Saturday, September 1, 2012

AMA Pro Flat Track 2012 Springfield Labor Day Weekend Preview

After one of the greatest events of the season at round 10 of the 2012 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by season at the Lucas Oil Indy Mile two weeks ago, what could possibly top it in the remaining six events of the season?!  Maybe this weekend's running of the Springfield Mile II at the Illinois State Fairgrounds where the best in the business in The Rolling Thunder Show will assemble to duke it out at 130 MPH on the straights of the mile oval to put on a show that will (or should if you have a pulse) leave you breathless and gasping for more when the final checkered flag falls on round 12 of the season tomorrow.

After the great win by Sammy Halbert at Indy on August 18, the rest of the field will be looking to get to the front early and try to make it a Sammy sandwich, and after the impressive and depressing final results at Indy and the trickle down effects of those turnarounds this weekend's Springfield Mile II should prove just what the doctor ordered for those that walked away from Indy with less-then-stellar results.

And we could pretty much guarantee you that five of the six men in the shot above from the Springfield Mile I National main on May 27 will try to have some say-so in those matters.

With Bryan Smith suffering an electrical malady on the #42 Crosley Radio/Howerton Motorsports powered by Eaken Racing Kawasaki/Midwest Performance Hardware-sponsored 650R-based parallel twin, Flyin' Bryan will most likely be looking to turn that night's dissapointment around and even better his 3rd-place run at Springfield in the spring race. 

Jake Johnson crashed out at Indy on the #1 Zanotti Racing/Schaeffer's H-D/Boughner Racing/Arai-backed XR750 but emerged unscathed save for some serious leather rash and a tweaked Milwaukee V-twin that absorbed a pounding after flipping end-over-end several times.  And Jersey Jake not only has a few points to make up for after Indy, but is also uncharacteristically looking for his first win of the season after not having been off of the podium since the Springfield TT on May 26.  And this is the time of the season that Johnson has historically started making major moves towards the front in gathering his '10-'11 Championship runs together.

Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. returned to action at Indy and ran extremely strong to card a 5th-place result on the #2 Harley-Davidson Motor Co/Screamin' Eagle/Fox/Arai Helmets-backed factory XR750, and after having gotten swept away from the main pack as shown above at the half-way point of the spring race to bring it home in the 6th-place position.  The King of Cool is hunting his first win of the 2012 season and this weekend could be it for the former 3-Time AMA Grand National Twins Champion.

Johnny Lewis #10 parted ways with the Scott Powersports team before the Indy round, but Matt Weidman will be in the saddle on the #20 Scott/Saddlemen/Fiorio Investments/SNIP-sponsored 650R-based ride this weekend after a super 8th-place finish on the Kawi at Indy.  In his first ride on the Kawi, and first on anything but an XR750 save for one west coast outing on the Ron Woods Rotax/BMW two seasons ago, Mighty Matt adapted VERY quickly to the power output difference of the parallel twin and he could very well be a top-5 spoiler for this weekend's outing.  Don't take your eyes off of the 2008 AMA Pro Flat Track Rookie of the Year as if you do, he could be!

Jared Mees has been another case for his run to the 2012 AMA Grand National Championship in bringing home one win on the year (Hagerstown) and throwing down one great result after another all season long.  Mees run to 3rd-place at Indy on the #9 Rogers Racing/Blue Springs H-D/Saddlemen/National Cycle-backed and Brent Armbruster-tuned XR was the stuff that champions, and future champions are made of.  Jammin' Jared has two Twins Series Championships to his credit ('09 and '11) and is making another strong case in his search for the overall championship in his 2012 season, and could add to his Springfield Mile I win in 2011 to get that done.

And don't forget Springfield Mile double-winner Willie McCoy who will be on-hand again displaying his mile-specialist efforts on his #59 Harley-Davidson of Wausau/Independence H-D/Tucker Rocky/Arai-sponsored XR750.  After suffering a mechanical at Indy, look for the Texas veteran to better his results this weekend by something at least as much as Texas is big.  And being the two-time defending winner at Springfield, look for this hard charger to be in the mix.

There is also a handful of other riders ready to spoil the party for the aforementioned group this weekend (weather permitting--see below under Henry Wiles) that includes Brad Baker on the #12 Dodge Brothers XR (6th at Indy for a superb run for the '11 Rookie of the Year), Henry Wiles on the #17 Lloyd Brothers Motorsports 'L' twin (looking to grab his 3rd top-5 of the year after his great 4th-place effort at Indy), and Brandon Robinson on the #44 Werner-Springsteen Racing Kawasaki who carded his best-ever result of 2nd-place and his first-ever Twins Series podium at Indy.  And there could be other spoilers thrown into the mix this weekend as well.

One downturn to the weekend is that we won't see Clermont, Indiana's Dan Ingram on the #31J TCR/Indy Southside H-D XR750.  Dapper Dan suffered a wrist injury during his heat race crash at Indy (where he went on to win his semi and get the full house rocking at Indy), that will keep him away from the track this weekend and will be getting surgery on his wrist (after my conversation with Dan on Wednesday evening of this week.)  But he does have a few good things in the mix for some possibilities for the remaining Knoxville and west coast rounds, should his wrist be up to the action.  If/when that happens, we'll bring you the news on that here.

So don't let the remnants of Hurricane (Himacane) Isaac keep you away from what will eventually be some of the best racing of the year, as it always is, at Springfield.  You won't be dissapointed as the boys and girls of The Rolling Thunder Show will leave you leaping for more as they hit the track for the Labor Day Weekend Classic!

Henry Wiles rolls out his #17 Don's Kawasaki/DPC Racing/Nick Nazzisi/Schiller's Tree Svc-sponsored KX450F in preparation for the first practice session at round 3 of the 2012 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by season at the final Springfield TT National on May 26.  Wiles' long-time tuner Johnny O follows closely behind with his stopwatch in his pocket and his mind on seeing The Hammer take another big win at the beautiful Springfield Multipurpose Arena event.

He wasn't dissapointed as Henry went on to take his fourth win in five events at the Memorial Day Weekend race, held before a packed house in spite of the looming loss of the event on the 2013 calendar (it was announced earlier in the season that both Singles Series events at Springfield that bookend the summer run in The Rolling Thunder Show would be dropped from the schedule next season due to the current economy.)  Don't fret, though, as Steve Nace Racing and his great Kentucky-based crew will be putting on the support events that will be scheduled on the All-Star calendar.  What that amounts to is a great support event during the spring race and again during the late summer race that will in all likelihood pan out as 'mini' Nationals, with a good turnout of AMA Pro Flat Track's finest stars already in town for the big show wanting to earn some extra cash to help pay their traveling expenses.  And a double-mile round over Labor Day Weekend for 2012 to boot!

What is scheduled as tonight's final Springfield Short Track National for the foreseeable future is the one that is in question this weekend due to the remnants of Hurrican Isaac circulating Central Illinois that have already caused one wash-out in the form of last night's amateur program that was shortened considerably due to the deluge of rain that hit the area.  And with rain in the area again today, things could still tip either way in terms of whether the show is postponed until Monday or scrubbed altogether.  Or if things turn for the better, runs yet this evening.

If Mother Nature should cooperate, look for Jake Johnson, Jared Mees, Sammy Halbert, Jeffrey Carver, Jr., Matt Weidman, Brad Baker, JD Beach and a handful of others to try and knock the reigning king of Springfield's Singles Series event off of his perch.  Remember, Wiles returned to the Springfield Short Track late last summer after having missed some events in the season due to his DuQuoin injuries to totally dominate the evening and win his 5th-straight short track at Springfield. 

Here's hoping that not only the weather cooperates but that either way we still get this great event in either today or Monday.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (August 30, 2012)Labor Day Weekend and the Illinois Motorcycle Dealers Association (IMDA) promoted Springfield Doubleheader has become the promised land for dedicated fans of the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by and Lucas Oil.
The weekend consists of a short track at the Illinois State Fairgrounds' multi-purpose arena for the 450cc single-cylinder bikes on Saturday, before moving to the Holy Grail of flat track racing on Sunday, the Springfield Mile. The mile features the big twin-cylinder (750cc / 1000cc) monsters of AMA Pro Flat Track's Expert Twins division turning laps at over 100mph.
The Saturday night short track race always features great handlebar rattling action with plenty of bumping, banging and hurt feelings to go around. Surprisingly, the only currently active rider with a Springfield Short Track win is Henry Wiles (Don's Kawasaki). Wiles is famous for his Peoria TT dominance, but the beautiful State Fair Arena has been just as much his personal playground. Of the last 10 races held in the Arena (TT & Short Track), Wiles has won nine. He was forced to miss the 2010 TT while recovering from knee surgery.
Defending Grand National Champion Jake Johnson (Zanotti Racing) has finished second the last two Springfield Short Track events and desperately needs a 2012 win. Johnson saw his string of podium finishes snapped at Indianapolis due to a rare crash in the Lucas Oil Indy Mile. The DNF dropped Johnson to third in the points race behind Sammy Halbert (South East Harley-Davidson / Fredericktown Yamaha) and points leader Jared Mees (Rogers Racing) neither of which have fared too well on the tight short track.
Jake Johnson #1 leads Bryan Smith #42 and Johnny Lewis #10 during the running of the Springfield Mile I on May 27, 2012.  AMA Pro Flat Track photo by Dave Hoenig.
Of course there are always the "Young Lions" who are making their marks on the trail. Jeffrey Carver (Kiesow Racing) is quietly having a solid season and has recorded a podium finish on the short track. Fellow Pro Singles Champion Brad Baker (Brothers Powersports / Dodge Brothers) hopes to settle his season down after jumping from team to team early in the year. Saddlemen Rookie of the Year leader Briar Bauman (USC Racing) has to be considered another contender along with his teammate, part-time dirt tracker, JD Beach.
In reality, it could be any of a large contingent, but they all have to beat Wiles to have a chance.
After the 450cc singles are all packed away, the action moves to Sunday's Springfield Mile and the big bore twins. Bryan Smith (Howerton Racing), himself a two-time Springfield Mile winner has been dominate on his Kawasaki, but has come away with just one 2012 win, the Sacramento Mile. A strategy error in the Memorial Day Springfield race and electrical problems at Indy have plagued Smith in the other two Mile events contested so far as part of the 2012 schedule.
The race has always been a 140 mph chess match, favoring the veteran riders when it comes down to the final five miles of the 25 lap race. To reinforce this fact, semi-retired Willie McCoy (Harley-Davidson of Wausau / Independence Harley-Davidson) has a two-race winning streak on the legendary mile going for him. McCoy qualified for his first Springfield Mile National in 1996. Perhaps even more impressive is the rejuvenated Dan Ingram (Total Control Racing), who rode his first Springfield National in 1984. Unfortunately for the Indiana native, a crash at the Indy Mile two weeks ago has put his participation at this weekend's round in jeopardy.
The top three in the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship chase have all had solid Springfield races in the past. Points leader Jared Mees has one win, while Jake Johnson has posted two wins. Sammy Halbert has been very fast, but bad luck, including a massive turn one crash in the spring that ended his day, has short circuited his efforts. 

The AMA Pro Pro Singles class will also be competing both days. While Saturday's Short Track race is always competitive, the Mile on Sunday normally requires holding one's breath for 12 laps as the 18 riders fight over one of the biggest wins of their young careers.
Current points leader Stephen Vanderkuur (Parkinson Brothers Racing) appears to be back at full strength after a broken leg in 2010 sidetracked his career. Ryan Wells (5 Star Steel & Fabrication) is just two points back. Jake Shoemaker (Montgomeryville Cycle) and Jason Isennock (Highs Dairy) remain in the thick of the points race.
Shoemaker is looking to repeat his win of last year's Labor Day Mile, but there are truly so many riders in this class that have a chance of winning either or both days.
For more information on the Springfield Mile II, please click here.
Tickets for this weekend are on sale now and can be ordered by calling 217-753-8866 or 888-468-1622. Tickets for the 2013 races can be ordered starting January 2, 2013.

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,

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