May 1, 2012 7:50 AM   Subscribe

Thinking about going to the Laguna Seca MotoGP races this summer with my 6 year old girl who is into racing. Is this a family-friendly event? Suggestions?

Im not exactly a motor head, have no idea what to expect. Is this like a drunken soccer riot? Family friendly? General admission versus grandstand? Seems like walking around to different spots with GA might keep attention more with kids? Earplugs? Anything else you can suggest?
posted by H. Roark to Travel & Transportation around California (5 answers total)
I have not been to a MotoGP race, but I grew up in a motorcycle racing extended family and have, as a result, attended a number of Dragbike and other professional motorcycle racing events. All of the motorcycle races I've attended have been extremely family-friendly events, where the riders, teams, spectators, and support staff have behaved like a big multicultural family. There have always been a lot of kids around, and a lot of the riders and team personnel have had nieces, nephews, and the like in the stands rooting for them.

I would not (and do not) hesitate to take my own children who are about your daughter's age to motorcycle races.

As far as suggestions:

1. Hearing protection for both of you, but especially for her. Get the big earmuff-style isolation headphones. Also get in-ear earplugs, but plan on the external earmuffs being the most likely thing for her to be willing to wear for a long time.

2. Sun protection: Sunscreen, a hat, and clothing appropriate for a day out in the hot sun. Track temperatures get a lot hotter than the temperature everywhere else. With a small child in tow, I'd take an umbrella for when she has had enough and wants some shade.

3. Sit in the grandstands, but move around if you can. You want to have a good view of what's going on in a way that will allow you and her to see that you're watching a race and not just standing or sitting somewhere where you see (and hear!) a motorcycle or 5 roar past ever now and then. If you can move around to a few different spots, do that, too. Laguna Seca has some of the most exciting turns in motorsport, so if you can get around to watching the riders make some of those famous turns, it will make your experience better.

4. Hydration: Be sure to stay hydrated. If the venue will allow you to take your own water, ice, etc., do that. If it won't do whatever you have to do to keep both of you hydrated. A 6-year-old will get dehydrated before she realizes it.

5. Leave whenever you need to leave: Race days can be long days for kids. Remember that the goal is for her to have fun. Once she's had fun, don't feel bad if you leave early when she gets tired of it.

6. Prepare for the race: Get to know the names and some information about the riders and teams before you go. Know what's at stake and why the race matters to each or at least some of the riders and teams. And pick a few different riders to root for.
posted by The World Famous at 8:35 AM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

I attended the US Grand Prix last year in Indianapolis and it was a very family friendly event. There were quite a few kids there. Aside from an above average collection of (very) scantily clad females roaming about, there was very little in the way of drunken shenanigans, which I assume is because most of them rode their bikes to the event (and then needed to ride home).

Based on my experience, I was suggest general admission tickets. Largely because at the USGP in Indy there was an enormous "village" set up in the infield with very elaborate booths from all of the competing manufacturers, as well as food tents and activities. The little one would likely enjoy sitting on some little motorcycles, which the sales reps at each tent will be more than happy to plop your little one down on top of a brand new junior bike (Daddy, I HAVE to HAVE THIS!!!!!). Yamaha even had an area set up where very young kids were geared up and allowed to ride tiny motorcycles around a little hay-bale track. It was super cute. FWIW, most of the booths were tame, but the Ducati tent had booth babes galore with the tiniest swimsuits you ever saw. While this could be considered awesome, it might not be the best for the 5 year old girl.

If you're unfamiliar with Moto GP style racing, its actually not just one race. There are several classes in Moto GP, and numerous qualifying heats and practices for each of the classes. What this means is that on GP day, there will actually be a dozen or so "races" during the course of the day that will culminate with the premier class's actual Grand Prix. Each of these heats and races are relatively short (between 15 minutes and an hour or so). This is helpful for young ones because it gives you lots of opportunities to leave, and helps break the day up into manageable chunks. In other words, its not like a NASCAR or IndyCar race where you show up and watch a single 4-hour long race with the same cars.

Lastly, being able to roam around the various spectator mounds and such made the day more interesting. "Daddy, I'm bored." "Alright, lets head over to turn 14 and check the action there, plus Daddy can grab a beer at the Molson tent and you can pine over the junior ATV's at the Suzuki tent on the way."

And yes, you'll want ear protection of some sort for the little one. They should be available at all the giftshops, and generally easy to find once you get there.

Have fun!
posted by teriyaki_tornado at 9:00 AM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

I came to write exactly what The World Famous wrote. Can't stress the ear protection, sunblock and fluids enough. I haven't been to a MotoGP, but every other race I've been to has been family friendly.

One thing that makes the race much more 'real' is being able to walk the track before seeing the competition. Google seems to have people who have done this the Friday before MotoGP (including with experienced racers describing the lines and such!) Walking the track gives great perspective to how difficult the riding is, and how athletic the competitors are. Be sure to note how long it takes you to walk the track versus what the fastest lap times. The elevation change in the Corkscrew is something that I've always wanted to walk live, as I'm sure it's even more harrowing.

I hope you guys love it.
posted by rider at 9:09 AM on May 1, 2012

We've camped at the LS campground before we even knew that there was a race track there. (Saw it in the morning after we woke after a late arrival). It was nice enough, and as a bonus, makes a cheap place to stay if you want to trek into Monterey to see the Aquarium after the race.
posted by jvilter at 9:55 AM on May 1, 2012

Laguna Seca is a pretty big place, so be prepared to do a lot of walking. I try to avoid carrying anything more than a small backpack. As teriyaki_tornado mentions there are a lot of races going on over the course of the day(s) so there is time to evaluate different viewing locations. I've rarely felt the desire to get grandstand passes. I suggest turn 2 (technical, beautiful) and/or the hill above turn 1 (good overall view). Personally I prefer being right on the fence at the entrance to turn 2 (the Andretti hairpin). It can get a little crowded during the main events but it is generally a fairly quiet spot, relatively speaking. There are some nice spots on the hillside and bathrooms are close by. Bring good binoculars!

Anthony Gobert (The Go Show) in '99.
posted by okbye at 1:06 PM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

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