MotoGP to go Big in Texas | Austin Power

Legendary Grand Prix star and 1993 500cc World Champion Kevin Schwantz recently told us the reason Texas produced so many great roadracers was because the local tracks were so torn up that if you could go fast there, you could go fast anywhere. If that’s true, Texas is about to lose its advantage—and there’s no one but Schwantz to blame. Construction is well underway at the all-new Circuit of the Americas (CotA) outside Schwantz’s adopted hometown of Austin, and it’s shaping up to be one of the premier racing venues in the world. The top-tier facility has already inked a 10-year deal to host an American round of the Formula 1 World Championship and now, thanks in no small part to Schwantz’s tireless campaigning, CotA has inked a 10-year deal with the MotoGP World Championship, to begin in 2013.

The news is the result of a partnership between Dorna Sports, the promotional arm of MotoGP, Schwantz’s newly formed 3FourTexasMGP corporation and Austin-based Full Throttle Productions, the group operating CotA. “This is a dream come true,” Schwantz said following the announcement. “I am such a believer in the sport, and I know how popular motorcycling is in Texas. I am sure this will be a long-term success.”

Circuit of the Americas, designed by Tilke—the German firm responsible for the Sepang F1 circuit in Malyasia, the Shanghai International Circuit in China and many more—will be the first purpose-built GP facility in the USA, and the country’s only FIA Grade 1-homologated circuit. Built around a 3.4-mile road course, the facility will accommodate 120,000 fans and also incorporate an entertainment complex, conference center and an on-site, 5400-square-foot medical trauma center. Construction is scheduled for completion in mid-2012, in time to host the first F1 USGP.

It’s unclear at this time if there will be two or three US MotoGP rounds in 2013. Laguna Seca has a contract in place through 2014, but Indianapolis has just a one-year deal for 2011. Though undisputedly historic, the Indy circuit isn’t especially popular with MotoGP riders, who have criticized the combination road course/speedway as inconsistent and potentially dangerous. But the central location is key to serving major population centers of the Midwest and East Coast—no doubt motivating Dorna to maintain that round in addition to Laguna Seca and this new Austin event.

Texas Roadracers - By the Numbers
The state that gave us Scott Joplin, Janis Joplin, A.J. Foyt, the computer chip and Dr. Pepper has turned out its share of roadracing talent as well. After winning the 1993 500cc World Championship, Kevin Schwantz is number one on any list of Lone Star roadracers, but he's not the only one.

25 Grand Prix wins for Kevin Schwantz.
16 Number of Schwantz’s GP crashes resulting in broken bones.
34 Point total when Schwantz retired mid-season in ’95, matching his racing number, which the FIM subsequently retired.
21 AMA Grand National wins for Bubba Shobert en route to three-straight championships: ’85-’87.
1 AMA Superbike Championships earned by Bubba Shobert, in ’88.
4 Points separating Shobert and second-place Doug Polen in ’88.
12 GP points Shobert earned in ’89 before a freak accident at Laguna Seca ended his career.
3 Consecutive AMA Superbike Championships earned by Ben Spies: 2006-’08.
14 Number of series rounds Spies needed to clinch the ’09 World Superbike Championship, the fewest in history.
9 SBK pole positions Spies earned in ’09, breaking Polen’s ’91 record of six.
2 Consecutive SBK titles won by Polen: ’91-’92.
1 AMA Superbike titles won by Polen, in ’93.
2 FIM World Endurance Championships won by Polen: ’97 with Peter Goddard and ’98 with Christian Lavielle.
5 Number of races Colin Edwards won in his first professional season to take the ’92 AMA 250cc GP Championship over Kenny Roberts Jr.
552 Edwards’ record single-season SBK point total, which earned him the ’02 title.
63 Points gap at the end of the ’02 season between Edwards and runner-up Troy Bayliss.
0 Number of riders other than Steve Wise ever to win an AMA roadrace, dirt-track and motocross national.
2 Overall victories for Wise in the ABC Wide World of Sports Superbikers competition.
45,000 Fans who watched Wise make history by winning the ’82 Houston Astrodome TT on a Honda CR480R.
(Left to right) Tavo Hellmund of Full Throttle Productions, Kevin Schwantz, Carmelo Ezpeleta of Dorna Sports and Javier Alonso mug for the camera following the MotoGP announcement.