By Lynne Huntting

Starting in 1978 Kenny Roberts won the 500cc championship for three seasons; Freddy Spencer then won 1983 and 1985 - the same year he also won the 250 cc championship; Eddie Lawson won in 1984, 1986, 1988 and 1989; Wayne Rainey won three in a row starting in 1990, and Kevin Schwantz took the crown in 1993. That is perhaps the longest dominating era for any country in top level motorcycle racing.

All five riders were present on Friday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for an American Legends media conference, as part of the many activities for this year's Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix.

MotoGP came to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in 2005 and this year marks the third year in a contract running through 2010. It has traditionally run in July and that will continue, although the exact July dates for 2008 have not yet been announced.

Starting in 2008, MotoGP will also run a second grand prix in the United States, at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It will run on 14 September 2008, to coincide with the 100-year anniversary of the first ever race at IMS, which was a motorcycle race in 1909.

After the American Legends press conference, Schwantz and I chatted about the new Indianapolis Grand Prix MotoGP venue. He had been part of the IMS press conference earlier in the week, as had Gill Campbell, General Manager of SCRAMP (Sports Car Racing Association of Monterey Peninsula), which runs Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Schwantz had a chance to look at the proposed circuit drawings and drive around the course with IMS track engineer, Kevin Forbes. Schwantz was quick to point out that the Speedway was already set up for next weekend's NASCAR Nextel Cup Brickyard 400 race, so it was somewhat difficult to visualise the MotoGP course.

The Indy MotoGP will run a different configuration than any other series at The Brickyard (Indianapolis 500, NASCAR and Formula One.) MotoGP will run in the same direction as Indy Racing League and NASCAR, on a new road course created by modifying the 'old' F1 track and running it in reverse.

Schwantz thinks the MotoGP circuit will be a good, technically challenging, course. The way the course is set up with fast corners going both left and right, straights and more corners and more straights, the field should stay bunched up and also have passing opportunities. Schwantz said that the straights will be good for the riders to draft and not get strung out. He feels this combination will make for exciting racing.

It's an interesting comment on the American motorsports scene that next year the US will host two American MotoGP races but no Formula One race.