Tuesday, September 4, 2012
AMA Flat Track: Scenes & Seen at the 2012 Lucas Oil Indy Mile
Round 10 of the 2012 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com season saw a diverse turnout among the dignitaries and fans on-hand at the Lucas Oil Indy Mile. With the 5th Annual Red Bull MotoGP Weekend taking place down at the big speedway less then a half-dozen miles away, racers, former racers and big names alike headed to the Indiana State Fairgrounds to take in The Rolling Thunder Show to see the night's action in what everyone knows is the best racing series on wheels in the world.
One of the busiest pit areas at Indy was the Bryan Smith #42 Crosley Radio/Howerton Motorsports powered by Eaken Racing Kawasaki/Midwest Performance-sponsored Kawasaki 650R work area. For the five mile events that team owner/master builder Ricky Howerton is contesting in the 2012 season, the pit area has been abuzz at each of those events for the fans and folks on-hand wanting a glimpse of the machine and workings of one of the most innovative designs and winners in the sport of AMA Pro Flat Track in some time.
And Indy was no different, except for the names of two of those attendees who happened by on the hot August night of Saturday the 18th. Along with regular mates Jeff Gordon (Speedway Engine Development) and team owner Howerton (and his boys and one of their friends enjoying the limelight) was Indianapolis Motor Speedway Senior VP of Operations, Mel Harder. Having been in the racing business for some time now, Howerton has amassed a group of friends, competitors and long-time confidants that would set the Broadway lights of racing aglow.
Also along for the night of bench racing and checking out the lastest hot rod on the AMA Grand National Championship Series horizon was former multi-time runner-up in the 500cc Grand Prix World Championship, Randy Mamola. The former World Grand Prix rider and current MotoGP Ducati Two-Seater pilot seemed to enjoy his time hanging with the hottest team on the circuit and enjoyed checking out the piece of art that Howerton has put to the track this season.
2-Time World Superbike Champion Colin Edwards was the Grand Marshall for the 2012 running of the Lucas Oil Indy Mile. To the delight of the crowd's roars he talks with AMA Pro Flat Track announcer Barry Boone while his kids enjoy seeing Daddy having a good time at a race, unlike his season as a CRT rider on a struggling team in the MotoGP series. Edwards was quite the accomplished flat tracker and motocross rider before going WERA and eventually AMA, World Superbike and MotoGP racing and teaches a school at home in Texas on his 'days off' from competing in the top level road racing series in the world.
Thanks to AMA Pro Flat Track, see what the Texas Tornado had to say about his marshalling duties at Indy and how great of a time he was having at the Lucas Oil Indy Mile:
Everyone knew that after his appearance at the 2009 Lucas Oil Indy Mile to help support his long-time friend, Kenny Roberts, while he rode some demo laps on the infamous Indy-winning TZ750 flat tracker, that 9-Time World Champion Valentino Rossi would be in the house for the 2012 version. Rossi didn't dissapoint, bringing along some of his Ducati support crew and hanging with 7-Time AMA Grand National Champion Chris Carr on stage in the special seating area set-up by the AMA Pro Flat Track team. Carr reportedly helped to broker a deal that saw Rossi return home with his own Harley-Davidson XR750 that he would have to ride on his practice track back in Italy. Tommy Hayden was hanging with the group and is mostly obscured in the shot above to Vale's right, wearing a red t-shirt.
AMA Pro Flat Track announcer Barry Boone was tasked with the pleasure of interviewing the living motorcycle racing legend on the podium during a break in the action on the track at Indy.
Cristy Lee with AMA Pro Racing was on-hand to interview some of the big names at Indy. Here she talks with The Doctor:
Jared Mees' #9 Rogers Racing/Blue Springs H-D/Saddlemen/National Cycle-sponsored XR750 sits on display in his pit area during round 10 at Indy and was put on a special display stand for fans to come by and get pictures taken on the 2-Time AMA Grand National Twins Series Champion's bike. Mees pit area offered a very nice, coordinated fan area with hot dogs and munchies being served to the fans who happened by during the walk through. Mees' 3rd-place later in the eveing helped him pad his tally as he leads the 2012 AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship overall point standings.
Brownsburg, Indiana-located Vance & Hines' Terry Vance was in the house talking about the XR1200 Series round at IMS and enjoying the superb evening of The Rolling Thunder Show review.
13-Time AMA Grand National Championship-winning tuner and master wrench Bill Werner talks in the pits before the on-track activity gets going at round 10 of the 2012 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com season at the Lucas Oil Indy Mile on August 18. Current rider and career-best 2nd-place finisher later in the day, Brandon Robinson takes in the conversation in the Werner-Springsteen Kawasaki Racing/Cometic Gaskets/Wossner/SuperTrapp-sponsored pit area.
Three of the team's machines were displayed early in the day at Indy (Stevie Bonsey's #80 sits in the middle with Robinson's #44 in the rear of the shot.) But one of the bikes caught my eye for two obvious reasons. One, the bike in the forefront of the shot, has not only Robinson's #44 on the side plates, but Sammy Halbert's #7 on the front plate. Two, the bike in the front is the Indy and Springfield Mile-winning machine that Bryan Smith took to the top of the podium during the 2010 season.
Sammy practiced the 'extra' Kawi of the legendary Werner's stable 'just to get a feel for it' during a practice session according to the former Harley-Davidson Racing department employee and a 'we'll see' approach to what could or would happen throughout the evening. As we know now, Sammy went back to his tried and true South East H-D-sponsored XR750 and beat the #44 by inches to win his first-ever mile event and take the grand slam of flat track along the way.
AMA Superbike Championship rookie Josh Herrin from the Graves Motorsports Monster Energy Yamaha team was in town checking out the great action and talks with AMA Pro Racing's Cristy Lee here on the podium for the 2012 Lucas Oil Indy Mile event on August 18.
2008 AMA Pro Flat Track Rookie of the Year Matt Weidman was in the seat of the Scott Powersports Kawasaki at Indy, after former rider Johnny Lewis #10 and the team split some time before the Peoria TT, held just six days earlier. The announcement was made just prior to the Peoria round, where Mighty Matt and his super Mom Rachel were both very excited for the New York State resident's chance to pilot one of the top rockets in the series in front of what was a packed house and European contingent of MotoGP racers, fans and sponsors.
Matt took the #20 Scott Powersports/Saddlemen/Fiorio Investments/SNIP-backed mount home to a top-10 run of 8th-place in the 25-lap National main, for what well could have been one of his best finishes on a mile since his 5th-place finish at the Canterbury Park Minnesota Mile in September '10. Having struggled with his mile program and this season missing a couple of rounds after his final qualifying get-off that saw him suffer a broken collarbone, it was great to see Mighty Matt running up front where he belongs on a big track. He will get to run it again for sure at the Springfield Mile II round now rescheduled for Sunday, September 16.