their Super Hooligan rider, Stefano Mesa #137 (photo below) earned a second place on Saturday’s podium. What makes this podium so special was that his victory was on an electric bike! Stefano rode an Energica Eva Ribelle RS and competed against other riders using internal combustion engines. His team and sponsors were elated with this first of its kind achievement. Talking with Laurence Kuykendall of Energica Motor, the concern was that the battery was good for the 6-lap race, but might not be fully charged past that point, especially if there were to be a crash and extra laps became necessary. COTA has 20 turns and is 3.427 miles in length, which is a test for any bike. We look forward to more developments from Energica motorcycle as they use this new data to validate that big dreams do come true!
Super Hooligan rider Stefano Mesa #137 on the Energica Eva Ribelle RS.
Thursday before any race weekend is move-in day. The pits are a hive of activity as teams settle in and begin preparing for racing. Conversations between friends and acquaintances are heard throughout the paddock as the garages and pit spaces begin to take shape. The Media Center is where Geoff and I first met Torin Collins #14. I noticed Torin and his parents spending most of the day trying to stay cool in the lobby. I asked him if he would consent to be interviewed for Road Dirt, to which he agreed. Torin was at MotoAmerica for the weekend racing for the Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki team riding a Suzuki GSX-R750 Supersport bike.
Torin Collins #14, Rupert Collins (Dad), & Kerry Woodcock (Mum). Supersport rider Torin Collins #14 in the Vision Wheel Suzuki Garage. The #14 bike being prepared for the weekend. Humorous comment on the mechanic’s bench.
At 18 years of age, Torin was on his summer break from the European Junior GP where he races #71 on a KTM for AGR Team. His KTM is similar to the bikes ridden in Moto3. He had not ridden a Supersport bike before nor raced at this track. Both his parents are British, but he is from Calgary, Alberta Canada. He began his racing career at 5 years old and raced on a Honda CRF50 at a local dirt go kart track. His father Rupert raced at the club level on a Ducati 749R twin. From the ages of 5 through 12, Torin became a Canadian National Champion, and tried out for the British Talent cup in 2017, finally earning a spot in 2018. In 2020 and 2021 he raced in the European Talent Cup. Last year and currently Torin is competing in the Junior GP. Residing near Barcelona, Spain with his mom, Kerry, he often trains at the famous Rocco’s Ranch. In April, Road Racing World named him one of the Young Guns in 2023.
Torin tucked in on the front straight, entering then carving through Turn 13.
Known as “The Canadian Storm”, Torin stormed into MotoAmerica this past weekend finishing fourth in Saturday’s race 1 and earning a third place spot on the podium in Sunday’s race 2. His Vision Wheel teammate for the weekend Tyler Scott #70 took the first place spot with Xavi Fores #12 finishing in second place after having clinched the Supersport Championship on Saturday in race 1.
A well-deserved hug from Dad on his first MotoAmerica podium. MotoAmerica or Moto3, which will it be? Vision Wheel Suzuki podium celebrations.
In addition to world class riders, MotoAmerica has a host of passionate staff who work hard on race weekends to keep things running smoothly. Grace and Tom Dorsey are two such people. Both have regular careers outside of MotoAmerica but have been doing necessary jobs at the track for the past 10 years. Tom Dorsey handles Tech and Gracie works in the tower scoring and keeping track of timing. Early Sunday morning, during warmups, Gracie invited Geoff and I up to the tower at COTA for a peak into her world. Jason Kingham is the Timing and Scoring Manager for MotoAmerica and while he explained that the transponder records the riders at the start/finish line and snaps a picture at 2,000 frames per second to verify the rider crossing. “It’s either Right or it’s Right!”s aid Jason. There is no room for error.
Morning visit to the Tower and Jason Kingham, Timing & Scoring Manager. Gracie to the left of the Timing and Scoring team.View from the tower of the Start/Finish line.
Fans are the necessary glue to make the weekend complete. MotoAmerica has an open paddock for fans to get closer to the sport. On Sunday, fans could also participate in the Dunlop Hot Pit Walk & Autograph Session with the teams and riders.
Supersport rider and 2023 Champion Xavi Fores #12 of Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati, in action. Xavi Fores #12 & Shelina Moreda #93 at the Fan Walk.
Photographing Turn 20 often provides some great shots and entertainment for us, as the riders exit the track after a race. We cheer, wave, and give them a thumbs up as they pass by. Below are some of our favorites from COTA 2023.
Jake Gagne #1 & JD Beach #95 share a fist bump in pit lane, then from another angle after they passed by. Note the tower in the background. Injured Cameron Petersen capturing a special moment with his teammates.
Superbike rider Mathew Scholtz #11 of Westby Racing. Super Hooligan Tyler O’Hara #1 on repeating his championship. Super Hooligan Shelina Moreda #93 coming into the pits.
“Keep Austin Weird!”