Circuit Notes by Peter Hubbard: Texan Colin Edwards Announces Retirement From Motogp at Home Track
Today veteran American MotoGP™ racer Colin Edwards, dubbed the “Texas Tornado,” stunned attendees at the pre-race press conference for the 2014 Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas being held April 11-13 at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, by announcing he would be retiring at the end of the 2014 season, thus ending his stellar 22 seasons as a professional motorcycle racer.
Edwards has been racing on the MotoGP™ circuit since 2003 after eight years as a leading rider in the World Superbike series, where he won championships in 2000 and 2002. During his 11-year MotoGP race career, Edwards has ridden for five separate teams, capturing 12 podiums in the process.
“I don’t know exactly how to say it, even though I’ve rehearsed it I don’t know how many times; 2014 will be my last of racing MotoGP,” stated Edwards. His announcement was greeted with a hearty round of applause, as well as a standing ovation from fellow riders and media attendees alike. Edwards went on to thank several people including several of the Yamaha factory personnel who first offered him a ride in the AMA championship, as well as his family members in attendance, including his children and wife, Alyssia.
“But I’m still racing this year!” he added with a warm smile, to even more applause.
Edwards said the decision was made in part because he wasn’t able to achieve the kind of improvements he was looking for during pre-season testing with his current team, NGM Mobile Forward Racing.
“I realized with the changes recently made to the bike, I’d have to drastically change my riding style in order to make the bike work properly,” noted Edwards. “But after riding a certain way as long as I have, I realized I automatically reverted back to using certain old instincts when riding. At that point I knew that if I ever found myself in a tense situation on the track this season, I would automatically revert back to my old riding style, which just wouldn’t work out very well.
“And, after various conversations with my wife about our family, I just knew I needed to spend more time at home, now that my kids are getting older and involved in such things as baseball and gymnastics and other school activities. At this point in my life I really want to spend more time at home with my family so I can enjoy those activities,” he added.
Reflecting back on his career, Edwards said probably the most memorable races in his career came during the 2002 World Superbike season when he battled with Troy Bayliss throughout the year to take the title.
His fellow riders were eager to honor Edwards for his fine career.
“I am very, very sad to hear this news,” said former factory Yamaha MotoGP teammate Valentino Rossi. “Colin is one of my very best friends in the paddock. We shared a bike [at the Suzuka 8 Hours] in the 2000 and 2001 Superbike racing seasons, and had very good success racing together. He was a terrific teammate of mine for many years during some of the best years of my career with Yamaha … so I’m sad to see him go because he’s a really great guy and a great rider, too!”
“I had hoped to race against Colin for many years, because he’s such a professional, and a really great rider. So it will be really sad to see him go. He has every right to be really proud of what he’s accomplished during his great career,” said Repsol Honda Team rider Marc Marquez. “I think he won his first motorcycle race when I was just three years old,” quipped the 21-year-old reigning MotoGP world champion.
Fellow American rider Nicky Haden, with the Drive M7 Aspar Honda team also had high praise for Edwards. “I watched Colin’s career from the very beginning and remember when he started racing AMA. He didn’t just show up, he took the series by storm,” noted Haden. “He made a huge splash and was fast immediately, riding the 250cc bike. He then graduated to Superbike, winning two championships,” added Hayden.
“After that, we were rookies together in the MotoGP series and Colin was the young hot American. But now it’s hard to believe we’ve been on the circuit together for over 10 years now. Quite often we’ll be on the same airplane, coming back to the United States, and I’ll look over at him and think, ‘Wow, that guy still has a lot of energy.’ Like the other riders have said, he’s given a lot to this sport and has every right to be really proud of the career he’s had,” added Hayden.
Colin Edwards entered his first motocross race at age four, moving to road racing in 1991 where he went undefeated in every amateur event he entered and claimed numerous titles. Edwards turned professional at the start of 1992 and took the AMA 250cc title over challenger Kenny Roberts Jr. in his very first season competing as a professional rider.
In 1995 he was offered a factory position with Yamaha in World Superbike, claiming the crown in 2000 with Honda, finishing second to Troy Bayliss in 2001, then taking the title from Bayliss in a dramatic finish to 2002.
Edwards stepped up to MotoGP in 2003 with the Aprilia team, achieving his first podium the next year with Telefonica Movistar Honda. 2005 saw the Texan race with factory Yamaha alongside Valentino Rossi for his best season finish of fourth, barely losing out on a bid for a race victory at the last corner at Assen in 2006.
He finished 2009 fifth overall before moving to the satellite Tech3 team, where he remained for two seasons. 2012 saw Edwards embark on a new adventure with the NGM Mobile Forward Racing team and its CRT project, which proved to be a tough year. He remained with the team for 2013, switching from Suter-BMW to FTR-Kawasaki machinery.
Born Feb. 27, 1974, in Houston, Texas, Edwards believes strongly in sticking with his roots. In 2011 he decided to help develop young riders entering the sport by building his Texas Tornado Boot Camp (TTBC)in his hometown. TTBC is a premier 21-acre Yamaha motorcycle training facility located just west of Conroe, in Montgomery, Texas. The facility is equipped with a 5,000 sq. ft. saloon and bunkhouse for guests, a 300-foot by 150-foot covered and fully-lit arena TT-course for day or nighttime riding, a fleet of over fifty Yamaha motorcycles, and a gun range, easily making it a world-class venue, and a testament to his passion for international motorcycle racing.
Tickets for the 2014 Red Bull Grand Prix of The Americas start at $39 dollars and can be purchased at the circuit’s Grand Plaza Ticket Office throughout the three-day event. Kids ages 12 and under receive free general admission with a ticketed adult.
About Circuit of The Americas
Circuit of The Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas, is the home of world championships and a world-class destination for premium sports and entertainment. COTA has been nominated as the 2014 “Sports Facility of the Year” by SportsBusiness Journal/Daily. The same publication named COTA’s annual marquee event, the FORMULA 1 UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX, “Sports Event of the Year” for 2013. Additionally, COTA is the new North American home for the summer edition of ESPN’s X Games. More than one million visitors come to COTA each year for events such as MotoGP™, United Sportscar Racing, the FIA World Endurance Championships, business and social functions, and more than 20 performances at the venue’s acclaimed Austin360 Amphitheater, winner of Pollstar’s “Best New Major Concert Venue” award for 2013. COTA’s 1,500-acre campus includes a variety of permanent structures, including a 44,000-square foot Event Center, an impressive Main Grandstand with hospitality suites and the Velocity Lounge, a 270,000-square foot Paddock Building with 34 garages, and an iconic 25-story Observation Tower at the heart of the facility. For more information and downloadable video and photos, visit: www.CircuitofTheAmericas.com, www.Austin360Amphitheater.com or COTA’s dedicated FTP site, media.circuitoftheamericas.com. Follow COTA on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CircuitofTheAmericas and Twitter @circuitamericas and @COTAmedia.