Saturday, December 17, 2011

AMA Flat Track: Today's Cycle Coverage Builds a Pro Singles Honda

Round 7 of the 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by saw the Weirbach Racing team out of Ottumwa, Iowa getting ready in the pits before the first practice session at the Springfield TT for the Pro Singles riders on May 30.  After having survived the loss of some of their equipment the day before from a fire involving their transporter, the team was doubly busy in getting their machines ready for riders Mikey Labelle #20T and Mikey Martin #91Y.

Martin, who would go on to win the 2011 AMA Pro Pro Singles Championship on his Weirbach Racing/General Engineering/Barnett Clutches/Spectro-sponsored Honda CRF450R, made the best of a bad situation over the Memorial Day weekend rounds in finishing 2nd in both the TT and mile events.  Labelle would fare worse, but still pulled out a 7th place finish on the mile on his Weirbach Racing/General Engineering/Jerry Wilhelmy/Barnett Clutches-backed Honda.

Weirbach Racing finally got their championship after a tough start to the season, and have shown regularly that they have a good hand in picking talent and setting up competitive equipment.  Labelle had a rough season in finishing in the 19th spot in the Pro Singles standings with a best finish of 4th at the I-96 Speedway round, after a great year in 2010 where he finished in the 5th spot with four top-5 finishes and a win at the season-ending event in Arizona.  And Martin, who was handed the #1 Pro Singles plate at the season-ending round in Pomona, won three rounds on the season and had 14 top-5 finishes for 2011, after a 6th place finish in '10 with three top-5s and two podium finishes.

The Pro Singles Series has shown some exceptionally good, close and competitive racing in it's three seasons of existence.  The amount of talent that comes up through the ranks is deep, with now all three previous Pro Singles Champions having moved onto the Expert rankings ('09 Champ Brad Baker, '10 Champ Jeffrey Carver, Jr. and now '11 Champ Mikey Martin who will ride for Bonneville Triumph in the 2012 season.)  Probably it's biggest downfall is setting these young riders lose on these machines on a mile track, where the close action at over 130 mph can be eventful at the very least.

Just as where many long-time fans of the sport would rather see not only the Pro Singles but Expert Singles series go back to a full-framer racing class, you can't doubt or overlook the cost of putting together one of these 'DTX'-spec bikes as opposed to building a full-framer flat track machine.  And the original intention of going to the 'DTX'-spec machines was and is to help draw in more industry, if not manufacturer sponsorship and backing.  Although factory involvement in flat track is still lacking from what it was decades ago, the formula for going racing and being able to put a machine on track has been made somewhat less costly (if anything racing COULD be less costly!) and has made it easier for people and teams to get involved.

Having been a long-time flat track fan/fanatic/lunatic/junkie for over four decades myself, I appreciate both sides of the argument.  Yes, I would love to see full-framer flat track bikes out banging bars at my favorite events.  But at the same time I applaud the fact that now more people CAN get involved because of the platform available to enter a Pro Singles or Expert Singles event and the comparitive ease of being able to do so with the 'DTX' formula.  And bottom line, at least we still have those willing to do so for the betterment of the sport, and it's fans new and old alike.

Today's Cycle's Dan Jacobson, Sr. put together a nice read on what it could or would take in order to put a competitive Pro Singles machine together in order to go racing in the Pro Singles Championship Series.  Now whether or not you have the success that the Weirbach team has had is another story altogether, however this is a good snapshot of setting up a Honda CRF450R to be race-ready in the Pro Singles ranks.  Just add rider.

Read on:

Keep up with the 2011 AMA Pro Pro Singles Championship-winning team of Weirbach Racing here:

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