Every year at MotoGP, the world’s biggest motorcycle manufacturers set up a tent to show off their newest products, offer demo rides, and try to develop more of a community. They all set up together in what Circuit of the Americas calls the Fan Zone.
Then Ducati blows them all away with Ducati Island.
“Island” is an odd name as it’s not surrounded by water, but the Ducati-fest is definitely isolated from the rest of its competitors, taking up over 74,000 square feet of space on the east end of the main grandstand. It’s telling that the only manufacturer listed on the key of CoTA’s official map is Ducati:
At a base level, Ducati offers up the same things that most of the other OEMs do at MotoGP Austin – buy merchandise, talk to some representatives, maybe even test ride a bike like the Scrambler Cafe Racer if you sign up early enough.
I know that I’m spoiled, which is why I normally don’t care for this kind of thing – I don’t like crowds and I’m lucky enough to see these bikes throughout the year at several events. On the flip side, I also know that events like MotoGP can be the only time that a US motorcyclist can test ride a bike they’re interested in purchasing as many manufacturers (looking at you, Japan) make it basically impossible through their dealer network. So if you’re a American fan of a specific OEM, MotoGP in Austin may be your best opportunity in a given year to get a feel for their products and connect with the brand.
I can’t comment on how well different companies run their test rides out of MotoGP, but Ducati shines above the rest when it comes to connecting with fans. I think that’s due to how much their leadership gets involved. Every booth has models who have been somewhat prepped on the products they’re presenting. But Ducati fans end up seeing the US and Global CEOs all over the place, and that can be very rewarding for potential customers.
Does the average rider of a Honda or Kawasaki know what the CEO of their company looks like? I’m not sure the average Ducati fan knows what Claudio looks like either, but they had multiple opportunities to find out at Ducati Island, whether he was serving up lunch, taking in the sights, or signing memorabilia. Same thing goes for the US CEO, Jason Chinnock, who served lunch and interviewed the factory riders.
All of this is just a long way of saying kudos to Ducati for making their fans feel special. Race weekend is packed, and there’s always three different places that fans should want to be at any given time. Getting someone’s attention can be difficult, but Ducati does a good job at the American round of MotoGP.
Here’s a few more photos from my quick visit to Ducati Island if you weren’t able to make it yourself:
MotoCorsa out of Portland, Oregon (one of the nation’s biggest Ducati dealerships) built a tribute bike to Nicky Hayden which they would later go on to auction on a few platforms but it never met reserve. It’s available at a lower price if you’re interested…
Someone got their hat signed…
…and they were quite excited about it!
Because Marquez crashed out of the Austin round, Ducati fans were extra happy as Andrea Dovizioso took the overall lead – though of course, he’s since relinquished it and Marquez has locked up this year’s championship anyway.
Nathan and I will be at CotA next year for MotoGP 2020 – maybe we’ll see you at Ducati Island?