Tuesday, 27 September 2016

A New Dawn for American Flat Track...

At Sunday’s end of season awards banquet, just hours after Bryan Smith was confirmed 2016 champion in one of the most thrilling mile races of recent times, the company that runs professional flat track announced a new era for the sport. Sideburn was there to hear the announcement and below is our take, thoughts and questions about the changes.

Michael Lock, the British CEO of AMA Pro Flat Track, explained that they are changing their name. Why? Because AMA Pro Flat Track are nothing to do with the AMA. Confused, you should be. So was every potential sponsor, partner or new team Lock and his team approached. So the new name is American Flat Track. American Flat Track (AFT) writes the rules, sets the race schedule, runs the races that regional promoters host and organise to the AFT’s guidelines. AFT is to flat track what Dorna is to MotoGP.
The AMA will continue, we assume, as the licensing body.

Let’s be honest, the Bryan Smith wheel situation was a debacle and Lock admitted as much on stage, in an amusing way. He explained that there was too much ambiguity in the rulebook and that it was barely written in English, so, AFT say, it has been completely redrafted, simplified, clarified and will be released online in this week, six months before the season starts.

The twins rule, that was supposed to be implemented in 2016 but postponed after howls from teams and riders, will come into being for 2017.

The current GNC1 class will be the Twins class. The GNC2 class will also be renamed as AFT Singles and will run exclusively on DTX-style 450cc singles, where GNC2 currently mixes singles and twins. The GNC2 riders rode twins at Santa Rosa.

Any GNC2 rider who has scored 50pts in a season on twin machinery can enter the Twins class. If they regret that decision, for whatever reason, the rider can transfer back to Singles for the rest of the season, but then cannot move back to wins later in the same season.

The Twins class will compete the 18-race season exclusively on twins. That means miles, half-miles, two (I think) short tracks and up to three TTs all on twins.

Sideburn has been a big supporter of the twins rule since it was first mentioned. Speaking to Indian’s top brass this week they explained they weren’t interested in joining a series where their riders swapped between manufacturers machinery from race-to-race. If the status quo had continued, who could claim the title, if, let’s say, Baker wins next season, Indian for the twin he rode or Honda/KTM for the singles race points? An insane situation. One obvious downside of this new structure is the lack of opportunities,for singles riders to get experience on pure race machines, the kind of framer chassis used on twins, before moving into the top class. They build racecraft, but not the set-up skills a framer requires and responds to.

In MotoGP, riders in the Moto2 feeder class are riding bikes with a variety of custom chassis all using the exact same Honda CBR600-derived engine. So they’re learning what adjustments to make in different situations before the cream of the class move into MotoGP and race prototypes with twice the power.

If AFT followed the same thinking it could mean a return to framers, using a ‘spec’ stock 450 engine, supplied at a reduced price, and built into a chassis of the rider’s choice. This would be a return to bike that look like proper flat tracker, not motocrossers. I'm not hung up on DTX bikes, but they're no longer the future of the sport, but still an important stepping stone. Let’s face it, the OEMs didn’t get behind the DTX format in any significant financial way and the riders aren’t learning to race framers, which they need to if they want to be GNC1 champs.

The leathers rule, banning the wearing of motocross jerseys and trousers wasn’t mentioned in the presentation, but it’s still going ahead as far as we’re aware.

At the moment each racer has two timed qualifying sessions before a heat race. The top qualifiers in the heat race transfer straight to the Main, the event 18-rider final, so the very best riders only have two races in a day. This is changing. From 2017 riders will compete in four heat races with last three (depending on entry number, I guess) in the heat race being eliminated and not taking part in the rest of the day. The qualifiers of the heat races will ALL go into two semis, no one will transfer directly to the main. The top nine finishers from the semis will make the main. There will also be, as there is now, the Get Out Of Jail free card that allows national numbers who don’t qualify to gain entry to the main once in a season if they fail to qualify. It wasn’t entirely clear if they can only use that from the semis or if they can do it from the heats too.

In the current, now old, structure, Brad Baker, who won at Santa Rosa, broke down in his heat race, so missed the automatic transfer and was put in the semi (which is really a last chance qualifier) and finished in the top three. In the new structure he would have been eliminated and not given the opportunity to race in the semi.

There was no talk of the Dash for Cash, but the reason for the new structure is for fans to see the top racers compete more often during a race day, so it might remain.

AFT has negotiated with NBC sports network to show coverage of the sport in their Thursday night off-road Overdrive programme, shown in Thursday night primetime and available to 90 millions US homes. The highlights package will be shown every Thursday from June to September and will include full coverage of both mains, plus highlights of the semis and interviews with riders and explanation of tech. Fanschoice.tv will continue to livestream full event coverage online for hardcore and foreign fans. It wasn’t made clear if this coverage will be hosted on their website to watch after the event, but there is no obvious benefit, that I can see, to not doing this so we hope they do.

18 races, with 17 already confirmed in September of the preceding year will really help people get organised. This is much earlier than in any previous year in our memories. AFT has worked with promoters to try cluster races to minimise travel, and to give a real national spread to the races. There are new events on the schedule. These are the biggest changes…

The traditional Daytona short track double-header has been dropped. The season will still start in Bike Week, in March, but within the huge Speedway, that is undergoing an $500 million refurb. The race will be a TT on a track designed by Chris Carr. This will be the first time new generation twins will compete on a TT track. It’s going to be interesting.

For years there has been a massive wait for the next race, usually Springfield 1 at the end of May. Things changed for 2016 and 2017 follows the new format with three races between Daytona and Springfield. These are Atlanta: Charlotte and Arizona. There is a new race in Kentucky, a return to New York, but no Austin.

The enormous Sturgis Bike Week event hosts two rounds in four days, first is the Buffalo Chip TT, on a new track with two jumps, then the Black Hills Half-Mile. A hooligan and singles race was trialled at Buffalo Chip this year. The track looked sub-optimal, so it will have to improve for the AFT racers. The season ends on the big track at Perris, So Cal.

The only race of the 18 that is not currently confirmed is Peoria. Insiders say the track itself is not up AFT standards in terms of track width. The famous TT is pencilled in, so there seems a desire to host the race. There is also talk of modifying the jump, taking the top off it, to make it safer for twins to compete on.

The majority of OEM manufacturers have signed up to support AFT (Suzuki being one notable who haven't), with Indian being the big new name. Lock said there is a potential $500,000 worth of contingency for the singles class alone. I’m dubious of contingency figures. Sure, the potential might be half-a-million, but Manufacturer 1 could commit to paying $5000 to any rider who wins a race on their machine. If no one wins on Manufacturer 1’s bike then no one gets anything. So the manufacturer is in a win-win. They look like they’re supporting the series, but might actually pay out very little. But it’s better than nothing and the actual structure of the potential payments was not made clear, so I might be overly cynical.

Harley-Davidson paid Jared Mees a bonus of £25,000 for being top H-D finisher in the 2016 season, so contingency certainly is being paid in some examples.

Dunlop has signed a three-year deal to supply tyres and have committed to improving grip. Not sure how this will pan out and what it’ll do to the racing or the level of tuning bikes are then subjected to in order to exploit the new grip, but progress shouldn’t be avoided.

Michael Lock spoke of his desire/dream to put the whole of AFT on a plane, fly them to Europe and race in a soccer stadium. Spain seems an obvious host country thanks to links with Marquez, the RPM organisation and their successful Superprestigio race.

Or what about an Italian soccer stadium or horse hippodromo? Let’s not consider potential flies in the ointment like potential rain-offs. I said let’s not! The Speedway GP make temporary tracks in sports arenas and have a flyaway race to Australia most, if not all seasons, so it’s not beyond the realms of possibility, but still is only a dream. It would be a very brave Euro promoter who invested the money needed to help make it happen. Superprestigio has shown some kind of precedent, but on a much smaller scale. Get Marquez involved, or Rossi, and it could grab the public’s imagination. Would 30,000 Europeans pay €25 each to watch a flat track race?

This is a time for optimism and excitement. We’re excited. Pro flat track was crying out for this revolution. There will be bumps along the way, but everything sounds incredibly positive.

We’ll put more meat on the bones of these developments as things progress.
Gary Inman

#35L and #99A

We hate to post bad news but sometimes it just has to be done. This weekend, at the Santa Rosa Mile, there was a couple of horrific accidents in the GNC 2 support class. I woke up yesterday to the news that it had caused #35L Charlotte Kainz to lose her life. she was only 20 years old.

This morning the news was that a second young GNC 2 racer 17 year old Kyle McGrane #99A has also died from injuries sustained in a separate accident.

Our thoughts are with the families and friends at this very difficult time and we offer our deepest condolences. It is tragic loss of two talented, up and coming pro racers.

Motorcycle racing is such infectious fun that it is very easy to dismiss the very real dangers involved. As racers we accept the risk yet always think it won't happen to us. High risk for low reward.

Dave Skooter Farm

Saturday, 24 September 2016

CFTA Santa Rosa on Fans Choice

Tonight's Santa Rosa short track is on fanschoice.tv. I was out at Friday night's racing and the track is short and tight, which makes me* a little nervous as I'm racing one of Roland Sands' Indian Sport Scout Superhooligans in a field of fast and rabid hooligan regulars tonight. Big thanks to Indian Motorcycles and Roland Sands Designs for the opportunity. It'll be the first time I've ever sat on one these. What could possibly go wrong?

Practice/Qualifying: 6:00 p.m. ET (3:00 p.m. PT)
Afternoon Heats: 7:00 p.m. ET (4:00 p.m. PT)
Opening Ceremonies: 9:30 p.m. ET (6:30 p.m. PT)
Evening Heats: 9:45 p.m. ET (6:45 p.m. PT)
Super Hooligan Main: 10:30 p.m. ET (7:30 p.m. PT)

Read about Travis's debut on the Indian Superhooligans at the US Superprestigio in SIDEBURN 24.

The short track meeting is organised by our friends at the CFTA, and is the curtain raiser to Sunday's AMA Pro season finale on the mile race, that will see Bryan Smith v Jared Mees, Kawasaki v Harley-Davidson for the 2016 title. Only 2pts separate them. It's a Sunday afternoon race and also live on fanschoice.tv

Practice/Qualifying: 1:00 p.m. ET (10:00 a.m. PT)
Pre-race Show: 2:00 p.m. ET (11:00 a.m. PT)
Opening Ceremonies: 2:30 p.m. ET (11:30 a.m. PT)
Heats: 3:00 p.m. ET (12:00 p.m. PT)
GNC2 Main: 4:30 p.m. ET (1:30 p.m. PT)
GNC1 Main: 5:00 p.m. ET (2:00 p.m. PT)

* Sideburn ed, Gary Inman

Friday, 23 September 2016

For Sale: Triumph T100C

Kev H has found another beauty on UK eBay. Again, this sale is nothing to do with Sideburn, we're just passing on the details...

Triumph Flat track / Ice racing bike, believed to be a Trackmaster frame? Frame No is 197, engine is a 1968 T100C competition engine, turns over with plenty of compression, Imported by myself from the USA which accounts for its well preserved condition. Fitted with ice studs in the tyres. nice leather seat. It came out of a full collection of similar bikes I bought and all have so far run well.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

SB Himalayas 2016: Part 1

From Anthony Brown, Mr DTRA, having just returned from the second Sideburn Himalayas Trip.

This is the first of a short series of blog posts I am writing to try and give a flavour of what people should expect from sideburn promoted trips and in particular the Sideburn x Helmet stories trip we just completed in the Himalaya’s. Motorcycling to me is much more than just riding it’s about sharing experiences with a group of likeminded people and that’s why the guys at Helmet Stories love this collab with Sideburn. From the moment we all meet to the rushed goodbyes as we headed back to our planes we all got along and laughed together as we shared in a fantastic experience.

The trip did not feel super curated or planned down to the last mile. Helmet stories do a great job of keeping things right without a feeling of formality, from the initial planning emails to the ride itself things were laid back and relaxed. For eighteen riders, some of whom have never meet before, to hang out together for a 6 days in what can be sometimes challenging circumstances things need to be right. If you have an urge to explore on motorcycles and the words above sound like your kind of fun then I would encourage you to get yourself signed up for the next trip. 
GC45 (Geoff Cain hanging with the Suicide Squad taxi drivers

For those who have not been before, India is a headf*ck, as crazy as it is beautiful and as welcoming as it is chaotic. Ten hours in a suicide squad taxi from Chandigarh to Manali was a great way to break us in gently. Stops for chai and lunch gave a break from the crazy driving and the Indian music played by VK, our driver. Arriving in Manali down a dirt track to an amazing bungalow complex was a welcome treat. 21 Royal Enfield’s in a line ready for adventure was a great sight. Last showers and cold beers set the scene for a 190km ride the following day. 
Main Men Vir and Harsh were riding the new Enfield Himalayans. They seemed to work really well on the roads we took over the trip. Read Vir launch report on this bike in Sideburn 25
DTRA rider Brad Hardman gives the Trip the thumbs up 

Another instalment coming soon....

If you're interested in going on the Helmet Stories x Sideburn Himalayas trip in September 2017, email us at dirt @ sideburnmagazine.com

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Sideburn 26: Pre-Order

The new issue is at the printers and available for pre-order. Please note: If you order anything else with your Sideburn 26, the whole order will be sent out together on or near September 30.

This is a good time for subscribers to let us know of any recent address changes or to check the status of your subscription.
All new 8-issue subscriptions get a free Spark Eagle Sideburn T-shirt worth £20.

It's also a good opportunity to order back issues, because some are very scarce. 14 and 19 were the most recent to sell out. We only have stocks of: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 16, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25.

                                           BUY SIDEBURN 26

COVER STAR: El Solitario x Zaeta Pluto

BIKES: World exclusive Guy Martin's Rob North BSA Wall of Death record breaker; Yamaha TT500; Harley-Davidson XG750R; El Solitario Pluto

EVENTS: Løkken Beach Race; Dirt Quake USA

HOW TO: Win from the front with Brandon Robinson

PEOPLE: Davis Fisher; Kevin Atherton; Guy Martin; Jimmy Hill; David Death Spray; Gene Romero

PORTFOLIO: The photography of James Cheadle

FILM: Werewolves on Wheels

ADVENTURE: Zaeta road trip to Dirt Quake V

Plus: inside the Davida factory; Poetry; Trophy Queen; Shop profile of The Real Intellectuals; Trophy Queen

Icon 1000: Three Martini Lunch

When Icon 1000, the Portland-based company that never sleeps, release a new video I get excited. They have a fresh new website too, covering their Icon Motosport, Icon 1000 and Icon Raiden brands. Go to www.icon1000.com. G

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Introducing Hubert Bastie

Joining Travis and John Harrison as new blog contributors, is Frenchman Hubert Bastie. Hubert is a nurse/paramedic, a racer, a wildman, a DTRA and Dirt Quake regular (Super Mario, Marge Simpson, Ninja Turtle), even though he lives and works in Paris, France. He loves two-strokes and competes in various different types of amateur competition, and also rides on the road. Here's what he says about a recent race...
Two month ago my old mate Oliver told me about a race close to Paris (for once) called Ultracross. A mix between motocross and supercross. He was so enthusiastic to race it because there was a Enduro class. Yeah maybe... I looked at the website. Whaaaaat! There is a Vintage Class! I filled in my entry form in one second.

- Me: Oliver, I'm gonna race with you mate!
- Oliver: Sorry, I forgot that I have a job interview this day.
- Me: Ok. I'm gonna make it on my own.

Two weeks before the Ultracross - Driiiiing driiiiing 

-Me: Hello?
-a Girl: Hello Mister Bastié?
-Me: Yes.
- the girl: I call you about the Ultracross. Unfortunately we must cancel the Vintage Class cause you are the only one to enter, so do you have a modern bike?
-Me: Yes, but I want the ride my Husky, so let me ride with the fuel-injected ones.

Racing in France is a different thing. It's all about winning and having the biggest van with the biggest trailer and the biggest tent. Unfortunately I have no tent, no trailer and a small dirty van.
Nobody cares about my bike during tech inspection because they didn't understood how fun it is to ride a vintage compared to the modern ones.
Nobody cares about me till my first race. I start dead last. By the way, it is my first start on a real motocross starting gate. But I overtake 3 or 4 guys every lap. The commentator and the crowd start to focus on me. I became the little fun thing in a too serious race. Between the races I become the crowd favourite and people queue in line to ask me what year my bike is.

I make three strong races and got the 8th place out of 22. Overall. I was damn happy, but had nobody to share my happiness. Don't mess with a vintage bike!

On the way Back home I saw the Facebook page of the event. The report shows two photos : The first is the Pro Class winner and an other of me and my Husqvarna jumping the finish line.
Strange world.

Read about Hubert's Racewear, the kit he competes in, in Sideburn 25.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Hauler for Sale

I don't normally put stuff on here for sale unless it's a bike (or our Sideburn merch), but a very good friend of my brother is selling this race truck they use for car racing, but it could be converted into a lovely camper/ multi motorcycle hauler.

1 ton tail lift, rear roller door
Remote control heavy duty winch (nearly new)
Bespoke aluminium Italian ramps (nearly new) and some wooden ramps
Side door and steps
Tow bar
Rear camera
MOT’d until end August 2017

Also included in sale: Set of digital ‘Intercomp’ corner weights, and calibrated sound meter (includes light and temperature also)

New price £5000.
Ring Clive on 01572 823514
Located in Leicestershire

Saturday, 17 September 2016

2000ft over the canyon… but 6 inches UNDER the media radar.

Earlier this week we posted about the recreation of Evel Knievel’s Snake River Canyon jump, well, Eddie Braun successfully ‘jumped’ over the infamous 1400 ft canyon.

The launch was scheduled for today, September 17th….but the EVEL SPIRIT team opted to do it yesterday, possibly because of better weather conditions. There seemed to be virtually no crowd watching.

It looked like a textbook exercise and everybody is smiling. Hats off to the team but this is possibly one of the most under-publicised events in recent history. I don’t know why this newsworthy event failed to get any media coverage. It was rather badly covered by a local TV news crew and (so far) captured with a couple of quite frankly, terrible amateur Youtube clips. I sincerely hope that this occasion has been properly documented.  

I acknowledge that times have maybe changed and everybody these days is ‘Extremed-Out’ but I can’t help but think that this just shows what a showman and entrepreneur Knievel was. Always able to ‘Bring the Circus to town’ in what seemed an effortless and flamboyant way, hawking his stunts on a global scale.

I read that Braun Spent $1.5 million of his own money to make this happen. Perhaps the EVEL SPIRIT team invested all their combined resources and energy into the mechanics of making a successful jump, maybe overlooking the pre-event publicity and build up. Or maybe the mainstream media just don’t care about an ongoing 42-year-old story. Either way, it seems criminal that this wasn’t presented ‘live’ on satellite TV and it didn’t make ‘News at Ten’. I found a picture of a tattoo belonging to an English chap who made the pilgrimage to Twin Falls Idaho to witness the jump. Ironically, this tattoo could possibly make a bigger internet splash than the jump itself.

In other news it seems Rocket Sky-Cycles are just like buses…you wait 42 years for one and then two turn up together. Apparently, on October 18th , self-taught rocket scientist ‘Mad Mike Hughes’ will climb aboard his own version of Evel Knievel’s X-2 Sky-Cycle and endeavour to jump over the ghost town of Amboy in California. You couldn’t make it up!

Dave Skooter Farm
All photos: AP