MotoGP Update: Ben Spies Spectates At Circuit Of The Americas

Retired AMA and World Superbike champion says, “I’m still a fan.”

Ben Spies

Retiring from professional motorcycle racing last year wasn’t just the right decision for Ben Spies, it was his only option. That’s what the three-time AMA Pro Superbike and 2009 Superbike World champion told me earlier this weekend at Circuit of The Americas. Yet Spies intends to watch every lap of Sunday’s MotoGP race, as he did the season-opener from Qatar.

“Watching the first race from my couch was hard in some ways,” Spies admitted. “But knowing I can’t be at that level physically, I’m not sour about it. It’s nice to be a part of it.”

Spies is in Austin this weekend to see old friends, promote sponsors Alpinestars and HJC, and commentate for UK MotoGP television rights-holder BT Sport. “Even if I wasn’t doing any work,” he said, “I’d still be here watching. I’m still a fan.”

The shoulder injury that forced Spies to hang up his helmet remains bothersome. “Doing everyday tasks isn’t so bad,” he said. “I struggle with lifting things over my head. Sleeping is very difficult. Two weeks ago, I woke up at 2 a.m. and my shoulder was out of its socket.”

Spies put to bed any rumors that he might one day return to racing. “Am I coming back? That’s a question I’m going to be sick of by the end of the weekend. I almost want to wear a T-shirt that says, ‘I can’t come back. No. No. No.’

“A lot of fans would like to see me come back, and that’s good to know, but I will never be racing again. Hopefully, in the future, I can ride a motorcycle for fun. But even that isn’t happening right now.”

The 30-year-old Dallas resident did a bit of broadcasting work last year, and he’s excited to do more. “I don’t bring the most enthusiasm to commentating,” he admitted, “but I can fill in the blanks—what the riders are thinking, what the bikes are doing, tactics, that kind of stuff.”

Elbowz Racing logo

Since announcing his retirement from motorcycle racing, Spies has focused on his cycling team, Elbowz Racing. “We don’t have as strong of a team as we’ve had in the past,” he said. “We had one guy retire and three guys went to pro teams. That’s what the team is for. In every sport, you have rebuilding years.”

The Specialized-supported effort has just returned from the Redlands Classic in California. “It was important to take the guys to a pro race,” Spies said. “When you start winning races in Texas, you think, ‘Oh, yeah, I can do it.’ But when you go to the pro level, you can’t rest.”

Spies often rides with his team. “I’ve done a couple races with the guys,” he said. “Probably more races than I’ve ever done in a year. But if I don’t feel like racing, I don’t have to race. It’s nice to have that luxury when it’s 35 degrees and raining and windy.”

Spies also spoke about Colin Edwards' announcement on Thursday that he will be retiring from racing at the end of this season.

"Colin was one of my heroes," Spies said. "I was lucky to be teammates with him for a year. A lot of times that season, he came to me to try to go faster. At first, it was hard to deal with—Colin Edwards was coming to me with questions. But that was one of the most fun years I had racing. Colin and Jorge Lorenzo were my favorite teammates.

“Colin enjoys the lifestyle—travel, paddock friends, and all that stuff. That’s probably what made it hardest for him to stop. After he’s home for a while, his wife, Alyssia, may tell him to pack his bag and go racing again.”