With less than four days to go until round 8 of the 2014 AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship at the Sacramento Mile on Saturday, July 26 the big build-up to the huge west coast event is unraveling even faster as the time approaches. In what will be one of the premier events of the season, and surely the premier event on the left coast, fans, riders, teams and sponsors alike are ready to hit the ground running for what will be the halfway point in the season.
One of those riders and teams ready to get going for this weekend's big run at the Sacto Mile is Bryan Smith and the #42 Villa-Esparza/Crosley Radio/Howerton Products Kawasaki effort, spearheaded this season by Bryan's Dad, Barry, and by Indy locals and long-time flat track heads Jeff Gordon and Dink Glidden.
Flyin' Bryan has won the last three straight events at the Cal-Expo Fairgrounds. In the 2011 season taking his Moroney's H-D-sponsored XR750 to the win, and in 2012-13 as a member of the Howerton Motorsports troupe. It was at Sacto in 2012 that the team won their first Grand National main event together, in only their second outing (during the '12 season, the new team only ran the five mile events and the season-finale at the Pomona Half-Mile.)
This year has seen a few changes. Original team owner Rick Howerton has for the most part stepped aside in order to spend more time with his family (although he still admits to offering 'technical and moral support' to them) while Gordon, Glidden and Dad, Barry are the main men behind what is still a powerhouse team, albeit with a C&J chassis this year as opposed to Howerton's far advanced and personally designed futuristic unit from the previous two seasons. And this year, for the first time since the '87 season, the mile events are being contested sans fuel restrictors, which has so far in the first event of the season made the racing closer and tighter on the mile oval at Springfield. The question everyone is asking, with the longer straights at Sacramento, will that also hold true or will the Kawasaki mile rocket take off like a NASA rocket and leave the others sitting in the settling smoke or dust?
In the shot above, Bryan Smith has his race face on and is ready to show Rick Howerton's hometown crowd at the Indy Mile what the noise has been all about for the Howerton rocket during round 8 of the 2013 AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship on August 17. Smith went on to take the #42 Howerton Motorsports/Crosley Radio/Dreyer Motorsports-sponsored Kawi to the win in front of the crowd on-hand during the 6th Annual Red Bull Indianapolis MotoGP weekend.
Also seen in the shot are the #95 TJ Burnett Farms/Red Bull Kawasaki team of JD Beach, and eventual 2013 AMA Grand National Champion Brad Baker on the #12 Dodge Brothers Racing/Speciality Fabrications-backed XR750. In the background, Jared Mees and his #1 Rogers Racing/Blue Springs H-D-sponsored XR750 team roll out to the starting line.
While you are waiting for Saturday's action to kick in, you can also read about the first restrictor race at the Sacramento Mile that was also eventual 7-Time AMA Grand National Champion Chris Carr's first-ever mile win from 1987. A big thanks to Cycle News' Archives penman, Larry Lawrence, for this fine piece of AMA Grand National Championship history.
And read on to see what else the #42 Villa-Esparza/Crosley Radio/Howerton Products-backed Kawasaki team of Bryan Smith has to say about this weekend's super return to the west coast!
Press release courtesy of SMI, promoters of the Sacramento Mile.
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