• Ryan Gabel

My first MotoGP race

There’s a video that circulates around the internet depicting a young red-headed little kid around three or four years old, dressed up in Valentino Rossi gear from head to toe, including a gaudy yellow pair of Rossi ear muffs to protect his sensitive hearing. You can see the child is behind a crash fence on a hill adjacent to some racing track, most likely in Germany at the Red Bull Ring based on the lush green grass that isn’t usually present at other circuits.

You can see the child’s face completely light up with excitement as his little body begins to jump up and down while he screams for joy watching his favorite MotoGP motorcycle racers zip past the viewing area where he and his family are situated.

I can tell you I looked very similar to that little boy in 2017 when I had my first experience of seeing MotoGP in person for the very first time.

My mind was already in over drive with the location of the race. My best friend Dustin and I had met up in Madrid Spain to take the four hour drive in his rented BMW M class six series to Valencia Spain. Madrid was a balmy negative two degrees Celsius which impacted Dustin far more than it had me. Dustin was stationed in Kuwait as a contractor and we became friends when we met in Afghanistan on Georgian Forward Operating Base. That’s the Georgia in Europe, not the one above Florida.

This was only my second time out of the country and it was my first time being almost on my own overseas. I was thankful to have Dustin with me and will be forever grateful to him and opportunity that this experience would become.

The air warmed up to about 15 degrees Celsius as our white BMW raced over the mountains and down the highway towards the coastal town. I kept my glass full as I constantly tried to drink in the incredible Spanish country side. I could write for hours about this drive alone, but my favorite part may have been when I hit a tumbleweed at about 120mph. I am definitely glad he got the extended insurance.

Finally, it was Saturday morning which was Qualifying day for the riders and Dustin and I didn’t want to miss a beat. We took off towards Ricardo Tormo Circuit on the outskirts of the town.

Thanks to Dustin, we had VIP access to the circuit which included seats right on the start/finish line. My mind was in such a whirl, but as I was walking through the tunnel into the grandstands everything went into overload. The incredible track placed neatly into the Spanish country side was beyond what I could have expected. I could see the entire course including the famous final left hand corner onto the straight.

I stood there speechless in awe at the beautiful track until I could hear the wonderful sounds of MotoGP bikes being warmed up in the paddock and heading out on track. I began to jump up and down, just like that little red headed kid.

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