Motorcycle racing returned to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2008 after a 99-year absence with the Red Bull Indianapolis GP featuring the MotoGP World Championship, the premier level of motorcycle road racing on Earth.
It was only fitting that a bike event would capture the imagination of IMS fans, as the very first motorized event at the Racing Capital of the World was a motorcycle race Aug. 14, 1909 on the 2.5-mile IMS oval.
The three elite classes of MotoGP instead compete on a 16-turn, 2.621-mile road course at IMS that incorporates the oval's famous front straightaway and part of the short chute between Turns 1 and 2 of the oval before snaking through the Speedway's expansive infield.
It didn't take long for fans of four-wheeled racing who came to IMS, curious about the new event, to learn what MotoGP fans have known for 60 years: Grand Prix motorcycle racing is one of the most thrilling, wild spectacles in motorsports.
Riders such as superstar Valentino Rossi and Americans Nicky Hayden and Colin Edwards dazzled fans by tipping their bikes up to 60 degrees in corners, with their knees skimming along the asphalt, rain or shine. And fans erupted in 2009 after learning Alex de Angelis became the first motorcycle rider to top 200 mph on the front straightaway during the race - on a machine with no roll cage and no seat belt!
The Red Bull Indianapolis GP is the youngest of the three annual events at IMS, but it already is beginning to weave a rich history with competitors and fans.
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