AMA Superbike champion Josh Herrin can't wait for his American grand prix debut, during April's Moto2 round at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
Herrin, who has signed for the new Caterham team, got his first look at the impressive facility during a visit on Thursday, when he also rode some chilly laps on a street bike.
“I didn't have the opportunity to go to the MotoGP last year or Formula 1 race and immediately when I pulled down the driveway I was like, this place is sick!” said Herrin.
“It's so much different than what I've seen as far as race tracks go. The coolest thing is that it's in the US; you don't see stuff like that in the US very often just because racing in general isn't a big thing in the States compared to Europe.
“My expectations were blown away. I didn't think it would be this nice. It was fun on the track. The design is really nice.”
The 23-year-old added: “Even though we didn't get a lot of laps today having track time on a new track is so helpful. When I went to Jerez for the first time, I played a million laps on video games. I watched all of the on board footage. Even then it's so different learning the track.”
COTA made its MotoGP debut last season and will again host round two of this year's championship, from April 11-13.
“I think it's going to be the most exciting time of the year, coming home,” said Herrin, who will later race on American asphalt for a second time in August's Indianapolis event.
“I always see Nicky [Hayden] and Colin [Edwards] are really excited to go in front of their home crowd, and I can see why. I went to the last race in [Valencia] Spain, and it's just full of Spanish fans, and I can see coming here being in front of a 100,000 people. It's going to be pretty exciting.”
While Hayden and Edwards share the American attention in MotoGP, Herrin will be the only US rider in the 600cc Moto2 class.
“If anything there's more pressure,” he admitted. “With Nicky and Colin racing in the MotoGP class, you know they're going to do well. Me being the new guy and the only American, they are going to expect me to do well.”
The Californian added that the chance to race in grand prix is a “dream come true”. “It's a once in a lifetime opportunity and to be the only American doing it - it's really cool for me to represent my country.”
Herrin will be back on his Suter Moto2 bike for the first official 2014 test at Valencia from February 11-13. Two further official tests will follow before his grand prix debut, under the floodlights in Qatar, from March 20-23.
Edwards also attended the media event at COTA on Thursday, but declined the chance to lap in the cold conditions and bone-chilling wind. Instead Edwards allowed a friend who accompanied him to suit up and get some track time!