Sunday, August 24, 2014
Mid-America Speedway's 'Night After the Indy Mile' Proves Wildly Successful in Round 10 of the 2014 AMA Vintage Dirt Track National Championship Series, Brad Baker Romps to Open Pro Win
Indianapolis, IN,--August 9, 2014--One of the premier events in the Midwest during the late summer months is Mid-America Speedway's hosting of their premier 'Night After the Indy Mile' race, which up until this year had actually been the 'Night Before the Indy Mile.' With the altering of the AMA Pro Flat Track and MotoGP World Championship schedules for the Indy weekend this year, the race was moved to the Saturday night after the legendary Indy Mile over the Red Bull Indianapolis MotoGP weekend, and it proved to be even more wildly successful than any of the previous events that the track has hosted over the course of the last few seasons. This year 155 racers and 210 entries made for a long, late night, but proved to be the best turn-out ever in Mid-America's seven-year history, and the racing never was lacking as usual at 'the little track that could.'
This year's event of course included the track's famous Open Pro Class, which beckons some of the best of the best in AMA Pro Flat Track's riders, who already in the area for the Indy Mile, are ready to earn some extra traveling cash and tout their abilities in front of a smaller and more close-knit crowd. This year's event saw 2013 AMA Grand National Champion Brad Baker, former AMA Grand National #15 Garth Brow, current Zanotti Racing rider Stevie Bonsey and a host of other greats show up to do war on Mid-America's fast and furious short track, and the action was as good or better as seen at the venue or any other regional events in the area, for that matter.
Mid-America also hosted their 2nd Annual AMA Racing Vintage Dirt Track National Championship Series round, which saw former greats such as former 7-Time AMA Grand National Champion Chris Carr, Dave 'Bones' Aldana, last year's runner-up in the Bultaco race and Zanotti Racing tuner Dave Atherton and several other former AMA Grand National number plate holders do battle on the little track that could.
Aldana was again on-hand to do battle in the Bultaco race and Vintage 60+ Class, while Carr tried his hand for the first time at Mid-America riding a Bultaco Astro 360 in four of the night's events. And at the end of the evening, although the races ran somewhat later than usual due to the stellar turn-out of riders and entries, everyone left a winner whether crossing the line for the checkers first or via spectating in the stands overlooking Mid-Am's wonderful layout.
In the shot above, Chris Carr #4 and Dave Aldana #13 dice during one of the practice rounds at Mid-America Speedway for the Bultaco Astro Race event, which saw over 30 entries show up to do battle and let the two-stroke pipes sing and the two-smoke smell waft in the air for all to enjoy. Aldana was on his own self-prepared Bultaco 250 while Carr was on a sponsored unit which he used to contest four of the evening's events on.
The Open Pro Class race at Mid-America has been a must-see for any fan the last few seasons, as well as a 'must race' event for many of the AMA Grand National number plate holders. Up until this year, 2012 AMA Grand National Champion Jared Mees had been the undefeated champ at the track located on Indy's southeast side at the Marion County Fairgrounds.
This year, Mees, after a tiring schedule of running the AMA Grand Nationals and Steve Nace Racing AMA All-Star Races, was a no-show in order to be better prepared to grab his second AMA Grand National Championship for the remaining races on the 2014 schedule.
As a result, there is a new 'sheriff' in town as 2013 AMA Grand National Champion Brad Baker made his second appearance in-a-row at Mid-America on his Brothers Powersports Honda CRF450R and was looking to improve on his last year's 5th-place finish. Baker didn't miss a beat all night, from opening practice until the final checkers flew in the Open Pro main event, and took home the $1500-to win purse going away on his #1 mount (shown above during practice.)
Andy Karadontes made the trip from his home in New York State with this ultra-sano #3 Honda 500 Ascot in a Knight frame, and cleaned house in three of the classes he was entered in, including 500 Masters and Hot Rod Singles as part of round 10 of the 2014 AMA Vintage Dirt Track National Championship Series held for the second year in-a-row at Mid-America.
Kasey Sciscoe #61 is one of the local talents at Mid-America Speedway, having raced at the track for several years now. Moving up to a Honda CRF250R this season, the 13 year-old from the Mooresville, Indiana-area has been showing progress in just his first year after having ridden some of the 100cc bikes and smaller. Here he can be seen dicing with another rider during the 80-200cc 2/4 Stroke Class main event. With riders like this fine young man, who's Dad, Mike, was in charge of one of the great food vendors for the evening, and who tunes Kasey's mounts for him, the future of flat track is going to be very bright.
Former AMA Grand National #15 Garth Brow made the trip to Indy to initially compete in the AMA Pro Flat Track Pro Singles event at the Indy Mile on the previous night at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, but after lunching something in the motor of his Honda CRF450R in the final qualifying session at Indy, was ready to go home to South Carolina and call it a weekend.
After talking with track president and promoter Jim Terchila, we had talked Garth into sticking around for the 'Night After the Indy Mile' event to possibly throw a leg over a ride in the AMA Vintage Dirt Track National Championship Series race in the Bultaco Astro Event. When things didn't work out on that end, Brow ended up getting a ride on a pretty decent bike--one of Stevie Bonsey's back-up Zanotti Racing Hondas for the Open Pro Class.
Brow (shown during one of the Open Pro practice sessions on the #8 Zanotti Racing Honda CRF450R) acclimated pretty quickly to his borrowed mount and went out and won his heat race to nab a direct spot for the Open Pro main. Unfortunately, due to a red flag in his heat, he was forced to start on the second row in the Open main, and only scored an 11th-place finish, but he looked good and showed team owner Dave Zanotti and crew as well as the fans that he still has it in him after all these years. Even Zanotti was impressed with his heat win, and as he put it was 'glad to help give back to the sport and racers' in putting Garth on one of his immaculately-prepped bikes.
7-Time AMA Grand National Champion Chris Carr (partially obscured by another rider's hat), Bultaco Astro racer and Zanotti Racing tuner Dave Atherton, and Dave 'Bones' Aldana take it all in during the riders meeting early in the day at Mid-America Speedway on Saturday, August 9.
Aldana again showed up for Mid-America's round 10 of the 2014 AMA Vintage Dirt Track National Championship Series with two of his three Honda XL350-based Champion-framed mounts, as well as a new steed in his corral, a Bultaco 250 also set in a Champion frame. For the second year in-a-row Aldana ended up running off and hiding in the Vintage 60+ Class on his Honda, here seen setting up Melvin Brown on his #50 Triumph twin for the pass. Once 'Bones' got around him, it was all over and he sailed home the victor.
Former AMA Grand National competitorTim Ferguson #20 and former AMA Grand National #64 plate holder Charlie Roberts dice for the 6th-place spot during the Bultaco Astro Challenge event at Mid-America. Roberts got the nod at the end, with Ferguson coming home in the 7th-place spot.
Youngster Charlie Gerencer put it to everyone all night in the Bultaco Astro Challenge event on the #28 Astro 360. The 15 year-old was never challenged.
Andy Heise on his #4F Honda took the win in the Super Senior 50+ Class at Mid-America Speedway's 'Night After the Indy Mile' Vintage race.
Although the Bultaco Astro Challenge event was perceived as a race for the 'older' stars of AMA Pro Flat Track, there were several 'younger' riders on-hand to do battle and blow smoke for the fans at the little track that could, and even though one of those youngsters won the main event, there was still plenty of action throughout the night to keep us 'old horses' satisfied, thrilled and exhilarated as they laid down some rubber to go along with the smell of two-stroke smoke in the air to cleanse the palate.
During one of the Bultaco practice sessions above, Dave Aldana #13 on his 250 and Dave Atherton #15X on his 360 (shown wearing one of Charlie Gerencer's #28 team jerseys throughout the evening) dice it up coming out of Mid-America's turn four just ahead of former AMA Grand National #68 and North Carolina's Robert Lewis on his #68C Bultaco 360.
AMA Pro Flat Track regulars Chad Cose #49 and Stevie Bonsey #80 try to keep from dozing off during the riders meeting early in the day at Mid-America Speedway. Cose was making his first appearance at the Marion County Fairgrounds-hosted facility while Bonsey was back this year after appearing in last year's event. Both rode the Open Pro Event, Cose on a borrowed Honda framer and Bonsey on one of Dave Zanotti's potent CRF450Rs.
Terry Vestal #27 made the trip to Indy from his home in Wisconsin with this immaculate Harley-Davidson KR model, and went out and won the 750 Ironman-Brakeless Class with it, making it look effortless in the process.
Riders line up for the big money-paying Open Pro Event at Mid-America Speedway, and when the racing was done, no one was disappointed in the outcome. Some of the best racing of the night and the year was put on by some of AMA Pro Flat Track's best in front of those that stuck around for the late evening premier race.
(L-R) Australia's Mick Kirkness #87 (Kirkness also rode the Speedway Class at Mid-Am and took home the glory in the methanol/brakeless event), Sam Lowe #48X, Brad 'The Bullet' Baker #1, Jeffrey Carver, Jr. #23, Jarod Vanderkooi #8X and Chad Cose #73F make up the front row at the Marion County Fairgrounds-hosted Open Pro main. Australia's Jace Castles #81P and Brandon Wilhelm #24J can be seen on row two.
Baker had the point from the start to the end, and put on a clinic to put himself in the 'man to beat next year' spot at Mid-America. In just his second outing at the track, the Washington State resident was ready to go and he wasted no time from the time he unloaded until the final dust of the Open Pro main had settled, doing several of his patented victory wheelies around the track to celebrate winning the big purse for the evening.
While the winner was decided from the start, the racing behind was up in the air throughout as several riders swapped rubber and bars, without any mishaps or incidents throughout the 12-lap final.
In the end, Vanderkooi took the runner-up spot on his #8X Honda, fresh off his win the night before in the AMA Pro Flat Track Pro Singles Series at the Indy Mile, and the 16 year-old Ohio resident wowed the crowd on-hand with his ability to swap it with the others and keep a solid head on his shoulders. Look for this fine young man to move up to the Expert ranks in the next couple of years and make the future even brighter than it is already!
Cose, on a borrowed Honda framer, took the #73F mount to the 3rd-place spot after a good start and holding off the charge of several other racers, while making some excellent moves of his own. The short track specialist was making his first start at Mid-America, and as with all of the competitors at Mid-Am, we hope he's ready to come back next year!
John Skinner made the trip again to the Marion County Fairgrounds from his home in Alabama with his spotless #66 Triumph Trackmaster, and won the 750 Hotshoe Class in the Vintage races.
3-Time AMA Grand National Championship-winning team owner Dave Zanotti was again on-hand during the 'Night After the Indy Mile' event and again brought along star rider Stevie Bonsey on the #80 Zanotti Racing/Top 1 Oils/K&N Filters-sponsored Honda. Both were making their second appearance in-a-row at Mid-America and this year brought along Bonsey's tuner Steve Polk (partially obscured behind Bonsey) and team consultant and helper Michelle DiSalvo.
Zanotti as mentioned previously had lent Garth Brow one of Bonsey's back-up machines, while Bonsey was doing some testing of a new ignition system for the team hot off their Indy Mile win with team mate Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. the previous night at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Bonsey, who had a solid run at the mile the previous evening to take home 7th-place, seemed to struggle this year out at Mid-America, early in the day due to the extremely dusty conditions (that were near perfect come main event times.)
Struggling to a 13th-place finish in the Open Pro Event, the Salinas, CA. resident was hoping for much better after his initial appearance at the track last year when he brought it home in the 3rd-place spot. Let's hope he returns next year and gets back on the box, because the whole team's enthusiasm for the sport just flows when you talk with them, and all have given so much for the sport as well as given back. It's great to see teams like this supporting the smaller, regional races like this and seeming to be overly thrilled to be doing so.
Also, a big thanks to team owner Dave Zanotti for sharing some of his valuable time with us at the track, it was a very rewarding and interesting experience being able to talk one-on-one with one of the long-standing supporters of the sport and one of the great team owners.
As mentioned above, from the time the green light flashed in the Open Pro main event at Mid-America Speedway, 2013 AMA Grand National Champion Brad Baker didn't miss a beat, leading all 12 laps of the race to take his initial victory at the little track that could on his #1 Brothers Powersports Honda CRF450R, and his steely-eyed glare shows the determination that the reigning AMA Grand National Champ had that evening.
After getting the jump on the field, Baker leads Australian Mick Kirkness #87, Sam Lowe #48X and Jarod Vanderkooi #8X (2nd-place) early in the running. Kirkness ended up 4th, with Lowe in the 7th-place spot.
More results from the evening can be found here. And results from the 2014 AMA Vintage Dirt Track National Championship Series can be found here.
All in all, the evening was a huge success at Mid-America Speedway and left little doubt as to the success of the event thanks to all of the racers, teams, fans and especially track president and promoter Jim Terchila and his great crew for all of their efforts to put on one of the premier racing events in the Midwest, if not the nation as a whole.
Whatever you do, keep an eye out for the 2015 schedule and be sure you mark the weekend of Mid-America's hosting of the 'Night After the Indy Mile' for next season as it is undoubtedly an event that you don't and won't want to miss!