I had never entered the MotoGP paddock even though I have been to MotoGP many times in Japan. I never thought it would really be worth it and there were many other events to watch during the GP anyways. I had no real interest in buying these passes but since I had friends coming into town, I bought passes for them so that they could enjoy it. Little would I know, I was given the passes for an hour to see what it was like in the paddock.
The first thing you need to know is how to get passes. The easiest way is to go to 7-11 and try to navigate the Japanese language menu. It is not easy if you can’t speak Japanese but it is very easy if you can. You just search for sports events and then look for the MotoGP tickets. You need to find the paddock passes and buy the passes for the correct date. From what I have been told, Friday is the best day as there aren’t too many people there and you can spend all of your time just going up and down until you meet everyone. My friends were able to meet almost everyone and since it is only the practice day, the riders aren’t as busy.
I went on the Saturday qualifying day and things were pretty busy then. I can only imagine how crazy it is on Sunday. You head down near the centre of the main grandstand and it is a long walk down. You head under the track and end up behind the pits. I can’t tell you how fast my heart was beating at the excitement.
Once you get to the paddock, you have to get your bearings. I had no idea what to do or where I could go. I just knew I had to do things quickly. I walked up and down the front and back of the paddock and got to meet a few people. At the time, I saw mostly Moto2 and Moto3 riders. I even had a chance to wish Mika Kallio good luck as he signed a few autographs.
As you walk around the back of the paddock, you wonder if you are going into restricted areas. I’m not sure if I ever did but I did walk into the Moto3 pit area. They set up small tents for the Moto3 teams, the smaller ones, and when I was walking through they were warming up the bikes. Even on idle, you can feel the power of the exhaust as you walk past each bike. It was an amazing experience that cannot be shown. It has to be felt.
I then had a chance to wander around the Yamaha suites where I could see the special Yamaha scooters given to the Yamaha team riders. They had special decals for each rider and were shipped in from the headquarters in Shizuoka. It was then that I was able to meet someone I wanted to meet, Mateo Flamigni, the data technician for Valentino Rossi, my motorcycle hero. It wasn’t Valentino Rossi, but he is pretty easy to recognize in the pits. He was a nice guy and was kind enough to take a minute for a photo with me. It just made my day.
After I had walked up and down the paddock a few times, I decided to wait next to the Yamaha hospitality suite and see if I could see any riders. I found a small spot and my timing was perfect as I got a chance to be within touching distance of Valentino Rossi. He was heading to see his bike and talk to his team. At the same time, Jorge Lorenzo was going in the opposite direction back to the suites. Once that was done, my day was over in the paddock.
Being able to go through the paddock was great. It was a brand new experience for me and I’ll never forget it. In the future, when Valentino Rossi retires, I’ll have to go up there for a full 3 days and do my own tour. I was very tired when I was there and driving for 3 days is not going to be fun, but being on my own schedule and not worrying about making it to my bus on time is something that I look forward to. Since I’m a huge Valentino Rossi fan, I can’t escape the need to go and sit with the other Yamaha fans and cheer him on. When I stop going with the Yamaha tour, you can be sure that I’ll be driving up there and enjoying things in the paddock again.
2014 MotoGP Grand Prix of Japan (Paddock Pass) is part of a series of posts recounting my trips to Twin Ring Motegi and the Japanese round of the MotoGP series. To read my other posts about this race please follow the links below: