AMA Pro Flat Track Racing 2013
By Dan Jacobson Sr.
Photos by Larry Jannsen
FARGO, ND, APR. 16, 2013
Following all motorsports for 40 years, I’ve seen it all. When it comes to close, fast, competitive racing there is one that stands out: The AMA Pro Racing Grand National Championship Flat Track Series wins every time. Maybe it’s because motorcycle flat-track racers are very different from any other motorsports competitor. The danger factor is unusually high because of the closeness and speeds on an unpredictable dirt track. All forms of motorcycle racing have their dangers, but none like the life-and-limb risks of flat track. Perhaps a fair comparison would be to say that it’s like sprint cars with no cage or seat belts and only two wheels.
Few people in the world are at the level of AMA Pro Flat Track racers. This is a big part of why the flat-track group is a friendly racing family. They go out of their way to help one another; they love to spend time with the fans and with each other.
Daytona Speedway flat track has been known for first-time winners. For example, in 2012, Johnny Lewis and Matt Weidman were first-time winners. Mikey Rush scored his first-ever AMA Pro Grand National win at the old Daytona Beach Memorial Stadium track in 2007. In 2013, round two saw Brandon Robinson take his first National win. In the J&P Pro Singles class, both nights saw new winners: Kyle Johnson (in his first AMA Pro race) and Jake Constantine.
Luckily for flat track, the air fence was invented. Since then, the instances of loss of life and debilitating injures have gone down every year. The common denominator is the physics of mass and speed, bike and rider going the same direction – but on dirt, the bike tends to take flight. It might sound like I’m trying to scare racers away from flat-track racing; no, I’m just saying it takes a special brand of person to race Pro flat track.
Flat track is the longest-running motorcycle-racing phenomenon. Since the day there were two motorcycles, the race has been on! Some industry icons and brands have supported the series for decades, such as Saddlemen Seat and Luggage, Motion Pro, K&N Filters, Vortex, Harley-Davidson, and Triumph. After the vast tobacco money vanished in the 1990s, it has been an ongoing struggle to find new marketing partners and media exposure for the sport. It seems the corner has been turned with AMA Pro Racing: Crowds are up, the show is first-class, and media is ringing the bell of a nearly 100-year-old sport once again.
Traveling to major markets around the country, the show is scheduled to stop in Florida, California, Washington, Illinois, Maryland, Ohio, Indiana and Arizona (and possibly South Dakota) for 2013. The next event will be held on May 11, 2013, at Stockton, California’s San Joaquin County Fairgrounds’ half-mile oval.
Two weeks later, on May 26, the flat trackers will head to the longest-running and fastest Mile on the circuit, at the state fairgrounds in Springfield, Illinois. There will be an All-Stars TT event the night before that will include Pros and some Amateur classes. Seeing the Experts ride anything is awesome; seeing the 140-mph action of the National Experts on 750cc twins on the Mile rates in the all-time “cool” category!
It’s inspiring to see the passion from the teams that plan the season, load the hauler, drive tens of thousands of miles, build the bikes, and tune the bikes, and they all want their racer (or racers) to win the championship. The investment to run a season – if you already own at least two national-caliber bikes for Pro Singles or four for an Expert – is easily $100,000.
There is always a certain magic at Daytona Speedway’s flat track. Kyle Johnson is new to the series in 2013. Attending his first-ever J&P Cycles Pro Singles event at round one, Johnson said, “We just planned to get our toes wet and doing only a few East Coast races.”
That all changed when Johnson put it to the racers at round one, winning his first J&P Cycles Pro Singles main.
“Now that I realized I can be competitive in the Pro Singles class,” Johnson said recently, “we are going to Stockton, California, to continue the AMA Pro Flat Track racing circuit.”
Mikey Rush, coming off a bad wreck at Springfield, seemed to make the hard work of recovery worthwhile by scoring his first modern-day AMA Pro Racing National Expert Singles win.
Some of the smallest issues can make a winner or loser – something as simple as an air-pressure gauge.
“We struggled all Thursday from qualifying to the main and just couldn’t hook the bike up or steer it,” said Pro Singles rider Jake Constantine at round two. “It was like riding on ice with no studs. It was hard just to keep the bike up. First two rounds of qualifying Friday were just as bad. So after changing everything possible on the bike to make it work, we randomly tried someone else’s gauge and figured out that my gauge was reading about 10 pounds too low. So what we thought of as having 16 pounds in the rear was actually 26 on a good gauge, and the same for the front tire, so as soon as we figured out this problem, the bike started working better and better.”
Constantine won the main event.
As noted above, Brandon Robinson – racing with the newly formed team of T.J. Burnett Farms, UCS Racing, Hart Racing and Kawasaki, and on new bikes – garnered his first National Expert win at round two. Asked if the main event had gone as smoothly as it looked, Brandon Robinson replied: “It was actually a pretty smooth main event. I was able to come off turn two in second place and ended up having a nice little battle with Kenny Coolbeth for the next lap and a half. Took the lead on lap two and just tried to stay smooth and consistent. Had some pressure from Brad Baker for most of the race, but those last five laps or so I was able to click off really good laps to secure the win.
“The new team is great!” he added. “It’s been a pleasure working with the T.J. Burnett Farms/ USC Kawasaki/ Hart Racing Team. Everyone is real down-to-earth and we all have the same goal, which is to go out and give it 100 percent at every race!”
The AMA Pro Flat Track Racing Series has great marketing partners for 2013: Sunoco Fuels, J&P Cycles, Goodyear Tire, Harley-Davidson and Screaming Eagle, MotoBatt, Cortech Saddlemen, Dynojet Research, KYMCO USA, Clearwater Lights, and Delson Products. They are all working together with AMA Pro Racing to deliver an amazing experience to the fans at every venue.
AMA Pro Racing has an exciting fan- and family-friendly program that offers plenty of exposure to the series stars, sponsors and teams. Plan a trip to an AMA Pro Grand National Championship event in 2013.
See you at the races!
– Dan Jacobson Sr.