When the AMA Grand National Championship/Camel Pro Series rolled into the Indiana State Fairgrounds in August of '75, the pits were abuzz with the presence of a group of specially built flat track two-stroke machines that were the brainchild of Yamaha flat track manager Pete 'The Godfather' Schick, Champion Frame's Doug Schwerma, and former 250CC World Champion Kel Carruthers. With the Yamaha XS650-based parallel twin losing in the fight against the might of the Harley-Davidson XR750, even premier rider Kenny 'The King' Roberts was facing an uphill battle to try and retain his #1 plate for a third consecutive year.
With other riders on-hand getting a chance to try out the 125hp TZ750s including Steve Baker, Randy Cleek, and Rick Hocking, Yamaha was hoping to stack the deck against the H-D factory onslaught. All but Roberts missed the shot, and The King had to go through his heat race, a semi race, and then come back to win his LCQ race in order to put the big yellow and black #1 bumblebee into the 18 rider National main event.
The rest as they say, is history, as Roberts rode the race of his life and career to eventually pass Harley teamsters Corky Keener and Jay Springsteen within inches of the checkered flag after 25 fast and furious laps to take what is still probably considered his premier motorcycle racing win, in front of a crowd estimated in the day at close to 18K paying butts in the seats, none of which got used that night as everyone was on their feet cheering on The King. Roberts may not have retained that coveted #1 plate at the end of the season, but he re-wrote flat tracking history on that hot August night.
In the shot above, you can see Roberts talking (dead center of shot) with his Team Yamaha factory team members, including his long-time tuner Carruthers, in the pits at Indy on that historic day, with the #1 Team Yamaha TZ sitting ready to go. Roberts' then-protege, Skip Askland, was pitted next to The King as you can see one of his #72Y machines just behind the Yamaha teamsters.
Unidentified rider #72P rolls through the pits on his Yamaha parallel twin, while soon-to-be Rookie of the Year (and future 3-Time AMA Grand National Champion) Jay Springsteen walking towards his mount in his Vista Sheen #65X leathers.
With the sudden cancelation of the Lucas Oil Indy Mile round of the 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com due to the tragic incidents several weeks earlier at the Sugarland concert, Indy's return for a fourth date in the new millenium would have to wait. But as was announced with the newly released 2012 schedule in late December, the Indy Mile is back again and will return on August 18 along with the Indiana State Fair over the RedBull Indianapolis MotoGP weekend.
Tickets are now on sale for what will surely be one of the big highlights of the year, and you can read the full press release below courtesy of Family Events and AMA Pro Flat Track.
The list of those who have won at the Indy Mile Flat Track includes many of motorcycle racing's all-time best riders. Flat Track Grand National Champions Chris Carr, Scott Parker, Jay Springsteen, Ricky Graham, Bubba Shobert and Kenny Roberts have all won on the Indy Mile Flat Track. AMA Pro Flat Track racing has proven to be a fertile training ground for World Road Racing champions as well. MotoGP champions Nicky Hayden, Kenny Roberts Jr., Kevin Schwantz, Wayne Rainey, Eddie Lawson, Freddie Spencer and Kenny Roberts all got early career racing experience in Flat Track racing.
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 www.amaproracing.com.
For additional information contact:
AMA Pro Racing Communications, (386) 492-1014, firstname.lastname@example.org