The 2017 AMA Flat Track season didn’t turn out the way most of the participating manufacturers probably hoped that it would have. Indian Motorcycle was happy with the results but not so much the rest of them. The answer for the 2018 season to those woes has a lot to do with throwing money at the series in the form of contingency funds. The AMA just announce that with Ducati’s $180,000 contingency fund thrown into the pot, the total monies available to riders for the upcoming season is a whopping $2 million. The largest chunk is coming from Harley-Davidson who have pledged $562,500 towards the coffers of racers successful on either an XG750R (the newish liquid cooled Street variant) or the venerable XR750. This is the biggest single contingency offering in the history of AMA flat track racing.
Why the bucket loads of money? Keeping in the game. Last year was an almost total domination of the series by Indian Motorcycles. Many hopeful riders may think it necessary to ride one of the Indian race bikes to have a chance at victory or placing in the eighteen 2018 races. But with all that money sitting on the sidelines should a rider be successful on a Harley, Ducati, Kawasaki or Yamaha is sure to have some riders gambling that they can pull off a good race result and collect some of the cash on one of these brands. The other is exposure. Flat track is a growing sport. Barriers to entry are relatively low, the bikes are affordable and the tracks – well. they are made from dirt. Flat track is getting trendy exposure from the X-Games and that is a target audience every manufacturer would like to get a piece. So win on Sunday (and sometimes Saturday), sell on Monday.
Should you get an urge for a race effort yourself, there are a lot of rules to follow should you pass the checkered flag in a good spot – up to 10th for some brands. The rules are on the AMA Flat Track site. The 2018 AMA Flat Track season consisting of the Twins and Singles classes commences in Daytona this March with a TT race during Bike Week.
The 2017 season of AMA Flat Track didn’t turn out the way Harley-Davidson had hoped. It was suppose to have been a a rebirth of the great Harley-Davidson vs. Indian Motorcycle rivalry from back in the 1920’s and ’30s. It was a very long time ago but it was a good aspiration – this creation of an instant modern rivalry in what is one of the fastest growing motorcycle racing venues . Indian Motorcycle had come to the track with a new racing machine as had Harley-Davidson with a racing version of the Street 750 which was to take precedence over the venerable XR750. But it didn’t turn out to be the close and hard fought battle as Indian machines dominated the race series and the podium. But that was last year and last year’s battle. To encourage more participation Harley-Davidson has announced for 2018 the largest contingency fund in the history of AMA Flat Track with a total of $562, 500 up for grabs by privateer riders of either XG750R or XR750 race bikes. The 2018 Flat Track season commences in Daytona on March 15.
After all the hype that started the season, the 2017 flat track season became a somewhat one sided affair for the AFT Twins class as the campaign wrapped up at the Perris Speedway in California over the past weekend. Indian Motorcycle riders took the first three spots in the standings as Jared Mees, Bryan Smith and Brad Baker finished 1,2 and 3 for the season. The 4th and 5th spots were occupied by Sammy Halbert on a Yamaha and Jeffrey Carver Jr. on a Harley-Davidson XR750.
In the AFT Singles class rising star Shayna Texter placed third even though she had the most victories this season at 5 but missed points in six events. The season champion was Kolby Carlile followed by Brandon Price. Only 27 points separated the top three riders.
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.
Roland Sands is inviting you to race like Roland. All you need is a larger than 750cc twin bike, no front brake, flat track tires and some brass. The ubiquitous Roland Sands will be racing in a series of “Superhooligan” flat track races in Oregon, Wisconsin, Florida (during Bike Week), Texas and California. While Roland will be saddling up on Indian Scout Sixty custom, you on the other hand will have to source a bike for yourself. With the 750cc twin requirement, your choices will- and can be – be varied. Credit has to be given to Sands for getting behind the recent resurgence in flat track racing that has seen new racing in both Canada and the United States. With entry costs that are less than other forms of racing, fat track racing opens the sport to those with smaller pockets. North of the border, Flat Track Canada (http://www.flattrackcanada.com/) is planning both eastern and western Canadian schedules for 2016. Start you engines1
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