Thursday, August 21, 2014

Brad 'The Bullet' Baker Files His Mid-Season Race Report for the 2014 AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship

2013 AMA Grand National Champion Brad Baker has had an up-and-down year in the 2014 AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship, but has managed to persevere like any champion and top-class rider would to come around and improve his season as each race goes by. After breaking his arm earlier in the season during a practice crash, his training regimen was set back as a result and he has managed to adjust accordingly as a result of that injury and his busy schedule.

In the shot above, Baker gets down on the paint on the #1 Harley-Davidson Motor Co/Screamin' Eagle Racing Parts/Dunlop-sponsored factory XR750 during the first practice session at the Indy Mile on August 8. Baker qualified 3rd-fastest behind Bryan Smith and eventual event winner Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. and was able to bring the factory XR750 home in the 5th-place spot in the 25-lap National main, after what was reported as having his motors sent to Vance & Hines to get some more power and better reliability to help his results for the latter part of the season.

'The Bullet' has filed his mid-season report and you can check it out below to keep up with what The Champ has been up to since his last report earlier in the summer, and we wish him the best in his title defense this season, which unfortunately looks like it will be followed up with a top-5 instead of another year of wearing the #1 plate again in 2015. But we also know how this fine young man from Washington State operates and believe without a shadow of a doubt he will be back even stronger for next year. But right now, we've got four more races in the 2014 AMA Grand National Championship and you can bet Double B will be hard at it!

Press release courtesy of Brad 'The Bullet' Baker, the 2013 AMA Grand National Champion

Brad Baker Castle Rock and Peoria race report

Hello friends and supporters, hope you have all been doing great! First off, I want to apologize for the long delay in my race reports. As most of you know there have only been 4 races on the Grand National circuit this year where I rode my own 450 singles. I ended up switching back to riding The Brothers Powersports Honda CRF450’s over the FMC Dyno Center KTM SX-F 450’s that I rode earlier in the year for performance and team issues. I don’t want to make too many excuses other then I have just been really busy with getting bikes together and traveling, I’m truly sorry for the delay.

My first appearance back on the Hondas was in my home state at the Castle Rock Grand National TT. It was a perfect place to make a comeback in my Singles program because I had all sorts of friends and family and other people who have supported me my whole life to do it in front of!
The whole day of racing went very smooth. I felt great in qualifying ending up 6th and giving myself a good starting spot in the heat race. In the heat I got a good start coming around the first lap in second place right behind Mikey Rush. Mikey had been really fast all day and I was having trouble matching his pace. He ended up pulling a pretty good lead on me but I was able to hold on to second after being pressured by fellow Washington native JD Beach pretty much the whole race. This would put me on the front row of the main event and the points paying Dash for Cash!
The Dash was almost a spitting image of the heat race except this time I kept Mikey Rush a lot closer to me and held off all the other fast’s riders of the day. We ended up getting second but it left me with a good feeling for the main event because we were consistently getting faster! In the main I got off to a good start. I came around the first lap behind Mikey Rush and Jared Mees. On the fifth lap I was able to put a move on Jared going into turn one and overtake second. Henry Wiles ended up getting by him as well so the battle was now on between Henry and I. Mikey had a decent sized lead when I got to second but in only a couple of laps I was right on his rear wheel with Henry right behind me. Unfortunately on about lap 10 I made a big mistake coming out of the last hairpin leading back onto the short track and it let Henry slide by. I stayed right with them for a couple more laps but eventually made the same mistake in the same spot and let them get away about 8-10 bike lengths. I had a little pressure from Jared Mees the rest of the race but was able able to come home in 3rd with my first podium of the season. Switching back to my Hondas and putting in all the hard work to get my singles program back in shape had untimely paid off!

From Castle Rock we headed out for Sturgis, South Dakota for the next round where I would be riding my Factory Harley-Davidson XR750. Unfortunately, this race just wasn’t meant to be because right after qualifying it started to downpour! I don’t mean just a little bit of rain either, there was 2 feet of standing water in some places in the pit area and the whole track now looked like a lake!
This made for a quick stop in Sturgis and we were off for Indianapolis for the Friday night Indy Mile where I would again be aboard my H-D XR750. This was a super fun night of racing, not just because the racing was great but since there were a lot of dirt track supporting GP riders attending the event because the Indy GP was that following Sunday. Marc Marquez who is the current MotoGP World Champion was the Grand Marshal of the event because of his big involvement in international dirt track racing.
Brad Baker on the #1 Harley-Davidson Motor Co. XR750 is shown in action during qualifying for round 11 of the 2014 AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship at the Indy Mile on August 8. Photo courtesy of Brad Baker, by
I was scheduled to do some Q&A at opening ceremonies with him and talk a little bit about the second edition of the Superprestegio that I will be attending again in Barcelona, Spain on December 13th. It was a lot of fun talking with Marc again and catching up on different subjects. Some people may be intimidated by him but overall he is just a dude that loves to race motorcycles just like myself. I ended up taking a 5th that night and had a really good shot at the podium for the majority of the race.
The next night I raced an awesome short track called Mid-America Speedway right inside Indianapolis. This track is always super smooth with about 2 inches of nice cushion on top of it which suits my riding style perfect! I ended up schooling the field that night and padded my pocket with some extra cash.
That following Sunday was the Indianapolis GP. I spent most of the day hanging out with Mathew Miles from Cycle World Magazine. I had paddock and grid passes so I could get right up close to the action and speak with some of the GP riders I know. I had a really good time that day and Marc became the first GP rider in history to win 10-consecutive GP races in a row, the guy is incredible!! There was now three days of AWESOME in the books at Indy but I was really looking forward to the fourth.
Mike Hacker (former GNC racer #67) who is now my right hand man at all my races starting at the beginning of this year is also the owner of a very educated dirt track riding school called the RIDE Academy. RIDE Academy is a school that covers everything in it's name. RIDE stands for Riding, Instruction, Determination, and Excellence.There are four main instructors in the school, 3-Time GNC Champion Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. Johnny Lewis GNC #10, and of course Mike Hacker and myself. It is a such a great time teaching and showing people, especially kids, the fundamentals of racing and riding flat track motorcycles. It was a very successful school that Monday after Indy and I really hope we can start to schedule more and more schools as we grow together.
Brad Baker #1 gives a student some on-track instruction while RIDE Academy owner Mike Hacker motions him and his student on at Mid-America Speedway on August 11. Photo courtesy of Brad Baker.

Next on the schedule would be the legendary Peoria TT! It’s such a cool feeling racing at Peoria because so many great racers for over 60 years have competed on the same race track. It's an honor just to race there let alone to have the chance to do something amazing like put yourself on the win list. But to win at Peoria right now it just might be the hardest race for anyone other then Henry Wiles to win. Henry is not a very consistent rider but there is something about Peoria and him that clicks. He won his first Peoria TT 10 years ago and nobody has been able to beat him since. This year I gave it all I got and in the end I was content with my result even though I know I can do much better.
I was battling bike handling issues all day. I think we had the suspension torn off both bikes at least twice during the day trying to get the set up right so the bike would stop beating me up. I was able to get second in my heat which put me in the dash and on the front row of the main. I got a horrible start in the Dash and was battling for 4th and 5th with Jake Johnson and Bryan Smith. I was able to get by Jake right at the line and collect 1 point out of the Dash.
In the main I got an excellent start coming into the first turn side by side with Henry. We went off the jump almost touching which messed me up for the right hander and turn 3 and let Jared Mees get by. I hung right with them for the first 5 or 6 laps of the race, actually my times were just a little bit faster than Jared and Henry's. On lap 6 though I had probably one of the craziest almost crashes of my career! When I landed off the jump the bikes suspension bottomed out and rebounded so hard that the front end tucked under then came back off the ground. My first reaction was to gas it to bring the back end back around. This made the motorcycle go sideways in the complete opposite direction from where it was going but it did save me from just plain face planting.
From that point on I just tank slapped it out until I had her back under control. In the mix of all this Jake Johnson got by me setting me back to 4th place. I hung with Jake for awhile but a couple more sketchy landings off the jump took some of the wind out of my sails and it was really taking a toll on my body. We have to remember that just 3 ½ months ago is when I broke my arm really bad and I would be lying if I said that my body isn’t still bothered by it some. I ran 4th until the last 2 laps of the race when both Briar Bauman and Stevie Bonsey put some block passes on me pushing me back to a 6th -place finish.
Like I said I was content with my finish considering everything but I know I could have been a podium finisher if I had a better bike set up and my body was back to complete 100% shape. I guess that’s why they say there’s always next year and I will tell you what, I am so excited for next year already! Something positive that came out of Peoria is that I made up some valuable championship points on the riders in front of me. Henry Wiles did pass me in points but im not worried about him being a big treat the rest of the year. I am less than 30 points out of 4th which is Kenny Coolbeth at the moment.
My Goal is to get back in the top-5 in points by the end of year. I feel that would be a pretty good accomplishment considering that I have had mechanicals at 4 different races and a broken arm.

Thank you all so much for your support! I will try my best to give you another update by the end of season.

All the best, Brad 'The Bullet' Baker #1

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