Tuesday, August 30, 2011

AMA Pro Flat Track Heads to Springfield for Labor Day Weekend Doubleheader Round

THE Mile.  You can see it in the riders' faces by the steely look on their faces.  You can see it by looking into their eyes, which mostly appear as black and white glassy balls of sheer determination and focus.  You can see it in their stance and in their body language as they get ready to approach a 25-lap race that pits man/woman and machine against 17 other men/women and machines at speeds approaching 140 mph, and proximity to the person next to you closer then a knat landing on your neck.  Mostly, you can see they want to spend this time before the madness to concentrate on their game plan, let alone their escape route(s).

Round 6 of the 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship Series took place at the one place that most every rider in The Rolling Thunder Show wants to win at, the Springfield Mile, in late May.  And one rider came away with his first-ever series win at the historic venue, and 17 riders went home with that feeling of 'what if?' 

With the series ready to roll into the Illinois State Fairgrounds for it's annual Labor Day Weekend doubleheader, the 2011 season is slowly sinking into the sunset, not unlike the summer that has come, and mostly gone.  With just six rounds left in what is now a 20 race season, the time to go or go home is upon the riders in the best racing on wheels in the world.  And at this point in the season, there are four riders with a very legitimate shot at the 2011 AMA Grand National Championship, although at this point it looks to be a 3 man race to the final season checkers at Pomona.  And what those 3 or 4 men do this coming weekend over the course of just over 24 hours will surely dictate what that final outcome could very well be.

On the front line ready to roll are 6 of the top 8 men in the championship hunt, with the 7th man, Jared Mees on his #9 Rogers Lake Racing/Blue Springs H-D/Lucas Oil/Saddlemen-sponsored XR750 lining up on the outside pole of the second row.  This is the man that won the last high-speed jaunt at Springfield in May, and also went on to win two other events in the Twins Series to vault him into the middle of the championship battle.  Mees' year has been spectacular by any fashion, and his Mr. Consistency title from the last several years has led him to also be Mr. You-Better-Watch-Out-For-Me at any/all events he puts it on the line.  Only 3 points behind current overall points leader Sammy Halbert (268-265), The Jammer is poised to strike should the opportunity arise.  And with his run of dominance in the Twins Series events this year, Mees could very well be adding to his '09 AMA Grand National Twins Championship when it's all over.

With Sammy Halbert on his #7 Kings Kustoms/LZ Racing/KK Supply/Nelson Racing-sponsored XR leading the big show in terms of points lead and wins on the year (4), the title is Slammin Sammy's to lose at this point of the season.  Having shown he can win on either the Singles or the Twins machines, his only non-win of this season has been on the mile.  But he does have a 5th from the Sacto Mile to go along with his 2nd at Springfield, and when you do the math, he is a combined just-over 3 seconds from that top spot on the big ovals podium.  The Washington State resident is ready to change that, and Sunday could be the day for the 'mythical' 2009 AMA Flat Track/Flat Track.com Grand National Champion.

Bryan Smith showed up to Springfield I with his newly-formed Twins team with a pair of sparkling aqua, black and white #42 Moroney's Fasthog.com/American H-D/Rockyonline.com/Boughner Racing-sponsored XRs, and quicky showed he hadn't lost the feel of the long-time Milwaukee iron twins after having been away a year riding the Werner-Springsteen Kawasaki.  Flyin Bryan quickly was up to speed, winning his heat race at the line in a sneak-outside pass move over Halbert and Mees.  Unfortunately, his mount went away in the final, but his surge vaulted him to a Twins Series run that saw him take the win at Sacramento, and gather up three more podiums and another top 6.  Some might say that Springfield owes him one.  And although Smith is out of the championship hunt, his move into the 8th spot of the overall standings (133 points) could see him end up in the top 5 should the cards fall right for the Michigan veteran.

Defending '10 AMA Grand National Champion Jake Johnson currently sits in the 3rd spot of the overall standings (249 points) with his #1 Zanotti Racing/Schaeffer's H-D/Boughner Racing/Arai-sponsored XR, just 19 points out of the lead.  With a win at both the Salinas TT and Springfield TT, Jersey Jake is still hunting his first Twins Series win of the 2011 season.  And with 5 of 6 races left in the Twins Series, don't overlook the man who won the title last year by being in the hunt the whole season.  Johnson has two wins at Springfield in the last four events, and you can bet he hasn't forgotten what standing on the top step at the Illinois State Fairgrounds is like, and JJ always seems to come on stronger as the season rolls on.  And when is the last time you EVER counted out the man wearing the #1 plate?  And if you did, you probably had to kick yourself for doing so.  Keep that in mind this weekend, or for that matter anytime you think you might want to bet against the man wearing the Big #1.

Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. sits on his #2 Harley-Davidson Motor Co/Screamin' Eagle/Spectro Oils/Fox-backed factory Harley-Davidson XR750 with a win each at this point in the season in the Single Series (DuQuoin) and the Twins Series (Hagerstown) and the ability to pounce like the 3-Time Twins Series Champion that he is.  During the 2010 season, The King of Cool had gone since the previous year's Lucas Oil Indy Mile without a win, until the series hit the Minnesota Mile, where KC showed the troops he was far from being forgotten.  Here's another man to NOT forget this weekend, as he is still within striking distance of point leader Halbert, with 211 points (4th place in the overall standings.)  Coolbeth knows the mile, and he rides the bike that has won the most times in the last almost-30 seasons on a mile, of which he has won 8 mile events himself.  And this brings up another good point...never count out factory horsepower on a mile track.  EVER.  Or a fine rider of Cool's ability!

Chris Carr and his Kenny Tolbert-prepped #4 American Motorcyclist Assoc/DFW Honda/Arai/Phoenix Racing-backed XR750s head to their final Springfield Mile as one of the stops on the Chris Carr Farewell to Flat Track Tour, a venue he has won at 12 times over the course of his career, and only 2nd to career Springfield Mile winner and 9-Time Grand National Champion, Scotty Parker.  The 7-Time Champ is still looking for his first win since the '08 Lucas Oil Indy Mile, but it's not for want of trying (and trying harder!)  With 165 points for the season, and in the 6th spot in the overall standings, don't bet against the Prince of Peoria getting that 79th overall win this weekend in Illinois, as the elder statesman on The Rolling Thunder Show has been showing everyone at every venue this year that he doesn't want to go out hungry.  And I sure wouldn't get in his way at the chow line while he is going for the big steak!  Go get 'em Champ.

'09 AMA Pro Singles Champion and 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Rookie of the Year shoe-in Brad Baker showed up to Springfield I locked and loaded with his #12 Lloyd Brothers Motorsports/TeamHurtbyAccident.com/Foremost Insurance/ENI USA-sponsored Ducati and promptly went out and set fast time and won his heat in his first full year in the Expert Twins Series class.  An ill handling machine saw The Bullet forced to settle for 5th on the day, but when it was all said and done, everyone knew the Washington State resident was in the house, and ready to party.  Since then, Baker has only failed to make one race (Hagerstown, where the Big Duc suffered from a broken throttle position sensor that caused them to miss the main.)  With his 5th place in the standings (169 points) now being threatened by 7-Time Champ Carr, look for Bad Brad to hit the ground running to protect his spot in the overall standings.  And to get that Big Red Duc to the top of the box at the legendary Illinois facility.  The fine young man with the million dollar smile will most likely be the one that mixes up the numbers come Sunday when all is said and done.  And will probably leave a few more believers in the house shaking their heads!

(Note Lloyd Brothers' team coach/wrench and former National #23 Kevin Atherton talking to former AMA Flat Track Director, Mike Kidd, as Baker seems to be the only rider in the mix who is relaxed as he listens in on what the two former competitors are carrying on about.)

There's still a handful of guys that could be in the big mix this Sunday.  Johnny Lewis on his #10 Scott Powersports Kawasaki has been getting stronger at each stop on the tour, Matt Weidman is set to park his #20 White's H-D for one of Carl Patrick's lightning-fast XRs, Willie McCoy always puts on a great show on his #59 Harley-Davidson of Wausau XR whenever he hits the track at Springfield, and with any luck the Werner-Springsteen Monster Energy Kawasaki team with Shaun Russell will be getting closer to getting to the front after what has been a dismal season in 2011 after a stellar year in 2010.  If anyone can pull a rabbit out of the hat, Bill Werner and Jay Springsteen can probably do it better!

It's time to put up, or shut up, as The Rolling Thunder Show pulls the pin on rounds 15 and 16 in Springfield, IL. this weekend, as the 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship Series gets ready to rock 'n roll heading into the home stretch.  Whether you're in or not, you need to strap in, cause it's gonna get wild and wooly down the stretch!

In what looks like a scene from a bomb going off in the movie 'Apocalypse Now,' riders head into turn one of the first lap at the Peoria TT on Sunday, August 21 in what would end up being the race to keep Henry Wiles from winning his 7th straight Peoria TT on his #17 Monster Energy Kawasaki/Jones Bros/Shift Racing/Don's Kawasaki/Arai-sponsored KX450F.  Well, that plan worked well, didn't it, as Hammerin Hank came back to Peoria after his knee surgery to again turn the tables on The Rolling Thunder Show and take the win at the Peoria Motorcycle Club-promoted and run event.

The 2-Time Singles Series Champ heads to the Springfield Short Track with a four-race win streak at the Rodeo Arena, and trying to duplicate the magic that was the 2010 version of the series' stop, where he ran the tables all night, and culminated with his winning the Dash to seal his 2nd Singles Championship, and going on to win his 4th short track event on Labor Day Weekend.  Don't count out The Hammer, as he has shown he is back and ready.

Sammy Halbert on the #7 Woody Kyle Racing/Fredericktown Yamaha/AGV/Kings Kustoms-backed YZ450F goes high and outside, and will be ready for battle come Saturday night.  Bryan Smith follows on his #42 Fasthog.com/American H-D/Rockyonline.com/Boughner Racing-backed Honda CRF450R, with Rob Pearson on his #27 Matt Reecy Racing/RPM/WKR/Moose-sponsored Yamaha YZ450F splitting up the middle of Smith and Jared Mees on the #9 Lucas Oil/National Cycle/Rogers Lake/Montgomeryville Cycle-backed Honda.

Chris Carr on the #4 Amer. Motorcyclist Assoc/DFW Honda/Classic H-D/Arai-sponsored Honda goes high with Chad Cose on the #49 M.E.H. Corp/Arleness/Bell Waters Autobody/Top One Oil-sponsored Honda following suit.  Inside, Jake Johnson on the #1 Zanotti Racing/Schaeffer's H-D/Boughner Racing/MotionPro-backed Honda kicks up a roost as Matt Weidman on the #20 SNIP/Shoei/R&D Springs/Silkolene-sponsored Honda looks up the rightside of Johnson.

Showing some serious styling maneuvers is Johnny Lewis on the #10 Scott Powersports/Dubach Racing Developments/Saddlemen/Triple J-backed Honda while trying to keep Justin Hittle on the #81 Bob Berry Racing/Grayboy Motorsports/WKR/Lucas Oil-sponsored Honda at bay.

The only difference between this first lap dash at Peoria and the one coming up on Saturday night at Springfield, is the riders will be shy a front brake and they won't have to make any jumps during the course of the evening.  Other then that, you can expect complete mayhem when the green flag drops for the main event at the Springfield Short Track, round 15 in the 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship Series. 

And boy, will it be fun! 

Labor Day Weekend Sees Return of the AMA Pro Springfield Double-Header!

DAYTONA BEACH, FL (August 26, 2011) - The AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship returns to action in a big way via Springfield's annual Labor Day Weekend Double-Header, for which the Illinois State Fairgrounds will host the Springfield ST on Saturday, September 3, followed by the Springfield Mile II on Sunday, September 4. Rarely are fans given the chance to experience the handlebar-banging, push-and-shove action of Short Track racing and the high-speed, intense strategy of Mile racing in one weekend, and the legendary Springfield venue makes this a can't-miss event.

While no one rider can win the AMA Pro Grand National Championship at Springfield, they could certainly lose it, as the stakes are high and the points-margins are narrow. Current GNC leader Sammy Halbert (Woody Kyle Racing/Fredericktown Yamaha) heads Jared Mees (Lucas Oils/National Cycle/Rogers Lake Racing) by just three points, and with defending GNC Champion Jake Johnson (Zanotti Racing) only sixteen points back -- an easy-to-overcome disadvantage for someone of Johnson's skill -- none of the lead trio can afford to turn in anything but their best.

Halbert has held the points lead all season thus far, but that margin has never been as small as it is heading into Rounds 15 and 16. Mees -- having clawed his way up to his current prime hunting ground -- is determined not to be put off much longer, and Johnson, with the energy and focus of a man whose title is on the line, may be the darkest horse of all. All three are highly capable 450cc singles riders when it comes to Saturday's unpredictable Short Track, and each of the trio has podiumed at Springfield Miles before, Johnson and Mees both turning in wins.

Jake Johnson #1 leads Chris Carr #4, Sammy Halbert #7 and the rest of the 18-rider main event at the Springfield Mile I in May 2011.  AMA Pro Flat Track photo by Dave Hoenig.

The field will be full of riders handily able to upset the lead trio's plans, however, and chief among them is Monster Energy Kawasaki's Henry Wiles, who announced his post-knee-surgery return to competition by earning a stunning seventh consecutive Peoria TT victory at the championship's previous round. Wiles' Springfield Short Track record is nearly as impressive -- and entirely ominous for the rest of the paddock -- as he'll arrive at the arena's "Bull Ring" hunting his fifth consecutive Springfield ST win.

The Chris Carr Farewell Tour will roll into Springfield for the last time next weekend with Carr in search of a win to end his long, awe-inspiring career on, and the Springfield Mile could easily be the race in which he gets it done. It took Carr ten years to win his first Springfield Mile (in 1995), but since then he's won a staggering eleven more. Carr -- contending his 49th Springfield Main -- has been on the Springfield Mile podium no less than twenty-nine times, and he heads for Illinois determined to make it thirty.

Sammy Halbert #7 leads Brad Baker #12 during the Springfield Mile I at the Illinois State Fairgrounds oval in May 2011.  AMA Pro Flat Track photo by Dave Hoenig.

As an added incentive for the weekend racers, former National Number 26, Tommy Duma (owner of Thom Duma Fine Jewelers in Warren, Ohio), will be awarding Tissot watches to the winners of the Short Track and Mile Dash for Cash, a prize worth $2,500. "The whole racing community holds a special place in my heart," says Duma, "and being able to give back and stay connected means the world to me. I remember being a rookie expert and mentored by my hero, Steve Morehead!"

Adding more luster to the event will be winner of the 1964 50-Mile Springfield National, Sammy Tanner, who will serve as this year's Grand Marshal and will be on-hand to sign autographs. The big Labor Day Weekend kicks off with traditional Friday-night Amateur Short Track races, which will run on the same track the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track stars will line up to conquer the following night. A full schedule of Amateur classes will fill Friday night with action while setting the tone for the excitement to follow.

For tickets and information, visit www.illinoismda.com or call (217) 753-8866 or (888) 468-1622. To learn more and be a part of the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship, visit www.amaproracing.com and join us on 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

AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship Series round 15 & 16 info for the Springfield Short Track on Saturday, September 3 and the Springfield Mile II on Sunday, September 4

Round 15-Springfield Short Track

Event info, rider entry lists, schedule:


Complete event info (PDF versions):


Round 16-Springfield Mile II

Event info, rider entry lists, schedule:


Complete event info (PDF versions):


Follow the action at the track via AMA Pro Flat Track's Live Timing and Scoring here:


And be sure to keep up with the action on AND off the track, thanks to Miriam Deitcher's Flat Track Live @ Facebook:


And for those of you wanting to 'check in' on the action at the Springfield Short Track, here is the link to the Illinois State Fairgrounds webcam:


Springfield weather thanks to The Weather Underground:


No comments:

Post a Comment

Keep it nice, but keep them coming!

---Please note---You can leave comments anonymously, but you can also leave them while logged into Google, Yahoo and other platforms.
We'd love to hear from you!

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.