GEICO Motorcycle pro Ulrich brings media up to speed in Austin
AUSTIN, Texas (March 31) -- GEICO Motorcycle Superbike rider Chris Ulrich spread the gospel of motorcycle road racing with his participation in a special media event Monday at the Circuit of The Americas (COTA).
Ulrich gave several media members rides on his special two-seat GEICO Motorcycle Honda as part of the track's promotion of the Red Bull Grand Prix of The Americas on April 11-13.
"It was great," Ulrich said. "It's always fun to get people excited about motorcycle road racing in the United States. That's the whole goal for the GEICO Honda two-seat Superbike program."
Ulrich and the GEICO Motorcycle team were invited by COTA officials to give rides to media members so they would better understand how a road-racing motorcycle performs around the 3.4-mile road course.
"The people at COTA reached out to us, and we had an opportunity to come down to the Circuit of The Americas and help educate the media in the Austin area to expose them to motorcycle road racing," Ulrich said. "They got to feel all the sensations that you get when you race a motorcycle, the speed, the lean angle, the power, the G forces on braking -- all the cool stuff they're going to see the best racers do when they watch the Grand Prix race here in a couple of weeks."
Hunter Ellis, morning news anchor for KEYE-TV, the CBS affiliate in Austin, and Deb O'Keefe, co-host of the Jason & Deb morning show on 101X, an alternative-rock radio station in Austin, are two of the media members who rode with Ulrich at speed around the track that hosts the Formula One United States Grand Prix.
"It was amazing," Ellis said. "I tell you what, I used to be an F-18 fighter pilot for a living and I love speed. This was amazing. I will ride with Chris anytime.
"This really gives you an appreciation for the riders, the skill of the riders. It gives you the opportunity to feel the forces on your body and feel what's going on with the track and the bike. It really gives you appreciation for the amount of skill that's required."
O'Keefe had a similar experience hanging on to Ulrich as he raced around the high-speed track.
"My heart rate has not come down yet, quite honestly, and it's been half an hour since I got off the bike," she said. "It was amazing. I've been thinking about it for months, since I was invited, but I did not realize how that would feel. I'm going to watch motorsports in a completely new way now having been on the track and been on the bike. And you've got to be fit! You've got to hold on. It was amazing; one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had."
Julie Loignon, vice president of public and media relations for the Circuit of the Americas, said the track wanted to give local media members an appreciation for road racing with motorcycles similar to MotorGP.
"In the past we have found one of the ways to get a lot of our local media, whether they follow motorsports or not, interested and engaged is to invite them out for an immersive experience," Loignon said. "And that's where the GEICO Honda two-seater came into play."
For over a decade, Ulrich and his team have offered rides on two-seat race bikes to reporters to help promote road racing events and motorcycling in general. Ulrich has given more than 700 two-seat race bike rides since 2003.
"It was a great opportunity for us," Ulrich said. "We were excited to come to Texas and do some laps at one of the best tracks in the world and spread the word about motorcycles."