Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Lloyd Brothers Motorsports Release on Colonial Downs Round 9 at the Virginia Mega-Mile & How Adding Jake Johnson Saved AMA Pro Flat Track & Created a Super Team

Round 8 of the 2013 AMA Pro Flat Track presented by J&P Cycles Grand National Championship season saw the Lloyd Brothers Motorsports team show up with twice the horsepower and firepower in terms of bikes and riders, when 2-Time AMA Grand National Champion Jake Johnson made his 'official' debut with the team alongside long-time team stalwart and 2-Time AMA Grand National Singles Champion Henry Wiles.

When Johnson announced just shy of a month ago that he was departing with the Zanotti Racing team, the team in which he claimed his dual championships with in the 2010-2011 seasons, the ripple effect was being felt across the board in the ranks of the AMA Pro Flat Track teams, riders and sponsors.  And when Johnson dropped the 'retirement' word in a video interview with Flat Track Live just before the Castle Rock TT round early this month, a black hole was beginning to develop in what could have surely been one of the biggest losses to the sport, should that have happened.

Thankfully, due to the quick thinking and working of the Lloyd Brothers team and it's new for 2013 crew chief, Brent Armbruster, and the very understanding and supportive sponsors that the team has showcased their talent with over the last few seasons, the boys at LBM dropped the hammer and made the wheels spin in order to add Johnson to their already strong and high profile team alongside proven and reliable rider Wiles. 

Within literally hours, the team had made the decision, wheels were put into motion, and everyone on the team had assumed a new level of responsibility in order to get things ready for their new teamster in time for the Indy Mile round on August 17.

Fast forward a couple of weeks, and countless hours of work and many a night of restless, or no sleep, the team rolled into the Indiana State Fairgrounds-hosted event with a compliment of artillery ready to do battle on one of the fastest and most fabled venues that the series has visited on and off for decades.

Two bright and shiny Ducatis carrying the #5 were alongside the already stable lineup of two #17's, one of which was added to their strong line up earlier this season in the form of a new Harley-Davidson XR750, owned by sponsor Ramspur Winery and maintained by crew chief and XR master to the wrench turners Armbruster, as well as the already recognizable big red Ducati (all seen above at Indy on August 17.)

If the Lloyd boys had no intention of creating a 'super team' in the process, something surely was amiss, but deep down the two brothers who have campaigned, supported and ridden in The Rolling Thunder Show for several decades had to have known ahead of time that that was what they were doing.

Not to mention the fact that AMA Pro Flat Track would have lost one of it's top stars if Johnson had exercised the 'retirement' issue as mentioned, but the fans, teams and sponsors throughout the sport would have felt ripples the size of a tsunami should that have occurred.  And through it all, not only was the sport saved, Johnson was on board with a team capable of winning and the team had through the storm created AMA Pro Flat Track's version of a Super Team.

When first practice was about to happen at Indy (seen above), Johnson on the #5 Ramspur Winery/Foremost Insurance/ENI USA Ducati and Wiles, aboard the #17 like-sponsored XR750, were first in line to be ready to hit the track.  The buzz alongside the two venerable veterans was akin to that of a junkie getting his first fix.  For the first time in 3 1/2 years, Johnson was astride a machine unlike the powerhouse XRs he campaigned for Dave Zanotti, and Wiles for the first time in years (or ever!) was alongside a team mate on shared equipment.

With The Hammer having first choice of machinery, the team made the decision to allow Wiles to practice on the Ramspur XR, in hopes of improving his position of 2nd-place at the time in the overall championship standings, while Jake was aboard one of the team's landmark Ducatis, both with the new for 2013 yellow and red paint jobs, gleaming in the afternoon sun as if both were getting ready for an old style western gunfight at the Indy 'OK Corral.'

And although their finishes at the end of the day were weren't what they or the Lloyd Brothers had hoped or yearned for (Wiles nabbed a 7th-place finish on the XR in the 25-lap National main, while Johnson fought equipment and electrical issues throughout the night, taking his place in the National with a provisional that afforded him an 11th-place finish at Indy), the team had made their mark on the track and with the fans, and had opened a new page in racing history to the mavens of fans attending the races that evening.

Hope was seen, battles were fought, and the LBM crew came out still breathing, although for the sake of a better way of stating, with a lot of equipment issues to work out before the next round at Colonial Downs in less than a week.

By the time round 9 of the season arrived on Saturday, August 24, the team was back and ready to do battle, and what a battle it was, let alone what an improvement seen across the board in just shy of one week.

Wiles started the 18-lap National main in New Kent from the back row, signaling just before the sighting lap that his Ducati wasn't running to spec, missing on one cylinder until revved high enough to clear out whatever malady had almost overshadowed what was to come.  And over come he did, as within the first laps, the motor had cleared out, and The Hammer was in the process of doing so as well, eventually working his way to within just shy of two seconds behind Colonial Downs winner Jared Mees, and rode the long, dusty route in Virginia to the middle spot on the podium.  And Johnson, in just his second ride on the team's Ducati, had carded a solid 7th-place finish in front of a packed house on the east coast.

With the newly updated team heading in the right direction, Johnson's addition to the team can only be viewed as a big positive for the series and to the LBM crew.  With his different style of riding and development background in the sport, his input can and will surely add to Henry's quest for the title, which now only resides 17 points in arrears of overall championship leader Brad Baker.  Johnson and Wiles working together for Henry's benefit will not only benefit the team's quest to garner that big #1 plate for The Hammer, but will help further move along what few small steps are needed to put the team on the very top rung of the ladder on a regular basis-for now, and for the future. 

And THAT will not only benefit the great crew from the LBM camp, but also the fans, sponsors and teams throughout the paddock in the greatest racing show on two wheels in the world.  Positives for all.

Team co-owners Dave and Mike Lloyd (shown above at the Springfield Mile I round in May 2012) are the brain trusts behind the deal that saved AMA Pro Flat Track and also helped to improve theirs and rider Henry Wiles chances of grabbing that #1 plate for the 2013 season.  With the poking, prodding and encouragement of crew chief Brent Armbruster, the team took on a big challenge from what they had been used to for years of campaigning great and diverse equipment in The Rolling Thunder Show.

Two of the most knowledgeable and nicest guys in the AMA Pro Flat Track pit area, the Columbus, Ohio natives and Buckeye Brothers have created and set the level for what a sponsor's dream team would and should be in racing.

And for several years as a sideline, they even took it upon themselves to campaign their quality Aprilia road racers in the AMA Pro Road Racing Moto ST Series during their spare time, walking away with two #1 plates in the process.  No easy task for anyone or any groups of anyone.

During the upcoming rounds 10 & 11 of the 2013 AMA Pro Flat Track presented by J&P Cycles Grand National Championship season at the Springfield Mile I & II on Saturday, August 31 and Sunday, September 1, take the time to drop in and see them during the fan walks at the Illinois State Fairgrounds-hosted mega event.

These guys are very welcoming, very friendly, and very thankful for their fans, for their sponsors and for the sport as a whole.  They have gone overboard in campaigning some of the nicest equipment in the series and have set the bar in the series for what and how to campaign a team and bring back to those same fans and sponsors what is put into it.

And almost surprisingly, after all these years and all the countless hours, days, and weeks of sleepless nights, they're still having fun while doing it, and it shows!

Check out the Lloyd Brothers Motorsports press release below as they share their great results from Colonial Downs last weekend, and don't be surprised if they improve even more before the season is out, and maybe even grab ahold of that big #1 plate to stick on the front of Hammerin' Hank's mount by seasons' end.  Only time will tell......

Press release courtesy of the Lloyd Brothers Motorsports AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Twins Series Championship team.

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