The Harley-Davidson factory flat track team will be campaigning the 2017 season on a fleet of machines powered by a racing version of the engine found in the Harley-Davidson Street 750 marking a liquid-cooled sweep of the Harley-Davidson flat track force. The team was announced during the winter XGames in Aspen, Colorado and includes two previous Grand National Champions, Kenny Coolbeth Jr and Jake Johnson along with Brandon Robinson. The first race of the season will be held at Daytona International Speedway on a new track constructed in the huge infield of that legendary facility. The XGames reveal coincided with flat track racing being incorporated into the XGames and reaching – perhaps – that much sought after group of young fans.
Harley / Indian – Forgotten Flat Track Rivalries
The Street derived XG750R is set to have a much ballyhooed battle with the new Indian Motorcycles flat track team , known as the “Wrecking Crew” who will be riding the Scout FTR750 powered by an exclusive race only liquid cooled 750cc motor. Not to be outshone by Harley-Davidson, the Indian team consists of three Grand National Champions. The Indian offering proved itself to be competitive in selective races in 2016 while not campaigning for the entire season. While the press may focus on the Harley / Indian battle manufacturers including Kawasaki and Triumph have competitive bikes in the field. In truth the last time the two American nameplates battled for supremacy was so long ago the new showdown is more of a marketing prop than a resurgence.
For 2017 AMA Pro Racing, the organization behind US flat track, has high hopes that flat track can regain some of the following that the racing had back in the 1970’s when it was the most popular racing in the US. Part of that strategy will require finding a way to make the sport marketable and simple enough for a new generation of racing fans to embrace. While the rebirth of a Harley / Indian rivalry may not do much to attract younger eyes, the quality, accessibility and excitement of the racing should.