Trip Start Aug 25, 2008
31Trip End Sep 2008
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Where I stayed
The European contingent was totally dominant. The one rider from the American group who was a shining star was Nicky Hayden's cousin, Hayden Gilliam. Although he had a very poor start and fell back to the middle of the pack, he fought his way back to the front and led the race for a number of laps until he crashed out. It was an excellent performance, nevertheless.
The 125cc race is held but the 250cc race is postponed until after the MotoGP race due to the weather which has taken a big turn for the worse. The rain is coming down in sheets and the wind is blowing at, what I later discover, was 60 mph gusts. Observing the flags around the track, the wind is blowing in one direction in some places but another direction in other places. Hazardous conditions for motorcycle racing. When we leave the track later we'll find trees that have been toppled by the rain and wind. Whoever is operating the large video monitor puts up "I don't like Ike". You either have to be old enough or know your history well enough to get the joke.
When the rain lets up a little, track workers come out and use trucks with large brushes across the front of the truck to sweep the standing pools of water off the track. Other trucks, towing trailers with huge blowers on them drive the track blowing the remaining water off. They work the infield continuously, going back and forth for probably 30 to 45 minutes.
Eventually the track is declared ready and the MotoGP riders come out to a big cheer from the crowd. When the race starts, Nicky gets a great start and is in second place behind Andrea Dovizioso going through turn one. After only a few laps he's taken over the lead but Rossi is moving up through the pack and will be a threat. The rain is starting to really come down again and the wind is picking up. Rossi takes over the lead from Nicky on lap 14 and that's the way it ends. The race is red-flagged due to the weather conditions after 20 of the planned 29 laps.
Rossi later says he's glad it was red-flagged and these were the worst weather conditions he's ever raced in. Nicky takes second and Jorge Lorenzo comes in third. I feel badly for Marco Melandri who's had a disaster of a season. For most of the race he's running in last place. He manages to pass a couple of riders but when the race is stopped he's fallen back to last place again. He's a better rider than this season would indicate. The Ducati just doesn't agree with his style.
No pictures this time. We never leave our seats. I have no desire to be out in that weather. I'm sitting in stands with a roof over my head and my seat is toward the front of the overhang, so if I were going to get rained on you'd expect it to hit me in the face. But the way the wind whips around, it's my back that is getting wet with rain.
Afterwards, Larry takes me by the home he just sold, a very beautiful brick home, and to the cemetery where his wife, Carma and daughter, Heather are buried. We reflect on the shortness and uncertainties of life. Then it's dinner and home.