Tuesday, May 31, 2011

AMA Flat Track: Jake Johnson Takes the Win at the Springfield TT Over Jared Mees & JR Schnabel

Jake Johnson on his #1 Zanotti Racing/Schaeffer's H-D/MotionPro/Arai-sponsored Honda CRF450R leads eventual 3rd place finisher JR Schnabel, Jr. on his #33 Monster Energy/Werner-Springsteen Racing/Cedar Creek Motorsports/Wossner Pistons-sponsored Kawasaki KX450F and eventual 2nd place finisher Jared Mees on his #9 Montgomeryville Cycle Center/Lucas Oil/Rogers Lake Racing/Saddlemen-backed Honda CRF450R in route to his second win of the season at the Springfield TT, round 7 of the 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship Series on Memorial Day, Monday May 30.  Johnson overcame a red flag restart early in the program to get the jump on the field and win over Mees by 1.33 seconds and another 2.81 seconds back to JR.  Fourth place finisher Steve Bonsey on his #80 MDR Racing/Alpinestars/Arai/Rod Lake-sponsored Honda CRF450R can be seen just coming into the shot on the far right.

Johnson, who had just finished 3rd on the mile on Sunday afternoon to winner Mees and runner-up Sammy Halbert, again showed why he is the defending AMA Grand National Champion in being able to capitalize on the red flag restart and power his way to the win on the Singles Series bikes, leading the majority of laps after having won his heat race earlier in the day and coming home 4th in the Dash for Cash.  The only real missive he had all day was on the podium when during the excitement his trophy got knocked over and a piece broke off of it in the celebration.

Sammy Halbert brought it home 5th on his #7 Woody Kyle Racing/Fredericktown Yamaha/AGV/Kings Kustoms-backed YZ450F after coming off the fourth row due to being involved in the melee that caused the red flag after several laps that saw the ambulance have to give a ride to fallen rider Rob Pearson out of Morton, Illinois on his #27 Matt Reecy Racing/RPM/WKR/Moose Hot Cams-sponsored Yamaha YZ450F.  As of this writing there was no update available on his condition.  3-Time AMA Grand National Twins Champion Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. brought his #2 Chaplin Kawasaki/Spectro Oils/Wiseco/Fox-sponsored KX450F home in the 6th position, while personable New York State resident Matt Weidman had his best finish on the year and a very hard-fought ride home into 7th place on his #20 SNIP/Shoei/Silkolene/K&N-sponsored Honda CRF450R.

Keep an eye out throughout the coming week as Stu's Shots offers up a Springfield Extravaganza of shots and stories from the doubleheader weekend from the Illinois State Fairgrounds!

You can read the story of the event today over at Cycle News.com thanks to Larry Lawrence:


AMA Pro Flat Track offers up the overall event results so you can see who did what.  For some reason the AMA Flat Track crew had problems with the total points scoring after the race, so the points reflected as of this writing are incorrect, but it is believed Sammy Halbert emerged from the weekend with an eight point lead over runner up Johnson.  We'll have that update this week and compare notes as to who is where in the series totals seven rounds into the scheduled 22 race season:


Here are the standard results for the AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship Series event on the Springfield TT on Memorial Day Monday:


Sunday, May 29, 2011

AMA Flat Track: Jared Mees Leads Sammy Halbert & Jake Johnson Home for 1st Win in Almost 4 Years!

The Springfield Mile never fails to deliver when it comes to intense action and waiting until the end to find out WHO brings it home first.  Today's round 6 of the 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship Series at the Illinois State Fairgrounds delivered as usual in the battle at the front, and when the the final checkers flew, Jared Mees had taken his #9 Rogers Lake Racing/Blue Springs H-D/Saddlemen/Screamin Eagle XR-750 to the win over Sammy Halbert on his #7 Kings Kustoms/LZ Racing/KK Motorcycle Supply/Nelson Racing XR by a scant .016 seconds, with defending AMA Grand National Champion Jake Johnson on his #1 Zanotti Racing/Schaeffer's H-D/Motion Pro/Arai-sponsored XR just .068 seconds back from Mees. 

Johnson can be seen on the podium being interviewed by AMA Flat Track announcer Barry Boone while Mees removes his gloves and Sammy wipes off after 25 laps on the legendary Illinois mile oval.  Mees' win was his first since 7/7/07 after a stellar year in 2010 finishing in the 3rd overall position in the championship hunt, and he made a great statement today for running for the championship this year!

After an exciting battle between the top three finishers that also included '09 AMA Pro Singles Champ Brad Baker on the #12 Lloyd Brothers Motorsports Ducati and Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. on the #2 Screamin Eagle Factory H-D, the top three pulled out a slight lead over 4th place finisher Coolbeth and Baker who added to his Rookie of the Year chances bringing it home in 5th.

We will have more throughout the week on the mile as well as the TT that was re-scheduled for tomorrow.  You can check out the official results and event results below as well!
-------------------------------------------------------- ----------------------------------------------------

Here are the results in standard form for the Expert Main event at Springfield today:


Here are the complete event results for Springfield today:


And to hold you over you can read the race rundown from Cycle News.com's Larry Lawrence right here:


Saturday, May 28, 2011

AMA Pro Flat Track Postpones Springfield TT Due to Torrential Downpour at Illinois State Fairgrounds: Mile to Run as Planned Sunday With TT to Run Memorial Day Monday Now

Rain Forces Rescheduling of Springfield TT Event

SPRINGFIELD, IL (May 28, 2011) - Round 6 of the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship, the Springfield TT, has been rescheduled for Memorial Day, May 30. The severe weather that's plagued the Midwest this spring hit the Illinois State Fairgrounds full force at around 2 p.m. Saturday, forcing AMA Pro Racing officials and Illinois Motorcycle Dealers Association staff to send everyone home.

For a time, it appeared the Multi-Purpose Arena would be spared, and the series maintained a "business-as-usual" approach for as long as possible in hopes the much-anticipated event would be able to move forward. More than 100 riders had been checked through tech inspection when the final blow was dealt.

Round 6 and 7 Memorial Day Weekend plans have been revised as follows: the legendary Springfield Mile will run as scheduled on Sunday, while the TT race originally scheduled for Saturday will be moved to Monday. The rescheduled TT will use the same schedule as Sunday's Mile event, with pit gates opening at 7 a.m. and opening ceremonies taking place at 1 p.m.

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, communications@amaproracing.com
Photo by Dave Hoenig

Torrential downpours would be a slight understatement as visualized in this pit shot as taken by AMA Pro Flat Track's official photographer Dave Hoenig.  While on the road between Decatur, IL. and Springfield, we drove in and out of several massive sheets of storms that all but cloaked visibility to less then several feet in front of our vehicle, all the well knowing that the storms we were traveling through had just been in Springfield and had in all possbility soaked the track.  Those thoughts would become the understatement for our day.

Upon arrival this afternoon at a little after 2:30 P.M. CDT at the track, we saw what we knew was imminent from our trip....the pits were all but completely flooded, and the track a virtual quagmire.  After all the work that Steve Morehead and the AMA Pro Flat Track prep crew had put in the day before and in the morning hours of today, all was definitely lost and the powers that be with AMA Pro Flat Track had already pulled the plug for today.

But....good news is things are a go for tomorrow for the mile and on Memorial Day Monday for the TT race...obviously barring any pop-up type stuff that has seemed to plaque the Midwest for several weeks now.  We're keeping our fingers crossed, as should you, that the next two days are moisture free so that the Rolling Thunder Show can and will go on to bring us, and you, the best racing on wheels you'll see anywhere in the world.

And Stu's Shots will be there when it happens and ready to bring you more of the exciting scenes from the pit area and the track.  Stay tuned!

Dave Hoenig also posted links to some shots he took for his Flat Trak Fotos.com site, and you can check them out here:


Thursday, May 26, 2011

AMA Flat Track: Steve Nace Racing All Star Series To Hit Wisconsin, Dairyland Classic Returning to Sheboygan County Fairgrounds

Jared Mees runs away during heat race #3 of the 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship Series round three event held inside the Southern Illinois Center at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds on April 16.  The #9 Montgomeryville Cycle Center/Lucas Oil/Rogers Lake Racing/Saddlemen-sponsored Honda CRF450R-mounted Mees went on to finish 4th in the main event of the DuQuoin Indoor Short Track promoted by Steve Nace Racing and presented by Four Rivers H-D on the day, and after rounds 4 & 5 at Salinas, CA. over the Easter Weekend sits 5th in the overall standings, going into the Memorial Day Weekend Doubleheader at the Illinois State Fairgrounds at Springfield this weekend.

With a week off after the Springfield events, Mees (a former AMA Horizon Award winner and '09 AMA Flat Track Grand National Twins Champion) and a host of other AMA Pro Flat Track regulars will be heading north to Wisconsin to contest the June 3-5 events, starting off with the 27th Annual Dairyland Classic held at the Sheboygan County Fairgrounds in Plymouth.  Mees is the 2-Time defending event winner in the event that also boasts previous winners including 3-Time AMA Grand National Twins Champion Kenny Coolbeth, Jr., Shaun Russell, Jethro Halbert and Joe Kopp just to name a few. 

7-Time AMA Grand National Champion Chris Carr will be racing and is also scheduled for an autograph signing session at West Bend Harley-Davidson on June 2 from 6-8 P.M. as part of his 2011 Farewell to Flat Track Tour.

If you are in the Plymouth area over the June 3-5 weekend, take the time to check out the Dairyland Classic presented by Hoban Brothers and the other Steve Nace Racing-promoted AMA All Star Flat Track Series events.  You're bound to have a super time and see some great racing!

Wisconsin is definitely the place to be June 3rd – 5th if you love flattrack racing. With over $25,000 up for grabs, where else would a flattracker be?

The 27th Annual AMA sanctioned Dairyland Classic presented by Hoban Brothers will be kicking off this exciting weekend of racing on Friday, June 3rd at the Sheboygan Co. Fair Park. This event will offer a payout of over $10,000. Included in this is the Jim Sumner Dash for Cash with over $2,000 going to the top four finishers. Previous winners of the Dash include Jared Mees, JR Schnabel & Joe Kopp.

Saturday night will find the AMA sanctioned All Star National Flat Track Series returning to Wilmot Raceway located at the Kenosha Co. Fairgrounds in Wilmot, WI. After being rained out in 2010 everyone is anxious to test the ½ mile at Wilmot Raceway on June 4th.

To finish the weekend, on June 5th Angell Park Speedway in Sun Prairie, WI will host the AMA sanctioned All Star National Flat Track Series as CW Promotions’ Chris Wilke introduces Flattrack Motorcycle Racing a new ½ mile venue for a Sunday night event.

For more information on the All Star National Fat Track Series contact Steve Nace Racing Promotions at (270)442-7532, http://www.stevenaceracing.com/ or e-mail snace@apex.net.

The AMA sanctioned All Star National Flat Track Series was formed in 2010 to take the place of the AMA Hot Shoe Series when it was discontinued. Our goal is to provide AMA Pro & Expert racers venues to race at during the off weekends and in conjunction with AMA Pro Racing Grand National Championship Flat Track Series. As well as bringing the sport of Flat Track Motorcycle Racing to new venues and potentially new fans across the US.

Here's more info on the Steve Nace Racing promoted/AMA Pro Flat Track sanctioned All Star Race Series coming up June 3-5 in Wisconsin:


Here's the link to the Dairyland Classic event on June 3:


This is a great look at the history of the Dairyland Classic in Plymouth, WI.:


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

AMA Pro Road Racing Previews the AMA/WSBK Weekend at Miller Motorsports Park, May 28-30

The Wiseco Superbike 100 main event of the Camel Super Cycle Weekend presented by Dunlop gets off to a re-start on August 2, 1992 at the Mid Ohio Sports Car Course, after a red flag caused by a crash involving Vance & Hines Yamaha rider Larry Schwarzbach on the front straight delayed the race for close to an hour.  Unfortunately, Schwarzbach succumbed to his injuries less then 48 hours later, and as with all things in life, the racing did go on that day as the front row of the premier AMA Superbike Championship Series contenders roar away from the starting line. 

With a field of riders representing several U.S. and World Championships entered for the weekend's events, the races were filled with an air of international flair that weekend with current, present and former campaigners of the AMA Superbike Championship, the Canadian Superbike Championship,the World Superbike Championship and the World Championship GPs on hand at the 2.5 mile track outside the village of Lexington, OH. 

(L-R) Canadian Pascal Picotte on the #34 Fast by Ferracci/Arai/Bel Ray/SBS-sponsored Ducati 851 gets some air coming off of the front row restart.  This was the former multi-time Canadian Superbike Champion's first full year racing the AMA Series as a factory pilot, in what would see him spending over a decade running in the AMA Superbike Championship Series for Suzuki, H-D and Michael Jordan Motorsports before returning to his native Canada to finish out his career in the saddle in his native Canadian Superbike Championship Series.

Behind him on the #2 Vance & Hines/Bel Ray/Bell/Bates-backed Yamaha YZF-750, Jamie James tries to make up for the meat ball flag he had just served several laps before the red flag for getting what AMA officials deemed a 'pretty good jump' on the original restart.  Of note--notice the front brake shrouds on the '89 AMA Superbike Champion's bike.  Factory teams in those days were using carbon fiber brakes, which take an intense amount of heat built up into them in order to operate efficiently, thusly the covers on the #2 machine.  The extra costs for running the carbon fiber stoppers in those days was reported to be in the 'thousands of dollars' area.  In other words for us plain city and country folk, unobtanium.

Freddie Spencer appears to be 'gliding' off the line on his #19 Two Brothers Racing/Honda Motor Co/Michelin-sponsored RC-30, which of course would look that way coming from a former 3-Time World GP Champion.  Spencer would win several races for the Erion Brothers team before finishing out his career running Ducatis for Eraldo Ferracci in the AMA Superbike Championship Series after returning from Europe and winning, most notably, the '83 World 500CC Grand Prix Championship and the '85 250CC and 500CC World Grand Prix Championships.  Spencer was the youngest man at the time to ever win the premier 500CC Championship, and last man to have won two championships in different classes during one year.

Just behind Fast Freddie, partially blocked, is the #23 FBF/Ducati Mechanica/SPA/AGV-sponsored Ducati 888 of Doug Polen, who won the '91-'92 World Superbike Championships before returning to the U.S. full-time in the '93 season to win the AMA Superbike Championship, as well.  Polen would go on to lead runner-up Thomas Stevens ('91 AMA Superbike Champion) on the #1 Muzzy Kawasaki and 3rd place finisher Tom Kipp on the #16 Commonwealth Camel Honda to the event win.  Also to note, it was just announced in the last day or two that Polen will be enshrined in the AMA Hall of Fame this November.  Bravo, as it's been a long time coming! 

And finally, The Screamin Chief himself, Scott Russell on the #17 Muzzy Kawasaki/SBS/Ohlins/
Motul-sponsored ZX-7R launches his machine as if he could do it with his eyes closed (and looking closely, they almost are!)  The eventual '92 AMA Superbike Champion and '93 World Superbike Champion would go on to have his name pressed into minds across the globe forever, if not for his U.S. and World Championships, but for his 5-Time winning of the Daytona 200 in the glory days when Daytona was a full-fledged 200 mile Superbike race.  The Chief is scheduled to be on-hand in Utah this weekend fulfilling his duties as announcer for the AMA Pro Road Racing television coverage for Speed TV, and rumors have it he may actually don the leathers to take a few laps of some sort over the weekend in the mountains of Utah. 

AMA Pro Road Racing Joins WSBK for BigM Memorial Day Weekend

DAYTONA BEACH, FL (May 23, 2011) - Hot on the heels of a great weekend of racing at Infineon Raceway's May 13-15 West Coast Moto Jam, the AMA Pro Road Racing paddock is ready to celebrate Memorial Day with some international friends. May 28 through 30, AMA Pro will join the FIM World Superbike Championship for the BigM Weekend Presented by Lucas Oil, hosted by the spectacular Miller Motorsports Park facility in Tooele, Utah.

AMA Pro returns to MMP following a two-season hiatus, but the series' official test at the circuit in early May proved the field is more than ready to work the flowing 3.048-mile track. That's especially true of reigning AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike Champion Josh Hayes (Monster Energy Graves Yamaha), who was dominant in both days of MMP testing and is coming off a Race 1 win at Infineon's Round 2.

Hayes won't have it easy, though; having split Infineon wins with Rockstar Makita Suzuki's Tommy Hayden, Hayes enters MMP Round 3 with a slim 6-point lead in the standings. Hayden himself has more to worry about than just the rider ahead, however; teammate Blake Young sits just two points behind in third overall, and despite a difficult Race 2 at Infineon, M4 Suzuki's Martin Cardenas remains fourth overall, the reigning AMA Pro Daytona SportBike Champion having proven he's a SuperBike contender by notching his first podium-finish (a third) in last round's Race 1.

With a total of twenty-eight National Guard SuperBike riders entered thus far, the riders listed above will have more than their fair share of competition, and the same can be said for the infamously intense AMA Pro Daytona SportBike class, currently boasting forty-one entries.
Photo by Brian J. Nelson

Miller Motorsports Park, Tooele, Utah.  AMA Pro Road Racing photo by Brian J. Nelson.

Though the depth of talent in the Daytona SportBike field is almost as incredible as the class' tendency toward ten-deep lead changes that at times run four-wide, one rider has been unquestionably dominant in the results thus far: Team Latus Motors Racing's Jason DiSalvo, who's gone three-for-three in the series' opening rounds. Infineon, however, saw him regularly challenged by Monster Energy Graves Yamaha's Josh Herrin, GEICO Powersports/RMR Suzuki's Danny Eslick, and then-privateer Jake Holden. With the latter having since picked up season sponsorship from RidersDiscount.com, DiSalvo's sure to have his hands full at MMP.

The AMA Pro Motorycle-Superstore.com SuperSport class will also see its ranks swell at Round 3, as the BigM Weekend's edition of the rising-star class, the AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport Larry H. Miller Challenge, will feature a host of top local talent, all vying for a piece of the purse that's been doubled for this special event. Taking on all newcomers will be top series regulars like Roadracingworld.com's Benny Solis, Y.E.S./LTD Racing's Tomas Puerta and David Gaviria, Vesrah Suzuki's Corey Alexander, and more.

MMP fans will also be treated to the sights and V-twin sounds of AMA Pro Road Racing's newest class, the AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 division. These handlebar-to-handlebar, footpeg-dragging monsters are in their first full season of AMA Pro competition, and the already-packed field through which riders like Chris Fillmore, Kyle Wyman, Steve Rapp, and Michael Barnes barrel will see the return of reigning class champion Danny Eslick (joining RMR/Bruce Rossmeyer Daytona Racing teammates Fillmore and Wyman) aboard the #1 machine.

SPEED TV will highlight all of Round 3's AMA Pro races via an AMA Pro Road Racing Special set to air Monday, May 30, at 9 p.m. PST/midnight EST, and will broadcast the Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport and Vance & Hines XR1200 contests live on SPEED2. There won't be any substitute, however, for being there in person, as MMP has planned a big lineup of weekend concerts. Saturday night will feature country superstar Dierks Bentley, supported by Sawyer Brown and Reckless Kelly, while Blue Oyster Cult and Creedence Clearwater Revisited will take the stage on Sunday night. Whether you're a die-hard road race fan or just an admirer of all things wheeled, MMP is the place to be this Memorial Day Weekend.

For event-specific tickets and information, visit www.BigMweekend.com or call (435) 277-RACE. For general information about Miller Motorsports Park, visit www.millermotorsportspark.com.

To learn more and be a part of AMA Pro Racing, please visit www.amaproracing.com and join us via facebook.com/AMAProRoadRacing, twitter.com/AMAProSBK, and twitter.com/AMAProLIVE. 

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, communications@amaproracing.com

Round 3 of the 2011 AMA Pro Road Racing Series , the BIGM Weekend presented by Lucas Oil, from Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah will kick off on Saturday, May 28.  Event info can be found here:


Here is the link to the most recent event schedule (as of this writing on 5/25/11):


Here is the event info link for all of the classes and PDF files that will be available throughout the weekend:


And here is the link to AMA Pro Road Racing's Live Timing so you can keep up with all of the sessions throughout the weekend:


Tooele, Utah weather courtesy of The Weather Underground:


AMA Flat Track: Cycle News.com's Larry Lawrence 'Archives' Captures the '76 AMA Grand National Championship Series Season Part 2

In the early-mid '70s, ABC-TV got involved with the AMA Grand National Championship and ran a year-end race at Louisville Downs called the 'Race of Champions.'  The ABC crew would come in, film the day's activities and interview riders, mechanics and team owners, and then put together a piece that would air on their 'Wide World of Sports' show on a Saturday afternoon several weeks after.  Comprised entirely of winners from that year's schedule, the race was a 'made for tv' effort that showcased the greats in the series on Louisville's competitive and popular limestone half mile track. 

During the '75 year-end race, the Expert final as well as the Expert 'Race of Champions' final were both comprised entirely of riders on XR-750s.  I can't remember the exact reason for this (other then the obvious 'to make all things equal for all riders'), but knowing this before the event took place, Kenny Roberts and his Yamaha team didn't bother to make the trip east from his base in Modesto, CA. since he was obviously under contract to strictly ride Yamahas (and he didn't attend the '76 event, either.)

Privateers or supported riders like Hank Scott, who at that time rode a Shell Thuett Yamaha and Gene Romero, who throughout the season had campaigned C&J-sponsored Yamahas, were forced to ride a Harley-Davidson XR-750 in order to compete in the program (again, I can't remember whose XR Romero ran, but Hank rode one of National #45 Dave Sehl's machines in the Expert final-which he won-and then rode one of his brother Gary's spare XRs in the ROC final, to finish second behind winner Mike Kidd.)

In '76 as pictured, riders were back to running whatever brand they normally ran (or chose to run, if that were the case, for the ROC event) for the October finale at the half mile horse track.  Riders getting ready to line up for the ROC final above include Gary Scott, the '75 AMA Grand National Champion, on his #1 XR-750 on the left side of the shot just getting ready to enter the track.  Just to his right/picture left in the red Bell Helmet jacket and white pants is Gary Van Voorhis, the former Cycle News East reporter who covered AMA Flat Track events back in those days. 

Scott had just tried to defend his championship after having left the H-D Factory team at the end of the '75 season, but came up just short in quest to do the double.  He had won the spring event at Louisville (as well as the Ascot TT in the summer) to qualify for the ROC event. 

Mike Kidd on his #72 XR-750 rolls up to the line to defend his '75 ROC win after having won the Saturday night Indy Mile in August (in what was a decades-long doubleheader event after that initial '76 double round) to qualify for his ROC berth.  Kidd of course would go on to win the '81 AMA Grand National Championship after over ten years of being a front-runner in the series and having come out of the same rookie class of '72 with Scott and Roberts.

Jay Springsteen wore the #25 for one year only-1976-as he won his first of three straight championships in his sophomore year in the AMA Grand National Championship, taking over the slot on the team vacated by Gary Scott.  Springer had won his first title over Scott, 301-280 points, with Roberts just behind in third with 265 points.  After having won two events in his rookie campaign in the '75 season, Springer went on a tear in '76 winning seven total events, including all four of the last dirt track events of the season, and four of five  of the last events on the calendar overall, in order to qualify for the ROC.

The late Rick Hocking on the #13 Rocky Cycle-sponsored XR had ridden a Yamaha in the season opener at Houston to win the TT event at the Astrodome in January some nine months earlier to qualify for the ROC, and ended up ranked the 9th rider in the Nation for the 1976 campaign.  Hocking was active in flat track events up to and including his premature death earlier this year and is highly missed in the flat track community.

And the late Rex Beauchamp on the Harley-Davidson Factory XR-750 looks over from his #31 as he prepares to take to the starting line.  Rocket Rex had won the spring San Jose Mile earlier in the year, and finished the '76 season in the 7th ranked position in the final point standings.

The 1976 AMA Camel Pro Series Grand National Championship battle is to this day still considered one of, if not the most hotly contested battles in the long history of The Rolling Thunder Show, the greatest racing show on wheels.  Names like Roberts, Scott and Springer permeated the schedule of races over 35 seasons ago, and made for some of the most epic battles in racing anywhere in the world.

Larry Lawrence again brings us a great review thanks to his 'Archives' column in Cycle News.com in which he brings us part two of the 1976 AMA Camel Pro Series season review.

Read on and thanks to LL and CN for this super trip down memory lane:


Part one of Larry Lawrence's 'Archives' Column on the review of the '76 AMA Flat Track/Camel Pro Series Grand National Championship can be found here:


Monday, May 23, 2011

Saddlemen Returning as AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship Rookie of the Year Sponsor

Jared Mees' #1 Rogers Lake Racing/Blue Springs H-D/Rockysonline.com/Saddlemen-backed Harley-Davidson XR-750s get final prep work done to them by a couple of the Rogers Lake Racing crew during a break in the program at the Springfield Mile round of the '10 AMA Pro Flat Track K&N Filters presented by Motorcycle Superstore.com (now for 2011, Harley-Davidson Insurance) Grand National Championship Series on September 5.  One of Mees' long-time sponsors in the series, the quality and craftsmanship that goes into one of their AMA Flat Track Twins Series seats can be seen in this shot, and the Saddlemen name can be seen prominently displayed on his Twins Series XRs in this shot on the top/sides of the fuel tank.

Saddlemen makes a wide variety of seats for professional and personal use and has been in business since 1987.  Eight out of ten riders ranked in the final 2010 year-end overall point standings in the series is sponsored in some way by Saddlemen and lists the company as one of their sponsors.  Some of those riders include Henry Wiles, Bryan Smith, Sammy Halbert and Joe Kopp.

Saddlemen Returns as AMA Pro HDI Flat Track Rookie of the Year Sponsor

DAYTONA BEACH, FL (May 23, 2011) - The AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship is proud to announce that Saddlemen---- a leading producer of motorcycle seats, saddles, and luggage---- has, for the second year in a row, stepped up to sponsor the series' prestigious Rookie of the Year Award. The Saddlemen Rookie of the Year Award will pay out a total of $7,500 at the series' year-end awards banquet, to be shared $5,000/$2,500 between the championship's top two Expert Rookies.

"We couldn't be prouder to welcome Saddlemen back as the sponsor of this award," said AMA Pro Racing Managing Member and C.O.O. David Atlas. "The sport of flat track has produced some of the greatest names in motorcycle racing, so it's wonderfully fitting that a company of Saddlemen's quality supports the recognition of its future stars."

Saddlemen President Tom Seymour added, "The sport of flat track is exciting, a truly unique form of American racing. There is no better racing competition available anywhere in the world. It is my goal to make sure the next generation of racers is supported---- that's why we sponsor the Rookie of the Year program."

Participating Expert rookies will be identified by a Saddlemen patch on their racing leathers and Saddlemen decal on their competition motorcycles. In 2010, PJ Jacobsen took the Saddlemen Rookie of the Year honors, but with the depth of emerging talent in the 2011 field, the contest is more wide-open than ever.
2010 Award Presentation

Saddlemen President Tom Seymour presents 2010 AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship Series Rookie of the Year P.J. Jacobsen with his check at the season-ending AMA Pro Flat Track Awards Banquet in October of 2010.  Photo provided by AMA Pro Flat Track.

Join us for the next round of the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship: the legendary Springfield Mile and TT, held May 28-29 at the storied Illinois State Fairgrounds. For tickets and information, visit www.illinoismda.com or call (217) 753-8866 or (888) 468-1622.

To learn more about the full range of Saddlemen products, visit www.saddlemen.com  or find them on Facebook.
Be a part of the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship by visiting www.amaproracing.com/ft  and joining us on Facebook and Twitter.

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, communications@amaproracing.com

You can check out Saddlemen's line of work here:


Keep up with Jammin' Jared Mees via his official site here:


AMA Pro Flat Track official site:


Saturday, May 21, 2011

AMA Pro Flat Track & Stu's Shots Help You Gear Up For the Springfield TT/Mile Doubleheader Weekend, May 28-29

2010 AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Champion Jake Johnson looks over his #1 Zanotti Racing/Schaeffer's H-D/MotionPro/Arai-sponsored fleet of Honda CRF450Rs during a break in the action at round 3 of the 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship Series at the Southern Illinois Center in DuQuoin, IL. on April 16, while his fiance checks her messages and keeps abreast of team happenings.  Johnson came home 3rd on the day behind event winner Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. on the #2 Chaplin Kawasaki KX450F and 7-Time AMA Grand National Champion Chris Carr on his Kenny Tolbert-tuned #4 DFW Honda-sponsored Honda CRF450R to keep him in the top 5 in the 2011 series standings.

Jersey Jake is proving himself to be a regular-and-anytime contender on the AMA Pro Flat Track Series schedule, with his ability to adjust to any/all situations at each event and his ability to bring it home, coupled with a great team in the Zanotti Racing camp, Johnson shows up at each and every event ready to go and able to take home rock-solid results.  Starting where he left off at the end of the 2010 season, Johnson has had a great run of top 5 results to start off the 2011 season, including his hard-fought win at round 4 of the series on the Salinas TT.  And lest we all forget that Johnson also has two Singles Series Championships to his credit earned while still a member of the now-defunct Suzuki Flat Track team.

With defending and 2-Time AMA Singles Series Champion Henry Wiles sidelined due to leg/knee surgery as a result of injuries received at DuQuoin, Jake is the last man to have won at the Springfield Rodeo Arena back in '07, and in this reporter's mind and eye a very likely favorite to break Wiles's winning streak on the Singles Series bikes next weekend at the Illini Capitol's premier event.  Add to it his great record on the mile oval not only overall, but in the last 4-5 events, and you have the point leader once the series leaves Springfield after rounds 6 & 7 on May 28-29.  Anything less will be a big surprise for this great champion and spokesperson of the sport who has been a perennial contender on the circuit since winning the AMA Pro Flat Track Rookie of the Year in 2002.

As with any/all AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship Series race events, there is a healthy list of riders that could prove the above statements mute once the weekend kicks into gear in one short week.  In no particular order of favorites, Chris Carr on his Kenny Tolbert-tuned Chris Carr Racing #4 Lancaster H-D/DFW Honda, the 7-Time Grand National Champ will be in full-swing on his Farewell to Flat Track Tour, and after posting solid results in the first five events of the year will be looking to add to his 78 total wins in the series, and also to his 12 wins on the Fastest Mile in the World.  Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. will be looking mean and green on his #2 Chaplin Kawasaki as well as on his Screamin' Eagle H-D Factory XR, as will JR Schnabel on his new ride with the #33 Monster Energy/Werner Springsteen Kawasakis, '09 AMA Pro Flat Track Pro Singles Champ and current Rookie of the Year candidate Brad Baker on his Baker Boys/ENI #12 Honda and his debut on the weekend on the #12 Lloyd Brothers Motorsports Ducati 1098. 

Throw in Jared Mees on his #9 Rogers Lake Racing/Montgomeryville Hondas and XRs, Sammy Halbert on his #7 Fredericktown Yamaha/Kings Kustoms XR, Bryan Smith on his #42 Screamin' Eagle/FastHog.com XR and Kawasaki, and new team mate on the Werner Springsteen Kawasaki #28 Shaun Russell (see more on Russell below.) 

Other contenders to watch out for include Johnny Lewis on the #10 Scott Powersports Kawasaki twin and Honda single, Matt Weidman on his #20 Matt's Racing/White's H-D XR and Honda, 2010 AMA Pro Flat Track Motorcycle Superstore.com Pro Singles Champion Jeff Carver on his #23 Van's Yamaha, Willie McCoy on the #59 H-D of Warsaw XR (who finished a VERY close 4th at the September '10 Springfield Mile), and Jethro Halbert, brother to Slammin Sammy, who is entered on the #69 Memphis Shades/Babe DeMay's Racing XR/Yamaha YZF450F, and you have the making of some serious racing stew that any one of which could come out on top after the recipe is done and has finished on the grill. 

Who're YOU going to take?! 

Springfield AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Preview: Get Ready to Rumble!

DAYTONA BEACH, FL (March 20, 2011) - When it comes to Memorial Day and American motorsports, open-wheel car racing has the Indy 500, stock cars have the Coca Cola 600, and the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship has the Springfield Mile, held May 28-29 at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.

Long considered the most prestigious race on the series' schedule, the Sunday Springfield Mile (Round 7) also jumpstarts the 2011 Twins season, allowing the big-boy bikes to finally flex their muscles on a track that has historically provided some of the closest racing you'll find in all of motorsports. Kicking off the holiday weekend, however, the Illinois Motorcycle Dealers Association will start by once again turning the Illinois State Fairgrounds Rodeo Arena into an action-packed TT racecourse for Saturday's Round 6 event.

The biggest question leading into Round 6 of the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship is who will fill the void left by the absence of defending AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles Champion Henry Wiles. Wiles, who's currently recovering (post-surgery) from a leg injury incurred at Round 3, won the last three iterations of the Springfield TT and has been dominant on the 450cc machines. With his recovery process expected to sideline the reining champ through mid-season, however, the field is bristling with potential victors.

Defending Grand National Champion Jake Johnson will be looking for his second Springfield TT victory aboard his Zanotti Racing Honda. Having last won in 2007, Johnson was the last rider to do so before Wiles kicked off his streak. Monster Energy Werner Springsteen's JR Schnabel once had his own win-streak going, though, as he posted victories in 2004, '05, and '06. Then Yamaha-mounted, 2011 will mark Schnabel's first Springfield on a Kawasaki.

Despite those formidable former winners, however, rookie sensation Brad Baker (ENI USA REM) may be the man to beat. Baker had his first National win in hand at Salinas, but a last-lap spill left him with third, which has in turn left Baker more determined than ever. Even adding current points-leader and '09 TT third-place finisher Sammy Halbert (Woody Kyle Racing/Fredericktown Yamaha) to the mix doesn't sum up the depth of field at Springfield, as there are as many as ten other riders with a legitimate shot at the win.
Photo by Dave Hoenig

The moment everyone has been waiting for, the start of the May 2010 AMA Pro Flat Track K&N Filters presented by Motorcycle Superstore.com Grand National Championship Springfield Mile main event.  Now called the AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship (unfortunately K&N Filters stepped away after being the title sponsor in the '10 season, but great news in that Harley-Davidson Insurance not only stepped in to be the title sponsor for AMA Pro Flat Track events for the '11 season, they also doubled the year-end payout for the final point standings!), the series is always considered ready to go 'full swing' in terms of the bulk of the schedule, with the kick-off of the Memorial Day Weekend Doubleheader classic.

From left in this shot, Jake Johnson on his #5 Zanotti Racing XR (and eventual winner of the May '10 event), Bryan Smith on the #42 Monster Energy/Werner Springsteen Kawasaki (winner of the September Springfield Mile), Joe Kopp on the #3 Lloyd Brothers Motorsports Ducati (winner of the spring Arizona Mile in 2010), '09 AMA Pro Flat Track Rookie of the Year Steve Bonsey on his #80 Johnny Goad XR (winner of the Calistoga Half Mile in '10), and Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. on his Screamin' Eagle H-D Factory #2 Harley-Davidson XR-750 (winner of the Minnesota Mile in 2010.)

AMA Pro Flat Track Springfield Mile Memorial Day race photo by AMA Pro Flat Track official photographer Dave Hoenig/Flat Trak Fotos.com.

Shaun Russell is interviewed by AMA Pro Flat Track announcer Barry Boone after having won the first semi race at the Springfield Mile on September 5 to qualify for the main event on the Illinois State Fairgrounds oval.  Looking over the #28 Greg Crow Racing/Fox Valley Cycles/MotionPro/Arai-backed H-D XR is one of the team members from the GCR team while Russell looks down to check out his mount. 

Russell had a rough year in the 2010 season, only qualifying for three events on the year, including this race at Springfield where he went on to finish in the lucky 13th spot.  But the fire is still there as was shown by this semi win, let alone his 4th in the 2010 Springfield TT main AND Dash events, to go along with winning his heat at Peoria and his 6th in the main and another 4th in the Dash at the Illinois natural amphitheater track.

Russell, who has been a regular competitor and regular top 5-10 finisher in many an event on the AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship Series for over a decade now, looks to be heading over to the Monster Energy/Werner Springsteen Kawasaki team starting with the Springfield Doubleheader Weekend next week.  The MEWSK team lost rider #42 Bryan Smith between the Daytona Doubleheader rounds in March and the April round at DuQuoin after Flyin' Bryan decided to go off on his own and put together a team riding H-D XRs again after a great year with the new Kawasaki in 2010.  The team had hired JR Schnabel to help with development on the Kawasaki 650R-based twin, and team founder Bill Werner had originally stated they were going to 'stand pat' after Smith made his original announcement. 

But with a veteran rider available who knows how to get and keep it up front, apparently the lure of having a pro like Shaun Russell available was too much to pass up.  Bravo for them AND for Shaun!

Having gotten the chance to 'officially' meet Russell at the Gas City Short Track round in June '10 (thanks to my buddy and good friend Larry Lawrence of CycleNews.com and The Rider Files.com) I was pleased as punch to find that he was exactly the type of friendly, outgoing and personable talents that campaigns the AMA Pro Flat Track series after having followed him for years from afar. The Westville, IL. resident has regularly run at the front in the series for over a decade now, and in spite of still waiting for that elusive first GNC win, knows what it takes to run there and compete in The Rolling Thunder Show.  The man with the wide smile and fun attitude has been also featured on several event t-shirts over the years, including the Vernon Downs round event shirt from the 2003 season while running for the Screamin' Eagle team.  Russell has also ridden for the Bartels' H-D team in GN events over the years.

This is a great move for Shaun as well as for the Werner/Springsteen Kawasaki team and could prove to be one of the break-out moves in AMA Pro Flat Track Series competition in the 2011 season.  At the very least, it pits one of the biggest smiles and fiercest competitors in the AMA paddock with three of the other greatest competitors and biggest smiles in the pits, Bill Werner, Jay Springsteen and JR Schnabel.  If I were to use the term 'Super Team' the cliche could be misconstrued, however, so stay tuned to see what this team could become capable of in the hands of these great veterans, it's guaranteed to be exciting for sure!

On Sunday the action moves across the Fairgrounds to the big mile oval, a track that features 140 mph straights and 100 mph lap-times, and that has always favored calculating veterans. Chris Carr, for one, hopes this remains the case. Carr has dubbed 2011 his "Farewell Tour," and there couldn't be a sweeter way to go out than by taking his American Motorcyclist Association-backed Harley-Davidson to a thirteenth Springfield Mile victory.

In addition to Carr, there will be three other riders on track who've taken victories on the Springfield Mile: Werner Springsteen Kawasaki's Bryan Smith, who took victory at last year's Labor Day race; Harley-Davidson Motor Company's Kenny Coolbeth, who won the Springfield Mile in 2007 through 2009; and defending Grand National Champion Jake Johnson, who won last year's Spring race in dominant fashion on his Zanotti Racing Harley-Davidson, and took the Fall 2009 race as well.

Smith has since parted ways with his then-team and will field the Moroney's Harley-Davidson backed Harley. Smith, it should be noted, crossed the finish line first in 2009, but lost that race when his fuel failed a post-race test. (It is rumored Smith may have a personal Kawasaki sitting in the wings, just in case.) Also worth remembering is the very atypical manner in which Johnson won his 2010 event, pulling away from the pack and taking victory by a two-second margin, which constitutes an unusually large lead for Springfield.

The Monster Energy Werner Springsteen team will be trying to defend their win with two new riders: JR Schnabel and Shaun Russell. Schnabel's best Springfield finish thus far is a Suzuki-mounted fourth in 2007, while Russell finished second in 2005 aboard a Harley-Davidson. In other new-rider news, Rookie of the Year points-leader Brad Baker will be making his Mile debut on the ENI USA/Lloyd Brothers Racing Ducati. Joe Kopp showed the power of the team last year when he captured Ducati's first Grand National win (that victory coming at the Arizona Mile), but Baker's got serious work to do in Illinois, as no rookie has ever won the Springfield Mile.

With another doubleheader weekend on tap, the points-race could have a much different look after Memorial Day. A full 58 points are out there for anyone capable of sweeping everything ... another unheard-of occurrence in AMA Pro Flat Track history.

In current championship standings, Sammy Halbert holds an 8-point lead over Jake Johnson, with Kenny Coolbeth and Brad Baker another 21 and 22 points back, respectively. Jared Mees rounds out the top five in points.

For information and tickets to the May 28-29 Springfield TT and Mile, visit www.illinoismda.com or call either 217-753-8866 or 888-468-1622.

To learn more and to be a part of the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship, please visit www.amaproracing.com and join us via facebook.com/AMAProFlatTrackSeries and twitter.com/AMAProFlatTrack.
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, communications@amaproracing.com

Here are the links to the events at Springfield next weekend thanks to AMA Pro Flat Track.  As of this writing there are 48 Expert riders entered for both the TT and Mile events, and over 38 Pro Singles riders entered as well for both events.  As per usual at Springfield, look for these numbers to go up considerably before the start of action next Saturday afternoon.

Round 6 of the 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship Series at the Springfield Rodeo Arena, the Springfield TT, on Saturday, May 28:


Round 7 of the 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship Series on the Illinois State Fairgrounds oval, the spring Springfield Mile, on Sunday, May 29:


Tyler Porter's Fight for Dirt Track mentions in this week's InSlide Line column that he had heard mentions of Shaun Russell, National #28, riding for the Monster Energy/Werner Springsteen Kawasaki team starting with the Springfield Doubleheader Weekend over the Memorial Day weekend next week.  You can read that mention as well as keep up on some of the other great stuff that Tyler has for this week's news here:


Dave Hoenig not only covers the AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship Series as the official photographer for AMA Pro Flat Track, but he also pens alot of the press releases for AMA Pro Flat Track.  When Dave isn't busy running back and forth (literally!) between duties as each AMA Grand National race, he also runs his fabulous website, Flat Trak Fotos.com.  (Dave also fills in as the Cycle News.com reporter for AMA Pro Flat Track events that conflict with regular reporter Larry Lawrence's schedule or for events that make travel more burdensome to have someone else on-hand to cover that particular race.)

Dave was on hand on Tuesday, May 17 for the IMDA/AMA Pro Flat Track media day held at the Springfield Rodeo Arena for the test and tune days that numerous riders took part in to get ready for the upcoming TT on May 28.  Here are the links to the shots Dave took over the course of the day last Tuesday, and as always, a big nod to Dave for his great work and a big thanks for sharing these (and ALL of his) great shots with us:

IMDA Test and Tune/Springfield Rodeo Arena/Illinois State Fairgrounds/May 17, 2011

Part one:


Part two:


Part three:


Part four:


It's NOT too late to still get your tickets for the Memorial Day Weekend classic at the Illinois State Fairgrounds races at the Springfield Rodeo Arena and on the infamous Springfield Mile oval. 

The folks at the IMDA have for decades been putting on well-managed and super race events, and continue to do so today.  If you haven't seen a race in The Rolling Thunder Show that is promoted and/or managed by the people at the Illinois Motorcycle Dealers Association, you definitely owe it to yourself to do so IMMEDIATELY if not sooner.  These folks don't miss a beat and put on a stellar show for the fans along with the great group of folks at AMA Pro Flat Track. 

You can check out seating arrangements (my choice for the TT or ST events at the Springfield Rodeo Arena--on the hill or ANYWHERE in the stands, and up high anywhere in the grandstands on the oval) right here:


Thursday, May 19, 2011

AMA Flat Track: Looking at the Xs & Os & History of the Harley-Davidson XR-750

Cliff 'Corky' Keener rode this #62 Harley-Davidson XR-750 to the win at the Terre Haute Action Track Half Mile round of the AMA Flat Track/Camel Pro Series Grand National Championship in September of '74.  Camel had just come into the series as the sponsor for select events during the '74 season, and Terre Haute was the last event of the year with them paying out the 'big bucks' in terms of sponsorship for the championship.  The inaugural Camel Pro Series events were held at the Laguna Seca road race, the Hinsdale, IL. Santa Fe Short Track and the final race in Terre Haute.  Camel would go on to sponsor AMA Flat Track and Grand National Championship Series racing full-time under the Camel and Winston brands (early 80s) until into the early-mid 90s.

Keener's XR shown wasn't just any XR, but one that at the time was receiving H-D factory support as well as being wrenched and sponsored by 3-Time AMA Grand National Champion Bart Markel, a fellow Michiganite like Keener, and another of a long-line of Michigan Mafioso to have blessed the dirt tracks of America in The Rolling Thunder Show of AMA Flat Track Grand National Championship Series racing. 
Keener and Markel had just hooked up together for the '74 season, and besides winning the Terre Haute event also teamed to win the Louisville Half Mile earlier in the year at Louisville Downs, of which Markel had also won at three different times while he was still an active rider in the championship.  Those two wins along with a series of runner-ups and top 5s and 10s saw Mr. Dirt end the season ranked as the 7th rider in the final year-end championship standings. 
Not too bad for a guy that would turn 30 years old less then two weeks after his Terre Haute win.  And even without doing any road racing, Corky ended up ranked 3rd in the three race Camel Pro events behind Kenny Roberts (who clinched the overall and his 2nd AMA Grand National Championship and Camel Pro titles with a second-place finish at Terre Haute) and Dave Aldana on the #13 Factory Triumph, who got third in the three-race series as well as at Terre Haute that day in September. (The Terre Haute race had been rained delayed from over five weeks earlier in the season.  Even in those days Mother Nature played into the hands of the series' schedule!)

Keener's great season would springboard him to become H-D Factory team mates with former '69 AMA Grand National Champion Mert Lawwill, Rex Beauchamp, rookie Greg Sassaman and eventual '75 AMA Grand National Champion Gary Scott in the '75 season, and for several years thereafter.  Jay Springsteen was also a 'part-time' team mate in his stellar rookie year when he wasn't riding his Vista-Sheen XR on his way to winning the 1975 AMA Grand National Rookie of the Year.

Having orignally been introduced as an iron barrel model during the 1970 racing season, the Harley-Davidson XR-750 was re-done by the '72 season due to 'maintenance' problems under duress and re-introduced as an alloy model.  At the end of it's first full year in competition, Mark Brelsford took the #87 H-D Factory XR to three race wins and the 1972 AMA Grand National Championship, and the model's first of numerous race wins and titles that are still going strong.  2010 AMA Flat Track Grand National Champion Jake Johnson won the overall and Twins Series Championships while riding Zanotti Racing XRs in the series, while also winning two Twins Series events (the May Springfield Mile and season-ending Prescott Valley Mile in October) adding to the brand's long range dominance in the sport.

Looking back at the origins of the H-D XR-750, the weapon of choice for decades in The Rolling Thunder Show, Mark Gardiner, who many remember as Mr. Backmarker from the now defunct Road Racer X Magazine and Road Racer X.com, reviews this iconic model and it's beginnings from decades gone by. 

Thanks to Mark for this great piece of history.  Great stuff as always from the man who raced the Isle of Man and wrote his memoirs of doing so titled 'Riding Man.'  Mark is another fine industry journalist who does a great job of keeping abreast of the history of racing (and the industry as a whole!) that you should be reading regularly.  Check out this great story here:


You can also check out more of Mark's great columns here thanks to AMA Pro Flat Track.  Look for his 'Notes From the Blue Groove' columns here:


The AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum look at an iconic H-D XR-750 that was ridden by '69 AMA Grand National Champion Mert Lawwill while he was with the Harley-Davidson Factory Racing Team.  This one holds some lore due to the fact that Lawwill was known to go through his factory mounts and perfect them even more then what they already were as provided by the factory team.  Great reading here:


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Celebrating 25 Years of the Suzuki GSX-R750

'93 AMA 750 Supersport Champion Britt Turkington's #1 American Suzuki/Yoshimura Racing/Dunlop/NGK-backed Suzuki GSX-R750 sits in the Yoshimura garage during the Honda Super Cycle Weekend presented by Dunlop Tire event at the Mid Ohio Sports Car Course in July of 1994.  Turkington won the '93 title for Suzuki after several years of domination in the class by Scott Russell on the Muzzy Kawasaki.

American Roadracing Magazine's Larry Lawrence had Turkington ranked the #10 racer of the year in it's pre-season rankings and the series biggest mover in the standings based on his '93 ranking in the 25th spot.  'Turk' won numerous events over the course of his career including Brainerd, Daytona, Road America, Mid Ohio and Laguna Seca, also winning championships in WERA and CCS competition and is now a track instructor for '93 500CC World Champion Kevin Schwantz' riding school. 
It was said that since he was 'so good on the Yoshimura Suzuki Supersport bike' that people questioned 'why Suzuki didn't try him on the Superbike' after team mate Donald Jacks was injured midway through the '93 season.  Apparently the big heads at Suzuki racing felt that the 750 Supersport title was of great importance to them in terms of selling bike (race/win on Sunday, sell on Monday) that they didn't want to take any chance of 'Turkington getting injured on a Superbike.'  (Quotes noted from American Roadracing Top 40 article by Larry Lawrence.)

Tom Kipp was teamed with Turkington in the '94 season in the 750 Supersport Series on the #16 GSX-R750 machine, and made it two championships in a row for the Yoshimura team after having ridden for the Camel Honda team in '91-'92 in superbike and AMA 600 Supersport competiton.  Kipp also spent time riding the Yoshimura GSX-R750 superbike alongside team mates Donald Jacks on the #59 machine and '91 AMA Superbike Champion Thomas Stevens on the #11 GSX-R750 during the '94 season.

Aaron Frank takes a look back at 25 years of the Suzuki GSX-R750 in this article on Motorcyclist Magazine's site, Motorcyclistonline.com.  The article is also in print in the June 2011 issue of the mag, and does a very nice job of looking back at the history of the bike that hit North American shores in 1985, but it wasn't until '86 that the bike was available in the U.S.

The first model GSX-R750 hit American shores the next year, and as they say, everything in racing (and on the street) changed from then on, marking a period of dominance that still stands today and is as strong as the dominance that Yamaha once held in AMA Pro Road Racing with it's omni-potent, but albeit prototypical TZ-750.  Essentially, it became the weapon of choice in whatever class it raced for the most part.  And in the hands of 7-Time AMA Superbike Champion Mat Mladin, the 750 Gixxer won four championships ('99-'01, '03) in the premier series before making way, because of the rules changes in superbike racing, to it's big brother, the GSX-R1000 at the beginning of the '04 racing season.

Read on about the quarter century of changes to the Suzuki GSX-R750 here, and again a big thanks to Aaron Frank and Motorcyclist Magazine:


From back in April, Suzuki also looked at the GSX-R line as a whole, starting with the GSX-R750 and morphing into the GSX-R1000, in terms of the bike of choice in AMA Pro Road Racing in the AMA Superbike Championship Series, as well as the AMA 750 Supersport Series that later morphed into the AMA Superstock Series.  Here's the link to that article we posted:


Monday, May 16, 2011

AMA Pro Road Racing Superbike Championship Action From Infineon Raceway Sees Josh Hayes & Tommy Hayden Split Race Wins

Tommy Hayden on the #22 Team Kawasaki ZX-10R leads Josh Hayes on the #1 Attack Performance Kawasaki ZX-10R during the AMA Repsol Moto Superstock Series final at Road America in June of '04.  Hayes led 9 of the 10 laps of the final event before Tommy Gun got around him to lead the last lap and pull out the win by just .018 seconds.  Tommy would go on to win the '04-'05 AMA 600 Supersport Championships while Graves Yamaha's Aaron Gobert would clinch the '04 AMA Superstock Championship.

After an almost two month break in on-track racing, the AMA Superbike Championship Series kicked off a doubleheader round over the weekend at Infineon Raceway's West Coast Moto Jam in round two of the 2011 AMA Pro Road Racing Series.  And after the double wins by Rockstar/Makita/Yoshimura Suzuki's Blake Young at Daytona, the racing picked right back up where it left off at the end of the 2010 season with rivals Josh Hayes and Tommy Hayden taking their version of the slugfest for the championship into the new season.
Hayes looked to add to his 14 series wins, as well as his win streak at Infineon by setting fast pace and getting the point for the pole, in spite of crashing his 'A' bike in final qualifying on Saturday morning.  The Graves team pulled out the 'B' bike, which hadn't seen any action yet this year, and Josh showed why he has that #1 plate on the front of his YZF-R1 and went out and pulled off the race one win over Tommy by 7.355 seconds, and winning his 15th race in the premier class.  Newcomer to the Superbike Series, Martin Cardenas on the #36 M4 Suzuki GSX-R1000 (and 2010 AMA Pro Road Racing Daytona SportBike Champion) bagged his first podium on the big bikes to come home 3rd on the day 20.135 seconds behind winner Hayes.  Daytona doubler Young finished 4th, .068 seconds behind Cardenas after a hard-fought race between the two Suzuki riders.

Of note, '98 AMA Superbike Champ Ben Bostrom on the #23 Jordan Suzuki slipped a chain and suffered a DNF while his team mate, Roger Lee Hayden on the #54 National Guard Jordan Suzuki, crashed out after being run into by David Anthony just 3 laps into the 22 lap race.  JD Beach made his debut on the big bikes after the retirement announcement of Eric Bostrom, to take the #10 Attack Performance/Cycle World
 Kawasaki ZX-10R to a fine 9th place finish in race one.  Taking advantage of the misfortunes of those in front of him, the youngster rode a smart race to finish 68.935 seconds behind winner Hayes and earn his first points in the premier series.  Bravo JD, great job!

Race two action on Sunday saw Tommy take the win after leading laps 1-3 and then 18-22 after Hayes bobbled, allowing Hayden around and to hold off the #1 Yamaha by a comfortable margin of 1.926 seconds.  Young improved a spot on his #79 Rockstar/Makita/Yoshimura Suzuki by finishing 3rd in race two, 18.617 seconds back from winner Tommy Gun.  And Steve Rapp, in his first race in the premier class in a couple of years, came home 4th on the San Diego/Locust Powered by Lee's Cycle BMW S1000RR, 24.526 seconds behind the winner.  Larry Pegram rounded out the top 5 on his Pegram Racing/Foremost Insurance BMW S1000RR, 28.126 seconds back.

Of note, Ben Bostrom rode home in the 6th spot with team mate Roger Lee Hayden coming home 7th.  JD Beach was involved in a three rider crash and was reportedly run over by two of the other riders involved, but did not suffer any major injuries.  He reported at the end of the day on the FlatTrack.com forum that he was 'good to go' and would be in Springfield tomorrow for the test and tune session for the AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship Series upcoming TT race.  He said he would be doing his best to 'try' and ride the test session tomorrow depending on how sore he still was.

The AMA Pro Road Racing Superbike Championship Series heads to Miller Motorsports Park for round three over the Memorial Day Weekend with a tight points race after two rounds and four races.  Josh Hayes has an early lead with 107 points, Young lies in second with 101, and Tommy Gun is in third with 99 points.  2011 is starting off with a big bang and the excitement in the premier road racing series in the United States is getting ready to amp up even further, so stay tuned!

Round 2 Race Report: AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike, Race 2

SONOMA, CA (May 16, 2011) - Sunday's AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike Race 2 at Infineon Raceway was red-flagged following two hugely dramatic first laps, which kicked off with Rockstar Makita Suzuki's Tommy Hayden swooping into the lead while teammate Blake Young rubbed elbows with Monster Energy Graves Yamaha's Josh Hayes immediately behind. Within a minute, however, the M4 Suzuki team had lost both its riders, Chris Ulrich suffering a nasty crash in Turn 2 and Martin Cardenas sliding out moments later, his bike coming to rest atop the AirFence. It was the second get-off for Cardenas in one day, as a crash in morning practice had left him with a dislocated left shoulder just hours earlier.

Cardenas regridded at the back, determined to grab some all-important championship points, but his misfortune was quickly overshadowed by a big crash on the restart that collected JD Beach (Cycle World/Attack Performance Kawasaki), Tony Kasper (Team Iron Horse BMW), and Jeremy Burgess (ADR Fly Racing). All injured riders were treated at the at-track facility and released, save for M4 Suzuki's Chris Ulrich, who was transported by ground to the local hospital and is scheduled to be released today following treatment for two cracked lumbar vertebrae, a concussion, and internal bruising.

The track was cleared without bringing out the red flag, and Hayden tried to take advantage of his second holeshot to shake Hayes and Young, engaged in furious battle behind him. Hayes quickly bashed by Young, however, and set out after Hayden, passing via an aggressive move that nearly cost him. Once in second, however, Hayden didn't particularly seem to mind-he stayed close on Hayes' wheel through the following laps, periodically laying down a handful of the fastest laps the race saw and occasionally taking a look at the inside or outside of Hayes' line. When Tommy finally passed for the lead with just a few laps remaining, he put his head down and built some safety into his first National Guard SuperBike win of 2011, crossing the line with a margin of 1.926 seconds.

Hayes and Young brought their bikes home uneventfully in second and third, respectively, while several battles were decided behind them. Steve Rapp (San Diego BMWE) came out on top of his fourth-place battle with Foremost Insurance Racing's Larry Pegram, and Jordan Suzuki's Ben Bostrom, who'd diced throughout the second half of the race with National Guard Jordan Suzuki teammate Roger Hayden for sixth, took at least that version of a victory. Equally valorous, thought the results may not reflect it, was M4 Suzuki's Cardenas, who fought his way up to eighth from the back of the grid.
Photo by Brian J. Nelson

AMA Superbike Championship Series race two action from Infineon Raceway sees Tommy Hayden on the #22 Rockstar/Makita/Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 get the jump on defending champion Josh Hayes on the #1 Monster Energy Graves Yamaha YZF-R1.  AMA Pro Road Racing photo by Brian J. Nelson.

The top-ten finishing order was Hayes, Hayes, Young, Rapp, Pegram, Bostrom, Roger Hayden, Cardenas, Chris Peris (Iron Horse BMW), and Chris Clark (Y.E.S./Pat Clark/Graves Yamaha).

Young, 3rd: "I felt better on the first start. When I got up there on the second start, I thought, 'Maybe I can hang in here today and see where they go,' but I looked down at my lap timer and didn't think they were all that quick. I knew they were going to step up the pace, and I just don't think I was ready for it. I tried to keep my head down and ride my own race, but today I couldn't really stay there. I had to bring home third for my guys, at least get it on the podium, but I'm just looking forward to the next race already."

Hayes, 2nd: "Man, both of them just came off the line like rocket ships. I got a pretty good jump, but I just didn't get rolling as good as they did. I'm sitting here thinking about the race, and I really had a hard race. It's just, the bike was a bit of a handful today ... I think the red flag hurt me a little. Before that I felt pretty good, but on the restart, right in the beginning I had a couple of pretty big ones and I thought, 'Man, I've been this route before. I've been able to do pretty good laps, so I'm just doing to dig deep and ride this thing the best I can. Knowing Tommy, he's back there watching me, laughing at me, and getting ready to kick my butt,' which is what he did [laughs]."

Hayden, 1st: "Seemed like as the race went on it was coming to me a little bit. I made some changes for the race, so it kind of took me a couple laps to be 100 percent confident with what I had. About the time I was feeling decent, Josh came by, and I kind of settled into that. It was tough for a few laps, but then my bike really started working good-felt like it was working better and better. With about ten to go I was following pretty close; I had a couple looks in a few places kept kind of botching it up a little and falling back a couple of bike-lengths. I was close to going by a few times and didn't, and that hurt me a little bit, but I had two or three places I thought I could get by, so I was just trying to hurry up and do it and put my head down to the finish.
"This win today feels really good. I was really disappointed with my performance here last year, so I really challenged myself to come here this year and redeem myself, not give away the kind of points I did here last hear. That's not something you can do when you're racing guys like Josh and Blake, so this feels really good."

The AMA Pro Road Racing Series next travels to Utah's Miller Motorsports Park for the "Big M Weekend," where it will run alongside the World Superbike series in a combined May 28-30 event. For tickets and information, visit www.bigmweekend.com.

To learn more and be a part of AMA Pro Racing, please visit http://www.amaproracing.com/  and join us via facebook.com/AMAProRoadRacing, twitter.com/AMAProSBK, and twitter.com/AMAProLIVE.

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, communications@amaproracing.com

Round 2 Race Report: AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike, Race 1

SONOMA, CA (March 15, 2011) - Monster Energy Graves Yamaha's Josh Hayes got some measure of revenge for going winless at AMA Pro Road Racing's opening 2011 round today, holding off a determined Tommy Hayden for the majority of the 22-lap AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike Race 1 at Infineon Raceway. While Hayden stalked Hayes at the front, Hayden's Rockstar Makita Suzuki teammate, Blake Young, put increasing pressure on Team M4 Suzuki's Martin Cardenas, who ultimately held off Young to take the first National Guard SuperBike podium of his career.

Cardenas' third-place finish was extra impressive in light of the fact that today's event was only the second SuperBike event the reining AMA Pro Daytona SportBike champ has contended. And while some predicted the Colombian rider would take time to settle into his new class, Cardenas has clearly demonstrated he's not impressed by learning curves.

It was Hayden who took the holeshot off the line, but he came immediately under attack from Hayes, who in turn had Young all over his back wheel. Young even claimed second briefly, sliding under when Hayes went wide, but Hayes almost immediately sandwiched himself back between the two Suzuki riders and took over the lead within a handful of laps.

Jordan Suzuki's Ben Bostrom, meanwhile, was looking stronger than he had through practice and qualifying, hanging with the then-top three and keeping a pile of riders behind him. That pile soon ceased to include Cardenas, who worked his way past Steve Rapp, then Bostrom, to set out after Young. Bostrom remained in contention, however, until he was relegated to the side of the track with a sprung chain with fewer than ten laps to go.

Bostrom's teammate, National Guard Jordan Suzuki's Roger Hayden, was holding steady in eighth when he was knocked out of the contest by ADR Fly Racing's David Anthony in Turn 11 after Anthony slid into his rear wheel, splaying Hayden onto the sidelines. Hayden wasn't able to reenter.

Cardenas, meanwhile, had kept up the pressure on Young and taken advantage of a mistake that sent Young way wide to slide under and take over third position. From there, the name of Martin's game was defense, as Young stuck to his rear wheel, clearly planning a late-race attack. While Young stalked Cardenas, Young's teammate, Hayden, put increasing pressure on race-leader Hayes and beginning to whittle away at Hayes' small lead.

Hayes, however, had no intention of being caught, laying down the quickest lap the race had seen thus far late in the contest and even managing to extend it by race's end, crossing the finish significantly ahead of Hayden, while Cardenas survived a last-lap, last-corner attack from Young to take third by .068.

Rounding out the top ten were Blake Young, Chris Peris (Iron Horse BMW), Steve Rapp (San Diego BMW), Larry Pegram (Foremost Insurance Pegram Racing), Geoff May (EBR Racing), JD Beach (Cycle World/Attack Performance Kawasaki, in his career first National Guard SuperBike race), and Team M4 Suzuki's Chris Ulrich.
Photo by Brian J. Nelson

AMA Superbike Championship Series race one action from Infineon Raceway shows Josh Hayes on the #1 Monster Energy Graves Yamaha leading Tommy Hayden on the #22 Rockstar/Makita/Yoshimura Suzuki.  AMA Pro Road Racing photo by Brian J. Nelson.

Cardenas, 3rd: "[The adjustment to a new class] has been good. The team, since I rode the bike for the first time, has worked very hard to adjust it to my riding style, and also I'm trying to change a few things in the way I ride because you have to ride this bike a little different from the 600. But it's been good, and every time I go on the bike I feel more comfortable, especially since the Miller test, where we found something that helps me go a little faster.

"At the beginning of the race I didn't make a good start; I lost some positions and had to work my way up. When I reeled in Blake I stayed with him for a few laps and then I made a decision and tried to maintain. I pulled a little bit of gap, but I made a few mistakes in some corners, He got me again and kept the pressure all the way to the end, but lucky me, I could maintain the position and be here on the podium."

Hayden, 2nd: "The start was good. I really was kind of concentrating on the start, because I know here it's important; passing is not easy and the last thing I wanted to do was get a couple of people between me and Josh. I felt pretty good all weekend and thought unless he stepped it up and went faster, I could at least go with him if I started with him, so that was for me really important, and that worked out well.

"I led a couple laps and then Josh came by, and we kind of see-sawed back and forth. I started fighting things a little bit on the entry, and it getting a little harder for me to maintain the pace, and then I made a couple mistakes and lost about a second. From there I didn't have enough left to try to make any kind of runback. Overall, I'm fairly happy with today. We definitely made a big step-last year this was my worst track by far, so this year it was important to me to come in and go in the right direction. Obviously I would have liked to win, but fairly happy with the weekend so far."

Hayes, 1st: For the most part I had Tommy in front of me, and I felt confident I could run the pace, whatever it may be. It looked like he and I would kind of be able to do our own thing over the weekend. I got a little antsy on the first lap and Blake jumped on me, but I got back really quick; I wanted to get that done immediately and stay close to Tommy. I guess I'm a little impatient, but I like leading. I'm a little more comfortable being in the front ... when you're back there, you never know what might happen. Our bike was just like last year: it's a very strong bike that basically allows me to just go out there and ride well."

For tickets to or information about today's Round 2, Day 2, at Infineon Raceway, visit www.infineonraceway.com. To learn more and be a part of AMA Pro Racing, please visit www.amaproracing.com and join us via facebook.com/AMAProRoadRacing, twitter.com/AMAProSBK, and twitter.com/AMAProLIVE. 
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, communications@amaproracing.com

Cycle News.com's Paul Carruthers was on the scene at Infineon Raceway over the weekend for the West Coast Moto Jam round of the 2011 AMA Superbike Championship Series action.  He filed the following reports on the races.

SBK race two report:


SBK race one report:


Official results from AMA Pro Road Racing for the Infineon Raceway round of the AMA Superbike Championship Series in Sonoma, CA.

SBK race two results (standard version):


SBK race two results (PDF version):


SBK race one results (standard version):


SBK race two results (PDF version):


Video highlights from the doubleheader round of  the AMA Superbike Championship races at Infineon Raceway.

SBK race two action:


SBK race one action:


Thanks to SpeedTV.com and ace photog Brian J. Nelson for the links to the photos from the Infineon Raceway round of the 2011 AMA Pro Road Racing Superbike Championship Series races.

SBK race two action:


SBK race one action:


Race weekend wrap-up photos from Infineon Raceway courtesty of SpeeTV.com and Evan Williams: