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On the race weekend for both MotoGP and MotoAmerica at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) on April 10, a rider with MotoGP experience dominated the two MotoAmerica races.

Danilo Petrucci rode the only Ducati on the grid to victory. Petrucci raced in MotoGP from 2012 to 2021.

MotoAmerica president and MotoGP legend Wayne Rainey was excited about Petrucci’s victory.

“Petrucci knew the racetrack and the Ducati was set up very well and he dominated both days,” Rainey said. “It’s a breath of fresh air as far as having a Ducati win an event. They're all in, they want to win this championship.

"I’m sure it’s got some of the more established riders and teams that have dominated our series a renewed sense of urgency. It’s good for everybody.”

Exciting races at COTA in both MotoAmerica and MotoGP -- as well as Formula One expanding from one to two races this year (Miami) and three races next year (Las Vegas) -- may have racing fans, particularly motorcycle racing fans, wondering if there’s a possibility for more American tracks on the MotoGP calendar.

Logos of some of the teams in MotoGP this season.

It wasn’t long ago when Laguna Seca brought MotoGP racing back to America in 2005.

“When we got MotoGP back to Laguna Seca, we saw the success and the interest from the American fans in the public and how popular it was,” Rainey said. “Of course, we had Nicky Hayden doing quite well. The race at Laguna Seca just exploded. They had huge crowds there.”

After Laguna Seca found initial success, MotoGP added a second event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in 2008 and ran there until 2015. The premier motorcycle class added a race in 2013 at the brand-new COTA, in Austin, Texas, giving the sport three races that season on U.S. tracks, Laguna Seca (the last year it raced there), IMS (through 2015) and COTA (where it continues to race today).

“COTA came on board because of the success of MotoGP and Formula One,” Rainey said. “COTA was able to get funding from the state of Texas and they were able to invest to make a monster style F1 and MotoGP track.”

The massive 3.43-mile track has been dominated by Marc Marquez. Since 2013, Marquez has won seven of nine MotoGP races at COTA.

“With that racetrack, you can see the width of the track, the curving on the edge of the track, the run-off areas in the corners must work for both Formula One cars and MotoGP style bikes,” Rainey said. “That takes a huge amount of a piece of property to set that in there.”

Despite Marquez’s success at the track, riders have criticized it for how bumpy certain areas of the surface can be.

“It’s not everyone’s favorite track,” Rainey said. “They repaved it but it’s still got some sort of base problem with what the track sits on. They made some big improvements from where it's been.”

2013 was also the last year MotoGP raced at Laguna Seca. During the nine-year run, Laguna Seca was home to many memorable battles. One of the most memorable was between Casey Stoner and Valentino Rossi.

The two legends battled out front for the lead throughout the race. Rossi made one of the most memorable passes of his career on Stoner going into the iconic Corkscrew chicane.

Rossi dove down the inside, putting his bike off track through the inside of the chicane. He made the move stick and almost pushed Stoner off the track in the process. The two continued to battle until Stoner made a mistake in the final corner and ran wide into the gravel. Rossi won the race and MotoGP had a battle for the ages at Laguna Seca.

MotoAmerica president Wayne Rainey wants to bring American riders back to global prominence. Photo courtesy: MotoAmerica

“It’s one of the most awesome racetracks for a motorcycle grand prix rider to race at,” Rainey said. “This track has a little bit of everything, except for a real long straight. It’s a very physically demanding racetrack that’s very popular with the riders.”

Despite the great racing and the iconic track layout, MotoGP moved away as COTA’s allure grew with Laguna Seca’s decreasing attendance and lagging facilities.

“The attendance was massive, but when COTA came on board it gave fans another choice to go attend a MotoGP race instead of just in California,” Rainey said. “The numbers didn’t make as much sense as they did when they were the only race in the U.S. There were some areas of the track that needed to be repaved.”

Despite MotoGP’s absence from Laguna Seca, high-level motorcycle racing can be found there with MotoAmerica.

“This is our number one race on our calendar that we run as a standalone event,” Rainey said. “It’s very successful. It’s our number one spectator attended event. People come to California. It’s a motorcycle-friendly state and the roads around here are just awesome to ride your motorcycle on. You’ve got the great restaurants and Pebble Beach Golf Course. The racetrack itself is the crown jewel on the Monterrey Peninsula.”

More American tracks would be on the MotoGP circuit if there were American riders in MotoGP, according to Rainey. There are currently no American riders in MotoGP and there haven’t been any since 2015. There are three American Moto 2 riders: Cameron Beaubier, Sean Dylan Kelly and Joe Roberts.

Rainey argued American wild card riders should be on the grid. Wild card riders are non-contracted riders who participate in certain MotoGP events.

“When you find a rider that has a huge amount of talent, if you give him an opportunity to go race as a wild card, they will rise to the occasion and because of their sheer belief and determination and God-given talent, they could make an impact in one race that could change their career,” Rainey said.

One of the tracks MotoAmerica races at that Rainey thinks has world championship potential is Barber Motorsports Park. Located in Birmingham, Alabama, Barber has been home to an Indy Car race each year since 2010, as well as the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum.

“Barber Motorsports Park is one of the most awesome race tracks we have in the U.S. and in the world when you consider the museum and the way that track is laid out,” Rainey said. “They would have to make a few changes but that would be very popular with a world championship race.”

Another track that has the potential to get back on the MotoGP calendar is the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. The iconic location last saw a MotoGP race in 2015. The road course is still used and ready for bikes. Rainey knows this and wants MotoAmerica at Indy.

“We would go next year if they have room on their calendar, Rainey said. “It’s a great track in the Midwest and the history there is incredible.”

However, the Speedway has undergone major changes since MotoGP last raced there. Roger Penske bought the track in 2019. It remains to be seen whether Penske and his team have motorcycles in the future plans for the Speedway.

In the end, Rainey would be happy to see more MotoGP races in America, despite the idea that MotoGP could overshadow MotoAmerica.

“The more opportunities our racers have to go into the world championship and race is why I got involved with MotoAmerica,” Rainey said. “My partners and I wanted to create a championship where there’s opportunities for racers, if they’re good enough, they go race in the world championship.

"There’s no better promotion than that for your national championship than having one of your own go abroad and race for the world championship.”