Sunday, July 29, 2012

AMA Flat Track: Bryan Smith Takes #42 Crosley Radio/Howerton/Eaken Kawasaki to the Win at Sacramento Mile

Round 7 of the 2012 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by season last night saw a new player in town take the victory at the Sacramento Mile.  Bryan Smith on the #42 Crosley Radio/Howerton Motorsports powered by Eaken Racing Kawasaki/Midwest Performance Hardware/Guts Wear-sponsored 650R-based parallel twin outlasted the competition to take the win in just his second race with the Howerton team, after battling with defending and 2-Time AMA Grand National Champion Jake Johnson and defending '11 and '09 AMA Pro Flat Track Twins Series Champion Jared Mees.

After making his debut with the Howerton/Eaken team at the first mile event of the season at the Springfield Mile I back on May 27, Flyin' Bryan took the new-build Kawi to a hard-earned 3rd-place finish, but for want of more after the checkers had flown.  Last night at the Cal Expo Fairgrounds in California, Smith delivered and gave the new team their very first victory in AMA Pro Flat Track competition, and most likely left the sold-out crowd, teams and riders wondering 'what next?!' with three mile events yet to run this season at just shy of the half-way mark in the season's overall schedule.

After announcing in early April that he would be riding for IndyCar fabricator and master builder Rick Howerton in this year's Twins Series mile events, Smith made a move back to a Japanese twin machine, similar to the one he took to the Lucas Oil Indy Mile and Springfield Mile II wins back in the 2010 season while riding for the Werner-Springsteen team.  But unlike those wins, this one will be even more sweet for Smith and especially for long-time Indy westside resident Howerton, who grew up around the flat track scene and used to hang with the Eaken and Gene Romero-led Team Honda flat track team that based it's operations down the road from Howerton's father's shop in the early-to-mid '80s.

Fast forward to the end of the 2010 season and Howerton was ready to build his 'dream' flat track machine and take it to the top of the box with a top-level rider capable of doing so.  After debuting the machine's original incarnation at the Springfield Mile I in May 2011 with former Australian Flat Track Champ Luke Gough, Howerton and Smith hooked-up to contend the five mile events for the 2012 season and 'test the water' so to speak.  And after just two of those five events, I imagine that the water was pretty sparkling and real tasty last night after Smith outlasted Johnson on the #1 Zanotti Racing XR750 and Mees on the #9 Rogers Racing XR750, two long-time championship contending riders and organizations that always get great results on the fast, big horsepower mile tracks on the schedule.  And to do it after just two races together has to feel like a great triumph for their new breakout effort.

A big congratulations to the team that consists of rider Smith, Bryan's dad Barry, team owner and master builder Howerton, Howerton's right hand man, close friend and feverish flat track fan Jeff Gordon, Dink (one of the wrenches on the team that has worked for Dreyer Honda on Indy's westside for decades) and a big handful of helpers, gofers, volunteers and friends who helped to make Rick's dream possible.  Take a bow guys, you all deserve it, especially you Rick, who has toiled and sweated over and around his dream for over 2500 hours in the last 21-22 months to be able to get out and run with the big boys.  And man, you just beat them all.  Great job!

Now the big question to be asked, and answered in 20 more days, can they do it again at this year's Lucas Oil Indy Mile on August 18, and in front of the hometown crowd?  I've said all week I wouldn't bet against them, and if I were a betting man, my money would have paid off in spades last night and possibly again at round 10 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds just around the corner.  Time will tell, but if I were a rider and/or team owner in the greatest racing series on wheels in the world, I'd be shaking in my boots come the next three mile events of the season.

In the shot above from the Springfield Mile I round on May 27, Jake Johnson, Bryan Smith and Jared Mees are all smiles on the Dash for Cash podium after Smith had taken his first 'official' win for the Crosley/Howerton-Eaken Kawasaki team and collected his first paycheck and points towards the championship.  No where but in AMA Pro Flat Track competition will you see more smiles, excitement and comraderie then what is shown and evident in The Rolling Thunder Show as evidenced here by the great time these three are having during the ceremonies.  When was the last time you saw anyone smiling this big after losing, like what Johnson and Mees are showing here, in any other form of motor sports in the world?!  No where me thinks!

You can check out the press release below thanks to the great crew at AMA Pro Flat Track, and the rest of results, too.  Round 8 of the 2012 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by season heads to the Castle Rock TT on Saturday, August 4 before making the swing back to the midwest for round 9 at the Peoria TT on Sunday, August 12.

Bryan Smith Goes Back-to-Back at Cal Expo; Shayna Texter Gets Big Win

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (July 28, 2012) - Saturday's AMA Pro Flat Track main event at the Cal Expo Fairgrounds put the Olympics on the back burner for the night as the event was an absolute thriller in front of a packed house. Bryan Smith was as cool as the California breeze as he took the checkered flag to close out the Miller Lite Sacramento Mile presented locally by Big O Tires and Padilla Bail Bonds in what proved to be an intense battle between him and several prominent riders. 

The win was Smith's first AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by and Lucas Oil win of the year. The veteran rider is now the back-to-back Cal Expo Grand National Champion, as he was the winner of this same race last year.

Jake Johnson, Bryan Smith and Jared Mees celebrate on the podium after going 2-1-3 at round 7 of the 2012 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by season at the Sacramento Mile on Saturday, July 28.  Smith took the win at the line over Johnson by just .037 seconds in only his second race with the Crosley Radio/Howerton Motorsports/Eaken Racing-powered Kawasaki team.  AMA Pro Flat Track photo by Dave Hoenig.

"I was hoping to just run away from the pack but they wouldn't let me. I was just fast enough but Jake and Jared gave me a great run." Smith said. "Thanks to all of my supporters, I'm so happy to be here. It's always fun to race in front of a sellout crowd, this was awesome."

The race was a 140 mph chess match between Bryan Smith, Jake Johnson, and Jared Mees. Johnson came out hot off the pole with an early lead but couldn't maintain it for long as he surrendered it on the sixth lap to Smith. With three laps to go, Johnson ripped the lead back from Smith and then lost it again as quickly as it came.

Smith, Johnson and Mees were neck and neck going into the last lap, but it was Smith who slammed the throttle just a little bit harder and crossed the finish line for the win with Johnson coming in a close second and Mees in third. Brandon Robinson and Sammy Halbert rounded out the top five finishers in an old fashioned thriller that gave the sold-out crowd everything they could have asked for.

AMA Pro Pro Singles

The twin engines might be the Cadillac of AMA Pro Flat Track but the AMA Pro Pro Singles field proved to be nothing short of top-of-the line riders. Shayna Texter captured the checkered flag for the first time this season and dazzled the crowd as she made several precarious decisions that paid off in the end and carried her to victory by a close margin.

"I was super nervous going in to the race; it was a long race that came down to the last lap. I grew up with these riders and love competing against them," Texter said. "It just feels like a fairy tale and I can't wait to come back next year."

Texter, starting from the pole, grabbed an early lead and maintained it for the majority of the race until the last three laps, where she found Stephen Vanderkuur and Jake Shoemaker breathing down her neck. She lost the lead on the eleventh lap and found herself in the midst of a three-wide scramble with Vanderkuur and Shoemaker but she defied the odds and surrendered nothing to the men, crossing the finish line in the lead with a photo-finish victory.

With the win, Texter became the first-ever female to win an AMA Pro Pro Singles National event at a mile-long track. However, it wasn't her first time at the top of the podium, as this was her second Grand National victory in '12 and the rising star looks to have a very promising future for years to come. Vanderkuur and Shoemaker rounded out the podium, taking second- and third-place results, respectively.

Next Up

The stars of AMA Pro Flat Track will return to Castle Rock, Washington on August 4, 2012.  For tickets and information, please visit

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


For additional information contact:

AMA Pro Racing Communications, (386) 492-1014,

In what would be a VERY interesting precursor to the events that unfolded at round 7 of the 2012 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by season at the Sacramento Mile, Bryan Smith gives fans an inside look at how to tackle the surface at the Cal Expo Fairgrounds in California.
A big thanks to Will Fulford and Yve Assad for another great video produced by the great folks from The Fast and

Thanks to AMA Pro Flat Track for this link to the complete event results from the Sacramento Mile:

And again thanks to AMA Pro Flat Track for this photo gallery from the Sacramento Mile from AMA Pro Flat Track official photographer Dave Hoenig:

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