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Reborn in the USA: Why a team like Trackhouse could be the key that unlocks MotoGP's fortune

Trackhouse Racing

Look, I’ll just go ahead and say it, right here at the top of the article… “Americaaaa! F**k yeah!” [Matt Damon, Matt Damon].

OK, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, a quick round-up for those who aren’t sure why they suddenly feel compelled to salute the most patriotic looking thing to appear on two-wheels since Evel Knieval’s underpants.

What we have here is the official launch of Trackhouse Racing, a - you guessed it - US-based operation that is stepping in to take over from RNF Racing as Aprilia’s new satellite team partner in MotoGP. 


And yes, that is an Aprilia RS-GP emblazoned with ‘Stars and Stripes’. For the record, this is not the final livery, an article on the official MotoGP website is noticeably quick to point out.

If it’s all a bit overwhelming, then don’t worry, there is a lot to take in here. Maybe it’s because barely a week has passed since Pecco Bagnaia lifted his second world title. Or because we’re still recalibrating our brains upon witnessing Marc Marquez riding a Ducati. Or it’s possibly because those are indeed thick American accents uttering the word ‘MotoGP’  yet speaking in the future tense.

So, in synopsis, there will be an American team on the MotoGP grid in 2024. Which is significant. In fact, it is potentially very significant.

In short, to (not but probably) quote Dorna, “F**k yeah!... … … … … [Matt Damon, Matt Damon].

New age, old money

You don’t need to have a degree in marketing to recognise the importance of the American market, nor do you need to be an expert in economics to recognise the impact of being forgotten by it. Your surname doesn’t even need to be Ezpeleta to recognise the potential that comes from having a US flag flying above one of the pit boxes in the paddock.

Truthfully, Trackhouse Racing’s sudden emergence front and centre of the MotoGP consciousness will breed some cynicism, but for now let’s put that down to the trick of the mind that comes from watching a 2024 launch just as we’re preparing to hunker down for the off-season.

Strictly speaking, Trackhouse Racing is essentially a new lick of paint rather than a new MotoGP entry, for the time being at least. Scratch the surface and you’ll find 90% of the RNF Racing team that will remain in place, keeping the oily bits lubricated while Miguel Oliveira and Raul Fernandez focus on matters of racing.

Shiny veneer or not though, Trackhouse Racing represents an intriguing prospect for MotoGP - or, more specifically, Dorna - in that it opens an opportunity to recapture audiences in the United States that have steadily declined over the past decade.


Indeed, while the US will always have a rich vein coursing through MotoGP’s legacy - it has the likes of Wayne Rainey, Eddie Lawson, Kenny Roberts and Kevin Schwantz to thank for that - it’s hard to ignore how far nation and sport have grown apart. Once upon a time MotoGP visited North America three times a year and the domestic scene was as fertile with up-and-coming talent as Spain and Italy was.

Today, however, MotoGP heads west only once a year and there has been no homegrown hero to get behind in the premier class since the late Nicky Hayden completed his final campaign in 2015.

The arrival of Trackhouse Racing doesn’t change the above - neither overnight nor even in the next two, five or ten years perhaps - but what it does do is come at MotoGP from a tantalising angle akin to Dorna getting first refusal on freshly struck oil.

Indeed, Trackhouse Racing is just the kind of pre-packaged, contemporary minded operation with intriguing connections that has the potential to open MotoGP up to a brand-new audience, a fresh demographic Dorna has long coveted but - for all of its might - doesn’t have the sway in the right circles to successfully tap on its own.


We’ve been here before, of course - just a few days ago, in fact. Indeed, the premise - aka. bluff and bluster - of Trackhouse Racing bears some similarities to CryptoData, the team’s erstwhile title sponsor and primary shareholder of RNF Racing.

One of myriad cryptocurrency companies to have sprung up in recent years - seemingly all with frustratingly similar names - CryptoData arrived with an erroneous attitude built around a wearisome mission statement that cited, as many do, that it will do for MotoGP what Red Bull did for F1…

Unfortunately for CryptoData, Red Bull is plenty visible in the paddock already, has been for the past 20 years and swigging a can of heart palpitations is easier to wrap your head around than investing in money that isn’t actually money and involves technology. I mean, I can’t even get this laptop to connect to the printer…

In its defence, money in motorsport comes from a very different place these days, something MotoGP has at times been slow to capitalise on. What was once a sport filled with Lucky Strike, Marlboro and FIAT branding is now all about bitcoin, technology and, erm, OnlyFans.

Look at it this way, it's not Paris Hilton...

It's all about the brand

Trackhouse Racing, however, is even more ambitious in the sheer gumption of its very existence as a brand whose main product is just that, its brand. Had it been presented as a concept, Dorna would have been shooing representatives out of the door before they’d had the chance to dunk their hobnob (in a cup of tea, that is… steady now)

However, Trackhouse Racing’s modus operandi has hugely valuable potential, so long as it’s done properly.

In an age where an individual’s value can be quantified via how many followers they have on TikTok, YouTube and, erm, OnlyFans, you don’t need to be selling an actual product to identify as a successful entrepreneur. You just need to be the product people want a piece of.

Trackhouse Racing appears to be that product, per se. So while no team or manufacturer is bigger than MotoGP itself, essentially MotoGP wants to be seen with Trackhouse Racing, not the other way around. In theory, anyway.

Teams come and go but the ingredients stack up to due diligence at least, Trackhouse Racing’s credentials demonstrated by eye-catching exploits in the hugely popular NASCAR series where its ‘influencer-style’ approach to promotion has been complemented by having actual success on track to promote.

Granted, Trackhouse Racing might have a harder time to push the good word MotoGP than it does with NASCAR, partly because MotoGP is and will remain ‘mucho Espanol’ for the foreseeable future and partly because name-dropping that sunglasses enthusiast and known booty surveyor, Pitbull, is a part-owner is unlikely to elicit the same kind of fever on European soil. 


Crossover episodes

But, Dorna will be bristling with excitement to see the launch getting plenty of column inches in the United States already. Better still, it’s crossed over into NASCAR’s media stream, an overnight uplift in engagement which alone should be enough to pay for the hors d’oeuvres at the Dorna Christmas party.

While it’s hard to deny that Dorna’s attempt to replicate F1’s brand-focused metamorphosis under Liberty Media reeks more of haste than proper strategising, in its favour is having an adrenaline-fuelled, visually arresting spectacle like MotoGP itself to promote. The riders, on the other hand, well, they could benefit from some un-media training to inject some gnarl into personas that are so friendly and approachable, it’s frankly outrageous.

Granted, it’s a lot of responsibility perched on Trackhouse Racing’s shoulders to suggest it will revolutionise MotoGP’s audience but, at the very least, it’s a catalyst to capitalise on. It doesn’t hurt that it’s already inheriting a slick, well-drilled operation to focus on the important bits on a race weekend, rather than starting from scratch.

The proof will be in the frosting-topped pudding because, if anything, this is a deal of arguably greater value to Dorna than it is to Trackhouse Racing and there is no guarantee what works in NASCAR across the pond will integrate quite so well in a predominantly European series like MotoGP 

But there is certainly a lot of potential in Trackhouse Racing’s entry beyond what is essentially, for now, just a light rebrand and spangly livery.

On the plus side, at least supporting the cause by ‘buying its product’ amounts to nothing more than giving a gratis ‘follow’ on its social media accounts. 

I think I can just about afford that… at the very least, for this new-age tech-luddite, it’s probably a safer investment choice than me risking crypto-money that isn’t actual money probably making me very real poor.

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