MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We will be featuring sections of Oxley's blogs, posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website, over the coming months.
It is a quarter of a century (ouch) since I visited my first United States Grand Prix in April 1988. That Laguna Seca event was historic because it was the first US GP since the 1965 races at Daytona. It was also historical because pit lane was nothing more than a row of flimsy tents, fluttering in the Monterey breeze, the timing sheets were cutely handwritten and the catering consisted of some nicely baked cakes, courtesy of a local women’s institute.
Behind the tents was a row of shipping containers, providing secure storage for team equipment. I seem to remember interviewing renowned tuner Erv Kanemoto while we were stood in the stifling heat in one of the containers. He may even have had a computer with him. Holy moly, a computer in the pitlane…
The Circuit of the Americas – venue for Sunday’s Grand Prix of the Americas – is a very different thing to 1980s Laguna: a gleaming, 21st century facility that probably spent more on toilet facilities than Laguna did on the entire race track.
So too were the riders very different at COTA. That 1988 US GP was dominated by homegrown heroes: Wayne Rainey took the 500 pole; Eddie Lawson won the race. John Kocinski took the 250 pole; Jim Filice won the race. I recall a slightly dazed Filice atop the podium – he was only there as a last-minute replacement for injured factory Honda rider Masahiro Shimizu – taking a crumpled piece of paper from inside his leathers and carefully thanking his sponsors, one by one, like an Oscar winner on an Oscar’s night, though without the tears.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.