Friday, June 3, 2011

AMA Flat Track: Springfield TT Photo Review

After a two-day rain delay, and a red flag restart, Jake Johnson leads the field on lap one of the main on his way to his second win of the season (Salinas TT win over Easter Weekend) and his second win on the TT at Springfield (2007 event winner.)  Trying to keep the 2010 AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Champion close are #49 Chad Cose, JR Schnabel on the #33, Kenny Coolbeth on the #2, and Jared Mees on the #9.  Right on Mees' tail is Sammy Halbert on the #7, with Stevie Bonsey on the #80, Shaun Russell on the #28 and Rob 'Bugs' Pearson on the #27 rounding out the top nine.
Several laps later, Pearson was involved with Sammy Halbert and another rider in a red flag incident that saw Pearson leaving the track on a stretcher.  The most recent reports, according to Tyler Porter at Fight for Dirt, he suffered a sore ankle and dislocated shoulder, but the Morton, IL. rider (and F.B.I.-Fast Boys from Illinois) expects to be ready for the Hartford race on June 11.  One tough fellow!
In round 7 of the 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship Series season at Springfield, it was Johnson, Mees, Schnabel, Bonsey, Halbert, Coolbeth, Matt Weidman, Russell and Brad Baker rounding out the top 10.

Jared Mees gets ready to fuel-up his #9 Montgomeryville Cycle Center/Lucas Oil/Rogers Lake Racing/Saddlemen-sponsored Honda CRF450R before the main event at the Springfield Rodeo Arena on Monday, May 30.  Mees had what he termed 'his best Springfield ever' after having won the mile (his first at the Illinois State Fairgrounds) the day before, and coming home 2nd in the TT.
With The Jammer's known off-season regimen (racing and winning the ICE Series Championship, again) and running several West Coast events, he's making another great run at being Mr. Consistent this year, as he did in the 2010 season.  The big difference for the 2009 AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Twins Series Champion is he now has the elusive win in his pocket (after having not won a race since 7/7/07) to better show that this man means business.  And from what he has shown this year and last, you better not count this Michigan-based rider out at any event!
Mees heads to the Hartford, MI. half mile Twins event on June 11 ranked 3rd in the overall championship (112 points), behind Sammy Halbert (145 points) and Jake Johnson (138 points).

Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. gets ready to roll out for one of the first Expert practice sessions on his #2 Chaplin Kawasaki/Spectro Oils/Wiseco/Fox-sponsored KX450F at the Springfield TT.  The '07 AMA Pro Flat Track Singles Series Champion (and 3-Time Twins Champ) came out of heat race 3 to finish 3rd, behind winner Mees and runner-up Matt Burton) to punch his ticket to the main event. 
From there, The King of Cool fought his way to a great 6th place finish, and coupled with his 4th place on the mile on Sunday, left Springfield 4th in the overall championship with 104 points.  After his off-season switch to Kawasaki after having ridden Honda's for several years, Coolbeth is showing his off-season testing on the KX450F in Florida paid off, after having won the DuQuoin Indoor Short Track back on April 16.

As AMA official race announcer Barry Boone (partially hidden) talks with 3rd place finisher JR Schnabel, winner Jake Johnson and runner-up Jared Mees go over the race, during podium celebrations after the rain-delayed Springfield TT (note the original date of 5/28/11 on the upper part of the sponsor backdrop) wraps up late Monday afternoon on Memorial Day, May 30.  Johnson led all of the laps in the main after the red flag delay to finish 1.330 seconds ahead of runner-up Mees and 4.611 seconds ahead of Schnabel, who until around lap 17 had been holding onto second throughout the first part of the race.  About the only mistake Johnson made for the event was just after this shot was taken when he accidentally knocked over his trophy and broke one of the pieces off. 
Johnson leaves Springfield (after also finishing on the podium at the mile-3rd place) only 7 points behind series leader Sammy Halbert, 145-138.  Johnson always seems to run stronger as the season progresses, and if that holds true in the 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship season, his quest to defend his 2010 GN Championship could become a reality.  It's early in the season, with only 7 of 22-scheduled races in the books, but Jersey Jake is already ahead of where he was from last year when he overtook then-leader in the series Joe Kopp with only one race left to run (Knoxville was rained-out.)

The four lap Dash for Cash (and valuable championship points!) saw JR Schnabel on his #33 Monster Energy/Werner Springsteen Kawasaki/Cedar Creek Motorsports/Wossner Pistons-sponsored KX450F jump out to the lead on the first lap to cruise home ahead of Jared Mees #9 and Sammy Halbert #7.  Jake Johnson #1 (coming ALMOST together with Mees in this first lap shot) finished 4th, with Chad Cose on his non-sponsor listed #49 Honda CRF450R coming home 5th for the final point, and Matt Burton on his #39 RJ Performance/Hot Cams/39 Moto/MotionPro-backed Yamaha YZF450F finishing 6th. 

Champ Reigns Supreme at Springfield TT

SPRINGFIELD, IL (May 30, 2011) - The Illinois weather proved to be a fickle companion throughout the Memorial Day Weekend, as the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track TT that was rained out of its original Saturday spot found sunny, hot, and windy conditions when riders returned to try it again Monday.

Those conditions kept AMA Pro staff, the Illinois Motorcycle Dealers Association, and the track crew busy inside the Illinois State Fairgrounds Multi-Purpose Arena, as they worked to keep the tricky track from turning into a narrow groove. For the most part they succeeded, but the circuit remained slick and there were several red flags as the day went on.

The first start of the 25-lap, nineteen-rider National saw a pile-up send Rob Pearson (Matt Reecy Racing/RPM) to the sidelines and current points leader Sammy Halbert (Woody Kyle Racing /Fredericktown Yamaha) to the penalty line. Defending Grand National Champion Jake Johnson (Zanotti Racing) led all the way on the restart, but he had it far from easy. Monster Energy Kawasaki Warner-Springsteen Racing's JR Schnabel, who'd won the Springfield TT three times previously, and Rogers Lake Racing/Montgomeryville Honda's Jared Mees, who was attempting to become the first rider in flat track history to win both the TT and Mile on the same weekend, gave chase even as they battled each other.

Jake Johnson on his #1 Zanotti Racing Honda leads #33 JR Schnabel on his Werner Springsteen Kawasaki after the restart at the Springfield TT.  AMA Pro Flat Track photo by Dave Hoenig.

"I knew I had to get out front early and set my own pace," said Johnson. "I peeked back and saw JR and Jared were close, but I felt I had a good gap. With about five to go I looked back and saw Jared was closing. I think they need to do a sound check on that thing-it sounded like he was right on my heels."

"I felt really good early in the race," said Schnabel, "but when the track gets slicker, I get kind of excited. Jared got up inside me one time and I got real excited. I got him back that time, but I started making mistakes and he got me back for good."

"I could see Jake in front of us and I knew he wasn't getting away," said Mees. "JR was holding me up, but I just couldn't get that one opening that I needed. Once I did get by I was closing on Jake, but catching and passing are two different things. [Finishing 1-2] is by far my best Springfield result, so I have to be happy."

For a time, Chris Carr's Farewell Tour appeared to be headed for the excellent results Carr expected. The seven-time Grand National Champion set the fast time in Qualifying and led his heat into the right-hander the first time, then slipped down and into the rear of the pack, earning himself a trip to the semis. After finishing sixth in the semi Carr was forced to use his provisional, finishing fifteenth.

Turning in a lonely fourth was Mack Daddy Racing's Stevie Bonsey, who'd passed Kenny Coolbeth (Chaplin Kawasaki) on Lap 3 and settled in for a good finish. Coolbeth held down fifth until Sammy Halbert, coming up from the fourth row, took over on Lap 21. SNIP/Shoei-backed Matt Weidman finished just behind Coolbeth, while Monster Energy Kawasaki Werner-Springsteen Racing's Shaun Russell was all over Weidman and finished eighth.

Jake Johnson stylin' on this #1 Zanotti Racing Honda in route to win #2 (so far!) on the 2011 season.  AMA Pro Flat Track photo by Dave Hoenig.

JR Schnabel came away the big winner in the Dash for Cash, edging out Mees and Halbert.

By the end of the long weekend, the points race has closed. Sammy Halbert still holds the overall GNC lead, but Johnson is now only seven points back. For the moment, the battle for the crown has turned into a two-rider duel, as Mees trails 33 points behind Halbert in third.

The Pro Singles race was marked by numerous red flags, and a total of five riders were parked on the penalty line when the sixteen-lap race got underway in earnest. Unfortunately for Shoe Racing's Will Cato, who held a solid lead, the race was red-flagged again just short of the half-way mark.

On the first lap of the restart, Cato and Weirbach Racing's Mikey Martin made contact and Cato went down in front of the pack. Though each rider was able to skillfully avoid him, his day was done. Martin then set sail, but Boughner Racing's Mikey Avila was closing fast. With two laps to go, Avila pounced, and the battle was over quickly. Thirty Four Racing's Hayden Gillim was one of the riders coming from the penalty line, and he finished a fast-closing third.

William Cato on the #35C Shoe Racing Honda gets ready to go down during the Pro Single main event.  AMA Pro Flat Track photo by Dave Hoenig.

Former points-leader, Vortex Sprocket's Gerit Callies (another penalty-line resident) finish fourth, with Al Lamb's Dallas Honda's Jeremy Hamilton rounding out the top five.

By way of his win, Avila becomes the new points leader in the Pro Singles Championship. Callies is just seven points back, and thanks to his two second-place finishes this weekend, Martin is third, thirteen points back.

After a week off to recover from the long weekend, the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship goes to Hartford, Michigan, for the first time for yet another "Twins" race-this time on a half-mile.

For tickets and information, visit  or call (269) 764-0514. To become a part of the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship, visit us at and join us on and
AMA Pro Racing is the premier professional motorcycle racing organization in North America, operating a full schedule of events and championships for a variety of motorcycle disciplines. Learn more about AMA Pro Racing at

For additional information contact:
AMA Pro Racing Communications, (386) 492-1014,

In what could only be termed a MAJOR off-day for the former 7-Time AMA Grand National Champion, Chris Carr was lucky to escape the TT at the Rodeo Arena in Springfield with a 15th place finish in the main, and no major injuries.  After losing the front end on this #4 American Motorcyclist Assoc/DFW Honda/Arai/Phoenix Racing-sponsored Honda CRF450R in his heat race, the Prince of Peoria was forced to run the semi race where he ALSO put it into the ground again. 
After setting fast time to begin the day, things seemed to get progressively worse for the champ.  He worked his way to the 6th spot-only the top 3 go to the main from the semi races-and he had to use a provisional to start 19th in the main and what seemed like an eternity to the front of the show.  The champ did work his way up to 15th after the restarts, and coupled with his 7th place finish on the mile from Sunday, still moved to the 6th spot in the overall standings with 80 points. 
Carr can be seen in the shot above signing autographs for the fans and signing up new and returning members for an AMA membership as part of his duties during the fan walk.  Again, he was the busiest man at the races between his on and off-track workload, while tuner Kenny Tolbert and the crew work on getting his mounts race-ready. 
Carr told me he felt like he'd 'been eaten by wolves' after the racing weekend.  He mentioned he had the bars ripped out of his hands when he got run over in his semi, a crash that left him 'with a rainbow on his back as a souvenir' after making what he termed 'rookie moves' on the day.  Make no mistake, however, in noting that the man still has the fire in his eyes for his 2011 Farewell to Flat Track Tour, and personally speaking I don't expect to see any more 'rookie' moves by this great racer and spokersperson for the sport, for the rest of the year.  Which should cause concern for the rest of the riders in The Rolling Thunder Show!

In what was one of the more spirited battles just in/just out of the top ten during the Springfield TT main event, Jethro Halbert #69 (and on his new for 2011 ride) Memphis Shades/Demay's Racing/WKR/Saddlemen-sponsored Yamaha YZF450F leads Johnny Lewis on the #10 Scott Powersports/Dubach Racing Developments/Saddlemen/Triple J Racing-backed Honda CRF450R, and Rookie of the Year candidate Brad Baker on the #12 EBC Brakes/Arai/CP Carillo/MotionPro-sponsored Honda.  After 25 laps Bullet Brad got the better of the other two bringing it home 9th, while Halbert finished 12th and Lewis in the 13th spot.
Baker, after his great top 5 on the mile the day before, leaves Springfield 5th in the overall championship with 99 points.  JL10 now sits 7th in the overall with 74 points.  Halbert should be in the 'lucky 13' spot with 36 points after failing to put the Babe Demay-tuned Memphis Shades XR in the final on the mile.

Matt Weidman straddles his #20 SNIP/Shoei/Silkolene/K&N-backed Honda CRF450R while getting ready for heat race #1 at the Springfield Rodeo Arena.  Rob 'Bug's Pearson on his #27 Matt Reecy Racing/RPM/WKR/Moose Hot Cams-backed Yamaha YZF-450F looks on while #33 JR Schnabel also checks out the action on the track.  Schnabel and Pearson followed heat winner Jake Johnson home, with Matt coming in fourth to qualify for the TT National.
Weidman, the '08 AMA Pro Flat Track Rookie of the Year, started off the season strong with two-6th place finishes at the double round at Daytona, but his season stalled out during the Easter Weekend doubleheader in Salinas when he failed to qualify for either the TT or the short track-very uncharacteristic for this New York State rider.  Springfield was hopefully the match that set the fire for the rest of his year, as Matt rode a strong race to finish 7th in the TT final after coming home 11th on the mile the day before.  As a result of these strong, solid finishes he now sits in the 10th overall spot in the point standings heading to the Hartford, MI. half mile on June 11, and the Lima, OH. half mile on June 25 where he will be celebrating the first anniversary of his first AMA Pro Flat Track podium after last year's 3rd place run at the Allen County Fairgrounds track.

UPDATE Sat. 6/4/11 2125 EDT---

I stand corrected according to one of Stu's Shots readers, and I apologize for this error.  Thanks for setting me straight, as I always want to make sure and get all the info correct here! 

"Matt Weidman actually crashed while in 2nd behind Sammy in the semi at Salinas TT and knocked himself out. He qualified 4th fastest the next day at the short track and made the main, but was sick/weak from hitting his head and couldn't hang on the bike for more than a few laps- he finished 18th. "

Again, thanks for the update and I apologize for the mistake and oversight on missing this on the original post.-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

3-Time AMA Grand National Champion Jay Springsteen talks with his new rider in between the heat and semi races at the Springfield TT.  Illini rider Shaun Russell, National #28, was picked-up by the team shy of two weeks before the holiday doubleheader as a team mate to JR Schnabel, and after a rough year in the 2010 season it was great to see him smiling again over the weekend.  Russell brought the #28 Monster Energy/Werner Springsteen Racing/Wossner Pistons/Millenium Technologies-sponsored Kawasaki KX450F home to the semi #1 race win over Aaron King and Jeffrey Carver, Jr., and fought his way to a strong 8th place finish in the National TT event.

Stevie Bonsey can be seen walking out to the track during rider introductions while his Singles Series' sponsor, George Mack (Mack Daddy Racing) rolls his #80 MDR/Alpinestars/Arai/Rod Lake-backed Honda CRF450R out to the line for the Expert main event.  Bonsey finished 4th in his heat race #2 behind winner Chad Cose, Sammy Halbert and his brother Jethro, and proceeded to equal that finish in the main by running a smart AND strong race to chase home the top 3.  The '09 AMA Pro Flat Track Rookie of the Year was on fire during the final and by the time the weekend was over he had moved up to 12th in the overall standings after coming home a lap down and in the 15th position the day before on the Springfield Mile.

'09 'mythical' and's AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Champion Sammy Halbert takes time during the fan walk at Monday's Springfield TT to talk with a fan in his pit area.  The #7 Woody Kyle Racing/Fredericktown Yamaha/AGV/Kings Kustoms-sponsored rider again made the best of a bad situation during the main event, when he was involved in a racing incident on the re-start of the Expert Singles Series race along with Rob 'Bugs' Pearson and another rider.  Forced to re-start the red-flagged race from the back row, Slammin Sammy worked his way through traffic like a knife through butter-quickly, surely and methodically. 
When the dust had cleared and the checkers had flown after 25 long, hot laps at the Springfield Rodeo Arena, the current points leader for the still-young season had worked his way up to the 5th position, and after a 3rd place run in the Dash for Cash to go along with his top 5, left Springfield with a 7 point lead in the championship standings over runner-up and event winner Jake Johnson, with the tally at 145-138.  Although there has been speculation from some fans/non-fans of The Slammer that he was the cause of the accident, helmet-cam footage of the incident proved otherwise-like mentioned, strictly a racing incident. 
Of note, you can also see one of the hardest working people at the races banging out the keys on her Mac laptop in Sammy's pit area.  Miriam Deitcher, who brings AMA Pro Flat Track fans the coverage of the races on her Flat Track Live/Facebook page, was busy all day long bringing great coverage to the fans that couldn't make the holiday weekend trip to the Illinois State Fairgrounds. 
Sammy is scheduled to run some of the Steve Nace Racing/AMA All-Star Races in Wisconsin this weekend (starting off with the 27th Annual Dairyland Classic at Plymouth on Friday, June 3.)  He is also going to be hopping back on the XR1200 to compete in the class again at Road America as part of AMA Pro Road Racing's annual stop at the Elkhart Lake, WI. track, before the 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship Series hits the half mile at Hartford, MI. on Saturday, June 11 for round 8 of the series.

Here's the story of the race from round 7 of the 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship Series, at the Springfield TT, thanks to Larry Lawrence (my super traveling companion for the Springfield Doubleheader Weekend) and Cycle

You can find the main event results here thanks to the great crew at AMA Pro Flat Track:

Thanks to AMA Pro Flat Track for this link to the complete event results for last Monday's Memorial Day Springfield TT:


  1. Sorry Stu, but I have to correct you, Matt Weidman actually crashed while in 2nd behind Sammy in the semi at Salinas TT and knocked himself out. He qualified 4th fastest the next day at the short track and made the main, but was sick/weak from hitting his head and couldn't hang on the bike for more than a few laps- he finished 18th.

  2. Thanks for the info and for getting me straight on this one, and sorry I missed that! I've updated the info in the post to reflect the correct info as supplied in your comment. Thanks again and sorry for the missive!


Keep it nice, but keep them coming!

---Please note---You can leave comments anonymously, but you can also leave them while logged into Google, Yahoo and other platforms.
We'd love to hear from you!

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.