In what will be the TT event's last time for the foreseeable future at the Multipurpose Arena (the IMDA having announced the near-future cancelation of this great event back in January, along with the Labor Day weekend short track event), the teams will bolt-up the front brake for one more time to do battle on the left-right turns that are incorporated into the man-made course on Saturday evening. With the economy still recovering for many people and many businesses throughout the land, the loss of this great little venue to the schedule will be a hard pill to swallow for what has been an annual event for over 12 years.
With 43 Expert riders pre-entered for the TT as of this writing, the paying house on-hand should be rewarded with a great battle once the 18-rider main event takes the green flag late in the evening on Saturday night for round 3 of the season. Always one of the best-attended events in terms of rider turn-out, look for even more riders to attend the last running of the infamous Springfield TT and try to break the stranglehold that Henry Wiles had owned before his early Spring '11 injury forced him out of action for part of the season and allowed 2-Time AMA Grand National Champion Jake Johnson to battle for the win ahead of Jared Mees and JR Schnabel in last year's rain-delayed round 6 on Memorial Day.
In the shot above from the main event in 2011 Jethro Halbert on the #69 Memphis Shades/Demay's Racing/WKR-sponsored Yamaha YZ450F battles with '10 AMA Pro Singles Champ Jeffrey Carver, Jr. on the #23 Van's Yamaha/Woody Kyle Racing/Yamaha Motor Corp-backed YZ450F and Johnny Lewis on the #10 Scott Powersports/Dubach Racing Developments/Saddlemen-sponsored Honda CRF450R. Carver would get the nod over this trio in finishing 11th, with Jethro and JL10 following with finishes of 12th and 13th in the 25-lap National main.
Round 4 of the 2012 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com season will again kick-off the Twins Series events for the year on the the mile oval at the Illinois State Fairgrounds. In what will be the 31st running of the Memorial Day weekend's running of the spring classic since it's return in May 1982, all of the teams will again be debuting their current or new mounts for the new year of racing. With 11 Twins Series events scheduled for the 2012 season, the high-speed mile racing at the legendary venue will give a great preview of what to see this year in the series.
New teams and new combinations are aplenty for this year, among them the debut of Kenny Tolbert Racing with technical assistance from Werner-Springsteen Racing, and '11 Saddlemen Rookie of the Year Brad Baker in the seat of the team's totally revamped C&J Framed-Kawasaki 650R-based mounts. The team got a chance to get some practice runs in Texas this last weekend and reports from The Bullet are that he is pretty comfortable in his new seat and that the machine performed well.
As known since late 2011, the Lloyd Brothers Motorsports team will once again have 2-Time AMA Pro Flat Track Singles Champion Henry Wiles riding the team's Foremost Insurance-sponsored Italian 'L'-twin machines after having helped the team in '08 while riding their Aprilia-based mounts. Hammerin' Hank got to ride the machine at Savannah back in March during bike week activities, and team co-owner Dave Lloyd told us then that things were looking real good and Henry was fitting right back in with the team's set-up.
And another big change for the Springfield Mile I Twins opener as was announced last month will see Flyin' Bryan Smith on the #42 Howerton Racing Products/Skip Eaken Racing Kawasaki 650R-based mount (the same bike that Luke Gough campaigned last season in several of the Twins events and the bike that Stu's Shots featured last December '11.) Smith plans to ride the Rick Howerton-built machine in five of the series's 11 events this season and will ride his family-prepped Moroney's Fasthog.com-sponsored XRs in the other 6 rounds.
Some other changes of note include Steve Murray #51 joining the Waters Auto Body KTM North America-backed team alongside Jeremy Higgins #82, last season's breakout Pro Singles rookie Briar Bauman #10Z on a Rod Lake Racing/WKR Kawasaki, Fast Boy from Illinois Rob Pearson #27 teaming up with Babe Demay Racing on a Memphis Shades-backed HD XR750, '11 Pro Singles Champ Mikey Martin riding the #91 Bonneville Performance and Triumph factory-backed Triumph, Chad Cose on his Chad Cose Racing #49 Kawasaki (purchased during the off-season from Jimmy Wood), Matt Weidman taking over the #20 GCR Harley XRs after the retirement of his great folks last year, and JR Schnabel returning to the Twins class on a Suburban H-D-sponsored XR750.
And of course, Jared Mees will be ready to defend his win from the spring race in 2011 on the #9 Rogers Lake Racing XR, 2-Time and defending AMA Grand National Champion Jake Johnson will be looking to add to his wins at Springfield and his podiums from last season's events on the always-strong #1 Zanotti Racing XRs, and Sammy Halbert on his newly-sponsored #7 South East Harley XRs.
Also to watch for are multiple Springfield winner and 3-Time AMA Grand National Twins Champ Kenny Coolbeth on the #2 factory-backed Harley-Davidson XRs, Johnny Lewis on the #10 Scott Powersports Kawasaki (who led several laps in the Labor Day running of the mile for his first time in front of an 18-rider 135 MPH-plus freight train), and last year's Labor Day first-time winner and long-time AMA Grand National Championship competitor Willie McCoy on his #59 Harley-Davidson of Wausau-sponsored XRs.
These are just a few of the men and women of The Rolling Thunder Show that will be on-hand and providing fans with the thrill of the mile on Sunday, May 27. As of this writing, 47 Experts were pre-entered for the Memorial Day classic, and there are sure to be several more ready to hit the track early that day for practice with the current and future stars of AMA Pro Flat Track. And we'll be ready for it!
In the shot above from round 6 of the 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com season at the Springfield Mile I on May 29, riders and teams get ready for the 25-lap National main event after a several hour rain-delay. With the MavTV cameras rolling to take in the best show on wheels in the world, the final moments of waiting are almost over.
From L-R: Former AMA Flat Track manager and '81 AMA Grand National Champion Mike Kidd (blue shirt) can be seen talking with Kevin Atherton of the Lloyd Brothers Motorsports team (partially hidden) along with team crew chief Dave Gamble. Rider Brad Baker sits on the #12 LBM/TeamHurtByAccident.com-backed Ducati 1098, while Bryan Smith does some stretching behind his #42 Moroney's Fasthog.com XR, with Dad Barry keeping an eye on his son's mount. Kenny Coolbeth appears to be the most relaxed of everyone on the #2 Harley-Davidson Motor Co-backed XR750, while Sammy Halbert talks with his team alongside his #7 Kings Kustoms-sponsored XR. Jake Johnson's #1 Zanotti Racing/Schaeffer's H-D-sponsored XR can be seen with Jersey Jake just out of the shot, and newly-retired and 7-Time AMA Grand National Champion Chris Carr is ready to roll on the #4 American Motorcyclist Assoc-sponsored XR750.
You can also check out the press release below for this weekend's great Springfield weekend, and we've included some helpful links at the bottom to get you through the weekend in case you can't be at the track!
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 21, 2012) - Memorial Day Weekend is coming soon and not only does this mean the start of the 2012 summer, but one of the biggest weekends for the stars of the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com and Lucas Oil.
For flat track racing enthusiasts, the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield, Ill., is the destination of choice for the holiday weekend as the Illinois Motorcycle Dealers Association hosts rounds three and four of the 2012 AMA Pro Flat Track season on May 26th and 27th.
The night of Saturday, May 26th will find the AMA Pro athletes aboard their 450cc Singles for a TT event at the Fairgrounds Arena, with the fire-breathing Twins making their first appearance of the season Sunday, May 27th on the legendary Springfield Mile.
This will be the 12th TT race in the picturesque arena, but only three current racers have posted wins there. Recently it has been Henry Wiles (Don's Kawasaki) dominating and he has won the last three times he was able to compete, having missed last year's contest due to an injury. JR Schnabel (Suburban Harley-Davidson) also has three wins and a total of six podium finishes in his 10 main event finishes. Defending AMA Pro Grand National Champion Jake Johnson (Zanotti Racing) has posted two wins, including last year's victory, and has been on the podium five times in nine tries.
Current Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship points leader Matt Weidman (DFW Honda / SNIP) has not had the best of luck on the TT, scoring a seventh in his one main appearance. A great Daytona has the youngster looking to improve on those numbers drastically. Jared Mees (Montgomeryville Cycle Center) sits second in points after coming within a quarter of a lap of winning the second Daytona race, but he also has two podium finishes on the challenging Springfield TT. Johnny Lewis sits third in the points with one win and will be looking to use some of his Supermoto experience to improve on his best finish here of seventh.
Sunday's Springfield Mile marks the first time the big twins come out of the trailer and there are many changes in the works for 2012. Kawasaki, Ducati, Triumph, Suzuki and the venerable Harley-Davidson are all entered in search of their first win in 2012.
The race has always been a 140 mph chess match, favoring the veteran riders when it comes down to the five miles of the 25-lap race. With Chris Carr retired (50 starts), former Grand National Champion Kenny Coolbeth (Harley-Davidson Motor Company) is the active rider with the most starts at 31 and three wins. Second on the starts list is Willie McCoy. McCoy was the sentimental winner of last year's fall race in his 29th start.
Bryan Smith made history in 2010 when he won aboard a Kawasaki and hopes to grab his third Springfield win aboard his brand new Howerton Motorsports-built Kawasaki. There are many, many riders with a chance to come away with the crown jewel of the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com and Lucas Oil and fans will no doubt be treated to 25 laps of close racing as 18 riders draft for the victory.
The quest for the Saddlemen Rookie of the Year Award continues as Briar Bauman (Rod Lake Racing / Brown's Cycles), Mikey Avila (SDI Insulation / Bisha Racing) and Mikey Martin (Bonneville Performance Triumph) all try to make history; no Rookie has finished on the Springfield Mile podium since 1955 (Brad Andres 3rd).
AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles
The Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles class will also be competing both days, but current points leader Hayden Gillim will be in Utah plying his skills with AMA Pro Road Racing. That leaves Gerit Callies (Fun Mart / Power Brokers), Hunter Taylor (Kirkland Racing / Hunter Manufacturing) and Ryan Wells (Weirbach Racing), who are tied for second, to try and take advantage of the absent Gillim.
While Saturday's TT race is always competitive, the Mile on Sunday normally requires the holding of your breath for 12 laps as the 18 riders fight over one of the biggest wins of their young careers.
Motor Racing Outreach
With the young season just getting underway a special request goes out in behalf of Motor Racing Outreach's Raymond Rizzo:
Chaplain Rizzo has been involved with motor racing since 2006, encouraging the racing community toward faith in God through relationships. He stands with a smile and a prayer, ready at the track to lead a pre-race invocation, a chapel service, assist with trauma care, or with securing crash scenes. He makes hospital visits, performs weddings and funerals, and offers general pastoral care for the racers, family, crew, officials and staff.
Tax deductible on-line donations:
To send donations via mail, please make checks payable to Motor Racing Outreach and add Raymond Rizzo in memo:
Motor Racing Outreach
Smith Tower, Suite 405
5555 Concord Parkway South
Concord, NC 28027
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
Here are some helpful links for you to follow along with the action should you not be able to attend the Memorial Day weekend running of the Springfield TT and Springfield Mile I, rounds 3 & 4 of the 2012 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com season on May 26-27:
Miriam Deitcher will be rocking the house (as usual) with her Facebook Flat Track Live. You can keep up with all of Miriam's at-the-track action here:
AMA Pro Flat Track Live Timing & Scoring:
Thanks to The Weather Underground for their link to weather at Springfield:
Event results, entry lists and race schedules here thanks to AMA Pro Flat Track: