Colin Edwards recently turned 39, but doesn’t have any plans to retire from the demanding sport of MotoGP. He does, however, have a plan for retiring and for sharing the knowledge he has picked up in his distinguished career.
Last week, Edwards — nicknamed the Texas Tornado — was in San Marcos running a two-day boot camp for motorcycling enthusiasts at Harris Hill Raceway, a motorsports club and driving school featuring a serpentine 1.82-mile track on 150 acres.
Typically, however, Edwards holds such gatherings at his own camp, which is 40 miles north of Houston and looks like something out of the Wild West. Edwards’ picturesque camp has a hotel and a saloon to go with a covered dirt track.
Although the camp is only two years old, Edwards explained, “The inspiration was my wife asking me 10 or 11 years ago — whenever I was winning world (Superbike) championships — what are you going to do when you retire? Oh (shoot) I’d never thought about that.”
A decade later, the pieces fell into place.
Edwards’ four-day camps, which cost $2,250 for a standard bunk or $3,200 for VIP treatment, draw riders from as far away as Europe. Some of the camp dates are timed around the MotoGP races in the United States and, with the addition of Austin, there will be three such races in the U.S. this year.
Edwards will hold camps before and after Austin’s first MotoGP event, which will be held April 19-21.
“A lot of folks are going to fly into Houston and come by the boot camp, come ride for a few days,” Edwards said.
Even though he lives less than three hours from Circuit of the Americas, Edwards will not be one of the riders getting in some crucial testing at the new Tuesday today through Thursday.
The teams testing there will likely produce the winner of Austin’s first MotoGP, Repsol Honda, with riders Dani Pedrosa and rookie Marc Marquez, and Yamaha, with world champions Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi. Most teams, including Edwards’ NGM Mobile Forward Racing, are passing on the testing opportunity because of the expense of sending equipment and support personnel to Austin.
Edwards, though, rode Circuit of Americas while making a promotional video about a month ago and admits he never thought he’d see anything like it in Texas.
“I mean, we’re cowboys and horse arenas, George Strait concerts and NASCAR — and even NASCAR here is not like it is over to the east of us,” Edwards said. “Between high school football and baseball and the NFL and basketball, I never in my wildest dreams thought we’d have a Grade A, world-class circuit here.”
He added, “It’s an awesome track. They really did a good job. The only track I could compare it to is when we went to Shanghai and that’s a gazillion dollar complex.”
He warned that for those MotoGP riders who have not been on the new circuit, it would be daunting to try to learn the track and race on it the same weekend in April.
“That’s a big pill to swallow,” Edwards said.
The racing is only one of the demands placed on a MotoGP rider. Travel is also part of the equation. The upcoming season calls for 18 races in 13 countries on four continents.
Before he arrived in San Marcos, Edwards took a 41-hour trip to Malaysia for testing and then stopped in Milan on the way back for the team’s launch of the upcoming season. He said when he finally got back to Houston, he had jet lag, got three hours of sleep and then started driving to San Marcos at 5 a.m.
He said in his younger days, he might have complained about the grind, but he now realizes travel is part of the job he’s just not ready to leave.
“The key is I still love doing what I do, and as long I keep beating my teammates I don’t think they can really tell me to go home just yet,” Edwards said.