Wednesday, September 15, 2010

AMA Flat Track: Inside the Werner/Springsteen Monster Energy Kawasaki and Bryan Smith's Mile Wins


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13-Time AMA Flat Track Grand National Champion tuner Bill Werner fits a new rear CD-8 tire to Bryan Smith's #42 Werner Springsteen MonsterEnergy/Wossner
Pistons/SuperTrapp/Millenium Technologies-sponsored Kawasaki EX650
Ninja-based machine at the Springfield Mile during a break in the day's events on Sunday, September 5th. Team co-owner, test rider and team consultant 3-Time AMA Flat Track Grand National Champion Jay Springsteen, can be seen overlooking and assisting Werner in the pits.
Something new to flat track fans (like myself) who have been following this great sport for as long as I have (37 seasons this year) that you can see from this shot is the presence of a Dell laptop computer sitting on the seat of the WSME machine.
For decades the flat track scene has been strictly a 'seat of your pants' and 'rider feel'-based series, not relying on any type of technology, whether it be for suspension tuning or for fuel delivery (all flat trackers I have EVER encountered up until the last couple of years have been carburated whereas the Kawasaki and the Lloyd Brothers Ducati, for example, are fuel injected.)
Machines have been built on a simple, but effective platform that took master tuners such as Bill Werner or Kenny Tolbert (Chris Carr's championship-winning tuner) to sort out the mechanics, while the riders helped and usually sorted out what the suspension, gearing or tire needs were, based of course on the type of track and/or the make-up of a particular track and weather at the time the event is being run. You might even throw in sea level in determining how rich or lean you might have to jet the carbs or getting the proper airflow as well. So to see a man with Mr. Werner's expertise now have the use and ability TO use a laptop in sorting out the running of the machine SURELY has to scare off some of the competition. It scares me. Think what this man has done with a flat tracker in the almost-40 years he has been doing it, and give him an added advantage of modern technology in the form of a laptop to help sort things out, well, you have to think to yourself before you even get off the line you are screwed. And especially so now that they have found the right combination (twice in a row on the mile now) to put this low-priced package at the front and on top of the box in the main, let alone against the high-dollar XR's.
And something that I also found to be somewhat interesting in posting these first two wins for the team is that just as what Bryan had done some 8 days earlier at the Lucas Oil Indy Mile, he went out and won his heat, got third in the Dash for Cash, and led Chris Carr home to the team's second win on the mile (and second in a row) at Springfield. And I've been saying since early summer that once they got this thing figured out there would be no looking back.
With two events left in the schedule-the Knoxville Half Mile and the Arizona Mile-for the 2010 season, the team has brought a parallel twin back to the forefront of AMA Flat Track Grand National Championship Series racing. The last time a parallel twin was still competitive was in the mid '70s BEFORE Kenny Roberts was well known in European racing circles as The King. The sun may be setting on the 2010 season but the dawn is just coming upon us in the new age of AMA Flat Track racing. And Werner Springsteen Kawasaki Racing is on top, if not ahead, of the pack with this great package. And more power to them, literally and figuratively!
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Bill Werner, Bryan Smith and Jay Springsteen are all smiles while celebrating after the regular podium celebrations after Bryan brought the #42 machine home first for the team's second mile win, and second win in a row in the Twins Series on the Springfield Mile. While working with the basis for this existing machine, Werner had worked with other riders and other combinations until coming up with this set-up and with Bryan Smith in the seat, and of course Springer doing some testing along with them.
They were knocking on the door earlier in the season before discovering the 'cut-off' switch that the stock machine had built into it to kill the motor in case of a tip-over or crash. You can read about that below, as well. The thing is, once they got that little glitch worked out, the rest entailed getting the power to the ground on a low-torque, but high HP parallel twin engine motorcycle. And harnessing it correctly. And to think that Master Tuner Werner was able to do it for around $6K U.S. dollars is in itself amazing. Let alone something an up-and-coming young racer can look to in the future with something that is cost-effective and competitive in the circle of the AMA Flat Track Series.
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You can read and hear more on this great team below in an interview with Mr. Werner and Larry Lawrence from The Rider Files.com. There's also a few other good articles and interviews with the team and how this all came together to help
put AMA Flat Track Grand National Championship Racing back on the map again and how Werner was approached by the AMA to help usher this project in to help out the great sport of flat track racing. Great stuff. Read on.........


Larry Lawrence talked with Bill Werner and Jay Springsteen at the Gas City Short Track round of the AMA Pro Flat Track K&N Filters presented by Motorcycle Superstore.com Grand National Championship series. Here's Larry's story over at his super site TheRiderFiles.com that also includes several of the sound bites from that interview. Werner talks about ordering his engine off of eBay.com and only paying $700 for it. Amazing stuff out of the Super Tuner of AMA Flat Track:

http://www.theriderfiles.com/?p=5827
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Cycle World's racing blog talks about how the Kawasaki has a 'limiter' switch built into it that, when the bike is laid too far over (as for instance, in a crash-situation) it cuts the motor off. The Werner Springsteen Monster Energy Kawasaki Team found out the hard way in Arizona back at the beginning of May when the engine went dead on Bryan Smith while on the #42 machine when in contention for the main event. Read how that was handled here:

http://blog.cycleworld.com/?p=1186#more-1186
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RoadRacerX.com contributor Mark Gardiner got a chance to talk with Bryan Smith over the Labor Day Weekend running of the Springfield Mile-Smith and the team's second win and second in a row in the Twins Series. Here's what Bryan had to say to Mark about the evolution of the Kawasaki EX650-based machine:

http://www.roadracerx.com/features/backmarker/backmarker-kawasakis-miles-bryan-smiths-smiles/
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Henny Ray Abrams filed these reports with CycleNews.com about the Werner Springsteen Monster Energy Kawasaki AMA Flat Track effort that shines more light on how this great project came together and how the team has gone about preparing a parallel twin to run against the long-standing and machine-of-choice for decades H-D XR750.

Here's part one:

http://www.cyclenews.com/articles/flat-track/2010/09/08/how-kawasaki-conquered-dirt-track

And here is part two:

http://www.cyclenews.com/articles/flat-track/2010/09/09/how-kawasaki-conquered-dirt-track-part-2
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And here is the story of the team's second win at Springfield as posted by AMA Pro Flat Track:

http://amaproracing.com/ft/news/index.cfm?cid=39560

Here is the AMA Pro Flat Track article about the team's first win at the Lucas Oil Indy Mile:

http://amaproracing.com/ft/news/index.cfm?cid=39429
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