MotoAmerica And The Art Of Crashing

Like Humpty Dumpty, even the best fall down. Josh Herrin and Jake Lewis tend to their yard sale at Pittsburgh International Race Complex. Photo by Brian J. Nelson.

The old adage is that if you ain’t crashin’, then you ain’t tryin’. If that’s the case than those racing in the MotoAmerica Series in 2019 didn’t try hard enough.

Much to the chagrin of bodywork manufacturers across the country, crashes in the 2019 MotoAmerica Series occurred less often than in 2018 with riders across five classes hitting the deck 319 times compared to 389 in 2018 (we don’t count the COTA round because it is a Superbike-only race weekend for MotoAmerica). In defense of the class of crashers in 2018, the weather was much better in 2019. As we saw with the New Jersey Motorsports Park round in 2018, wet pavement translates directly to more crashes with NJMP leading the way in ‘18 with 62 prangs. Again, the weather was mostly atrocious with a bit of horrendous thrown in for good measure.

So what track led the way with crashes in 2019? If you said the newly repaved Barber Motorsports Park, stand up and take a bow. Though the billiard table smooth track surface at Barber probably had something to do with the 61 crashes (there were “just” 40 in 2018), it’s also worth noting that it was the final round of the season. Thus, championships were on the line and if you’re finally going to send it, there’s no time like finale to do so. Go out with a bang, so to speak. Of the 61 crashes, turns eight and 11 at Barber were the most popular places to “send it” as there were 11 crashes in both places over the course of the weekend.

So if Barber had the most crashes overall, which corner on the calendar caught out the most riders? That would be a tie between Road Atlanta’s turn 10 and VIRginia International Raceway’s turn 1. Road Atlanta’s turn 10 is the left-right chicane prior to the run down the hill to the finish line and VIR’s turn one is the right after the start finish line that riders approach with a good head of speed and it requires a good amount of hard braking to get slowed down for the right-hander. The podium for most-crashed-in corner in the series was rounded out by the aforementioned turns six and eight at Barber Motorsports Park with 11 crashes in each.

Which track featured the fewest crashes in 2019? That would be the Utah Motorsports Campus with just 22 over the course of the weekend – though we must also remember that UMC was a two-day event, so the riders had one-third less of an opportunity to end up in the kitty litter. Of the 22 crashes at UMC, seven were in turn one. The MotoAmerica Series won’t race at UMC in 2020, but it’s not because there weren’t enough crashes. Just to be clear.

As we pointed out last year in our crash statistics story, motorcycles tip over. They are tricky two-wheeled devices that lend themselves well to the art of crashing. Track-day riders crash and so, too, do MotoAmerica racers – from the champions to those further back in the field. It’s the one thing they all have in common: They all crash at some point. And if they don’t… well then they ain’t tryin’.

Crash Statistics

Track                                       Total Crashes                        Most Popular

Road Atlanta                                       40                                      Turn 10 (15)

VIR                                                       34                                      Turn 1 (15)

Road America                                     39                                      Turn 12 (8)

UMC                                                    22                                      Turn 1 (7)

Laguna Seca                                        24                                      Turn 2 (5)

Sonoma Raceway                               29                                      Turn 11 (6)

PittRace                                               43                                      Turn 1 (8)

NJMP                                                   27                                       Turn 5 (8)

Barber Motorsports Park                 61                                      Turn 6/Turn 8 (11)