We cruised to the circuit a day before the press launch so I could meet with a few of the guys. We rolled into an empty parking lot, save for one security guard.
You know that feeling when you were a kid when your parents took you to a burned down building in the middle of nowhere--wait, scratch that--I mean to Disneyland? Well that’s what the Circuit of the Americas was like. Except that there were no crowds and you got to jump off the boats in the Pirates of the Caribbean to wander around. Dream-like? Definitely. We parked, wandered over to the pits, opened a door and:
Now I'm not a very star-struck person. Mostly because I never recognize anyone. But I recognized that guy above because, in addition to being a MotoGP pilot and the 2009 WSBK Champion, he pioneered the Ben Spies method that completely changed my riding style:
Oh yeah--this guy was there, too.
Tim did the introductions and there I was, talking to Ben Spies and Nicky Hayden about my trip and what they thought of the 1199 R. Who'd have thunk that day I roared out of LA that I'd end up here?
And after everyone went back to business another cool cat, Stefano Sbettega, marketing and communications director, introduced me to none other than Claudio Domenicali, the very intense man behind Ducati Corse and the man behind the Panigale. A friend of his had forwarded a link to this report, a call was made and there I was. It was a little like meeting Dr. Frankenstein (or if I continue with the Disney analogy, Disney). Without him, our beloved heroine of this story would not exist. Did I mention he was intense? When the engineers at other motorcycle companies have nightmares it's because of him.
Oh yes. He can f'in ride, too! How bad ass is that?