MotoAmerica: Six Great Race Weekends, Ten Great Photos

Rounds one through six of the inaugural MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Racing Championship provided a mix of drama, excitement, breathtaking speeds, and, above all, hard-fought racing with often surprising outcomes.

As road racing continues to claw its way back into the hearts and minds of fans in this country, thanks to the dogged efforts of official series photographer Brian J. Nelson, we can now look back at some of the images and story lines developing this season.

Josh Hayes COTA

1. Josh Hayes, Circuit of The America, April 10-12

Josh Hayes turned 40 years old the week prior to the opening round of the series in Austin, Texas, but age has not slowed him down. Riding in a rainstorm, the four-time AMA Superbike champion showed he is still the master of the class as he sloshed his way to a calculated victory over his Monster Energy Graves Yamaha teammate, Cameron Beaubier, giving the brand-new YZF-R1 its first domestic victory.

Quotable: “So much new: new series, new machine,” Hayes said. “There is a lot of Yamaha brass here for a big weekend with MotoGP. I also have a lot of family and friends here in Texas. I’m a bit overwhelmed.”


Jorge Lorenzo and Wayne Rainey

2. Jorge Lorenzo and Wayne Rainey, Circuit of The Americas, April 10-12

MotoAmerica President Wayne Rainey has become a familiar face at the races. Along with KRAVE partners Terry Karges, Chuck Aksland, and Richard Varner, the three-time 500cc world champion has brought his legendary determination as well as international contacts and support to a championship that for years struggled under mixed leadership.

Quotable: “I went to COTA for the first time last year for the MotoGP race,” Rainey said. “Like everybody who sees that facility for the first time, I was amazed. Everything is so modern and looks like it was built for world championship events, yet there are so many other facilities inside the track for concerts or X Games or a board meeting in a big, fancy media center. It’s great.”


Joe Roberts Road Atlanta

3. Joe Roberts, Road Atlanta, April 17-19

Joe Roberts won five AMA Supersport races (now Bazzaz Superstock 600) in 2013 before moving to the Daytona SportBike class (Supersport). Like his Wheels in Motion/Motosport.com/Meen Motorsports teammate, Josh Herrin, Roberts had a forgettable season last year, but at Road Atlanta, he rode to the first of eight victories thus far this year, this one coming on a soaking-wet racetrack in Georgia.

Quotable: “The last win I had was at Miller Motorsports Park in 2013,” Roberts said. “With the racing going how it went, with me taking off and getting a six-second gap, this feels really good.”


JD Beach VIR

4. JD Beach, Virginia International Raceway, May 15-17

Yamalube/Y.E.S./Graves Motorsports Yamaha rider JD Beach led every lap of Saturday’s Supersport final at Virginia International Raceway except for the last one. Beach wasn’t going to let another win slip away from him on Sunday as he took the lead early and then stretched it, winning by 2.7 seconds ahead of teammate Garrett Gerloff. Beach has since won five of the last six races and leads the championship.

Quotable: “My first win at COTA felt amazing, but in the rain, it just didn’t feel like a win,” Beach said. “To finally get one in the dry like this is awesome. Yesterday was devastating. Today I wanted to put the race in my own hands and go for it.”


KTM RC 390 Cup Road America

5. KTM RC 390 Cup Debut, Road America, May 29-31

For its debut at Road America, this spec class for riders aged 14-22 attracted 24 entries representing 14 states, as well as Canada and Mexico. The field included siblings of current MotoAmerica riders, such as the younger brothers of Superbike star Cameron Beaubier and Supersport standout Garrett Gerloff. Ashton Yates, the son of nine-time AMA Superbike race-winner Aaron Yates, was another welcome participant.

Quotable: “Yesterday I got a little lucky with the weather and a couple of riders going down,” double-winner Gage McAllister said. “I knew today was going to be a gnarly battle, and somehow we managed to break free from a couple of other riders I thought would be at the front. It was a close race that went down to the end.”


Supersport Race 2 Road America

6. Supersport Race Two, Road America, May 29-31

Sunday’s Supersport final in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, was by far the best race of the day and one of the closest finishes all season in any of the five classes. Yamalube/Y.E.S./Graves Motorsports Yamaha’s JD Beach won by just 0.009 seconds over Wheels in Motion/Motosport.com/Meen Motorsports’ Josh Herrin with Garrett Gerloff just 0.012 seconds behind his teammate Beach in third.

Quotable: “Going into the last lap,” Beach said, “I was trying to get out front because it seemed like if you led coming out of the last turn, you could cross the line first. That plan didn’t really go well. I kind of got lucky with Josh and Garrett making a big old air pocket for me.”


Cameron Beaubier Barber

7. Cameron Beaubier, Barber Motorports Park, June 12-14

After crashing out of race one in Alabama, leaving Monster Energy Graves Yamaha teammate Josh Hayes and Yoshimura Suzuki’s Roger Hayden to fight for the win, Cameron Beaubier stormed back in race two to take victory from Hayes. The factory YZF-R1-mounted duo has won all 12 Superbike races run thus far this season.

Quotable: “I finally got a good start and put my head down,” Beaubier said. “I didn’t think any of us were going to break away today. The track was so slick that it was almost like a rain race. I felt more comfortable in the lead trying to control the race than riding around in second.”


Sheridan Morais Barber

8. Sheridan Morais, Barber Motorsports Park, June 12-14

South African Sheridan Morais joined the MotoAmerica Superstock 1000 class at Road America, replacing Dustin Dominguez on the Aprilia HSBK team. Morais, with his unique boots-off-the-pegs corner entries, has earned three seconds and two thirds in what is otherwise a Yamaha-dominated class and is sixth overall in points.

Quotable: “Part of the development with this bike is making mistakes. For the first race, we tried something setup wise and went backward. We corrected our mistakes for race two, but as the Superbikes upped the pace, I was having a tough time. Coming from Pirellis, I think the Dunlops handle the heat well. They’re pretty consistent.”


Jake Gagne Miller

9. Jake Gagne, Miller Motorsports Park, June 26-28

“First or last” describes Jake Gagne’s season to date. In Utah, the Superstock 1000 points leader had a miserable weekend. He crashed on Friday and Saturday, and electrical issues stemming from those off-track mishaps conspired to ruin Sunday’s races. With eight wins in his pocket, however, the Californian heads to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with a 17-point championship advantage over TOBC Racing’s Taylor Knapp.

Quotable: “Utah was a tough one,” Gagne said. “My crew, Scotty Jensen and Danny Anderson, worked until 3 a.m. every night to clean up my mistakes. In race two, I was sliding out of turn five when we had an electrical hiccup and the rear tire stepped out. I’m glad I was able to pick up the bike and get some points.”


Jake Lewis Miller

10. Jake Lewis, Miller Motorsports Park, June 26-28

Superbike rookie Jake Lewis missed finishing on the podium at Miller Motorsports Park, but consistent performances, along with five previous top-three appearances, kept the long-limbed Lewis two points ahead of Yoshimura Suzuki teammate Roger Hayden in the title chase with three rounds—Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and New Jersey Motorsports Park—remaining in the series.

Quotable: “This weekend went pretty well,” Lewis said. “I was a little disappointed to finish fourth in both races, but I rode as hard as I could. We had a few issues that cost us a little bit, but I’m happy to leave healthy, and I’m looking forward to the next round.”


Rounds one through six of the inaugural MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Racing Championship provided a mix of drama, excitement, breathtaking speeds, and, above all, hard-fought racing with often surprising outcomes.

As road racing continues to claw its way back into the hearts and minds of fans in this country, thanks to the dogged efforts of official series photographer Brian J. Nelson, we can now look back at some of the images and story lines developing this season.

Josh Hayes COTA

1. Josh Hayes, Circuit of The America, April 10-12

Josh Hayes turned 40 years old the week prior to the opening round of the series in Austin, Texas, but age has not slowed him down. Riding in a rainstorm, the four-time AMA Superbike champion showed he is still the master of the class as he sloshed his way to a calculated victory over his Monster Energy Graves Yamaha teammate, Cameron Beaubier, giving the brand-new YZF-R1 its first domestic victory.

Quotable: “So much new: new series, new machine,” Hayes said. “There is a lot of Yamaha brass here for a big weekend with MotoGP. I also have a lot of family and friends here in Texas. I’m a bit overwhelmed.”


Jorge Lorenzo and Wayne Rainey

2. Jorge Lorenzo and Wayne Rainey, Circuit of The Americas, April 10-12

MotoAmerica President Wayne Rainey has become a familiar face at the races. Along with KRAVE partners Terry Karges, Chuck Aksland, and Richard Varner, the three-time 500cc world champion has brought his legendary determination as well as international contacts and support to a championship that for years struggled under mixed leadership.

Quotable: “I went to COTA for the first time last year for the MotoGP race,” Rainey said. “Like everybody who sees that facility for the first time, I was amazed. Everything is so modern and looks like it was built for world championship events, yet there are so many other facilities inside the track for concerts or X Games or a board meeting in a big, fancy media center. It’s great.”


Joe Roberts Road Atlanta

3. Joe Roberts, Road Atlanta, April 17-19

Joe Roberts won five AMA Supersport races (now Bazzaz Superstock 600) in 2013 before moving to the Daytona SportBike class (Supersport). Like his Wheels in Motion/Motosport.com/Meen Motorsports teammate, Josh Herrin, Roberts had a forgettable season last year, but at Road Atlanta, he rode to the first of eight victories thus far this year, this one coming on a soaking-wet racetrack in Georgia.

Quotable: “The last win I had was at Miller Motorsports Park in 2013,” Roberts said. “With the racing going how it went, with me taking off and getting a six-second gap, this feels really good.”


JD Beach VIR

4. JD Beach, Virginia International Raceway, May 15-17

Yamalube/Y.E.S./Graves Motorsports Yamaha rider JD Beach led every lap of Saturday’s Supersport final at Virginia International Raceway except for the last one. Beach wasn’t going to let another win slip away from him on Sunday as he took the lead early and then stretched it, winning by 2.7 seconds ahead of teammate Garrett Gerloff. Beach has since won five of the last six races and leads the championship.

Quotable: “My first win at COTA felt amazing, but in the rain, it just didn’t feel like a win,” Beach said. “To finally get one in the dry like this is awesome. Yesterday was devastating. Today I wanted to put the race in my own hands and go for it.”


KTM RC 390 Cup Road America

5. KTM RC 390 Cup Debut, Road America, May 29-31

For its debut at Road America, this spec class for riders aged 14-22 attracted 24 entries representing 14 states, as well as Canada and Mexico. The field included siblings of current MotoAmerica riders, such as the younger brothers of Superbike star Cameron Beaubier and Supersport standout Garrett Gerloff. Ashton Yates, the son of nine-time AMA Superbike race-winner Aaron Yates, was another welcome participant.

Quotable: “Yesterday I got a little lucky with the weather and a couple of riders going down,” double-winner Gage McAllister said. “I knew today was going to be a gnarly battle, and somehow we managed to break free from a couple of other riders I thought would be at the front. It was a close race that went down to the end.”


Supersport Race 2 Road America

6. Supersport Race Two, Road America, May 29-31

Sunday’s Supersport final in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, was by far the best race of the day and one of the closest finishes all season in any of the five classes. Yamalube/Y.E.S./Graves Motorsports Yamaha’s JD Beach won by just 0.009 seconds over Wheels in Motion/Motosport.com/Meen Motorsports’ Josh Herrin with Garrett Gerloff just 0.012 seconds behind his teammate Beach in third.

Quotable: “Going into the last lap,” Beach said, “I was trying to get out front because it seemed like if you led coming out of the last turn, you could cross the line first. That plan didn’t really go well. I kind of got lucky with Josh and Garrett making a big old air pocket for me.”


Cameron Beaubier Barber

7. Cameron Beaubier, Barber Motorports Park, June 12-14

After crashing out of race one in Alabama, leaving Monster Energy Graves Yamaha teammate Josh Hayes and Yoshimura Suzuki’s Roger Hayden to fight for the win, Cameron Beaubier stormed back in race two to take victory from Hayes. The factory YZF-R1-mounted duo has won all 12 Superbike races run thus far this season.

Quotable: “I finally got a good start and put my head down,” Beaubier said. “I didn’t think any of us were going to break away today. The track was so slick that it was almost like a rain race. I felt more comfortable in the lead trying to control the race than riding around in second.”


Sheridan Morais Barber

8. Sheridan Morais, Barber Motorsports Park, June 12-14

South African Sheridan Morais joined the MotoAmerica Superstock 1000 class at Road America, replacing Dustin Dominguez on the Aprilia HSBK team. Morais, with his unique boots-off-the-pegs corner entries, has earned three seconds and two thirds in what is otherwise a Yamaha-dominated class and is sixth overall in points.

Quotable: “Part of the development with this bike is making mistakes. For the first race, we tried something setup wise and went backward. We corrected our mistakes for race two, but as the Superbikes upped the pace, I was having a tough time. Coming from Pirellis, I think the Dunlops handle the heat well. They’re pretty consistent.”


Jake Gagne Miller

9. Jake Gagne, Miller Motorsports Park, June 26-28

“First or last” describes Jake Gagne’s season to date. In Utah, the Superstock 1000 points leader had a miserable weekend. He crashed on Friday and Saturday, and electrical issues stemming from those off-track mishaps conspired to ruin Sunday’s races. With eight wins in his pocket, however, the Californian heads to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with a 17-point championship advantage over TOBC Racing’s Taylor Knapp.

Quotable: “Utah was a tough one,” Gagne said. “My crew, Scotty Jensen and Danny Anderson, worked until 3 a.m. every night to clean up my mistakes. In race two, I was sliding out of turn five when we had an electrical hiccup and the rear tire stepped out. I’m glad I was able to pick up the bike and get some points.”


Jake Lewis Miller

10. Jake Lewis, Miller Motorsports Park, June 26-28

Superbike rookie Jake Lewis missed finishing on the podium at Miller Motorsports Park, but consistent performances, along with five previous top-three appearances, kept the long-limbed Lewis two points ahead of Yoshimura Suzuki teammate Roger Hayden in the title chase with three rounds—Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and New Jersey Motorsports Park—remaining in the series.

Quotable: “This weekend went pretty well,” Lewis said. “I was a little disappointed to finish fourth in both races, but I rode as hard as I could. We had a few issues that cost us a little bit, but I’m happy to leave healthy, and I’m looking forward to the next round.”