Kawasaki took a big step late last week and upped the ante to help out the Expert/GNC1 riders in the AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship by providing $75K in prize monies that will be disbursed among the field at each event and at the end of the season in points pay outs. They will join Harley-Davidson who announced several weeks ago that they would be providing $126K in prize monies to the premier class in The Rolling Thunder Show.
The Kawasaki EX650-based parallel twin burst onto the scene in August 2010 when Bryan Smith, riding Bill Werner's original model, won not only the Indy Mile, but just eight days later also took home the spoils at the Springfield Mile II in early September of that year. Werner, the 13-time AMA Grand National Championship-winning tuner, had been working on perfecting the Mean Green twin for several seasons, and with Smith taking the two big track victories broke the long hold that the H-D XR750 had held in terms of wins on the big tracks since Honda's last win in August '98, and ultimately knocked the door down for a big handful of teams to start contesting the series on the reliable, and less costly Japanese twin.
Since that time almost six full seasons ago, Kawasaki has all but been the bike to beat on the big tracks, mostly under the control of mile specialist Flyin' Bryan Smith. However, in 2013 Brandon Robinson on a TJ Burnett Farms Kawasaki, took home the double win at the Springfield Mile I & II on August 31 and September 1 and showed the fans, the field and the teams that there was another force to be reckoned with. Smith also helped Kawasaki earn the manufacturers championship and won two Twins Series titles, and was within three points of winning the big pot of gold in the form of the 2014 AMA Grand National Championship if not for a DQ late in the season relegated him to finish second to fellow Michigan rider and long time racing friend and foe, Jared Mees.
In the shot above, Brandon Robinson and the #44 TJ Burnett Farms/USC/Hart Racing-backed Kawasaki team head out for rider intros prior to BRob44 winning the first of his double mile wins at the Springfield Mile I on Saturday, August 31. Robinson, who just four years earlier nearly had his career ended due to a nasty crash at the Indy Mile, totally dominated the Labor Day weekend at the Illinois State Fairgrounds by setting fast time, winning the fastest heat races, winning both Dash for Cash races, and taking home the king's share of the gold in totally dominating the rest of the field to win both Grand National mains on the James Hart-prepped and TJ Burnett-funded Kawasaki rockets. Robinson added to his first Grand National win at Daytona over five months earlier, and ended the season ranked as the 3rd-place rider in the greatest racing series on two wheels in the world. Team owner Burnett can be seen along the fence in the background.
There have been several other teams that have put a dent in the competition since Smith's first win on Werner's Monster Energy Kawasaki effort in August '10. Scott Powersports' effort, with Johnny Lewis and Matt Weidman turning the throttle both showed some grand results. This year they will have Sammy Halbert turning the throttles for them. Weirbach Racing will be in their second full season of campaigning the ultra fast Kawi twin, this year with 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Pro Singles Champ Mikey Martin back in the team's saddle, and no fewer then five or six other big teams that have made the switch to the Mean Green brand. And let's not forget Shayna Texter's dominating double wins at Springfield in 2013 aboard an Alan Rodenborn-prepped Racing Unlimited Kawi in the Basic Twins/Pro Twins class.
So it goes without saying that seeing Kawasaki step up to the plate in terms of big money for the AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship is not only a great marketing tool for them but a super deal for the series, riders and teams. Seeing them come on board with not only race event pay outs but year-end pay outs is a big shot in the arm for the sport, and we say a big thank you and tip of the helmet for them taking this on for The Rolling Thunder Show. BRAVO and thank you Mean Green!
Check out the full release below thanks to AMA Pro Racing, and remember it's just two weeks time until racing gets into full swing for the season when the boys and girls of The Rolling Thunder Show head to the Illinois State Capitol for the Springfield Mile I on Sunday, May 24, and between you and me and the fencepost, I can't wait!
|DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 6, 2015) - Kawasaki has entered the contingency battlefield in AMA Pro Flat Track's premier Harley-Davidson GNC1 presented by Vance & Hines class. The reigning AMA Pro Flat Track Manufacturer of the Year will post a total of $75,450 in the form of per-race and year-end payouts to participants competing on Kawasaki machinery throughout the 2015 season. |
"We would like to thank Kawasaki for supporting the sport and investing in our riders," said Michael Gentry, Chief Operating Officer of AMA Pro Racing. "Week in and week out, the riders are the ambassadors of our sport and the brands that they showcase on the race track. The 2015 AMA Pro Flat Track season is about to kick into high gear, and we're excited to see how the twin-cylinder competition unfolds at Springfield."
The twin-cylinder EX650 has been the bike to beat on many of the Mile courses over the past few years, but in 2014 the Kawasaki platform proved its diversity when Bryan Smith took the checkered flag at Hagerstown and gave the brand its first ever Half-Mile victory. The single-cylinder Kawasaki KX450F has also been competitive in GNC1 Singles competition, sitting atop the podium at the Peoria TT in six of the last seven years with Henry Wiles on board.
"This is a clear case of Kawasaki listening to our riders and expanding our Team Green program," said Chris Brull, Kawasaki Vice President of Marketing. "Over the last four years we have seen competitors in the AMA Pro Flat Track series choose Kawasaki and we want to reward them for that choice. Our Team Green program has been around for more than 30 years and our renewed support of Flat Track racing shows how the Team Green program continues to evolve."
The pay day for Kawasaki riders will begin in less than 30 days as the series will visit Springfield, Ill., on May 24 for the iconic Springfield Mile. Kawasaki has been the machine of choice for the winner of four of the last five Springfield Miles.
For tickets and information regarding the Springfield Mile, set to be held at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield, Ill., on May 24, fans are encouraged to call (217)753-8866. The entire event can also be viewed live and in high definition at www.FansChoice.tv.
|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.|