There will be no question what country the Trackhouse Racing team represents when it comes to the grid for its first race in Moto GP March 10 in Qatar. The team pulled the wraps off its two-bike entry last weekend in Hollywood, and it was red, white, and blue all over.
The American flag waves from the front dive plane to the rear seat bump stop, with the stars and stripes slathered all over both sides of the bikes. They’ll love it at COTA, where Moto GP comes April 14.
“I think they’re gonna be pretty striking under the sunlight, pretty striking under the lights at Qatar when we go to the first race,” said team owner Trackhouse Entertainment Group owner Justin Marks. Trackhouse also fields a team in NASCAR.
Despite the two motorcycles’ American flag livery, the bikes themselves are from Italian maker Aprilia and the two riders are from Europe: Spaniard Raul Fernandez, and Miguel Oliveira from Portugal. Both demonstrated appropriate enthusiasm at the Hollywood reveal.
“Today you saw our livery for this year,” said Fernandez. “For me it’s really nice and it’s a great opportunity to show the American flag. I think it’s great that America will have a MotoGP team, so for me it’s a huge pleasure to be here and show this flag. I really like the US and its people.”
Oliveira added, “I really love the bike for sure. To come as an America team for the first time in MotoGP you need to have the American DNA. It’s still an Italian bike and for sure we will be able to demonstrate that in terms of speed on the track as well is what I hope.”
But even with Trackhouse’s formidable racing experience in NASCAR, the new MotoGP team faces a huge challenge, since it came together less than five months ago.
“I went to a Moto GP race in Austria, and I went there with a business partner of mine. We went there as a NASCAR team from North Carolina to see what MotoGP was all about, see if we could learn a little bit of something about making our NASCAR team a little bit better, a little bit different, just taking inspiration from motorsports around the world,” said Marks. “That was five months ago. And now we’re here tearing covers off bikes.”
It may be the quickest a MotoGP team has ever been assembled.
“It’s amazing because there’s an incredible amount of work that has gone into this project the last, really, five months, four and a half months,” Marks continued. “Thank you to MotoGP, thank you to the fine folks at Aprilia, thanks to (Aprilia sports director) Massimo (Rivola) and the people at (Aprilia parent company) Piaggio group.”
Marks thought starting out a year later in the 2025 season would be enough time to properly field the team.
“I said, ‘This is something that I really, really want to do,’ and I said, ‘There’s a lot to learn about motorcycle racing.’ And then I said ‘All right, so here’s the deal: I want to come into MotoGP. It’s a great way for Trackhouse to go global, to scale the business, to do something special, and make a difference in this world.
“And if you’ll have us, I’d love to come into Moto GP.’ And they said, ‘We would love to have you in Moto GP.’ I say, ‘Great, let’s look at 2025. Give me a year, 2024, to go to races, meet people, learn everything. And they said, ‘The door is open right now. I can’t tell you how long it’s going to be open.’ So it was a ready-fire-aim moment for Trackhouse Racing.”
Fernandez joined MotoGP in 2022 with KTM before switching to Aprilia last year. A series of misfortunes has kept him off the podium so far. Oliveira joined Aprilia last year after six MotoGP seasons with KTM that saw him win several times. The team is hopeful this will be the year.
American riders have a strong record in motorcycling’s top ranks.
“Kenny Roberts, Freddie Spencer, Eddie Lawson, Wayne Rainey, Randy Mamola, John Kocinski, Kenny Roberts Jr., and the late, great, Nicky Hayden all blazed a trail that Trackhouse seeks to continue,” the team said.
Now an American team wants to continue that record, albeit with European riders.