AMA Vintage Dirt Track National Championship Series
Round 10: Night Before the Indy Mile Short Track
at Mid-America Speedway at the Marion County Fairgrounds
Story and Photos by Mike “Stu” Stuhler/Stu’s Shots
INDIANAPOLIS, IN, AUG. 16, 2013
Mid-America Speedway’s inaugural hosting of the AMA Vintage Dirt Track National Championship Series also saw the track’s hosting of the first Bultaco Astro Cup, and after the dust and two-stroke smoke had settled, former AMA Pro Flat Track veteran and Findlay, Ohio, resident Steve Morehead topped the victory podium, over runner-up Tom Morgan and third-place finisher Dave Atherton.
More than 30 riders had signed up on the pre-entry list to contest the race, a tribute to the popular marque that dictated AMA Pro Flat Track competition in the sport’s heyday in the late ’60s and throughout the ’70s. Riders including Morehead, 2000 AMA Grand National Champion Joe Kopp, three-time AMA Grand National Champion Jay Springsteen, Garth Brow, David “Bones” Aldana, six-time VDTRA Champion “Wild Will” Kelley, and a host of others all arrived to do battle on Indy’s southeast side.
The event, hosted by the Marion County Fairgrounds and sponsored by Harley-Davidson of Bloomington, was the first of its kind at this great little facility, and the riders who came from near and far all seemed to enjoy and even love their time on the track, as well as riding some of the Bultaco Astros that many had utilized in short-track racing throughout their careers.
However, it was Morehead who stole the show, in spite of the best efforts from many, including Springsteen, Aldana, Brow, Atherton and eventual runner-up Morgan.
In the Bultaco Astro Cup heat race, Brow got the jump off the start, but the 58-year-old Morehead stayed on his tail and made a daring but excellent move up the inside coming out of turn two on lap two, and he was never headed from there.
In the main, Morehead ran away after the first lap and never looked back on his way to taking the checkered flag in front of a big crowd at Mid-America and a big handful of adoring fans who obviously remembered the pressure the Ohio resident used to put on the competition in his days racing in Grand National Championship events.
Little known fact: Morehead still fits into the leathers that he wore in AMA Grand National competition up until his retirement after the 1999 season, and they still look almost-new. The AMA Hall of Famer spent 26 seasons contesting the AMA Grand National Championship Series, and when he retired, he was ranked 10th on the all-time-wins list of competitors.
White Pigeon, Michigan’s Dave Atherton – the father of former AMA Grand National number 23, Kevin “Cupcake” Atherton, and Brad Baker’s tuner on the Dodge Brothers Racing team in the AMA GNC Series – ended up in the third-place spot in the Bultaco Astro Cup main, on one of the pristine machines he brought to the track from his home. Atherton is known to have a barn full of vintage racers at home, and this one was a beauty!
Other than the textbook runaway put in by winner Morehead, Springer and Aldana had the crowd roaring over their battle for the fourth-place spot in the main. Springer got the nod, with “Bones” finishing in the fifth-place position. Three-time AMA Grand National Champion Jay Springsteen had one of the biggest crowds of people hovering around him wherever he went that evening, as did Aldana.
Although Joe Kopp had never ridden a two-stroke machine fitted with a compression release, the former AMA Grand National Champion had no problem adapting and won his heat race right off; however, Kopp ended up with an 11th-place finish in the main.
Aldana, who had made the trip to Indy via the Stockton, Kansas, fair races the weekend prior, showed up at the track with a rolling race shop in the form of a 20-foot V-nose trailer behind his Ford pickup, housing not only his four Honda 350cc singles flat-trackers but a well-organized shop complete with a bench vise, extra spares, welder and torches and everything needed to tear into a motor and weld and repair pretty much any damages that could be incurred while racing. This man has been doing this a long time, and ol’ “Bones” had a shop of which some present-day young racers would be envious. Aldana stated he could do everything in this mobile shop, including rebuilding a bike’s engine and honing a cylinder if necessary.
Aldana won his heat and main going away, each by just shy of a straightaway, masterfully taking the lead right off the bat in turn one and running away, never bothering to look back.
The crowd enjoyed seeing one of the all-time greats of the sport show up, including this fan, as I had the pleasure of hosting the Fayetteville, Georgia, resident over the weekend, and man, were there some stories to be told and heard! “Bones” spent time the next evening at the Indy Mile as the race’s grand marshal, a race he won during the 1970 season while riding for the BSA factory, when the event was a 30-lap Mile event.
Art “The Dart” Randall, a longtime supporter of flat-track racing, made the trip to Indy from his home in St. Louis, along with close to a dozen of the Bultaco Astros from his collection, which he used to supply some of the riders with a ride for the event. Art owns a restaurant and pub in St. Louis, located close to Busch Stadium, called “Kilroy’s,” which houses several of his spotless machines that are on display. If you get the chance to make a Cardinals game (the only time that Kilroy’s is open), make sure you stop by to check out part of his museum on display.
All in all, Mid-America Speedway’s hosting of the 2013 “Night Before the Indy Mile” event was a big success for team operations head and track president Jim Terchila and his team. With a big crowd on hand for the large racing weekend in town for the sixth annual Red Bull Indianapolis MotoGP event; round eight of the 2013 AMA Pro Flat Track, presented by J&P Cycles, Grand National Championship Series; the stunt show; and Motorcycles on Meridian being held each evening in the downtown area, fans had a lot of choices to make on how best to spend their hard-earned money and time over the weekend.
Those who chose to attend the “Night Before the Indy Mile” at Mid-America weren’t disappointed: They saw some of the past, present and future stars of flat track put on a great show that won’t soon be forgotten, and many should now be making plans to return for the 2014 version, to be held at Mid-America Speedway on Indy’s southeast side.
Mid-America Speedway at the Marion County Fairgrounds
Results: August 16, 2013
OPEN: 1. Jared Mees; 2. Rob Pearson; 3. Steve Bonsey; 4. Mick Kirkness; 5. Brad Baker; 6. J.D. Beach; 7. Henry Wiles; 8. Jarod Vanderkooi; 9. Brandon Wilhelm; 10. Jake Constantine; 11. Doug Lawrence; 12. Tyler Porter; 13. Kevin Wilson; 14. Joey Westheider; 15. Nathan Wilson.
BULTACO ASTRO CUP: 1. Steve Morehead; 2. Tom Morgan; 3. David Atherton; 4. Jay Springsteen; 5. David Aldana; 6. John Skinner; 7. Brett Miller; 8. Bill Snyder; 9. Peter DeSantis; 10. Ken Saillant; 11. Joe Kopp; 12. Garth Brow; 13. Ricky Merlo; 14. David Rosin; 15. Denne Williams.
QUAD OPEN: 1. Josh Lane; 2. Tyler Deckard; 3. Jay Meinking; 4. Kevin Crawford; 5. Shay Krayniak.
SPEEDWAY: 1. Brandon Fesselmeyer; 2. Chris Thomas; 3. Daniel Weicht; 4. Chris Hathaway; 5. Heath Heston.
80-200 2-STROKE/4-STROKE (9-15): 1. Dallas Daniels; 2. Trent Lowe; 3. Drew Hart; 4. Kasey Sciscoe; 5. Casey Chisham.
0-250 2-STROKE/4-STROKE (12+): 1. Kevin Stollings; 2. Bri Hazen; 3. Landon Alberts; 4. Cameron Lang; 5. Chaz Meiman.
FACTORY WARS BRAKELESS: 1. Brent Johnson; 2. Doug Young; 3. Doc Batsleer.
HOT ROD SINGLES: 1. Kevin Wilson; 2. Thomas Englehart; 3. Mark Powell; 4. Ted Powell; 5. Rodd Kaller.
HOT ROD MULTI: 1. Lonnie Vanderpool; 2. Mark Powell.
250 IRON MAN BRAKELESS: 1. Tim Hurley; 2. Randy Hassler.
250 HOTSHOE: 1. Rob Criswell; 2. John Tejchma; 3. Charles Winegar; 4. Dave Hayes; 5. Bryan McGuire.
360 HOTSHOE: 1. Bill Snyder; 2. Peter DeSantis; 3. Charles Winegar; 4. John Frazier; 5. Tim Hurley.
750 HOTSHOE: 1. John Skinner.
250 MASTERS: 1. Kyle Long; 2. Ron Lewis; 3. John Bova; 4. Scott Raine.
500 MASTERS: 1. Lonnie Vanderpool; 2. Kurt Emerick; 3. Leslie Campbell.
750 MASTERS: 1. Ted Powell; 2. Leslie Campbell.
50+ VINTAGE OPEN: 1. Mark Hawk; 2. Joe Baggott; 3. Pascal Laheurte; 4. Art Randall.
60+ VINTAGE OPEN: 1. David Aldana; 2. David Atherton; 3. Bill Snyder; 4. Alan Niles; 5. Joe Baggott.
[For more from the Night Before the Indy Mile, please see “Mees’ Record Unblemished at the Night Before the Indy Mile,” also by Mike Stuhler… Editor]