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2017 IS NOW HALF OVER; WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED in AFT-TWINS

June 18, 2017 Eight of sixteen planned AFT-Twins rounds have been completed (Daytona-Woodstock-Charlotte-Phoenix-Sacramento-Springfield-Lexington-Oklahoma City). What conclusions can we draw now that the season is half over?

  1. The Indians Are Really Good. Of the twenty-four AFT-Twins podiums available, the three Indian riders - Bryan Smith, Brad Baker, and Jared Mees - have claimed twenty. Of the four podium finishes missed by the Indian riders, Baker has two, Mees one, and Smith one. Baker missed the Daytona TT after crashing in his heat race, finished sixteeth when the charging system failed at Charlotte while running near the front, and he finished fourth at Springfield I. Smith finished fourth at Lexington after looking uncomfortable all day. Only Henry Wiles and Sammy Halbert have claimed podium spots, with Halbert taking three, including a near-win at Lexington on his Yamaha FZ-07.

  2. The Harley-Davidson XG750R Is An Ongoing Work In Progress.

  3. One-Lined Race Tracks Are A Problem. Low rider turnouts - especially on the miles - result in lots of space between riders during practice and qualifying, which results in one-lined racetracks. It also seems that too many riders are incapable of trying a line that isn't hugging the pole, but that is another story. AFT has a dedicated (somewhat) track prep guy in Dennis Pearson; I am unsure if this is helping or hampering this particular issue.

  4. Spectator Attendance Seem To Be Up. Spectator attendance at the races seems to be up from 2016. The event at Woodstock, GA looked like a sell-out. Charlotte appeared to be more, although the size of that grandstand makes it difficult to judge. The OKC round looked like another sell-out.

  5. Two Riders Have Won The Eight Races. If no one else steps up, we will have the lowest number of racers sharing the series wins in history. In 1990, five riders claimed the fifteen series wins (Parker-Carr-Morehead-Ingram-Jones). Twice in the mid 1950s, four riders shared the wins (back when the series was less than a dozen races). Personally, I like seeing more riders win races.

  6. The Best Non-Indian Is Not A Kawasaki. Sammy Halbert has three podiums this year - one on a Harley-Davidson XR750 and two on a Yamaha FZ-07. Henry Wiles finished third at the Daytona TT on a Kawasaki EX650. No one else has really come close to a podium finish. This should not be totally surprising - Indian hired three of the best riders and also two of the best teams. Remember that the Howerton/Crosley Radio Kawasaki EX650 was always head-and-shoulders above all the rest (except 2013, when TJ Burnett's team of Brandon Robinson and JD Beach did exceptionally well at both Springfield Miles). But it is unusual to see all of the other Kawasakis struggling. Cory Texter finished 9th in points last year, but has struggled all year, with a high finish of 11th.

TIMED QUALIFYING HAS RUN ITS COURSE

June 17, 2017
I am convinced that the current AFT timed qualifying format is resulting in single-line race tracks. Too few riders on the track at one time means that they do not need to "dice it up" anymore. And we have placed such a premium on each rider cutting a perfect lap each time out on the track that we now have exactly what the AMA tried to avoid in 2006 - one-lined race tracks.

History lesson: In 1994, AMA Pro Racing decided to eliminate the one-lap time trials in favor of four-lap “scratch heats”. The thought process was that time trials - during which each rider had a clear track - resulted in a singular, one-bike-wide “notch” was being created on the racetracks, which made for one-line racing for the remainder of the day. At the time, there were more riders taking time trials than could make the 48-rider program anyway. The May 1992 Springfield Mile had 57 expert pre-entries (I do not know how many actual entries there were). The Sept 1995 Springfield Mile had 45 pre-entries. The Sept 1996 Springfield Mile had 47 pre-entries. But the May 2001 Springfield Mile only had 38 actual entries. The September 2001 Springfield Mile had 45 pre-entries and 46 actual entries.

In 2006, AMA Pro Racing eliminated the four-lap "scratch heats" in favor of "timed qualifying". Each rider gets a single four-lap "un-timed" practice session, followed by two "timed" four-lap qualifying sessions. The average GNC1 turnout at the six Mile events in 2016 was 35.8. The average turnout at the five AFT-Twins miles so far in 2017 is 35.0. There aren't enough riders to make a wide groove, especially on a mile track.

The current format is this: AFT Twins practice, then AFT Singles practice. All times up to this point aren’t counted. AFT Twins Qualifying1, then AFT Singles Qualifying1, then AFT Twins Qualifying2, then AFT Singles Qualifying2. The best individual time from Qualifying1 or Qualifying2 is used for each rider's qualifying time.

My suggestion: Run AFT Twins Practice1. Then move cones out half-way across the groove. Run AFT Singles Practice1. Then move the cones out half-way across the groove. Then run AFT Twins Practice2. Then move the cones out half-way across the groove. Then run AFT Singles Practice2. Now remove the cones, water the track (top to bottom), and run one or two sessions of AFT-Twins and AFT-Singles Qualifying.

It will take a little more time, but the race track will offer considerably more racing lines than what we saw at Phoenix and Sacramento.

Daytona TT

March 17, 2017
Last night, the inaugural Daytona TT took place on the infield of the Daytona International Speedway. Thirty-five AFT Twins riders and Sixty-Six AFT Singles riders signed up to take on the track that had been designed by seven-time AMA Grand National Champion Chris Carr, built underneath the SX track, and uncovered on Wednesday in preparation for the Thursday event. My immediate thoughts - in no particula order - follow:

  1. The track was far from what I had hoped for the first attempt to race 750cc twins on a TT course in 30+ years. A long paperclip with a chicane and a hump on the back straight.
  2. Like every Thursday evening flat track race ever held at the Superspeedway, the track surface was rough, inconsistent, and incapable of giving the riders a chance to display their real talent.
  3. Way too many "TV time outs" to try and get the track in shape.
  4. Once the sun went down, the track got infinitely better.
  5. I wasn't expecting a huge jump, and it certainly wasn't that big. But to be fair, the original "TT" rules written in 1933 never called for a "jump". :-)
  6. I quite enjoyed the new AFT Singles plates. I did not miss the District Letters. I could tell (for the most part) who had scored National Points the year before, as they (for the most part) had double digits, while the others had triple digits. (Yes, I know that Jesse Janisch wore #132, yet had scored National points last year. I said "for the most part").
  7. I liked that the international guys had higher numbers (300+).
  8. I liked the new format where no one transfers to the main out of the heat. I got home late, so I missed two of the three AFT Twins heat races. So I got a chance to see all my favorites in the semis. I was amazed how the guys who won the heats did not turn right around and win the semis. (Smith #1, Mees #9, and Don Mullen #17 won the heats; Mikey Rush #54 and Bronson Bauman #37 won the two semis).
  9. I actually liked being able to read everyone's number plates. Forcing most riders to use the same font actually made it a LOT easier to read the plates! Also the new 12"x12" plates mean the sponsor logos aren't blocking 25% of the rider numbers.
  10. I figured the final would be a "holeshot wins it" deal, and it appears that was the case (I did not see it live). I saw that Mees led wire to wire, but also noticed Smith and Wiles charged through the pack to land on the podium.
  11. Congrats to Jared Mees for notching his first-ever National TT win. Can he complete the Dirt Track Sweep next weekend in Georgia?
  12. Congrats to Bryan Smith for his best career TT finish, on a twin that he hadn't ridden much prior to the race! Nice debut with the #1 plate!

Say What?

March 15, 2017
I just read an interesting interview by Larry Lawrence with defending AMA Grand National Champion Bryan Smith about the upcoming season. The second most interesting sentence in the interview was "“We’ve been a little more than delayed and haven’t had the chance to ride them yet or even get everything done to ride them."

Wow. The defending Grand National Champion heads into the season opener without having any significant seat time on the new Indian FTR750.

Uncharted Waters

March 14, 2017
I just read an interesting interview by Larry Lawrence with defending AMA Grand National Champion Bryan Smith about the upcoming season. Two sentences captured my attention. The first was "“There’s never been a season like this,” he explains. “I mean you have seven guys that won grand national races in 2016 who are lining up in 2017 on a bike they’ve never raced before.”.

Think about that for a moment. Discounting the fact that all the riders will be on twins at every race, seven of the eight National winners from 2016 will be on different twins this year.

Only Henry Wiles (Kawasaki EX650) will be riding the same twin-cylinder bike that he rode last year, albeit for a different team. Suffice to say, this has never happened before.

AMA Grand National TT History

March 5, 2017
On March 16, the top riders in the country will race a TT course on twin-cylinder engines for the first time in, well, many years. Below is a quick list of some Grand National TT History tidbits for your pre-Daytona TT appetite:

  1. The TT event was created in 1933, when Class C racing was created. It was modeled after the Isle of Man TT races in the UK.
  2. Last twin-cylinder GNC TT win: Peoria 1983 (Jay Springsteen, Harley-Davidson XR750).
  3. Last twin-cylinder GNC TT podium: Peoria 1984 (Scott Parker, Harley-Davidson XR750, third place)
  4. Last all twin-cylinder GNC TT podium: Peoria 1981 (Scott Pearson, Yamaha; Randy Goss, Harley-Davidson; Gary Scott, Triumph)
  5. Last Harley-Davidson twin-cylinder GNC TT win: Peoria 1983 (Jay Springsteen, XR750)
  6. Last Indian twin-cylinder AMA National TT win: Riverside, CA, 1948 (Ed Kretz, Sr, Big Base Scout)
  7. Last Triumph twin-cylinder GNC TT win: Castle Rock 1979 (Brad Hurst, T140)
  8. last Yamaha twin-cylinder GNC TT win: Peoria 1981 (Scott Pearson, XS650/750)
  9. First all single-cylinder "big bike" GNC TT podium: Santa Fe 1981 (Mickey Fay, Honda; Scott Pearson, Yamaha; Steve Ekund, Yamaha)

Want to advance, not so fast!

February 2, 2017
The "final" 2017 American Flat Track rulebook has been released, as well as the 2017 Flat Track License Regulations and Eligibility". One curiosity caught my eye. Rule c.3.ii states: iii. Beginning in 2018, riders who have reached the age of 18 years and meet at least one of the following criteria are eligible to apply for an AFT Twins license:

  1. Riders licensed as AFT Twins riders in the previous season.
  2. Riders who have earned at least 100 Championship points in AFT Singles during a single season.
  3. Riders who have earned at least 50 Championship points while riding under provisional starts in AFT Twins during a single season.
  4. Riders who graduate through a program designated by AMA Pro Racing as providing experience on twin cylinder motorcycles, i.e. Spec Class, Off-Season Training Camp.

So the easiest way to advance from AFT Singles to AFT Twins would be to score 100 AFT Singles Championship points during the 2017 season. Back in my day you needed 80 points (obtained in a 5-4-3-2-1 format for every heat, semi, or final that you raced in) as a Junior to make Expert. But we had more than 20 races in a season and we didn't have to drive from Florida to California to hit all 20. But I digress.

In 2016, there were fourteen GNC2 races - eight for singles, six for twins. A grand total of TWO GNC2 riders scored at least 100 points while competing at GNC2 Single-Cylinder events. Ryan Wells (the 2016 GNC2 champion) scored 146 points, while series runner-up Dalton Gauthier scored 133. If we look strictly at the twin-cylinder events, we also have two: Wells (123 pts) and Tristan Avery (103 pts). That's it.

In 2015, there were thirteen GNC2 races, of which eight were for singles. There again, two riders scored more than 100 points: series champion Davis Fisher (116 pts) and Don Bromley (107).

I don't see a lot of riders getting the chance to move up to AFT Twins anytime soon. But maybe that is the point.

Harley-Davidson's New Race-Only Engine? Or much ado about nothing?

February 1, 2017
It was an odd week.

On Friday, January 27, Harley-Davidson announced that its soon-to-be-announced 2017 American Flat Track team would compete exclusively on the water-cooled XG750R. The press release went on to say, among other things, "Harley-Davidson’s XG750R flat tracker is powered by a race-modified, liquid-cooled, fuel-injected 750cc Revolution X™ V-Twin engine originally engineered for the Harley-Davidson Street® 750". The press release closed by saying "its race-tuned Revolution X engine and racing chassis were developed in collaboration with Vance & Hines Motorsports. The XG750R flat tracker motorcycle is not a production model. The 750cc XG Revolution X V-Twin engine is for sale through Harley-Davidson dealers today and can be modified for racing use by aspiring dealers and privateers."

Nothing really earth-shaking there. Everyone knew that Vance&Hines had been developing the powerplant for dirt track racing for the past few years. And everyone assumed that V&H needed to make some significant modifications to the Street 750 to make it competitive on a dirt track. As such, I didn't notice anything shocking in the press release.

The same day, DMG unceremoniously released the list of engines that are approved for competition in the AFT Twins class. The Harley-Davidson portion included the anticipated 1972 XR750 and 2015 XG750R. But a mysterious third option is also listed - 2017 – XG750R Revolution X (race-only engine).

What is this skulduggery?

Well, who knows? I did some reasearch and found that when Davis Fisher was announced as joining the Harley-Davidson factory team for 2016, that he would be riding an "XG750R Revolution X" motorcycle. So maybe this is much ado about nothing.

On January 28, Harley-Davidson announced its long-known-about team for 2017: #2 Kenny Coolbeth, #5 Jake Johnson, and #44 Brandon Robinson. Basically the top three riders not already hired by Indian.

2017 AMA Pro Racing Flat Track Number Assignments

December 10, 2016
To follow the new number assignments - the district letters are going away in 2017, and all riders will be assigned new numbers for either the AFT Twins or AFT Singles classes - can be found by clicking here.

I have warmed up to the use of triple digits - it will be similar to most Novices from 1974-1985. One thing I DO NOT like about the new system is that there are essentially two duplicate number assignments - one for AFT Twins and one for AFT Singles. Furthermore, DMG is referring to all two-digit numbers as "National Numbers". I believe this will lead to confusion. Example: for 2017, we already have two National #14s, two National #20s, two National #24s, and two National #69s. I am not a fan of this.

In 2016, 46 GNC1 riders and 56 GNC2 riders scored points. Removing the six active single digit riders (ex-champions), ninety-six total riders scored points, and there are 90 double-digit National Numbers up for grabs.

2016 Number Stats

November 27, 2016
In 2016, 216 riders competed in the combined GNC1 & GNC2 divisions. Five had single digits, so that means 211 riders had two-digit numbers. Of the 90 available two-digit numbers available to all riders who haven't been granted a single-digit number, 82 were used. Of those 82, 30 numbers were worn by a single rider only. So 14.2% of the double-digit field had a unique two-digit number.

However, eight riders wore #22 - 22A, 22C, 22G, 22J, 22L, 22T, 22U, and 22Z. Seven wore #11 - 11, 11A, 11C, 11F, 11G, 11N, and 11Z. Six wore #14 - 14, 14A, 14C, 13K, 13S, and 14Z - and another six wore #44 - 44, 44A, 44C, 44E, 44F, and 44P. Five riders each wore #10, #17, #20, #23, #24, #26, #51, #57, and #69. Which means 72 of the 211 riders (34.1%) used 12 of the 82 double digits that were used (14.6%).

Interestingly, districts/states that used multiple letters didn't really need to. California uses E, R, Y, and Z as district letters. These were used by 4, 0, 5, and 10 riders. So the entire state of California only had 19 lettered riders.

Washington used W for GNC1 and M for GNC2. Those letters were used by 2 & 8 riders, for 10 total.

In 2017, all U.S. professional racers will have unique rider numbers from 1 to 299 with no district letters.

2017 Rulebook Eliminates District Letters

November 9, 2016
Concerning the district letters, I agree that maintaining 20 (or so) district letters each year was unnecessarily confusing. Especially since you could not find a list of what each letter designated anywhere (except my event, the Dairyland Classic, which published a list in my spectator program each year). But I would not have eliminated them altogether from the AMA Pro Racing rider numbers. It has not only worked well since 1947, but it is a tradition that only dirt track/flat track has. And now it is gone.

One obvious advantage of the district letter system is that fans can identify riders from their home region or state - assuming they know what the letters mean. Wisconsin riders wore "G" from 1947-1973, and then joined the surrounding states who already used "K" until 1994, and then they all used "K" and "L" after that.

Personally, I would not have eliminated the letters altogether, instead selecting a handful of district letters to "keep it simple". Maybe five district letters total - one per time zone and one for all international riders would be a better "solution". Or break the country down into six regions (Northeast, Southeast, Northcentral, Southcentral, Northwest, Southwest), plus one international letter.

Invoking Don Potter, I would have picked letters that looked the same in upper and lower case, so make publishing easier. Living in a state with "L" as a district letter, I can tell you that "#69l" looks pretty silly in print when it should be "#69L".

Furthermore, if you can limit the number of letters down to five, then you can use the phonetic differences in the letter to make it easier to differentiate riders with the same number. An announcer calling out 12C, 12T, and 12Z all sound very similar. But if you used J, S, U, Y, and Z as the only district letters, each letter sounds different than the others.

One flaw with my proposal is that it may not be immediately clear which letter corresponds with which region. But the district letters have always - even in 1947 - followed an unusual path as they criss-crossed the country.

2017 American Flat Track Draft Rulebook Released

October 29, 2016
The draft version of the 2017 American Flat Track (formerly AMA Pro Racing) rulebook has been released. I browsed through it and noticed a few "head scratchers":

  1. They eliminate the district letters - which have been a dirt track tradition since 1947 - but continue to refer to riders #1-#99 as “National Numbers”. Riders #100-399 are refered to as just “Numbers”.
  2. The two classes are changed from GNC1 and GNC2 to AFT Twins and AFT Singles. All AFT Twins riders will race twins at all events; all AFT Singles riders will race singles at all events.
  3. 16 & 17-year-old riders who were successful in GNC2 in 2016 are prohibited from racing AFT Twins until they are 18.
  4. They use the term “Main” where they should be using “Final”. Each event only has one “Main Event”. Each class has a “Final”.
  5. The only items that can exist on the handlebars are the ignition switch and a starter button. Where will the clutch and throttle now be located?
  6. Once a rider arrives in staging for a race, he/she cannot change bikes for that race. It won’t be long before that rule is violated.
  7. Sad to see that the number plate “font” debacle continues. Now riders 2-99 must use the IMPACT font while 100-399 use the LEAGUE GOTHIC font. Riders may apply for approval of any other font.
  8. AFT Twins may use carbon fiber wheels. That sounds expensive.
  9. AFT Singles must use back-torque limiting clutches. That sounds expensive.
  10. A restarted final race can be called complete once the leader completes two laps.
  11. No one transfers to the final directly from the heat races. Heat race finishers 1-8 transfer to the semis while finishers 9-12 transfer to the LCQ. LCQ finishers 1-4 transfer to the semis. Semi finishers 1-9 transfer to the final.
  12. Provisional start cards are available to all riders, but no longer can be used to get into the final. They can only be used to get into the semis if a rider fails to transfer from the LCQ.
  13. Riders who do not start a final will not receive points.
  14. Section 1.5 (“Competition Numbers”) seems to indicate that there will be two sets of National Numbers (#10-#99); one set for AFT Twins and one for AFT Singles. This means that for the first time since 1947, riders will not have a unique riding number at all American flat track events.
  15. Riders may only run two motorcycles through tech inspection, and both must be from the same manufacturer.
  16. An AFT Twins motorcycle over 750cc may be bored and/or stroked, but must maintain the original displacement.

Close Points Chases Entering the GNC Season Finale

September 18, 2016
One week from today, the 2016 Grand National Champion will be crowned. Bryan Smith leads Jared Mees by 2 points entering the finale. Which of course leads to the question - how often have we had a close points chase entering the season finale?

YEAR POINT STANDINGS
AFTER THE
FINAL ROUND
POINT STANDINGS
ENTERING THE
FINAL ROUND
1958
1.Carroll Resweber36 pts
2.Joe Leonard35 pts
3.Dick Klamfoth28 pts
3.Everett Brashear28 pts
1.Carroll Resweber36 pts
2.Dick Klamfoth28 pts
2.Everett Brashear28 pts
4.Joe Leonard25 pts
1960
1.Carroll Resweber49 pts
2.Joe Leonard45 pts
1.Carroll Resweber43 pts
2.Joe Leonard33 pts
1963
1.Dick Mann114 pts
2.George Roeder113 pts
1.Dick Mann114 pts
2.George Roeder92 pts
1978
1.Jay Springsteen296 pts
2.Steve Eklund291 pts
1.Jay Springsteen276 pts
2.Steve Eklund275 pts
1980
1.Randy Goss207 pts
2.Hank Scott206 pts
1.Randy Goss197 pts
2.Hank Scott193 pts
1981
1.Mike Kidd200 pts
2.Gary Scott195 pts
1.Mike Kidd184 pts
1.Gary Scott184 pts
1982
1.Ricky Graham221 pts
2.Jay Springsteen219 pts
1.Ricky Graham215 pts
2.Jay Springsteen211 pts
1984
1.Ricky Graham285 pts
2.Bubba Shobert284 pts
1.Ricky Graham283 pts
2.Bubba Shobert268 pts
1991
1.Scott Parker225 pts
2.Chris Carr225 pts
1.Scott Parker209 pts
2.Chris Carr205 pts
1992
1.Chris Carr234 pts
2.Scott Parker232 pts
1.Chris Carr221 pts
2.Scott Parker212 pts
1998
1.Scott Parker296 pts
2.Chris Carr294 pts
1.Chris Carr275 pts
2.Scott Parker273 pts
2006
1.Kenny Coolbeth233 pts
2.Chris Carr211 pts
1.Kenny Coolbeth210 pts
1.Chris Carr210 pts
2009
1.Sammy Halbert203 pts
2.Joe Kopp202 pts
3.Jared Mees200 pts
1.Sammy Halbert187 pts
2.Jared Mees186 pts
3.Joe Kopp183 pts
2014
1.Jared Mees279 pts
2.Bryan Smith276 pts
1.Jared Mees260 pts
2.Bryan Smith247 pts
2016 TBD
1.Bryan Smith221 pts
2.Jared Mees219 pts

World Record 25-lap Mile Times Over The Years

July 27, 2016

DateRiderLocationFacilityTimeSpeedBrand/Model
8/21/1938Woodsie CastonaguaySpringfield, ILIllinois State Fairgrounds19:02.80078.754 mph
Scout
8/25/1940Melvin RhoadesSpringfield, ILIllinois State Fairgrounds18:37.62080.528 mph
648 Big Base Scout
8/17/1941Frenchie CastonaguaySpringfield, ILIllinois State Fairgrounds18:03.48083.066 mph
648 Big Base Scout
8/20/1950Larry HeadrickSpringfield, ILIllinois State Fairgrounds18:01.71083.202 mph
WR
8/19/1951Bobby HillSpringfield, ILIllinois State Fairgrounds16:58.71088.347 mph
648 Big Base Scout
9/15/1968Fred NixSacramento, CACalifornia State Fairgrounds16:42.98089.733 mph
KR
9/14/1969Chuck PalmgrenSacramento, CACalifornia State Fairgrounds16:33.08090.627 mph
T120
8/26/1972Chuck PalmgrenIndianapolis, INIndiana State Fairgrounds16:22.42091.611 mph
GXS-1
9/10/1972Dave SehlAtlanta, GALakewood Speedway16:00.33093.718 mph
XR750
9/07/1975Corky KeenerSyracuse, NYNew York State Fairgrounds15:47.17095.020 mph
XR750
5/15/1976Rex BeauchampSan Jose, CASanta Clara County Fairgrounds15:04.02099.555 mph
XR750
8/24/1980Ricky GrahamIndianapolis, INIndiana State Fairgrounds14:55.820100.467 mph
XR750
5/16/1982Ricky GrahamSpringfield, ILIllinois State Fairgrounds14:44.050101.804 mph
XR750
8/25/1985Scott ParkerIndianapolis, INIndiana State Fairgrounds14:41.947102.047 mph
XR750
5/25/1986Ricky GrahamSpringfield, ILIllinois State Fairgrounds14:33.271103.061 mph
RS750
5/28/1995Chris CarrSpringfield, ILIllinois State Fairgrounds14:26.770103.834 mph
XR750
9/03/2000Scott ParkerSpringfield, ILIllinois State Fairgrounds14:25.200104.022 mph
XR750
9/04/2005Chris CarrSpringfield, ILIllinois State Fairgrounds14:23.451104.233 mph
XR750

World Record 1-lap Mile Times Over The Years

July 26, 2016

DateRiderLocationFacilityTimeSpeedBrand/Model
9/15/1935Woodsie CastonaguayLanghorne, PALanghorne Speedway41.81086.104 mph
Sport Scout
9/02/1940Don SmithLanghorne, PALanghorne Speedway40.51088.867 mph
9/01/1946Johnny SpiegelhoffLanghorne, PALanghorne Speedway40.29289.348 mph
9/04/1949Julian WooleyhanLanghorne, PALanghorne Speedway39.31391.573 mph
9/05/1954Joe LeonardLanghorne, PALanghorne Speedway38.25494.108 mph
KR
9/04/1955Brad AndresLanghorne, PALanghorne Speedway37.59395.763 mph
KR
8/25/1973Mert LawwillIndianapolis, INIndiana State Fairgrounds37.52095.949 mph
XR750
8/23/1975Rex BeauchampIndianapolis, INIndiana State Fairgrounds37.25396.637 mph
XR750
8/28/1976Rex BeauchampIndianapolis, INIndiana State Fairgrounds37.07797.095 mph
XR750
9/12/1976Rex BeauchampSyracuse, NYNew York State Fairgrounds36.87197.638 mph
XR750
7/30/1978Hank ScottDuQuoin, ILDuQuoin State Fairgrounds35.956100.122 mph
XR750
8/24/1980Hank ScottIndianapolis, INIndiana State Fairgrounds35.283102.032 mph
XR750
5/27/1984Ricky GrahamSpringfield, ILIllinois State Fairgrounds34.548104.203 mph
RS750
7/24/1988Bubba ShobertDuQuoin, ILDuQuoin State Fairgrounds34.377104.721 mph
RS750
5/24/1992Scott ParkerSpringfield, ILIllinois State Fairgrounds34.264105.067 mph
XR750
5/25/2014Bryan SmithSpringfield, ILIllinois State Fairgrounds33.823106.436 mph
EX650

Proposed 2016 Rule Change

August 16, 2015

AMA/DMG issued a press release on July 21, detailing a proposal for 2016. The biggest part concerns having GNC1 riders using the same equipment at all events, which would mean running their multi-cylinder machines on short tracks and TTs. Big twins haven't run on short tracks since 1960, and they stopped being popular on TT courses in 1984.

If these changes do, in fact, take place, it will change the look and feel of three races - the two Daytona short tracks and the Peoria TT.

The Peoria TT has seen an inconsistent rider turnout over the years. The GNC1 class has 25 entries this year, and they had 26 entries in 2014, 29 in 2013, 25 in 2012, 39 in 2011, 49 in 2010, 47 in 2009, 49 in 2008, rain-out in 2007, 63 in 2006, 56 in 2005, 57 in 2004, 60 in 2003, 50 in 2002, and 43 in 2001.

Jared Mees wins Dairyland Classic, finishes third at Sacramento

June 5, 2015

The weather forecast kept a lot of spectators away last weekend, but it didn't keep defending AMA Grand National Champion Jared Mees away! He came, he saw, he conquered, and if you weren't here to see it, you wouldn't believe it! He jumped the start and had to charge through the entire field to win his unprecedented sixth Classic in seven years! Then he hopped a plane, flew out to Sacramento, California, and finished third at the Grand National mile on Saturday night!

Jared was not alone - National #23 Jefferey Carver and National #27 Rob Pearson also competed at our "little" race and then flew out to Sacramento!

Sacramento Schmacramento!

May 1, 2015

Our 31st annual Dairyland Classic - my fifteeth at the promoter - will rev to life in four short weeks! Several Grand National and Pro Singles (now called GNC1 and GNC2) riders are planning to do 'the double' of the Dairyland on Friday May 29 and the Sacramento Mile on Saturday May 30. That would be Sacramento, as in California. How awesome is THAT? That shows you how well respected the Dairyland Classic has become!

2015 Grand National Championship

December 1, 2014

DMG released its partial 2015 Grand National Schedule before Thanksgiving. Not many surprises. It is "only" twelve races, but there are four more in the works. Not bad as the economy continues to struggle.

The 31st Annual Dairyland Classic is slated for May 29, 2015. The traditional Memorial Day Springfield Mile will take place - as usual - on May 24. The big surprise is that the Sacramento Mile will be on Saturday May 30. Springfield is notorious for tearing up 750cc motors, so having a second mile National the week after Springfield is surprising. Requiring the riders to trek cross-country is another surprise.

We are committed to putting on the best dirt track show in Wisconsin on May 29. And we will do so.

Long overdue TLC

December 1, 2014

Well, it has been long overdue, but I finally got around to doing some clean-up of the web site(s). If you didn't already know, my sister, Chris Daronco, has become quite a promoter in her own right. For the past several years, she has taken the Steel Shoe Fund 3-hour Endurance Ice Racing Event to new heights, and in 2014 she promoted her first-ever dirt track race in Oshkosh. For 2015, she is promoting two dirt track events, including a Vintage National Championship, so I figured that was my signal to get cracking on cleaning up the web site.

I hope you like the new format, and as always I welcome your feedback.

Two Rounds Left

September 1, 2014

Two rounds are left in this year's AMA Grand National Championship, and after Springfield II (8/31), Bryan Smith leads Jared Mees by 9 points - 247 to 238. So naturally I got to thinking...is that point lead insurmountable? Surely not - no point lead is 'safe', but since I'm a history buff, I just had to go digging to find out how point leads have held up - or evaporated - over the last two rounds of recent Grand National Championships.

Springfield Mile...this weekend

May 20, 2014

The Springfield Mile AMA Grand National runs this weekend. For the first time since 1987 - that's 27 years ago - all Expert Twins will be unrestricted. What's that going to mean? Well, everyone is emphasizing how the venerable Harley-Davidson XR750s will be able to pull off the corners "like they used to" and keep the Kawasakis in check. We shall see. What everyone seems to be overlooking is that all of the OTHER non-HD, non-Kawasaki bikes are ALSO un-restricted for the first time. How will the Ducati 1000 run? How about the Triumphs? Suzukis? Any of them might suddenly become "the bike to have".

I fully expect that we will see something that we haven't seen since 1986 - excessive tire wear. Most people have forgotten that one of the main reasons that the AMA implemented restrictors in 1987 was because of tire wear. The Harley and Hondas were burning through tires at an alarming rate back then. So that's what I'm expecting to see most. Guys getting throttle happy for the first half of the 25-lap National and forgetting that to finish first, you must first finish.

Another thing is that all the H-D riders will have to re-learn how to race miles. They've spent years perfecting their "over-rev the bike to try to keep with the Kawasakis out of the corner" techniques. Now, maybe they'll have straightwaway speed again. Maybe, just maybe, we'll see some passing in the corners. I'm hoping the IMDA tears the track up like they had it in the mid 80s when guys could run pole to haybales.

30 Years Ago...Blunder #2

May 16, 2014

Continuing my previous reflections on the series of blunders that pretty much destroyed AMA Pro Dirt Track racing at the local level....

In 1987, the AMA implemented their second major blunder by bumping the Junior/Expert limit from 500cc to 600cc. Remember that in 1984, they changed the Junior/Expert short track and all Novice equipment from 250cc to 500cc. Three years later, another displacement bump. Although curiously, only the Junior/Expert equipment went to 600cc - the entry level division, now called 'Pro-Am' (formerly known as 'Novice'), was kept at 500cc. The excuse was that keeping the Pro-Ams at 500cc meant that those riders didn't NEED to buy a new piston & cylinder. At least not until they wanted to jump to Junior. But it also meant that a Pro-Am rider couldn't buy a Junior/Expert bike any more, since they were different displacements. And, of course, you can bet that a lot (most?) of the Pro-Am racers in 1987 were likely running illegal 600cc, since there was no obvious way to tell the difference.

In 1988, the AMA corrected one small aspect of Major Blunder #2 by bumping the Pro-Am rules to 600cc to match the Junior/Expert rules.

Talking Motorcycles with Barry Boone

May 1, 2014

I spent about 25 minutes with Barry Boone talking about the Dairyland Classic and motorcycle racing history. You can listen to the podcast by CLICKING HERE.

30 Years Ago...Blunder #1

April 28, 2014

In 1984, the AMA made the first of three major blunders – aka rule changes – which, from 1984-1987, destroyed AMA Pro Dirt Track racing at the local level which had prospered for decades. That rule change? To relocate the ‘district letter’ from the lower right hand side of the 10x12 number plate to the lower left corner. Now, wait, that was stupid, yes, but didn’t destroy dirt track. THAT honor goes to Blunder #1 – the 500cc rule.

From 1961-1984 (excepting 1973-1976), all Novice events and all Junior/Expert short track events ran on 250cc motorcycles. In 1984, the AMA did away with 250cc and went to 500cc. Almost overnight, the entry-level Novice class evaporated, which had successfully proved as an inexpensive feeder system to the Junior and eventually Expert ranks. Suddenly, there were no Novices. Which meant fewer Juniors and eventually fewer Experts.

We’ve all heard tales of how ‘back in the day’, you needed to win your heat and be one of the twelve fastest Novice heats to make the main event. I know a guy who tells me that this was still happening in 1982! Yet two years later, the AMA shelves the 250cc in favor of 500cc. Why was this so crippling a blow? Because 250cc short trackers were relatively inexpensive. Juniors & Experts knew that you didn’t need huge horsepower to win short tracks, so they didn’t spend lots of money on their short trackers. But they could command top dollar when they wanted to buy a new bike, since surely some new Novice would pay top dollar for Steve Eklund’s old Yamaha 250, believing the thing HAD to be a rocket! Maybe it was, or maybe Steve Eklund was one hell of a short tracker. Anyway, so suddenly every Junior & Expert in the nation has a useless 250 they cannot sell. And potential new Novices – as well as all Juniors & Experts - are forced to plunk down $10K for a shiny new Rotax. Net result, fewer riders, particularly in the Novice ranks.

By 1985, there were fewer than 100 card-carrying Novices in the entire country at one time. More rule changes in 1987 would further doom AMA Pro Dirt Track at the local level. More on that later. Unless I forget.

JR Schnabel Hangs Up His Shoe

April 27, 2014

National #33, JR Schnabel, will retire from dirt track competition following the Dairyland Classic on May 30, 2014. I believe that JR began dirt track racing in 1987 on a Yamaha PW50. He turned Pro in 1995, moving to Expert at mid-season, focusing on the Harley-Davidson 883 Sportster Series that year. In 1996, he hit the Grand National circuit on a Suburban Motors Harley-Davidson XR750, and scored the Rookie of the Year honors.

His first official Grand National podium finish came at the Houston Half Mile on April 21, 2001, riding a Bill Powell XR. His first TT win came two years later at Peoria, 8/17/2003, and his first short track win a month later on 9/27/2003 at Springfield, both on Babe DeMay Yamaha YZ450s.

While he never scored that elusive win on a Mile, JR wraps up his career with 9 Grand National wins, 12 runners-up, 9 third place finishes, and 183 Grand National main events. He is far and away the most successful pure-blood Wisconsinite to ever compete in Grand National competition. (Note: Carroll Resweber and Fred Nix were transplanted Wisconsinites, from Texas and Oklahoma, respectively). On top of that, he has been a tremendous ambassador for the sport. I have followed him since his earliest days - his dad and I used to race each other in the mid 80s - and I can honestly say that I have never seen him in a foul mood. Not to say it's never happened, but I've never seen it. The roar of approval that he gets every year at the Dairyland Classic is a testament to how many people have enjoyed watching this young man succeed.

He will be missed, but luckily he graduated from college and has a great career outside of racing. I am certain that his wife and two kids will keep him plenty busy. And if he ever wants to stay involved in dirt track racing, I would hire him in a heart beat to help me run the Dairyland Classic. I think I'd pretty much let him do whatever he wanted.

Top 10 Things I Didn't Expect to see in 2013 (Grand National Championship)

February 1, 2014

The following are the top 10 things I did not expect to see in the 2013 AMA Grand National Championship. Lists in chornological order:

  1. March 15: Bryan Smith protests Brad Baker after the pair finish 3rd and 2nd, respectively, at the Daytona II Short Track National. Reason: Brad used front fork tubes with an illegal coating. I cannot remember the last time one rider protested another at a National!
  2. July 6: Defending Grand National Champion Jared Mees misses the Hagerstown round after suffering a broken right forearm at a non-National race in Ashland, Ohio on June 21. It was the first time a defending #1 missed a National since Joe Kopp in 2001.
  3. July 6: Rookie Expert Jake Shoemaker scores his first career podium by finishing second to Brad Baker at Hagerstown. It was Jake's first ever Grand National twins event. He was 6th fast qualifier, nearly beat Kenny Coolbeth in the heat race, and also finished second in the Dash For Cash. It was the highest Grand National Twins result for a rookie expert since Nick Cummings in 2005.
  4. August 1: Jake Johnson leaves the Zanotti racing team. Together they had claimed the 2010 & 2011 Grand National Championship. Quite possibly the most surprising departure since Mike Kidd left Yamaha in 1982, or Gary Scott left Harley-Davidson in 1976.
  5. August 11: Henry Wiles wins the Peoria TT from the fourth row (after changing bikes for the main event). The win was Henry's ninth in a row at Peoria - a new record - and was his 24th overall, tying him with Dick Mann for 10th on the all-time Grand National win list.
  6. August 24: For the first time since 1972, three brands land on the podium at a Grand National Mile event. At New Kent, Virginia "Mega Mile" - Jared Mees' Harley-Davidson led Henry Wiles' Ducati and Brandon Robinson's Kawasaki home. [At the Colorado Springs Mile on 4/30/1972, Jim Rice's BSA led Mark Brelsford's Harley and Kenny Roberts' Yamaha onto the podium]
  7. September 3: For the first time since 1987, a Harley-Davidson is not present on the podium of a Grand National Mile event. Brandon Robinson, Bryan Smith, and JD Beach finished 1-2-3 on their Kawasakis. [on 5/3/1987, Doug Chandler, Bubba Shobert, and Ricky Graham led a Honda sweep of the San Jose Mile podium]
  8. September 4: Henry Wiles is fired from the Lloyd Brothers Motorsports team. They had scored three podiums on the season, and Henry was fourth in Grand National points at the time.
  9. October 13: For the first time since 1976, three brands land on the podium at a Grand National Half Mile event. At Pomona, Brad Baker's Harley-Davidson led Bryan Smith's Kawasaki and Briar Bauman's Suzuki onto the podium. [At Ascot Park on 10/9/1976, Jay Springsteen (Harley-Davidson), Alex Jorgensen (Norton), and Skip Aksland (Yamaha) finished on the podium].
  10. October 13: Brad Baker wins the AMA Grand National Championship. In only his third season, Brad is the youngest rider [20 yrs, 7 mos, 23 days] to win the title since Jay Springsteen in 1977.
  11. November 9: The AMA announces that for 2014, no Grand National twins will be required, nor allowed, to use restrictors. Expert restrictors were first required in 1987, to combat tire wear concerns. I predict a lot of melted tires in 2014.

A moment of silence...

August 21, 2013

Thirty years ago today, on August 21, 1983, the last AMA Grand National TT race was won on a twin cylinder motorcycle. Jay Springsteen & Randy Goss finished 1-2 at Peoria on their factory Harley-Davidson XR750s. Bubba Shobert finished third on a Can-Am 500cc single. There has not been a twin cylinder on the podium since then.

For those who lament "AMA rule changes" as the reasons why twins have not been competitive TT tracks since 1983, consider this:

In other words, long before the rules eliminated twins from TT competition, the riders did it by running singles. So be careful what you wish for :-)

Aftermath

August 17, 2013

Well, I've finally crawled out from under my usual post-race rock, and have added the newest videos from the 2013 event. My family and I are extremely grateful to the spectators and racers who braved the ominous weather forecasts to participate in our 29th Annual Dairyland Classic! We didn't see a drop of rain all day long (in fact, none after Wednesday of race week), but the wonderful weather forecasters will still predicting 80% chance of thunderstorms all day Friday. As a result, the stands were rather empty when we began our opening ceremonies, and our rider counts were down a bit. But we certainly cannot complain about the quality of people who came out! The fans were vocal and enthusiastic, and the racers were great! Always nice to see the defending AMA Grand National Champion in the house (thanks Jared Mees)! And I was pleased to see that the stands had filled up quite a bit by the time our 450cc Pro/Expert Main Event kicked off.

It was GREAT to be able to run our entire program, start-to-finish, without needing to make any spur-of-the-moment modifications due to incoming weather.

We are tentatively scheduled for Friday May 30, 2014 for the 30th Annual Dairyland Classic. As always, I welcome your feedback, as if we don't present an event that you, the fans, find interesting, then we won't last very much longer.

Weather

May 27, 2013

As if on cue, the weather forecast for this week is "daily thunderstorms". Such marks the 13th year in a row - pretty much every year that I have promoted this event. As such, I am used to the gloom-and-doom.

Nevertheless, I have added a new web page to this web site, which can be accessed from the landing page (www.dairylandclassic.com). The new web page will simply show the Tweets that we will send from track-side, so that you can get actual, on-site, information on the actual weather. I have done this the past few years and it has been very useful to help encourage people to come out to see the races. So on race day, Friday, May 31, click HERE to check out our weather Twitter page. Rest assured that if there are no 'recent' reports after 5pm on Friday, it's because we are RACING!

Race Week!

May 27, 2013

In four short days, we'll be running the 29th annual Dairyland Classic! As usual, the big question I alwasy get asked is "Who's coming this year?" And like usual, the answer is not as definitive as some would like. As is my customer, I never state a rider is coming unless they have given me a heads-up ahead of time. This doesn't mean that a rider WON'T attend - anyone remember AMA #4 Chris Carr showing up, unannounced, in 2010? - but I prefer to err on the side of caution.

With that said, here's who have confirmed their entries so far:

You can be there will be more...

Two Wheels Only

May 19, 2013

This past weekend, I recorded an interview with Jon Vedas on the Two Wheels Only radio program down in Florida, focusing on the upcoming Dairyland Classic. Jon has interviewed some of the great personalities in the history of dirt track, including Hank Scott, Jay Springsteen, Mert Lawwill, Sammy Tanner, Darryl Hurst, and others. If you'd like to listen any of Jon's 30-minute interviews, follow one of the links below:

Complaining For The Sake Of Complaining

April 13, 2013

There are plenty of folks out there who love to throw rocks at almost anything. Click HERE to read a great article from RoadRacingWorld which explains how online forums (with their never-ending negativity) are the greatest threat to Professional Road Racing. The very same threats are very real on the Dirt Track side of things.

On Easter Sunday, I logged in - for the final time - to an online Dirt Track racing Forum which once won AMA Web Site of the year. Regretably, it had evolved into a cesspool of negativity. Many of the people I had respected over the years had walked away from the site earlier, for the same reasons. I guess I am a glutton for punishment as I stuck around this long. I have had several people tell me that the only reason that they visited that Forum anymore was to read my racing trivia. Well, that's not going to happen anymore - you can check Bert Sumner on facebook for my racing trivia!

Now I always believe there is room for improvement anywhere, but things must be taken in context. Sure, everyone would love there to be 35-40 GNC races a year, but the economy isn't strong enough for that (and there aren't enough willing promoters!). Is this DMG's fault? Did they tank the economy?

A laughable complaint I saw right before I abandoned that Forum on Easter Sunday was the complaint that "DMG doesn't do enough for the promoters". Hmmm. DMG is a sanctioning organization, not a promoting organization. Interestingly enough, the people crucifying DMG for their lack of promotion are the very same people who criticised the Formula USA National Dirt Track Series in 2001-2003, when they were owned by CLEAR CHANNEL ENTERTAINMENT. Oh well, one thing I've learned by watching online Forums...never let facts get in the way of a good old fashioned complaint.

Mark Your Calendars for May 31, 2013!

December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas, and mark your calendars for May 31! That's when we will bring the 29th Annual Dairyland Classic to the Sheboygan County Fair Park! Yes, this is during the nearby Road America AMA Subway Superbike Doubleheader!

We will be making some changes for 2013. Some are still being discussed, some are already decided upon.

In short, the changes we intend to implement should make our show run a little smoother, and little cleaner, and a little more professional, without sacrificing the positives that people like about our program. My family and I are grateful for the support and we look forward to a positive 2013!

Eklhorn To Return In 2013

December 16, 2012

This past summer, for the first time since 1989, motorcycle racing returned to the Walworth County Fairgrounds in Elkhorn, WI. The cushion pea-gravel half-mile (the only pea gravel track in the state) was a fixture on the AMA Pro Racing circuit from 1963-1986, and then ran a few more “Pro-Am” events through 1989, all promoted by C. Betzel Smith. Betzel started the event in 1963 as a fund raiser for Carroll Resweber, the 1958-59-60-61 AMA Grand National Champion, who was critically injured in a racing accident in 1962. As stories go, the fairgrounds became increasingly difficult to work with until finally Betzel decided that he had better things to do with his time.

The return to Elkhorn was originally planned for May 6, 2012, but a monsoon that day washed out any chances of any racing. The return date was slated for Sunday, June 3. The event would be a dual sanction, with a handful of AMA classes and a handful of “Classic Flat Track” (Vintage) classes. I had arranged to ride a Johnson Racing Rotax 600 for my first race in 10 years. I had competed professionally at Elkhorn from 1984-1989, and had fond memories of the place.

To cut to the chase, the event was deemed a success. The weather cooperated (sunny and hot), and they had a good turnout of riders (although a couple of classes had 3 or fewer competitors), and a decent amount of spectators (especially for a first-time event and a rain-out to boot). The track was prepared much as it had been prior to the May rain-out, which is to say not very much: it was hard-packed and very dry. Cushion race tracks are best when deep and wet, and this was neither. I never did really get a handle on the track, as it was so slippery that both wheels were sliding around through each corner. The guys I was pitted with confirmed that it wasn’t just me and my 10-year layoff. So this was a disappointment, as to me there is nothing as fun as backing it into a cushion corner and kicking up a nice roost around the bend. Luckily, the guys in front of me were much faster, so the dust settled before I came around, and the guys behind me were much slower, so I didn't have to worry about getting rammed from behind. In the end, I kept it on two wheels, which was my primary goal. I diced in both my heat and final with another guy coming off a 10-year layoff; I bested him the heat for 3rd, he got me in the final (where I finished 4th) in the Senior +40 class. I would have preferred to be able to back it into the corners, but there was no way that was going to be done without ending up in the hay bales.

I understand that the event will return on May 5, 2013, and that the promoter intends to run the same classes with the same sanction and prepare the track in the same fashion.

History made...and nobody notices

September 18, 2012 Henry Wiles just tied Chris Carr at the top of the AMA Grand National history books, winning his 9th Grand National Short Track event at the final Springfield Arena Short Track National. And no one seems to care.

Wiles claimed 9 AMA Grand National wins in 6 seasons - 9/1/2007 thru 9/16/2012. Nine wins over the last 19 short track Nationals - damn near every other short track National for 6 seasons! It took Carr 15 seasons (1992 - 2006) to collect his 9 wins. Jake Johnson is third on the all-time list with 7 Short Track wins, collected over 9 seasons (2002-2010). Fourth on the list with 5 wins apiece are Kennny Roberts (1972-1976) and Steve Eklund (1976-1986). So for Wiles to collect 9 wins in 6 seasons should be a hell of a big deal, yet no one seems to care.

Carr won his nine Nationals over 37 short track events; Johnson won his 5 over 30 short track events. Roberts won his 5 short track nationals over the span of 11 races; Eklund won his 5 over 23 events. Wiles has nearly doubled their totals in less time. Wow. And nobody cares.

The Last Springfield Short Track could be historic...

August 19, 2012 Some things that might be historically important at the final Springfield Short Track National to be held on September 1, 2012:

Please Welcome...

August 19, 2012 Last night at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, we inducted the 16th member into the Hit For The Cycle club, Mr. Sammy Halbert. Similar to its better-known big brother, the Grand Slam club, the Hit For The Cycle club is for those who have won at least one of each Grand National dirt track discipline: short track, TT, half mile, and mile.

Johnny Lewis Has Left The Building...

August 17, 2012 It seems that Johnny Lewis, AMA National #10 and winner of the first Daytona short track National this year, has hung up his steel shoe. Citing financial difficulties with the Scott Powersports team and his frustration with AMA/DMG, he has not participated in an AMA Grand National since Hagerstown on July 7. After Hagerstown, he was third in Grand National points. It seems that Matt Weidman has taken over the Scott Powersports ride.

Domination

July 15, 2012 I was doing some research on Grand National Podium finishes when I noticed this interesting tidbit: The 1990 AMA Grand National Championship hosted 15 rounds. Scott Parker scored 13 consecutive podium finishes that year - out of 15 events! I haven't finished looking, but I'm pretty sure that's a record.

But when I checked the final points standings, he "only" won the title by 20 points over Chris Carr - 249 to 229. So I looked, and found that Carr had also scored 13 podium finishes that year, albeit not consecutively. Two guys combined to take 26 of the 45 total podium spots in one calendar year. Wow!

FWIW, Parker's 13 podiums included 7 wins, 5 runners-up, and 1 "show" position, for 233 of his 249 total points. Carr, for comparison, scored 4 wins, 7 runners-up, and two "show" positions, for 218 of his 229 total points.

Walking Wounded Update

July 14, 2012 This year has seen an unsual amount of injuries to top riders than any recent year I can remember. To wit:

I'm confident that I haven't listed them all, but these are ones I can think of off the top of my head... Hope they all get well soon.

Grand National Championship Volume II: 1970-1975

July 4, 2012 I have had the pleasure of proofreading Greg Pearson's latest book - The Complete Grand National Championship VOlume II - and it is as good as the original! One thing really grabbed my attention, though. Back in the day, when racers crashed, the race continued. In many cases, during the 20 or 25-lap National, a rider would crash, but pick themselves up off the ground and charge back through the field.

Nowadays, the red flag comes out any time a rider hits the dirt. When I started racing in 1979, my dad told us that if we crash, we'd better get up unless we're mortally wounded. Sometime after then, riders were apparently coached to 'play possum' and lie still until the red flag was thrown.

>sigh<

History Lesson

July 3, 2012 The Memorial Day Springfield Mile drew 49 Expert competitors while the Lima, Ohio half mile drew 43. Undoubtedly, some will begin whining about the 'lack' of entries and what is AMA/DMG going to do about it?

Until the economy improves, there's not much that anyone can do about rider entries. Despite the improvement of the Kawasaki 650 engines, it still costs big bucks to build a bike and race the series. I recently reviewed some data from the 1973 Grand National Championship. Most - myself included - consider the 1970s as the sport's 'heyday'. The 1973 Grand National Championship had 24 events: 2 ST, 4 TT, 5 HM, 4M, and 9 RR. Four of the last 8 rounds saw very low rider turnouts:

Maybe the Glory Days weren't as glorious as we remember...

2012 Dairyland Classic Thoughts

June 6, 2012 My family and I wish to extend our sincere gratitude and appreciate for those of you who chose to invest your time and money to attend, participate in, or otherwise support our efforts to run Wisconsin's premier dirt track motorcycle racing event! We had a number of glitches last Friday - all of which will be addressed prior to 2013 - but thankfully we can report no significant injuries and we managed to dodge the rain drops once again.

I welcome your feedback as you - the spectators - are far and away the most important people who attend our event. Each year we discuss and debate what to change in the hopes of improving the event. This year we attempted a couple:

  • We brought along a T-Shirt slingshot this year. This seemed to be a popular activity.

  • We conducted some pre-race interviews with some of the top Pro/Expert riders, including Jared Mees, Brad Baker, Kenny Coolbeth, Henry Wiles, Mikey Avila and Jake Cunningham. These seem to be well-received, but did they retract from the post-race interviews?

  • We replaced the Amateur Semis with an Amateur B-Main. History shows that riders who transfer from the semis are the same who would have transfered directly from the heats if we didn't run semis at all. As such, I felt the B-Main offered a better alternative than simply delaying the inevitable, plus it gave me the flexibility of jostling the events around if bad weather is in the area. In this case, I was able to move the Finals up, and had time permitted I could have run the Amateur B-Main at the end of the night. Since we had a 10pm curfew, and we finished the Dash For Cash at 9:57pm, there was no time for the Amateur B-Main.

  • We kept the semis in the Pro/Expert division, but when it began sprinkling at 8:30pm, I re-checked the radar and there was rain just to our West. I made the decision to scrap the Pro/Expert semis and move the Pro/Expert final earlier to ensure we could get that in before any rain washed us out. Even with the benefit of hindsight, I would have made the same decision. Better to be safe than sorry. As stated earlier, historically speaking the riders who transfer from the semis are typically those who would have transferred from the heats, so to me it made sense to play it safe.

    Old Man McCoy Does It Again

    May 27, 2012 Willie McCoy just won his second AMA Grand National Springfield Mile. He's now the third-oldest rider to ever win a Grand National event, behind only Jay Springsteen and Steve Morehead. Great job, Willie!

    Walking Wounded

    May 27, 2012 Well, the Grand National weekend in Springfield has turned another couple of stars into the walking wounded. Unfortunately, our local hero JR Schnabel, AMA National #33, is likely done for the season. He crashed over the jump at Saturday's TT and broke his C5 and C6 vertebrae. Surgery is scheduled for Monday. We are wishing JR a speedy and full recovery!

    Sammy Halbert (AMA National #7), Nicole Cheza (AMA National #15), Brandon Robinson (AMA National #44), and Rob 'Bugs' Pearson (AMA National #27) all took a tumble on the opening lap of the Grand National Mile National. Halbert seemed to take the worst trip of the bunch, getting thrown over the handlebars into the air fence. Hope all are OK.

    Racing Minors + Liability Insurance

    May 25, 2012 We have been informed by our sanctioning group that any minor intending to compete at the Dairyland Classic needs to have ONE of the following items in order to be allowed to compete:

    This includes Pro/Expert competitors (who may be as young as 16 when they obtain their AMA Pro racing license). This new requirement ensures that we are fully covered by the AMA liability insurance for our event. The form in question can be found by clicking here.

    Roll Call #2

    May 18, 2012 Add AMA National #2 Kenny Coolbeth from Warren, Connecticut to the pre-entry list! Kenny is a three-time AMA Grand National champion (2006-2007-2008) and also a two-time Dairyland Classic winner (2003 & 2008). He is also one of few remaining full-time Grand National competitors who raced against my brother Jim, who died ten years ago this month in a racing accident.

    Elkhorn

    May 6, 2012 A new promoter attempted to run a motorcycle race at the Walworth County Fairgrounds today. It would have been the first motorcycle races on the half mile since 1989. (Motorcycle racing had been an annual or bi-annual event at the facility since 1963). Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other ideas, as it started raining - hard - right before 11am and didn't stop until deep into the afternoon. No word yet on whether the promoter will attempt it again later this year or next year or...never.

    I intended to race myself for the first time in 10 years, and I saw a lot of faces in the pits who also had not competed at all in many years. I guess many of us have such fond memories of the place that when we all had the chance to race there again...the draw was too much to keep us away. Shame that it rained, although it sure looked like it was going to be a dry, dusty track had we actually gotten bikes on the track.

    Hopefully we'll get a chance to try it again sometime.

    Roll Call #1

    April 29, 2012 The Pro/Expert division already has some heavy hitters heading our way:

    More names will be added as they reveal themselves!

    Welcome Sadoff Iron & Metal!

    April 17, 2012 New sponsor alert! Sadoff Iron & Metal provides scrap metal recycling throughout the Midwest, including six locations in Wisconsin - Manitowoc, Sheboygan, Green Bay, Fond du Lac, Berlin, and Oshkosh! As their tagline reads, "Recycle with confidence". We are very pleased to have them on-board to help us present Wisconsin's premier dirt track motorcycle racing event on June 1!

    2012 Update

    April 1, 2012 We've been silent, but we've been busy. We are very pleased to announce that Hoban Brothers is returning for their third year as our Headline Sponsor!

    We are equally pleased to introduce two new event sponsors: Gruber Law Officers in Milwaukee and Ewald Automotive Group!

    Daytona 2012

    March 17, 2012 The 30th and 31st AMA Grand National dirt track nationals in Daytona Beach were run this previous weekend, and the AMA Grand National club has welcomed its 155th and 156th members. Johnny Lewis, National #10, secured his first AMA Grand National win on the first night, and was 1/4 of a lap from repeating on Friday when he and Jared Mees both tried to occupy the same spot in the turn 3, and Lewis took a soil sample. During the melee, Matt Weidman snuck through for his first Grand National win.

    The sport has been a bit low in the 'first-time winner' category for a number of years. There were six first-time winners in 2002, but only 9 first-time winners in the nine years since then. Already in 2012, we have two first-time winners! And yet, this is Johnny's 5th season in the circuit, and Matt's sixth year. Back 'in the day', most riders were 'cresting the hill' on their career at 6 years...now, riders are just getting started!

    Johnny and Matt - welcome to the club. Here's hoping that we see more of the both of you on the podiums!

    2012 Here We Come

    January 14, 2012 Friday June 1 will be the date of the 28th Annual Dairyland Classic flat track motorcycle races at the Sheboygan County Fair Park! We have not yet finalized our line-up for this year, although we suspect it will be very similar to our successful 2011 line-up. We appreciate your feedback as to what YOU (the fans) would like to see more (or less) of!

    SpeedTV - Lucas Oil On The Edge

    January 6, 2012 The 2011 Dairyland Classic has begun hitting the airwaves on SpeedTV's Lucas Oil On The Edge program. Season 8, Episode 1, will feature the Pro/Expert division as well as Jet Boats, and will air at 5pm CT (6pm ET) on Saturday, January 7.

    The Vintage and Quad divisions will be shown in Season 8, Episode 4, along with 'flag pole racing', at 5pm CT (6pm ET) on Saturday February 25.

    2011 Grand National Year In Review

    October 27, 2011 Jake Johnson claimed his second consecutive AMA Grand National Championship two weeks ago. Sammy Halbert claimed the first two Nationals of the year and led the season points for 16 of the 19 rounds, before handing the lead over the Jared Mees. Mees then crashed out of the Calistoga event and handed the points over the Johnson in the penultimate round. For the second year in a row, Johnson claimed the title thanks, in part, to a major mistake by his main rival in the penultimate round. In 2010, Jake entered the Shakopee, MN round 10 points behind Joe Kopp. Kopp DNF'd that race to give Jake a 10 point lead heading into the final round in Arizona. This year, Jake entered Calistoga 18 points behind Mees, but left with an 8-point lead.

    More interesting tidbits of 2011:

    DMG

    October 25, 2011 With the completion of the 2011 Grand National season, how is DMG doing? Recall that DMG (Daytona Motorsports Group) bought the AMA Pro Racing properties from AMA (Ohio) in 2007, took over the Grand National Series in May of 2008 (after the series schedule and rules were already in place). Thus, 2009 was the first season with the DMG "stamp" on it, in terms of venues selected. Let's see:

    While each new venue brought with it a steep learning curve, no significant complaints have been reported. In most cases, the track prep provided a racey surface and the programs ran on time. Many of us can recall the tumultuous 2007 season in which several events were plagued by mismanagement on several fronts. Most significantly the Syracuse New York round at which the main event was 'rained out' without a cloud in the sky, the West Liberty Iowa round in which the promoter attempted to run the race without the AMA, and the Las Vegas round in which the track was deemed unsafe after practice.

    DMG has introduced the "Dash For Cash", which offers Grand National points, and this year introduced an additional Grand National point for leading the most laps.

    Chris Carr Ends Career

    October 16, 2011 Last night, in Pomona, California, Chris Carr hung up his helmet and steel shoe for the last time as a professional flat track racer.

  • 7 career AMA Grand National Championships (second all-time)
  • 78 career AMA Grand National wins (second all-time)
  • 25 years finishing in the top 10 in Grand National points (most all-time)
  • 22 years finishing in the top 5 in the Grand National points (most all-time)
  • 18 years finishing in the top 3 in the Grand National points (most all-time)
  • Grand National wins on six different brands (most all-time)
  • Grand National wins on 31 different tracks (most all-time)
  • 7 career AMA 600 National championships (most all-time)
  • 31 career AMA 600 National wins (most all-time)

    Perhaps most impressively, he competed in the Grand National Championship for 25 years, plus two years chasing the AMA Superbike Championship, without missing a race due to injury. It was an honor to have him compete at the Dairyland Classic in 2006, 2010, and 2011.

    450 Pros on The Mile

    September 10, 2011 Another 'big wreck' occured on the Springfield Mile last weekend in the 450cc Pro Singles division. As is common, there is considerable hubbub online about how unsafe the 450 Pros are on the mile, and what is AMA/DMG going to do about it?

    News flash: racing motorcycles at high speeds is dangerous. We now return you to your regularly scheduled programme.

    My big question is, what makes the 450 Pros so unsafe on the miles?

  • Too many riders in too big of a cluster?
  • Too many riders making aggressive 'short track' moves?
  • Too little respect among the riders (surely they wouldn't stuff Chris Carr on a mile, would they?)

    I am seeing a lot of Pro riders expressing their fears/concerns online, yet none are offering suggestions on how to remedy the situation. Some non-racers want the 450s pulled from the miles. This is not he answer. The whole point is to give the Pro riders mile track experience before they hop on a 750cc twin and line up next to Carr, Mees, Halbert, et al.

    Some (racers and non-racers) have suggested running restricted twins in the Pro division. This won't work either, as the purse money is intentionally low in the Pro division - very few team owners will build twins for the little return.

    Without knowing the true problem, the best suggestion I have seen yet comes from team owner Dick Weirbach, who suggests fewer riders in each Pro event on a mile. Currently they pull 32 riders from qualifying into two 16-rider heats, then a LCQ, and finally an 18-rider main. Maybe 16 & 18 riders is just too many guys at one time. Maybe that many riders increases the sense that one needs to bonzai to the front and stay there at all costs.

    So pull the 32 from qualifying into four 8-rider heats and run either a single 12-rider main or run two 8-rider mains ("A" and "B" main). The riders get experience, they don't feel like 15 guys are breathing down their neck, and maybe there will be less concern.

    But it sounds like the bigger problem is that the riders are too aggressive on the miles. Some have suggested having Carr, Mees, or others 'coach' the younger guys. No offense, but I put little confidence that a lecture will work. What they need is stiff punishment for rough riding on the miles. Maybe they even need to make the mile events "invitation only". If you prove to be a safe rider on the small tracks, you get invited to run the big tracks. If you're hell on wheels on a short track, what are the odds you'll be safe on a mile?

    Interestingly, I've yet to hear of a Pro Singles rider disciplined for rough riding. Experts, yes, but not Pro Singles riders.

    The Mindset List

    September 2, 2011 This year's college freshmen were born in 1993-1994. Each August since 1998, Beloit College has released the Beloit College Mindset List, providing a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college this fall. To put their list into flat track racing terms, this year's college freshman have:

    End Of An Era

    August 14, 2011 This thought just occurred to me. When Chris Carr retires at the end of the season, he will be the last guy currently competing in the AMA Grand National Championship that races at all of the historic, yet now-defunct, racetracks.

    Not to mention he's the last guy competing in the GNC Series who raced at Daytona Memorial Stadium, Daytona Municipal Stadium, and the new Daytona Flat Track at the International Speedway. If you get a chance to meet up with him yet this year, I encourage you to seek him out. I had the pleasure of reminiscing with him earlier this year and he has a sharp memory of most places he's been and most things he's done.

    Sobering thought...

    July 4, 2011 It just now dawned on me that very few stars on the 2011 Grand National Championship ever raced against my brother, Jim, who died on May 26, 2002 on the Springfield mile.

    Among the top 25 from last year's GNC standings, I only notice a few: Joe Kopp (2nd), Kenny Coolbeth (5th), Chris Carr (7th), JR Schnabel (15th), Shaun Russell (19th), and Willie McCoy (21st). Joe Kopp retired (for the most part) this year, Shaun Russell and Willie McCoy are running limited schedules, and Chris Carr retires at the end of this year. That only leaves two - Coolbeth and Schnabel. If JR retires after this year, that leaves ONE top 20 GNC guy who raced against my brother, who held National 45 from 1991 until 2002.

    I guess a lot can change in 9 years....

    Rider Reviews

    June 27, 2011 Browsing the internet, I came across a variety of Pro/Expert race reports from this year's Dairyland Classic:

    Finally, a dry one

    June 4, 2011 After eleven years of attempts, I was finally allowed to host a Dairyland Classic event without ANY rain falling while I was at the facility! I understand Elkhart Lake had a thunderstorm around 7am on Friday, but no rain fell at the Sheboygan County Fair Park.

    We estimate that the grandstands we filled to just over 3/4 capacity, which would put it as the second-largest crowd we've drawn in 11 years. Our thanks and gratitute to all who came out to support our efforts to host Wisconsin's Premier Flat Track Motorcycle Racing event!

    Early on, we had a persistent 40mph wind blowing from the south, which meant we had to put a lot more water onto the track in the hopes of keeping it we enough to get good traction. As we launched the first bikes out for practice, I was anxious to see if the bikes would start kicking up dust or not. Luckily, the extra effort by Dale and Kathy Baumann paid off, as we didn't have any dust on the racing surface all night long. With the winds still prominent as we launched our autograph session, we decided to lay another coat of water down, and this paid off very well. Once the sun went down, the moisture came back up and the racing line got tackier. For the first time, in recent memory, the races got faster as the night progressed - our last Pro/Expert semi was the fastest six-lap race we've ever had, and the Pro/Expert main broke the previous record for a twenty-lap event by over eight seconds! One of the riders in the Pro/Expert main told me that by the midpoint in the race, he was getting so much grip in the corners that he was having a hard time getting through the corners.

    We drew the largest group of Vintage riders and also the largest group of Quad riders in our history! Our Amateur division continues to be very strong, but the Youth division continues to be the one that seems to draw the least interest from competitors. We will be thinking about changing this division for 2012 to one that will enhance our overall program.

    We are humbled by the spectator turnout last night, and on behalf of my family, we thank you for supporting us!

    Nine years ago

    May 26, 2011 My younger brother, Jim, rode his self-prepared XR750 onto the Springfield Mile for the last time, nine years ago this morning. He made a single lap at speed before God called him home. He had actually passed away after crashing at the Peoria TT four years earlier, so we were blessed to get four more years with him.

    My, how time flies...

    One week from tomorrow

    May 25, 2011 We will host the Chris Carr Farewell To Flat Track party at West Bend Harley-Davidson! 6-8pm! Thursday June 2! Chris says he'll have his bikes there and he'll be seeling his Tour t-shirts and from my experience he'll be willing to talk about anything and everything.

    Joining Chris will be XR1200 road racer Kyle Wyman, who won the Daytona XR1200 race earlier this year and will be competing at Road America on June 4.

    Of all the things to whine about...

    May 25, 2011 Yes, I am hard down getting ready for the 27th Annual Dairyland Classic next weekend. But something flared up on an internet forum and I feel compelled to say 'get over it'.

    Someone is upset that Sammy Halbert is promoting himself as a Grand National Champion on the grounds that when the AMA recognized the separate Singles and Twins championships in 2006, they did not mention any overall Grand National Champion. As fate would have it, Kenny Coolbeth won the Twins Championship in 2006, and also scored the most overall points (when you combine the individual Singles and Twins points together). This same scenario occured in 2007 and 2008. Jake Johnson won the Singles titles in 2006 and 2008, while Coolbeth won the Singles title in 2007. Being a historian for the sport, in my terminology, Kenny Coolbeth is a 3-time Grand National Champion - 2006 thru 2008. The fact that in 2007 he won both the Singles AND Twins championships is just gravy on the icing. For those three years, one guy rode #1 on all Singles races, while another rode #1 on all Twins races. In 2008 it happened to be the same guy. And in each of those three years, the guy who scored the most combined points also got to wear #1 at least some of the time.

    In 2009, the inevitable happened. Henry Wiles won the Singles title, Jared Mees won the Twins title, but Sammy Halbert scored the more combined points than either of them.

    For 2010, the AMA found themselves in a bit of a pickle, as they hadn't planned for this to happen. They had already promised that each champ would wear #1 at their respective races, but they hadn't planned on someone winning the overall without winning one of the "official" titles. So right before Daytona 2010, they announced the National Number list, and awarded Sammy Halbert a single digit - #7. While not formally recognizing him as an official Grand National Champion, in essence (in my mind) they were acknowledging his accomplishment. After all, since 1954, 23 riders had scored the most points in the various disciplines that composed the Grand National Championship, and all (except one) wore the #1 plate the following year.

    Final point on the matter: Do you know who won the first ever Super Bowl? It was the Baltimore Colts over the Dallas Cowboys on January 17, 1971, in a game now known as Super Bowl V. The games now recognized as Super Bowls I through IV were then known as the NFL-AFL Championship Games.

    Chris Carr Farewell Tour

    May 4, 2011 As stated earlier, Chris Carr is on his Farewell To Flat Track tour this year, and the Dairyland Classic is ON that tour! We know that we run a very tight schedule at the Dairyland Classic, so in an effort to give fans a little more one-on-one time with Mr. Carr as he makes his final Wisconsin appearances, we have arranged to have him appear at West Bend Harley-Davidson on Thursday, June 2, from 6-8pm. Chris will be available to talk about his career, his experiences - did you know that he was the first person to go 350mph on a motorcycle? - his successes, his work with American Supercamp, his ambitions for his future, where he hopes the sport is headed, ask him for advice about sponsorships, or bike set-up, or workouts....in other words, we've asked him to be available to talk about what YOU want to talk about.

    We hope to see a good turnout for Chris' Farewell tour!

    We will have Fuzz Martin from WBWI (92.5 FM) on site as well to help inform the listening area about Chris' Tour and, of course, the Dairyland Classic presented by Hoban Brothers!

    More New Sponsors!

    May 3, 2011 We've landed two more new sponsors - Triumph City of Milwaukee and Ala Roma's Pizzeria & Pub in Fond du Lac!

    Triumph City is Milwaukee's only Triumph dealership! Want to get a closer look at the new Rocket III, Bonneville, or Speed Triple? click here!

    Ala Roma's Italian Pizzeria and Pub is on Pioneer Road in Fond du Lac, just east of Hwy 41 and south of Hwy 23. Not far from the Sheboygan County Fair Park! Click here to check out their entire menu, available for eating in or taking home! They can even cater your next post-race party!

    New Sponsors!

    April 12, 2011 We've landed another new sponsor - Ducati of Milwaukee! If you have the desire for an exotic Italian motorcycle, click here!

    Now On Facebook

    April 11, 2011 Are web sites "so 90s"? We hope not, but if you prefer to follow us on Facebook, click here!"

    Pro Racing Memorial Centennial

    April 7, 2011 My personal labor of love - the Pro Racing Memorial - has reached 100 members. Today I added Kenny Ingle and Casey Stines to the Memorial (which can be seen here). Even though both perished over sixty years ago, each and every name I have added over the years has been a very moving experience. Some more than others obviously.

    On a positive note, no sooner did I add Kenny and Casey that I received an email from a gentleman who noticed that the Babe Robertson entry was rather lacking, and he wanted to share his personal memories. It is moments like that in which I take tremendous joy. I have been blessed to have a number of people find my Memorial Page while looking for more information about family members, friends, etc. The most vivid of these memories are the woman who had broken up with a racer years ago but never knew what happened to him until finding his name on my Memorial, and the woman who never knew her grandfather raced motorcycles until she found his name on my Memorial. She also learned that he was a very good racer, and very well-respected.

    My heartfelt thanks to all who have helped me document, preserve, and recognize the brave men who gave their lives while racing. I often remember that when I first came into the Internet, there were a few pages that attempted to recognize racers who had passed on, but all were simply lists of names. I wanted to add more than just names. I also wanted to document as much as I could, hence why I feel compelled to list as much information as possible - professional rank, location, and specific (yet hopefully not too gruesome) details of the accident. I do this last bit out of wholehearted respect, to ensure that the truth is listed, hopefully to prevent rumors from spreading. In the case of my brother, rumors continue to spread that are contrary to what truly happened. It may not be pleasant, but I try to write what happened.

    I thank you all for your support.

    New Event Sponsor - Kronospark

    March 5, 2011 We are proud to announce our first new sponsor for the 2011 Dairyland Classic - Kronospark Power Systems out of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. They make lead acid and lithium racing batteries. We are thrilled to have them on board! Click here to find out more about Kronospark!

    Chris Carr Farewell To Flat Track Tour 2011

    February 26, 2011 Chris Carr has announced that 2011 will be his final year of professional flat track competition, after that he hopes to move into managing a team with other riders twisting the throttles. With 78 Grand National wins and 7 Grand National titles to his credit - not that I'm overlooking his 31 wins and 7 titles in the now-defunct AMA 600 National Series that ran from 1988-1996, or his 350.884 MPH speed at the Bonneville Salt Flats a couple years ago - he has earned the right to step away on his terms. I often bring up that when Chris was a rookie expert in 1985, the most seasoned veteran on the circuit was Gary Scott, the 1975 AMA Grand National Champion, who was a year away from hanging up his steel shoe but was in his 14th season in the Expert division. Chris has now been competitive in the Expert division for 27 years, meaning this year's rookies had to go up against nearly DOUBLE the experience that Chris had to in his rookie year of 1985!

    Chris has graciously asked The Dairyland Classic to be on his Farewell To Flat Track Tour, and we have accepted. As I have said many times, because our event is not a Grand National event, we never really know who is coming and who is not each year. We've had guys "commit", but then not show, and we've had guys say "no thanks" who show up and surprise us! All the annual uncertainty makes it tough to market our event to our sponsors and our fans. Having Chris "on board" this early is at least a feather in our cap going forward to June that we can be confident about. And with no Grand National events currently scheduled for June 4-5, we surely hope to see ALL of the Grand National stars up in Plymouth on June 3!

    Speed TV

    February 25, 2001 We were absolutely thrilled when SpeedTV showed up in Plymouth last year to film the 2010 Dairyland Classic. Folks keep asking about when the shows will air, and as of this writing...we still don't know. The races will air as part of the Lucas Oil On The Edge program, but which air dates, and how the event will be spliced up, we still don't know. First we were told "January", then "February", and the latest is "maybe March, Maybe June". When we know more, we'll let everyone know.

    End Of Year Thoughts

    October 26, 2010 In no particular order:

  • Rider Of The Year: Joe Kopp. Joe signed on to ride the Ducati Hypermotard on all the miles, and he did just that, winning the opening round at Prescott Valley and then struggling at the others. Late in the year, with the Grand National points lead, he COULD have parked the Duc and rolled out his trusty XR750, but he DIDN'T. He told me that he gave the Lloyd Brothers his word that he would ride the Ducati and he didn't want to let them down. Thanks for not letting us fans down too, Joe. Sad to see you didn't claim your second Grand National Title, but sticking with the Duc was a solid move.
  • Team Of The Year: Lloyd Brothers. Mike & Dave Lloyd and Kevin Atherton built the Ducati that became the first twin-cylinder to defeat an XR750 on a mile in 17 years.
  • Ride of the Year: Chris Carr, Shakopee, MN, Dash For Cash. Carr was dogging Jake Johnson down the backstretch on the last lap when it all went horribly wrong. Carr drafted to the outside of Johnson but someway, somehow, ended up out in the boonies, running over the track markers and having a very real "oh sh*t" moment. Carr didn't back down, and merely wicked the throttle even harder and blasted around the outside in the deep cushion, then drafted past Johnson for a narrow victory. It was the most amazing thing I have seen on a motorcycle in quite a while. Absolutely breathtaking.
  • Performance Of The Year: Jeremy Higgins/KTM Team. Prior to 2010, Jeremy Higgins had never ridden a twin-cylinder racer before, and had never ridden a "framer" before. He had only ridden three amateur mile events in his life, the last on a 250cc bike. Yet the first twin-cylinder race of the year saw him on a 900cc custom-framed KTM V-twin dirt tracker for the Waters Auto Body team. He put that other orange-and-black bike into its first-ever main event at Shakopee, MN, then made a second mile National at the season-ending Prescott Valley. Very impressive. I talked to Jeremy for about 20 minutes after Shakopee...he reminded me a lot of myself (only he's a LOT faster than I ever was). Very mature young man.
  • The I Didn't See That Coming Award: 105mph laps at the Fall Springfield Mile. I wasn't there, but the lap times were sizzling. Three riders (Bryan Smith, Chris Carr, Jake Johnson) all recorded lap times OVER 105 mph, with all 18 riders in the main recording laps over 102 mph.
  • More to come later...



    Jake Johnson / Team Zanotti Win Championship

    October 10, 2010 Jake Johnson won the race and the title(s) at Prescott Valley, yesterday, finishing 20 points in front of Joe Kopp and defending champion Jared Mees. This is Jake's first overall Grand National Championship - he won the Grand National Singles title in 2006 & 2008 - so next year he wears the #1 plate at ALL AMA events! Thanks Mike Kidd for re-establishing the Grand National Championship!

    Big congrats go out to Dave Zanotti, who built the bikes and twisted the wrenches. Dave has been a recurring visitor to the Dairyland Classic since 2004, spinning the wrenches for Jethro & occasionally Sam Halbert. Dave missed the race this year as the weather was looking mighty iffy, and Jake was leading the points and wanted to focus on the Grand Nationals. (I talked to both at Shakopee, MN in September and both said they'd try to make it to the 2011 Dairyland Classic)! This year Dave hooked up with Johnson and the rest, as they say is history. Their worst finish this season was a 13th at Gas City, which Jakes says was due to his personal performance. Dave gets credit for being the first second-generation tuner (or rider, for that matter) to win the Grand National Championship - his late father, Mario, wrenched Steve Eklund to the 1979 title!

    Big congrats also go out to Jefferey Carver, who claimed the Pro Singles championship this year. Jefferey won our 250 Amateur division in 2005 & 2006, and came back this year to finish 10th in the 450cc Pro Main.

    One To Go...

    September 26, 2010 In two weeks, we will crown a new AMA Grand National Champion. Currently Jake Johnson has a 10-point lead of Joe Kopp, with Jared Mees another 9 back, Henry Wiles another 7 back. Technically there are 28 maximum points to be earned at Prescott Valley, and Wiles is 26 behind Johnson, but its rare for these top guys to miss a main event. I figure it'll be Johnson or Kopp, and Kopp needs a lot of help (after his DNF at Shakopee, and the rain-out at Knoxville, IA).

    Jake has two Grand National Singles titles (2006 & 2008) on his mantle, but no overall Grand National Championships. Kopp won the overall (only) championship in 2000. Whoever hoists the #1 plate on October 9 will do us proud.



    Same Tired Arguments

    September 24, 2010 As the end of the season approaches, it is customary for a select few in the online community to begin second-guessing those in power at AMA/DMG. With multi-brand racing finally a reality in the Grand National Twins division - eight different brands have competed with six scoring points and three scoring victories - it seems a bit odd againdoubly out of place this year. But that doesn't stop them

    One online camp is shouting that AMA/DMG should remove all intake restrictors from the engines and let the tuners battle with no holds barred. We had a "no restrictor" rule in the Expert division up until 1987, and the last 5 years of that rule only saw two OEMs participating - Harley-Davidson and Honda. Even AMA's efforts to bring in new engine configurations through the ill-fated "Project 2000" only managed to secure one viable alternative - the Suzuki TL1000/SV1000/SV650. The intake restrictors were first installed onto Grand National Expert twins for 1987, only recently - have any other configurations started to gain a foothold in the sport. The six brands reaching main events this year are the venerable Harley-Davidson XR750, the Suzuki SV650/1000, the Aprilia Mille, the Ducati Hypermotard, the Kawasaki Ninja 650, the Triumph 865cc Bonneville, and the KTM 900cc. If the restrictors were removed, I can pretty much predict that all those other engines will go back into the garages and never be seen again.

    These are many of the same folks who whine about the current Grand National Singles rules that require 450cc single-cylinder engines in OEM frames. "Let the 'big bore framers' back in!" they shout. We had an "open ended" rule package from 1984 until 2002, and I'd reckon 96% of the riders had Rotax engines. Not much brand diversity there.

    Another rally cry amongst the online masses is that the spec tire rule is ruining the sport, and tying the hands of the tuner. Another is that since we have a spec tire rule, the tire itself can only transmit so much horespower to the track and therefore it is "the great equalizer". This then leads to their conclusion that any intake restrictors is superfluous, since the tire will limit how much horespower can be used. One tuner recently published horespower graphs online showing how the Suzuki SV1000 puts out more horespower than the venerable XR750 across the powerband, yet was unable to use this extra power to secure a race victory. Hindsight being 20-20, I wonder if those tuners knew this, and if they did, why didn't they simply de-tune the SV1000 so it mimicked the power curve of the XR750. One less variable to worry about, in my opinion. In any case, with the exception of a couple of years earlier this decade in which Maxxis and Continental produced dirt track tire, we have essentially had a spec tire rule in place since 1988 or so. Much more ado about nothing.

    In any case, the silly season is upon us. Everyone is entitled to their opinions. I, for one, am very pleased with the progress the Grand National Series has made in two short years, and I look forward to seeing how 2010 ends and what happens in 2011.



    New Video Posted

    September 16, 2010 On the HOME page of this website (click here), you will now find a new video shot by TheFastAndDirty.Com from the 2010 Dairyland Classic, with some Springfield TT stuff mixed in. Enjoy!



    It's been a while...

    September 12, 2010 I attended the AMA Grand National event in Shakopee, Minnesota last night. I have not been to an AMA Grand National since May 26, 2002, the day my younger brother Jim died at Springfield. As you know, I have promoted the Dairyland Classic since 2001, so while I have not attended Nationals, I have certainly been in touch with most of the top Pro riders over the years. But I am so busy at my race that I don't have much time to chat.

    The amazing response I got while walking through the pits (and the grandstands) was unbelievable. To have the very top guys in the sport thank me and my family for putting on the Dairyland Classic is just tremendous. Even guys who have only been to the Dairyland once greeted me like an old friend.

    My thoughts about the racing? Well, multi-brands were certainly present (even if Harley-Davidsons were clearly the top choice). Two Kawasakis, one Triumph, one Ducati, and one KTM made the Expert Final, and there was even a Buell XB9 competing (which did not make the Final). Canterbury Park is a horse track, whose main surface is a kind of sand. For motorcycles, they scraped down to the limestone base. In practice and in the heat races, everyone ran down on the brushed-off groove. In the semis, everyone went up to the haybales and started throwing rooster-tails over the air fence at 100mph! I haven't seen THAT in years. Because of the shape of the track (long straights, tight corners), guys were backing into the corners - something else I haven't seen in years! Joe Kopp (National #3) was the hard-luck story of the night. He's been leading the newly-combined AMA Grand National Championship all year, and came into Canterbury with a 20-point lead. Joe was running fourth or fifth on his Ducati in the main when he dramatically slowed in turn one - he'd lost his brake pedal the previous corner. For those who don't know, not only do guys use the brakes when slowing down in the corners, they also drag the brake while getting through the corners to keep the wheels inline and get better drives. So without the brake pedal, Joe couldn't slow down the way he wanted to, and he couldn't get through the corners the way he wanted to. He struggled for 17 laps, bouncing off the outer berm of the racetrack every lap as he tried to keep a firm hold on 8th place (his championship rival, Jake Johnson, was running second). Well, five laps from the end, the Ducati spit the chain off, leaving Joe stranded in 16th place. Just like that, a 10-point lead became a 10-point deficit, with two rounds left.

    To his credit, Joe was smiles and jovial after the races. I caught his eye in his pit and he came right over, shrugged and said "we'll get 'em next week". I saw another top rider who had a mechanical issue earlier in the night to find out what happened and he told me "I've been telling everyone else (this), but in reality what happened was (that)".

    All in all, I had a great time. Great facility. Even with only 25 Experts and 19 Pros, one hell of a show. It's not often you get to see guys rooster-tailing 750cc machines at over 100mph. If you get a chance to catch them at Knoxville, IA on 9/18 or Yavapai Downs on 10/9, I strongly recommend it.



    History and Suspensions

    September 11, 2010 My mother reminded me that I hadn't blogged since June, so here goes:

    In the first three AMA Grand National Mile races in 2010, three different brands/OEMs have claimed victory. Joe Kopp and his Ducati Hypermotard claimed the win at Prescott Valley, Arizona on May 1. Jake Johnson won Springfield on his Harley-Davidson XR750 on Memorial Day, and Bryan Smith won Indy on his Kawasaki Ninja on 8/28. The last time three DIFFERENT brands won AMA Grand National Mile races in a single year...1973, when Yamaha, Triumph, and Harley collectively won the four miles on the calendar that year.

    Heading into tonight's AMA Grand National round in Minneapolis comes news that Sam Halbert has been suspended by the AMA for rough riding, following an incident at least weekend's National Short Track in Springfield. According to the AMA, Sam has been on probation since May, presumably after he tangled with Henry Wiles at an All-Star race in Illinois (Sam won; Henry tumbled after the flag). A month or so later, Sam had a similar incident at a non-National short track in Galesburg, Illinois, in which he and Rob Pearson got together, with Pearson getting the worst of the contact. At last week's Short Track National in Springfield, Sam and Luke Gough got together, with Gough ending up on the ground.

    As Kevin Bacon's supervisor told him in Wild Things: "Once is an accident, twice is happenstance, but three times...that's a trend". I did not witness any of the three incidents, but the similarities between the three incidents is a bit tough to overlook. In each case Sam was ahead, and the rider behind was making a move, and the two came together. It is very unfortunate that it came to this, especially as Sam is currently in third place in the overall Grand National Points. However, I am confident that AMA/DMG did not take this decision lightly - I am certain that the last thing they wanted to do was muck up a good points race. However, as Mike Kidd said, Sam has been on probation for most of the year, and he knows they have been watching him.

    I think the world of the Halbert family and Sam in particular; hopefully he takes this suspension in stride and comes out stronger on the other end.

    The last championship contender that I remember being suspended was some guy named Bubba Shobert, who was suspended for 6 of the last 14 rounds of 1984. He came back from that suspension reaching the podium in 7 of those last 8 races, and missing the championship that year by a single point (despite missing 6 races). He then went on to dominate the 1985-86-87 seasons.



    What is the world coming to?

    June 13, 2010 I am noticing a very disturbing trend in the world of flat track motorcycle racing (not at the Professional level, mind you). Earlier this week, a very high profile event scheduled for today in Lancaster, California was cancelled due to lower-than-expected pre-entries. Last weekend a mid-level event scheduled for Circleville, Ohio was cancelled ON RACE DAY due to low rider turnout, and last night the long-running Charity Newsies in Dayton, Ohio was cancelled due to low anticipated spectator turnout, but only after an attempt to cut the rider purse in half was rejected.

    This is a very disturbing trend and I wan to assure our supporters that we will never cancel an event without legitimate cause. Low rider or spectator turnout is not a legitimate reason.

    Anyone who has followed us knows our lack of luck in the weather department:

    Despite the odds, we continue to try and put our best foot forward, and I believe - now more than ever - that this explains why the riders support us and in turn, provide our fans a great show

    Luckily, at the Grand National level, quite the opposite is being seen. The Gas City, Indiana Grand National event that rained out June 6 has been rescheduled for June 19.



    2010 Dairyland Afterthoughts

    June 12, 2010 Well, I'm just now coming up for air.

    Despite the steady rain from 5am until noon, we everything cleaned up in time to start practice on-time at 5pm, and the racing on-time at 7:30pm. My sincere gratitude to those of you who came out and enjoyed the show. It was, by far, the most star-studded event I have ever presented. To wit:

    By my math, that's fourteen Grand National Champions out on the racetrack, and that's not counting the nine AMA Grand National titles that were up in the grandstands in the form of Mr. Scott Parker (1988/1989/1990/1991/1994/1995/1996/1997/1998 AMA Grand National Champion).

    From a prestige standpoint, in terms of the CURRENT 2010 AMA Grand National Championship, Kopp is tied for 1st, Coolbeth is 3rd, Halbert is 4th, Mees is 5th, Wiles is 6th, Carr is 9th. And remember, the Dairyland Classic is NOT part of the National Championship!

    I am extremely grateful that the stars of the AMA Grand National Championship continue to support our event, and I am pleased that these riders come to Plymouth every year to entertain our fans!

    I should also mention that the sole "red plate" rider in the Pro Main Event - #24P Jefferey Carver - is currently leading the 2010 AMA Pro Singles National Championship!



    Preliminary Afterthoughts

    June 5, 2010 Great night of racing last night. Stellar Pro turnout (quality-wise), and the support divisions were very solid as well. The 250 Amateur Division was the largest EVER, and the Vintage division was one rider shy of tying our previous best turnout!

    Did you notice the two gals in the victory celebration for the 250cc Amateur division? The runner-up, #23 Nikki Spore, is dating Jefferey Carver (#24P in the Pro division), while #38 is Lexi Hoffmann, who won the 85cc division just a few years ago!

    I'm most glad that the rain avoided us and we were able to put on a show!

    Best interview of the night that I heard was Chris Carr (did you know that he holds the world land speed record for a motorycle at 367.382 mph?) after winning the semi. When asked what he changed after his heat race, he replied "I sat my rider down and told him to get his head on straight" (or something to that effect).



    State Of The Sport II

    May 29, 2010 Update: in the past WEEK, DMG has made three major announcements for the Grand National Championship:

    Even in this economy, DMG has managed to find $70,000 for the Grand National Championship! Well done!!!



    National Champions Coming To Plymouth!!!

    May 28, 2010 Since the Dairyland Classic is not part of the AMA Grand National Championship series, we are never really sure which professional racers will be participating and who will not. That's why it is especially rewarding when the defending National Champions give us the heads-up that they intend to be here.

    We've known for a while that Jared Mees - the defending AMA Grand National Champion in the Twin Cylinder division - is coming back to defend his 2009 win on his #21 Honda. But I just got word today that Henry Wiles - the defending AMA Grand National Champion in the Single Cylinder division - is coming back as well, along with his #1 plate on his Kawasaki. It is only the third time that the AMA #1 plate will be on display at The Dairyland Classic!

    Consider also that Kenny Coolbeth, the 2006-2007-2008 AMA Grand National Champion, is also coming our way, as well as Joe Kopp and Sammy Halbert, and we've already got one of the most star-studded entry lists ever!



    SpeedTV Comes To Plymouth!

    May 18, 2010 We just found out that SpeedTV has decided to come to the Dairyland Classic on June 4, 2010 to film the event for an upcoming episode of Lucas Oil On The Edge! Needless to say we are pretty excited, and are currently working through the logistics to get the film crew everything they need. Now we just need YOU to help fill those seats!



    Numbers

    May 15, 2010 For those who were curious about the single digit riders' number of choice:



    First-ever Ducati AMA Grand National Win!

    May 2, 2010 The AMA Grand National Championship hit a new venue in Prescott, Arizona this weekend and Joe Kopp took a Ducati Hypermotard to the win. It was Joe's first-ever National race on the Ducati, and he caught early leader Sammy Halbert on the last lap as they came to the flag.

    Everyone knows that the Harley-Davidson XR750 has been (and continues to be) the weapon of choice on the half miles and miles. How long has it been since an XR750 DID NOT win a half mile or mile national?

    Thirteen races, actually. Kenny Coolbeth won a Half Mile National in Billings, Montana on 8/2/2008 on a Honda CRF450R. But that was a Grand National SINGLES event, not a Grand National TWINS event, so we'll scratch that. We'll do the same for Jake Johnson's Half Mile National win on 9/28/2007 in Tuscon on a Suzuki RM-Z450, for the same reason.

    For AMA Grand National events in which TWINS competed, Harley-Davidson XR750s had won 76 consecutive mile Nationals, dating back to the late Ricky Graham's 9/5/1993 Springfield, IL mile win on a Honda RS750. That's every mile National for 16 years, 7 months, and 26 days, an unprecedented streak in history (which I can trace back to 1933).

    Even including half mile Nationals, Harley-Davidson XR750s have won every half-mile and mile National (in which twins were competing) since Rich King's 8/8/1998 Joliet, IL half mile win on a Honda RS750. That's an unbroken streak of 11 years, 8 months, and 23 days.

    In addition EIGHT different twin-cylinder brands competed in Prescott - Harley-Davidson, Ducati, Suzuki, Triumph, Kawasaki, BMW, KTM, and Aprilia. SIX of them made the National Main event (only Triumph and KTM did not). This bested the previous "recent" best of five brands making the main event at the Lima, OH half mile National on 6/30/2007 and the Greenville, OH half mile National on 7/21/07. Incidentally, those two events were very nearly won by non-XR pilots, with Henry Wiles leading Lima on his Aprilia for 24 laps before being passed in the last corner, and JR Schnabel challenging for the Greenville win on his Suzuki for the entire race. In both cases, Joe Kopp took the win. Coincidence?

    Do I expect XR750s to be relegated to the dusty backrooms of garages and museums? Of course not. It is still the only valid powerplant that was built specifically for dirt track racing. But it is great to see that competition! Although it will be interesting to see how well the Ducati, Kawasaki, etc fare at Springfield - a track that everyone has piles of data on, as well as the half miles that come up later in the season.



    State Of The Sport

    April 7, 2010 DMG recently kicked off its sophomore season at the helm of the dirt track branch of AMA Pro Racing. How are they doing so far?

    I'd say that's a pretty solid start so far. So for 2010, there are three brand new single digits out there, as well as two new riders sporting #1 for the first time. Henry Wiles wears #1 at the GN Singles events (short tracks and TTs), while Jared Mees wears #1 at the GN Twins events (half miles and miles). (Wiles will wear his familiar #17 at twins events while Mees wears his familiar #21 at singles events). The new single digits this year are #2 Kenny Coolbeth, #5 Jake Johnson, and #7 Sammy Halbert.

    Halbert won the first night at Daytona in his first National as #7 - marking the first GNC win for that number since Mert Lawwill on 5/26/1974. Johnson won the second night at Daytona in his second National as #5 - marking the first GNC win for that number since Gary Scott on 9/4/1982. The series heads out went to Yavapai Downs in Arizona - we'll see if Coolbeth can notch his first win as #2.



    Wisconsin's First Family of Flat Track Suffers A Loss

    June 16, 2009 Bill Mischler, Sr., passed away last week. He was 80 years old, and the patriarch of what I would call the "first family" of dirt track racing in Wisconsin. My very first dirt track racing event was in Bill Mischler's backyard - commonly known as 'Atwater' - which featured a paperclip short track (with a curious rise at the start/finish line that permitting wheelies) and a winding 'scrambles' track (what we would know call a 'TT'). It was the only track I have ever been to that did not have any rocks. Back in 1979, when I first visited, the tracks were oiled down to keep dust to a minimum.

    Bill founded the Beaver Cycle Club, running bi-annual double-headers on the family homestead (Saturday night short tracks and Sunday afternoon TT's). I have fond, cherished memories of those weekends. Not the racing so much - I never got the hang of the short track (got my first concussion in turn 2 in 1985) and I was never a good TT rider - but the post-racing comaraderie, bench racing, and bonfires into the wee hours were good times. Saturday night racing would be done by 10pm and that's when the partying would start. It was not uncommon for folks to get to bed just before the sun rose on Sunday morning, if at all. Like camping with 100 of your buddies. The Beavers also ran the annual pro half mile events at the Dodge County Fairgrounds in Beaver Dam, back when it was a deep cushion half mile (it has since been replaced with a clay track that I am convinced is slightly smaller than the original).

    I did not know it until after his passing, but Bill was a pro racer 'back in the day'. There was one racing photo of Bill Sr. at the visitation - Novice #69G plates in a photo dated 1963, I think. My dad reports that Bill was an Expert rider in the late 60s when he had just started racing. By the time I started racing in 1979, he was the guy with the commanding voice bellowing commands from the concession stand at the top of the hill along the front straightaway of the short track. Not to say he was a boisterous fellow, he merely carried himself with confidence and bravado. To a ten-year-old kid, he was clearly not someone to mess with. He meant business.

    Bill had several children, but those in the pro racing community of the 1970s will recognize Art and Larry as those carrying on the "Mischler" name. Art was Novice #222K and later Junior #52K. Larry was Novice 162K, took a year off, and came back as Novice 160K (or maybe the other way around). Larry stopped racing Pro shortly thereafter and stopped racing altogether in the early 80s after a bad wreck going into turn one during a 3-wheeler race on the family short track. Art stopped running Pro in the early 80s, although he continues riding amateur stuff on his trusty Triumph. A third son, Billy, rode amateur in the 1970s until a riding accident ended his racing career before he could enter the pro ranks.

    Currently a third generation of Mischlers are escalating up the ranks. Art's two sons, Eric and Dan, currently hold Expert pro racing licenses (as 82K and 77K, respectively), while Billy's sons Morgen and Quinn are chasing up the amateur ranks. Art limits his racing to a select few a year, and I am honored that the Dairyland Classic is one of those events (he won a Vintage heat race this year on his Triumph).

    You can always tell a Mischler in a crowd of people by their laugh. Not so much the third generation, but Art, Larry and Billy all have the exact same laugh - a unique, contagious laugh. And they laugh often. They laugh hard. I don't think I've ever seen any of them in a foul mood. "Happy-go-lucky" does not begin to describe their family disposition.

    Just thinking of how many racers crested the hill at the Atwater clubgrounds over the years boggles the mind. I had no clue it dated back into 1959 - ten years after Bill Sr. opened his Harley dealership. Most names are unknown except to those who frequent the events. To the pro racing community, I don't think there would be any National Numbers from wisconsin over the past 50 years if not for racing events at the old Mischler place.

    So here's to you, Bill Mischler. Wisconsin flat track racing wouldn't be the same without you.



    2009 Event Aftermath

    June 15, 2009 Our heart-felt thanks to those who supported our efforts last Friday night to run a wicked-good program. Obviously without the 2,800 fans in attendance, it would NOT have been a resounding success, so we thank you. Big thanks to David Narens for filming most of the event. I never get to "watch" the racing, and even while announcing, I merely "react" to what I see, so it is a rare treat to be able to watch the races and actually enjoy them.

    Special thanks go out to my staff this year, who really stepped up and made this the least stressful event I've had yet. To the unsung guys and gals who make it happen:

    And of course a huge thank you to our sponsors, especially the Wisconsin Harley-Davidson Dealers Association, who stepped in to take the headline sponsorship this year.



    Quietly Going About History

    May 29, 2009. Twenty-five years ago, in 1985, a young Californian from Stockton named Chris Carr first hit the Grand National Championship trail. Over the next twenty-four years - 1985-2008 - he finished in the top 7 of the yearly GNC standings in EVERY YEAR he followed the tour, and finished in the top FOUR an unprecedented TWENTY times. Never before has someone been a week-in/week-out threat in his 25th season on the GNC trail.

    In addition to all of his accomplishments, he is quietly going into year #25 with absolutely minimal fanfare.



    Hit For Cycle Update

    April 20, 2009. On September 13, 2008, I blogged about the Grand Slam/Hit For The Cycle club, listing the thirteen riders who have scored at least one win in each AMA Grand National dirt track discipline - short track, TT, half mile, and mile. On March 5, 2009, the HFC club grew by one member, when Joe Kopp scored his first GNC short track win. (Joe's only orevious short track National was came in the 2002 Dairyland Classic, then part of the Formula USA National Dirt Track series, which doesn't count towards the AMA history books). So here is the new, updated membership of the Hit for The Cycle Club:



    Random Thoughts About AMA Pro Flat Track

    Dcember 31, 2008 AMA Pro Racing plans for all 2009 Grand National Championship events to run two classes - Pro (formerly Novice/Pro-Am/Pro-Sport) and Pro Expert. The Pro Experts will compete, as always, on 750cc twin-cylinder bikes on half mile and mile events but compete on stock-framed 450cc single-cylinder bikes on short track and TT courses. The Pro (formerly Novice/Pro-Am/Pro-Sport) division will run on stock-framed 450cc single-cylinder bikes at all events. At first glance, this looks like a good plan. After all, there is a minimum amount of time that must be taken between the last Expert heat and the first Expert semi to enable the riders to make set-up changes. As such, running a wholly different division during that down-time will give the fans something to watch during the break. I believe the Expert division will be limited to 48 entries while the Pro divison will be limited to 36. Previously at Expert-only events, the 48 entries would be split into 4 heat races and 3 semis. With the new format, AMA Pro Racing plans to run each division through run three heats and three semis. Previously a "day at the races" would be 8 events - 4 heats, 3 semis, one main event. Under the new format, it will be 14 races - 3 Expert heats, 3 Pro (Novice) heats, 3 Expert semis, 3 Pro (Novice) semis, one Expert Main, one Pro (Novice) main.

    I'd take it one step further. Limit the Pro (Novice) division to 24 entries, running them through two 12-rider heats, and no semis. And introduce (re-introduce?) an intermediate level between Pro (Novice) and Expert. Whereas in the past these riders would be on lower horsepower versions of their Expert counterparts, I would leave them with the same engine specs as Expert. They will be slower due to their lack of experience, but at least allowing them to comete on the same tracks on (essentially) the same equipment, an Intermediate rider would have the means to compare his progress to the Expert elite. An Intermediate rider who is consistently slower than a mid-pack Expert rider should think twice before jumping up to the Expert division. Similarly, an Intermediate rider who is consistently qualifying at speeds consistent with the top 10 Expert riders will have additional enthusiasm about going Expert the following year, and be able to potentially draw additional sponsorship. With the current program, a rider jumps from a 450cc Single into the Expert division and has little chance of success.

    By introducing an intermediate class, I would limit it as well to a 24-rider field, split into two 12-rider heat races and a 12-rider main event. As such, in my scheme, a "day at the races" would be 13 events instead of 14, with less redundancy. Also, this would better reflect the sport in its heyday, when 3 divisions competed in a fast-paced program that didn't take all day and all night to complete.

    The 2009 GNC structure will hold a Dash For Cash for the 5 fastest Expert qualifiers. I would open that up to the Intermediate class as well. If an Intermediate rider qualifies 3rd fastest overall, throw him in with the Experts for the Dash For Cash. Cheer for the underdog!

    Concerning the stock-frame rule, I go back and forth on this one. For entry-level professional racing (Pro Novice), surely the stock-frame rule, as well as other performance modification limiting rules, is the way to go. No sense forcing an entry level rider to spend thousands on engine and frame modifications. The Expert division...there I'm undecided. Due to the lack of an intermediate division between entry-level (Pro Novice) and the top level (Expert), currently it's difficult to have such a dramatic change from one divison to the next. With the old system (pre-2009), virtually anyone who took our a Pro license would obtain his/her Expert license in a year's time, even with minimal success, due to lack of entries. By introducing an intermediate level, you could better control the entry-level rules while enabling more freedom at the Expert level. Although if the OEM's start supporting flat track they way they used to, it will all be worth it.

    We shall see. For 2009, the Dairyland Classic is unaffected by the stock-frame rules.



    2009 AMA Pro Racing Rules

    October 26, 2008 AMA Pro Racing has announced a list of anticipated rules for the upcoming 2009 season. As you can imagine, the uproar of how the proposed rules are "ruining" the sport are rampant. Personally I'm in favor of change, and the Pro Dirt Track scene has been in dire need of it for a long while now. The only change that might affect the Dairyland Classic is that for 2009, all 450cc Single-cylinder engines (used on short tracks and TT courses) must use the OEM frame. In other words, no more aftermarket or "trick" frames. This move is to stimulate interest and support from the OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers, as in Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki, and KTM). If you remember the 2003 Dairyland Classic, we had similar rules then - only OEM frames on the 450s. The most common objection to this rule is that "aftermarket frames work better than OEM frames". This is a true statement - "framers" are designed to work better on flat tracks. However, what those people fail to recognize is that when everyone is using OEM frames, it won't matter if a "framer" is better, since it won't be legal. And really, the fast guys go fast no anything, so the Kenny Coolbeths and Jared Mees' of the sport will continue to dominate. This rule prevents the need for an up-and-coming rider to build an OEM bike as well as a "framer". And honestly, the AMA has been far too worried about alienating the existing elite and not worried enough about how to keep the up-and-coming riders interested enough in the sport to tackle the Grand National Championship.

    The major changes involve the Twins division, which compete on half miles and mile events. For 2009, the focus will be on 650cc twins like the Kawasaki Ninja and the Suzuki SV650, although larger engines (including the Harley-Davidson XR750) will be allowed to compete, albeit with smaller restrictors on the intake ports. Based on test results so far, I'm predicting the XR750 will still be "the bike" to beat, although it may be challenged - something that hasn't happened in over a decade when the last Honda RS750 was put out to pasture. And competition is good. Already folks are citing this rule change as "the one" that will "kill dirt track forever". I disagree. I predict the XR750 will still be "the bike" (it still has 38 years of development knowledge), but slowly, the other brands will improve. Maybe in a couple years we will see some true multi-brand racing. Sure, this year the GNC Twins division technically had Harley-Davidson vs Suzuki vs Aprilia vs Triumph vs BMW vs KTM vs Honda, but was it a true "battle of the brands"? Heck no. After thirteen GNC Twins races, Harley-Davidson claimed 37 of the possible 39 podium spots. Suzuki scored one runner-up finish at Greenville while Aprilia scored a single runner-up finish at Lima. Triumph only scored one point this year, while none of the others even sniffed a main event all year long. Yet it is those "also-rans" who are raising the biggest gripe about how the new rules make them "uncompetitive". Based on the 2009 data, those bikes weren't competitive before, so I don't see how the 2009 will make that much difference from 2008. Not that I have anything against these guys trying to develop a successful alternative for a GNC Twins motorcycle, but sometimes I think they get carried away.

    If nothing else, the winds of change are making people talk about the sport again. I can't wait to see where this leads.

    Wouldn't it be GREAT if we could recapture the magic of the late 70s/early 80s? Remember when the AMA crowned five different Grand National Champions in five years, 1978-1982? Back when winning three titles in a career was a major accomplishment? Now we yawn when Chris Carr claimed his seventh title in 2005 like it was a foregone conclusion. Maybe 2009 will bring some surprises.



    History Lesson III

    October 19, 2008. Harley-Davidson was the undisputed king of flat track racing from 1975 through 1983, with the XR750 engine powering riders to the Grand National Championship each year. Honda took the mantle from 1984-1988, with RS750-powered factory riders taking the title each of those years. Harley's XR750 again became dominant after Honda's retreat following the 1988 season, powering riders to the title every year through 2008. The question is, did Honda's involvement (and subsequent dominance) have a greater impact than simply on the titles won?

    From 1980-1983, the 4 years prior to the "Honda Years", Harley-Davidson XR750s won 61 of the 63 HM/M GNC events (96.8%), with the factory riders (Randy Goss, Jay Springsteen, Scott Parker) winning only 17 of the 61 events (27.9%). From 1984-1988, the "Honda Years", Harley-Davidson XR750s won 37 of the 80 HM/M GNC events (46.2%), with the factory riders (Goss, Parker, Springsteen, Carr) accounting for 23 of those 37 wins (62.2%).

    Rumors have it that prior to Honda's arrival in GNC competition, the Harley-Davidson racing department had an "open door" policy, whereby privateers using the XR750 powerplant could contact the factory racing department to find out how the factory guys were setting up their bikes for a given race track. By the data above, this would appear to be true, as the privateer riders scored more GNC wins than the factory team members. Once Honda got involved, it seems the "open door" got slammed in the privateer's faces.



    Honda's 1984 Rise To Dominance

    October 18, 2008. While Honda dominated the 1984 Grand National Championship - their three factory riders finished 1st, 2nd, and 5th in the Championship, claimed 11 of the 24 events, and won 7 of the 10 Mile events on the circuit - they failed to win a single Half Mile National that year.



    History Lesson II

    October 17, 2008. Once Harley-Davidson released it's "alloy" XR750 engine in 1972 (to replace the "iron" XR750 which proved itself unreliable in the 1970-71 seasons), the AMA Grand National Championship was fought between Harley-Davidson, Triumph and Yamaha, with Harley taking the 1972 crown (under Mark Brelsford), and Yamaha taking the 1973 & 1974 titles (with Kenny Roberts). Triumph went bankrupt after the 1974 season, leaving just Harley-Davidson and Yamaha. The Yamaha XS750 was a modified street bike (the XS650) while the Harley XR750 was a fully bred race bike, sharing few ties with its Sportster bretheren, the XL883. Yamaha's last Mile win came in 1975, and its last Half Mile win in 1976, the same year Goodyear came out with the DTII race tire. The Harley was able to use the new rubber to slam the door on Yamaha, and for all intents and purposes, from that point on you needed an XR750 to be competitive. Roberts left flat track for World domination in the 500cc Grand Prix after the 1977 season.

    Honda's first foray into dirt track racing was in 1974, when it built an XL350 for Mike Gerald to race at the Houston Astrodome. Gerald won, and Honda promptly disappeared for several years. In 1979, Honda returned, using a CX500 V-twin engine (which had the "V" facing left-right as opposed to the traditional "front-back"). This evolved into the NS750, which situated the two cylinders in the traditional "front-and-rear" V-twin configuration, which was developed through the 1982 season, scoring its first Half Mile win at Louisville Downs in 1982. The following year, Honda replaced the NS750 with the new RS750, which is rumored to have begun life by purchasing a Harley-Davidson XR750, analyzing the pieces, and "building a better mousetrap". In its debut season, 1983, the RS750 won Honda's first Mile at DuQuoin, Illinois. Yet from 1979 through 1983, no Honda rider had finished in the Top 10 in the AMA Grand National Championship.

    For 1984, Honda replaced its racing team with Ricky Graham and Bubba Shobert (who finished 2nd and 4th in the 1983 GNC standings) and 1983's rookie standout Doug Chandler. Graham claimed the 1984 title, Shobert won the 1985, 1986, and 1987 titles. From 1984 through 1988, Honda RS750 pilots won 10 of the 34 Half Mile Nationals (29.4%) and 33 of the 46 Mile Nationals (71.7%) on the GNC schedule. Following a dispute over a disqualification of a Honda rider in 1988, Honda pulled out of GNC racing following that season. A few privateers continued using the RS750 engine, but lack of contingency money and the lack of spare parts led to its eventual obsolescence. The RS750's 79th and last GNC win was recorded on August 8, 1998. Every GNC Half Mile & Mile National win since (through the 2008 season) has been on a Harley-Davidson XR750.



    History Lesson I

    October 15, 2008. From 1954 until 1969, AMA Grand National Championship competition limited overhead valve engines (British bikes) to 500cc displacement while side-valve engines (U.S. bikes) were allowed to displace 750cc. From 1954 through 1969, 165 GNC HM/M/TT events were held, with Harley-Davidson winning 104, BSA winning 34, Triumph winning 26, and Matchless winning 1.

    From 1970 through 1974 (when Triumph went bankrupt), 74 GNC HM/M/TT events were held, with Harley-Davidson winning 29, Triumph 18, and BSA 14. Norton, another British twin, claimed a single win between 1970 and 1974. It should be noted that in 1970-1971, Harley-Davidson was experiencing tremendous teething problems on its brand new XR750 powerplant. Mert Lawwill, Harley-Davidson's 1969 Grand National Champion, has been quoted saying that the efforts to develop the XR750 cost him the 1970 Championship.

    In the two years prior to the "equal displacement rule" (1968-1969), there were 35 combined HM/M/TT GNC events with Harley-Davidson winning 21, Triumph winning 9 and BSA winning 5. In the first two years of the "equal displacement" rule (1970-1971), there were 31 combined HM/M/TT GNC events, with Harley-Davidson winning 10, Triumph winning 9, and BSA winning 10. The aforementioned problems with Harley-Davidson's XR750 are evident in these stats. Once Harley-Davidson replaced the "iron" cylinders with "alloy" cylinders for the 1972 season, the rest, as they say is history, as the XR750 went on to become - and continue to be - the most dominant dirt track racing vehicle in history, powering 31 of the 37 Grand National Champions from 1972-2008.

    The Brit OEMs asked for equal displacement, and they got it, although one could argue that the equal displacement rule directly led to Harley-Davidson developing the overhead valve XR750, which replaced the side-valve KR750 and went on to dominate Grand National competition over the next 38 years.



    We Are Dirt

    September 24, 2008. I just got a chance to watch the show. Wow. Let me re-phrase that. Wow. Kevin McNiff and the crew at We Are Dirt did a great job. There's racing, racing, then more racing. The entire Pro program (except the Consolation Main), plus the entire 85cc Youth main event. Multiple camera angles, slow motion replays, a helmet cam. Very well done. I've had TV programs shoot my event in the past and it's usually a 30-minute collage of interviews with random people in the pit area. Not this time. Kevin and crew focus on the racing and did a great job.

    As you all know, I never get a chance to watch the races, since I'm always chasing down fires and trying to keep things moving along. And even though I announce the Pro program, I have to go into "auto pilot" and simply report what I'm seeing at that moment, without really digesting what's going on. So having a chance to watch the races, from several camera angles, was very, very special for me. And it allowed me to really appreciate what a GREAT night of racing it was.

    Some tidbits I really enjoyed - the slow-motion replay of Rob Pearson nearly taking out Bryan Bigelow in turn one during their heat race. How Bugs got that bike slowed down without touching Bryan is beyond me. Another was the neat helmet-cam on JR Schnabel. Another was the move Jared Mees made going into turn three on the first lap of the Jim Dash - fifth to second in one move! Next was the close finish to the Jim Dash - I remember it was close, but I didn't remember it being THAT close. And on the video, Jared made up SO much ground going into turn 3 on the last lap is was UNREAL. The Pro Main event was just spectacular. That "little slip" that cost Halbert the win? Uh, wrong, he darn near threw it down the road. Tremendous save, made even better with slow motion. The interview with Bill Werner was very, very well-done. Kevin asked Bill about the difference between custom-framed bakes and the OEM/DTX frames, and he gave a very thorough explanation. Well done.



    Dairyland TV

    September 17, 2008. Thanks to Kevin McNiff of "We Are Dirt", the 2008 Dairyland Classic can be seen on TV this year. It debuted in the Green Bay (Wisconsin) Time Warner Cable on Channel 4 at 7:30pm this evening. By Friday, it will be available on the Time Warner Cable "On Demand" service (channel 1111). By the middle of next week if will be available in the Milwaukee Market, also via the Time Warner Cable "On Demand" service (channel 1111).



    Grand Slam/Hit For Cycle

    September 13, 2008. I was reading a recent article which linked to an older article (Click here) which referred to the 'Grand Slam Club'. For those who don't know, the Grand National Championship, which dates to 1954, originally consisted of 4 different types of events - half miles, miles, TT's, and road races, with the person earning the most points in a single season crowned the Grand National Champion. In 1961, the series expanded to include short tracks, which were shorter than 3/8-mile in length. To win one of each type of event in a career was rare, and thusly dubbed a 'Grand Slam'. Through 1985, championship events in all 5 disciplines counted towards the AMA Grand National Championship. By 1986, however, most riders focused either on dirt, or pavement, but not both, so the AMA split the road racing into a separate AMA Superbike Championship. Since then, no one has come close to scoring a career 'Grand Slam'.

    Only four riders in history have claimed a 'Grand Slam', and only one since the road racing split of 1986. Those riders are:

    While the Grand Slam faded into history after 1986, in 2001, I personally coined the phrase 'Hit For The Cycle' to recognize those dirt track racers who had won at least one of each form of dirt track discipline. Since 1954, 117 racers have claimed at least one AMA Grand National dirt track wins, but only 13 have 'hit for the cycle'. Obviously the 'Hit For The Cycle' group includes those who have claimed a 'Grand Slam', yet the former group is not really recognized for accomplishing a very impressive feat nonetheless. So here, for the first time ever, is the list of AMA racers who have 'Hit For The Cycle':

    Interestingly, 21 riders won GNC events in 3 of the 4 necessary disciplines; eight riders (Ricky Graham, Gary Scott, Joe Leonard, Joe Jopp, Jim Rice, Mike Kidd, Gene Romero, Dave Aldana) lacked a short track win; eight riders (Will Davis, Gary Nixon, Ted Boody, Rich King, Hank Scott, Carroll Resweber, Terry Poovey, Fred Nix) missed a TT win; five riders (Jake Johnson, Ronnie Jones, JR Schnabel, Nicky Hayden, Ronnie Rall) missed a mile victory. Of them, Kopp, Johnson and Schnabel are still active dirt trackers, while Hayden is an active road racer.



    Coolbeth Claims Title #3

    September 6, 2008. Congratulations to Kenny Coolbeth for claiming this third consecutive AMA Grand National Championship! He joins a very select group of men to have claimed three consecutive AMA Grand National Championships - Carroll Resweber (1958-1961), Jay Springsteen (1976-1978), Bubba Shobert (1985-1987), Scott Parker (1988-1991 & 1994-1999), and Chris Carr (2001-2005).



    In The Books

    August 23, 2008. Wow, what a show last night. Watching those pro riders reminded me what a horrible racer I used to be. I spent plenty of time in my brief racing career getting passed, but almost always it could be traced to some major blunder I'd made. Watching those pros go at it, I never even saw any mistakes, yet suddenly guys would get passed. That pro main left me stupified. The pass on lap 14 when Mees dropped from first to third...I didn't see a bobble, a missed line, nothing. But zip-zip, he dropped like a stone back to third.

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