Aprilia not only makes some of the best sportbikes in the business, they also have a wonderful program that they call “Racers Days” where they host track days all around the country so that you can sample their line-up while enjoying some of the coolest courses in the United States (plus one in Canada). Abhi has done two of their events this year (one at Circuit of the Americas and one at Laguna Seca) – it’s taken a while, but here are his thoughts on the former!
One thing Aprilia would want me to stress is that this is less a public track day and more an opportunity to have the world’s best test ride. I think there’s lots of motorcyclists that have heard great things about Aprilia but haven’t had a chance to try out the brand due to a sparse dealer network: I had the opportunity to chat with Miguel Galluzzi at an Aprilia press launch years ago, at one point he asked us reviewers to sum up Aprilia in one word to him. I said “underdog”, and while Miguel gave me (what I thought was) a knowing nod, I don’t think the Aprilia employees appreciated it. But it’s still how I feel. They make amazing stuff and not enough people know about it.
To their credit, Aprilia is working on it – the Italian brand goes around the country (they have 8 events this year) providing the opportunity for potential customers to ride their bikes on the track. It’s usually tied in with a race of some sort that they’re supporting – they offered the CotA event the day after MotoGP and the Laguna Seca event the day after AHRMA. That’s extra cool as you get to experience the racing and enjoy watching other people go fast for a couple of days before you try to do it yourself. One thing I have to stress: Aprilia is doing this to support the sport in general. Don’t ride an Aprilia yourself (like me)? No problem. They’ll gladly have you join, but they’ll definitely want you to try one of their bikes to see how it stacks up to yours.
CotA was my first Aprilia Racers Day event and I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I desperately wanted to try it out as I had never ridden that track before. It wasn’t cheap ($800) but it ended up being one of my favorite track days of all time as there were just two sessions of 30 minutes each and attendance was around 50 people total. It was an amazing culmination to the MotoGP weekend and by the end of the day I didn’t feel like I wanted more track time (which is rare for me). Some of it was personal – it was so cool to share a barely-populated MotoGP track with some of my best friends – but overall it was an incredible track day that I’d highly recommend.
I owe you guys some updates on my Kramer 690 HKR Evo2 S ownership experience (short version: it’s been awesome), but one of the things I was struggling with the in the past was what I would do with the all-white bodywork of my Kramer. I had previously mentioned here on Bike-urious that I was going to do a tribute to UPS and their former slogan, “what can brown do for you?”. Yes, that alludes to the fact that I am Indian.
One of our amazing technicians at Iconic (Olly, who owns an avocado farm) gave me an avocado-themed sticker that I used on my first track day in his honor and that made me consider covering the whole thing in stickers instead.
Why do I bring all of this up? Aprilia brought two special guests to ride with us: Maverick Viñales and Miguel Oliveira. Near the end of the day I noticed an Aprilia owner had Maverick sign his bike, and I thought that was pretty cool. So I
asked Maverick asked my buddy Shane (Chief Marketing Officer for the Piaggio Group, which owns Aprilia) if he would have Maverick sign my bike as well, and that was kindly arranged for me:
I immediately had a weird “buyer’s regret” of sorts. I obviously admire Viñales’ ability but I have no connection to the man. He has no idea who I am and I’m sure he couldn’t care less, and I had a moment of self-doubt as to why I had him sign my bike. I then decided that I was going to turn my white bike into a canvas for a different type of person to sign – friends in the motorcycling industry who have helped me grow and made my life better. And if I snag a famous signature or two from someone who doesn’t really know me along the way, then that’s fine as well. I’ll get into this more in the Kramer ownership story series that I’m behind on, but my bike now has 20+ signatures on it. After Maverick signed the bike, I asked Shane to sign it because he’s one of my favorite people in the motorcycle industry. When Maverick signed my bike, he included his race number of 12. Shane joked that he didn’t have a race number so he signed my bike and then added his cell phone number.
Shane would later take my Kramer out for a couple of laps – I thought it was very cool that we were all in the pits that MotoGP/2/3 teams were using just the weekend before.
Unfortunately, my business partner Adam was in Australia so he couldn’t come out for this event, but I was joined by Olly (one of our technicians) and a few clients. Olly brought his Honda NSF250R (we are selling some new ones that we imported from HRC in Japan) as well as his TZ250, and the photographer got a great shot of him coming over a hill with the Texas flag in the background on the two-stroke! I have to admit that I was jealous because I didn’t get a similar shot of me coming around this corner, it’s such a defining feature of this wonderful track.
To rub salt in the wound, a different photographer got another amazing shot of Olly coming around the backside of the track with the Texas flag and the tower in the background, though this time he was on his Honda. Olly is apparently very photogenic:
My Kramer was great, though I obviously got walked by the liter bikes on the two long straights at CotA. I didn’t mind that much because the bike was so much fun around the corners and it helps me build skills. This was my second track day with it and I could tell I’m definitely getting more comfortable with it.
After several years going to CotA, I also had a couple of surreal experiences:
- I got to sneak into the light/timing control booth.
I got to stand on the MotoGP podium, even if I didn’t earn it.
There were still a few remnants from MotoGP that hadn’t been packed up yet.
In terms of reporting on the “track day” itself, there really isn’t much else to say. It was an amazingly well-run event that got me all the track time I would want in a day on one of the best courses in America. I got to meet a couple of motorcycling legends, hang out with some good friends, and I had the opportunity to sample several Aprilias if I wanted. What else does one need?
If this seems like something you’d like to do for yourself (and it should be), you can check out the Aprilia Racers Days page here! There are two dates left on the calendar:
Shannonville Motorsports Park | Ontario, CAN | SEP 18TH
New Jersey Motorsports Park | Milleville, NJ | SEP 25TH
Beyond that, you can look towards next year. At the end of the day, I think it’s very cool to see Aprilia offer this type of program, it’s the kind of thing that makes us want to support them as a brand.
Iconic will be out there for Aprilia Racers Days at CotA again next year. Having that track with barely anyone else on for 30 minutes at a time is no-brainer – Aprilia clearly lost money on that track day at CotA and it did not go unappreciated.
We hope to see you out there! Please let me know if you have any questions on how to make it happen as I can’t recommend it enough.