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Mechanic preps a Yamaha racing bike

SALINAS, Calif.--A journey through the racing pits and marketplace at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca during the weekend's annual Red Bull Grand Prix here unveiled a world of elite engineering and technology tied to some of the fastest driving machines in the world.

In today's elite racing motorcycles, sophisticated computer software analyzes and tunes competitive performance, as on this Yamaha racing bike being prepped by a mechanic.

Updated:Caption:Photo:John Scott Lewinski/CNET
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Super bikes on display

Weekend races at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca included events for MotoGP, superbike, sportbike, and E-Power classes. Here, the superbikes on display.

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Time trial times

The Red Bull Grand Prix packs several days of test runs, time trials, and elite motorcycle racing into the big weekend. During practice laps and time trials for the Red Bull Grand Prix, updated lap times are posted electronically to the media and throughout the pits on giant screens.

The main event is the Red Bull MotoGP U.S. Grand Prix, where this year Australian Tommy Casey Stoner beat out defending world tour champion Jorge Lorenzo.

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Superbike stripped to its core

Beneath the seat and controls of a racing motorcycle, a network of elite electronics spreads out throughout the frame of a bike, like this one stripped to its core in the pits.

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Keeping tires warm at Suzuki

Every aspect of a racing motorcycle, even its dormant tires, is closely monitored by pit personnel. These wraps keep racing tires on a Suzuki heated electronically at all times to maintain proper air pressure and rubber integrity.

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Yamaha racing bike stripped to core

Yamaha, Suzuki, Honda, and other racing teams rumble into Laguna Seca in fleets of semi trucks, unpacking expansive tents and piles of expensive electronic equipment to keep the racing bikes operating at peak levels. Professional pit personnel, like these Yamaha Racing technicians, can strip a bike down to its most basic parts within minutes.

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Fitted racing fire suits

Professional motorcycle racers speed at more than 200 mph when competing. Their tailored fire suits are designed to shape their bodies to the contours of a motorcycle and keep them safe by bracing their knees and elbows in saddle positions.

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2010 Playboy Mazda MX-5 Miata

In between races, fans could see the superbikes up close, and ogle the latest motorcycle and car models, such as the 2010 Playboy Mazda MX-5 Miata from the MX-5 Cup Racing Series.

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2011 Mazda 2 B-Spec

An entry-level racing class vehicle, the 2011 Mazda 2 B-Spec offers a competitive racer to compete with the Ford Fiesta, Honda Fit, or Nissan Versa for about $25,000.

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Modern Mazda rotary engine

Visitors to the Mazda Raceway for the Red Bull Grand Prix could get their hands on the working parts of a modern rotary engine.

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Kids get their crack at dirt bike

At Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca during the Red Bull Grand Prix, young riders had a chance to do laps on a one-cylinder dirt bike, accompanied by a Yamaha instructor.

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National Guard-sponsored racing bike

The National Guard-sponsored racing motorcycle ridden by superbike circuit competitor Roger Lee Hayden carries a liquid-cooled inline four-cylinder four-stroke engine tuned to hit north of 200 mph.

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Lexus LFA supercar

The 2011 Lexus LFA supercar on display during the Red Bull Grand Prix is powered by a 4.8-liter V-10 engine capable of 552 horsepower at 8700 rpm.

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Star Motorcycles 2011 Stryker

In between races, fans swam through a sea of outdoor vendor space. Ducati, Star Motorcycles, Yamaha, Honda, and their competitors put up modest tent cities where riders could get hands-on time with the latest dream cycles, gear, on-bike gadgets, and even hot new cars coming to showrooms in 2012.

One of many bikes on display for sale at local dealers, the 2011 Stryker from Star Motorcycles sells standard-equipped for about $15,000.

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Star Motorcycles V-Star 1300

The Red Bull Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway gives riders a chance to scout out affordable dream bikes like the $10,000 Star Motorcycles V-Star 1300. Comparable competing street cruisers can easily run consumers upward of $15,000.

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Mazda MX-5 Miata support vehicle

The 2011 Mazda MX-5 Miata is one of the world's top selling two-seat sports cars, and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca uses it as a pace car and support vehicle on race weekends.

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Honda 2011 Fury cruising motorcycle

The Honda 2011 Fury cruising motorcycle was on display for would-be buyers at the Mazda Raceway during the Red Bull Grand Prix.

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Mercedes Benz 2011 SLS AMG

The $187,000 Mercedes Benz 2011 SLK AMG was on display inside the Ducati exhibit space at Mazda Raceway during the Red Bull Grand Prix.

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2011 Ducati Diavel Superbike

The $17,000 2011 Ducati Diavel Superbike was front and center in the motorcycle maker's display at Mazda Raceway during the Red Bull Grand Prix.

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2011 Honda Fourtrax 4x4

It's not all motorcycles and cars at Mazda Raceway, as proven by the $8,000 2011 Honda Fourtrax 4x4 mini sport and work vehicle testified.

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