American Flat Track

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American Flat Track[1] is an American motorcycle track racing series. The race series was founded and sanctioned by the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) in 1954.[2][3] The race series encompasses four distinct forms of competitions including: mile, half-mile, short-track, and TT steeplechase dirt track races.

Following the 2016 season, AMA Pro Racing announced the re-branding of the American Flat Track, formerly known as AMA Pro Flat Track. The re-branding of the series coincided with the dawn of a new era for America's favorite motorcycle sport, which includes a restructured class system as well as a re-envisioning of the event format. While holding true to the legacy of a sport rich in history, the modifications are designed to provide a more understandable and exciting format for the modern fans and make the series more accessible to new fans.

The restructured class system consists of the AFT Twins premier class, the AFT Singles class for young drivers, and the AFT Production Twins class featuring production-based, 649-800cc twin-cylinder engines.

AFT Twins[edit]

The AFT Twins Championship[edit]

AFT Twins is the pinnacle of dirt track motorcycle racing globally, and has been since the professional ranks were formalized as the Grand National Championship in 1954. Beginning this year, riders in this class will race each circuit on custom-built, twin-cylinder motorcycles generating 90+ horsepower race bar-to-bar at speeds in excess of 140 mph, often drafting to the finish line and requiring a photo finish to determine the race winner. The motorcycles in this class contain the latest in motorsport technology and will be piloted by the fastest two-wheeled athletes on dirt.

Quick Facts[edit]

  • Horsepower: 90+
  • Minimum Weight: 310 lbs.
  • Top Speed: 140+ MPH
  • 0-60 mph: Under 4 seconds

Technical Specs[edit]

  • Tires: Dunlop, 19-inch, purpose-built flat track tires
  • Fuel: Sunoco 260 GTX Unleaded
  • Eligible Engines: Only 4-stroke twin-cylinder engines with prior, written approval by AMA Pro Racing are eligible for competition in AFT Twins. This includes both production engines designed for street motorcycles and racing-only engines. Engine Displacement (649cc – 900cc with the following restrictions):

Production Engines:

  • Engines that were originally under 750cc may be bored and stroked but may not exceed 750cc as a final displacement.
  • Racing-only Engines:
  • Racing-only engines may not exceed 750cc with a maximum allowable overbore of 0.045” per cylinder.
  • Liquid cooled racing-only engines may not exceed 750cc. There is no provision for overbore.

AFT Singles[edit]

The Rising Stars of the Sport[edit]

The AFT Singles class is geared for cultivating young dirt track talent as riders hone their skills en route to the AFT Twins ranks. Up-and-coming competitors make their mark aboard production-based 450cc single-cylinder motorcycles offering upwards of 60 horsepower. Racing at speeds faster than 115 mph, the stars of tomorrow battle it out on motorcycles produced by Honda, Husqvarna, Kawasaki, KTM, Suzuki, Yamaha and Zaeta.

Quick Facts[edit]

  • Horsepower: 60+
  • Minimum Weight: 235 lbs.
  • Top Speed: 115+ MPH
  • 0-60 mph: Under 4 seconds

Technical Specs[edit]

  • Tires: Dunlop, 19-inch, purpose-built flat track tires
  • Fuel: Sunoco 260 GTX Unleaded
  • Eligible Engines:Only 4-stroke single-cylinder motorcycles homologated by AMA Pro Racing may be used in AFT Singles competition. AMA Pro Racing will only review applications for homologation from motorcycle manufacturers or their distributors or designated representatives. Once a motorcycle has been approved, it may be used until such time that it no longer complies with the technical rules.
  • Engine Displacement: 251 – 450cc 4-stroke single-cylinder engines.
  • All single-cylinder engine displacements are absolute, with no overbore allowances.
  • Single-cylinder engines must maintain stock bore and stroke.

AFT Production Twins[edit]

As AFT Singles riders progress and set their sights on becoming an AFT Twins rider, the AFT Production Twins class gives up-and-coming athletes the opportunity to race an AFT track on a twin-cylinder race bike without competing against the heavy hitters in contention for the AFT Twins championship. This class serves as a transition between the AFT Singles and AFT Twins classes.

Quick Facts

  • Horsepower: 90+
  • Minimum Weight: 310 lbs.
  • Top Speed: 140+ MPH
  • 0-60 mph: Under 4 seconds

Technical Specs:

  • Tires: Dunlop, 19-inch, purpose-built flat track tires
  • Fuel: Sunoco 260 GTX Unleaded
  • Eligible Engines: Only 4-stroke twin-cylinder mass-production engines with prior, written approval by AMA Pro Racing are eligible for competition in AFT Production Twins. The original engine crank cases or OEM replacements must be utilized to qualify as a production engine.
  • Engine Displacement: (649cc – 800cc with the following restrictions):
  • Production Engines: Production engines may not exceed 800cc. Bore and stroke may be modified to meet this maximum displacement limit.

History[edit]

1920s – ORIGINS OF THE SPORT: American Flat Track is one of the original and longest-running forms of motorsport, with roots dating back to the first two-wheel speed demons in the 1920s. Harley-Davidson's Jim Davis won the first national race sanctioned by the AMA, the 25-mile AMA National Championship which was held on a one-mile dirt oval in Toledo, Ohio on July 26, 1924.

1930s – INTRODUCTION OF CLASS C: In 1932, the AMA sanctioned Class A Dirt Track allowing motorcycle manufacturers to enter prototype machinery. Class C was introduced in 1933, featuring street-legal motorcycles and focusing on cost containment to attract new riders. AMA crowned Indian-mounted Woodsie Castonguay its first Class C National Champion in 1935, and the final Class A champion was crowned in 1938.

1940s – HARLEY VS. INDIAN: While Europe began to boil over, the Great American war raged stateside. Class C helped fuel an intense rivalry between Harley-Davidson and Indian, the two major American manufacturers of the period. Due to the Second World War, no championships were held between 1942 and 1945. All other years, the Class C winner at the Springfield Mile was crowned National Champion.

1950s – HARLEY VS. BSA: Up until 1953, the AMA Grand National Champion was crowned based on the results of a single race, the Springfield Mile. In 1954, the AMA formalized a series of events known as the Grand National Championship, featuring five different types of race circuits. Four were dirt tracks, while the fifth was a paved road course. With the demise of Indian Motorcycles in 1953, Harley-Davidson was left to dominate the series, with rider Joe Leonard winning the first Grand National Championship in 1954. 

1960s – HARLEY TAKES ON THE BRITS: In the 1960s, British manufacturers seeking to bolster sales in the burgeoning American motorcycle market began to compete in the championship. Dick Mann won the national title for BSA in 1963, marking the first victory for a foreign manufacturer. Triumph would win three Grand National Championships in four years, with Gary Nixon winning back-to-back titles in 1967 and 1968, and Gene Romero taking another title in 1970.

1970s – EVOLUTION: THE RISE OF THE JAPANESE: Mann won a second crown for BSA in 1971 before the British motorcycle industry collapsed. In 1973, Kenny Roberts took the honors as Grand National Champion for Yamaha, the first for a Japanese marque. In 1975 Ken Roberts possibly scored the first points riding a two stroke, a Yamaha TZ750 in a Champion frame, winning the event – the first he had ridden the bike. His famous words, "They don't pay me enough to ride that thing." signaled the impending doom of the two strokes and multi-cylinders other than twins. In 1978, Roberts took the international scene by storm. His revolutionary style, bred on American dirt tracks, allowed him to dominate his competition and become the first American to win a motorcycle road racing world championship. Roberts was the catalyst that set off a firestorm of world champion motorcyclists bred on American dirt track racing.

1980s – BIG BATTLES: H-D & HONDA HEAD-TO-HEAD: Honda brought engineering and technical superiority to the sport in the mid-1980s, earning four championships in succession from 1984 – 1987. As the sport grew and machinery became increasingly specialized, the AMA recognized the need to separate the dirt and asphalt disciplines. In 1986, flat track and road racing became two distinct AMA Pro Racing championships. Tammy Kirk became the first woman to score GNC points in 1983. Scott Parker began his historic championship run for Harley-Davidson in 1988.

1990s – DOMINANCE: HARLEY REIGNS SUPREME: With the exit of Honda, Harley-Davidson dominated the sport relatively unopposed throughout the 1990s. In 1993, the Harley-Davidson 883 Sportster division was introduced, featuring nearly street-legal bikes. Chris Carr won championships in 1992 and 1999, and Scott Parker claimed an unprecedented nine championships by the end of the decade. In 1999, the SuperTracker division was created, introducing a large number of DOT-approved four-stroke, twin-cylinder engines to the sport.

2000s – DIVERSIFICATION: A CHANGE OF FOCUS: The SuperTracker division was absorbed into the GNC in 2001. In 2002, Shaun Russell finished 13th at the Springfield TT on a Honda CR250, marking the final time points were scored by a two-stroke motorcycle. Chris Carr won his seventh and final championship in 2005, which was also the final season for the Harley-Davidson 883 Sportster Division. In 2007, Nichole Mees became the second woman to score points in the GNC.

2010s – A RENEWED INTEREST: New manufacturers began to enter and find success in the sport. In 2010, Ducati earned its first GNC win. On August 24, 2013, three different OEMs finished on the podium for the first time since 1972. One week later, Harley- Davidson failed to make the podium for the first time since 1987. With Bryan Smith at the controls, Kawasaki emerged as a fierce competitor on Miles.

Race Circuits[edit]

  • The Mile: Mile circuits are typically horse racing facilities during when the tracks are closed during the off-season. With speeds reaching 140 mph on the long straightaways, races often turn into barn burners with packs of riders drafting to the finish line lap after lap. These facilities include the New York and Minneapolis areas, along with standardbred stalwarts Cal Expo and The Red Mile.
  • The Half Mile and Short Track: Half-Miles and Short Tracks have been the most common circuits on the schedule throughout the history of the sport. Many Half-Miles are purpose-built racetracks which play host to a wide variety of motorcycle and automobile dirt track racing organizations. Short Tracks, which are similar tracks to Half-Miles, typically a three-eighth mile short track used for sprint cars, feature quick laps and fierce battles, sometimes described as being like “a fist fight in a phone booth.” Getting a good start is vital to getting a good result on a short track.
  • TT: Unlike some international forms of TT racing, the TTs in American Flat Track are not held on public roads. The circuits are purpose-built non-oval race courses with a jump, requiring riders to master both right- and left-hand turns and launch high into the air at least once per lap. Starting in 2019, two TT rounds are closer to Supermoto in style, as the Daytona International Speedway TT is a tarmac and dirt race, and the Arizona round was moved to Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park on their off-road circuit, an all-dirt Supermoto with multiple jumps.

Broadcasting[edit]

American Flat Track has had an exclusive television partnership with NBCSN since the 2017 season. All 18 rounds, from the season-opening DAYTONA TT to the American Flat Track Finals, air in one-hour, tape-delayed telecasts on various nights throughout the summer and fall. With nearly 85 million subscribers, NBCSN is the Home of Motorsports in America, providing coverage of NASCAR, IndyCar, Formula One, Mecum Auctions, Lucas Oil Pro Motocross and now, American Flat Track.

NBCSN's coverage of the American Flat Track season begins in March, highlighted by flag-to-flag race coverage of both AFT Twins and AFT Singles classes.

Every session of every round of an American Flat Track season is streamed live, in high definition and free of charge at FansChoice.tv.

List of Champions[edit]

Season Champion Motorcycle Format
1946 Chet Dykgraaf Norton Single dirt-track race at Springfield Mile[4]
1947 Jimmy Chann Harley-Davidson
1948 Jimmy Chann Harley-Davidson
1949 Jimmy Chann Harley-Davidson
1950 Larry Headrick Harley-Davidson
1951 Bobby Hill Indian
1952 Bobby Hill Indian
1953 Bill Tuman Indian
1954 Joe Leonard Harley-Davidson Combined road-racing and dirt-track events[4]
1955 Brad Andres Harley-Davidson
1956 Joe Leonard Harley-Davidson
1957 Joe Leonard Harley-Davidson
1958 Carroll Resweber Harley-Davidson
1959 Carroll Resweber Harley-Davidson
1960 Carroll Resweber Harley-Davidson
1961 Carroll Resweber Harley-Davidson
1962 Bart Markel Harley-Davidson
1963 Dick Mann Matchless
1964 Roger Reiman Harley-Davidson
1965 Bart Markel Harley-Davidson
1966 Bart Markel Harley-Davidson
1967 Gary Nixon Triumph
1968 Gary Nixon Triumph
1969 Mert Lawwill Harley-Davidson
1970 Gene Romero Triumph
1971 Dick Mann BSA
1972 Mark Brelsford Harley-Davidson
1973 Kenny Roberts Yamaha
1974 Kenny Roberts Yamaha
1975 Gary Scott Harley-Davidson
1976 Jay Springsteen Harley-Davidson
1977 Jay Springsteen Harley-Davidson
1978 Jay Springsteen Harley-Davidson
1979 Steve Eklund Harley-Davidson, Yamaha
1980 Randy Goss Harley-Davidson
1981 Mike Kidd Harley-Davidson, Yamaha
1982 Ricky Graham Harley-Davidson
1983 Randy Goss Harley-Davidson
1984 Ricky Graham Honda
1985 Bubba Shobert Honda
1986 Bubba Shobert Honda Dirt-track events only[5] Road-racing rounds not counted towards the Grand National Championship anymore.
1987 Bubba Shobert Honda
1988 Scott Parker Harley-Davidson
1989 Scott Parker Harley-Davidson
1990 Scott Parker Harley-Davidson
1991 Scott Parker Harley-Davidson
1992 Chris Carr Harley-Davidson
1993 Ricky Graham Honda
1994 Scott Parker Harley-Davidson
1995 Scott Parker Harley-Davidson
1996 Scott Parker Harley-Davidson
1997 Scott Parker Harley-Davidson
1998 Scott Parker Harley-Davidson
1999 Chris Carr Harley-Davidson, ATK
2000 Joe Kopp Harley-Davidson, Rotax
2001 Chris Carr Harley-Davidson, Rotax, ATK
2002 Chris Carr Harley-Davidson, Rotax, VOR, ATK
2003 Chris Carr Harley-Davidson, Rotax, VOR[6]
2004 Chris Carr Harley-Davidson, Rotax, KTM[6][7]
2005 Chris Carr Harley-Davidson, KTM
2006 Kenny Coolbeth (Twins) Harley-Davidson From 2006 to 2009, the championship was replaced by two separate series for two-cylinders (Twins) and single-cylinder (Singles) bikes. No overall title awarded.[4]


Twins events were held on mile and half-mile courses, while Singles events were held on short-track and TT courses.[4]

Jake Johnson (Singles) Suzuki
2007 Kenny Coolbeth
Won both classes
Harley-Davidson (Twins)
Honda (Singles)
2008 Kenny Coolbeth (Twins) Harley-Davidson
Jake Johnson (Singles) Suzuki
2009 Jared Mees (Twins) Harley-Davidson
Henry Wiles (Singles) Kawasaki
2010 Jake Johnson Harley-Davidson (Twins) Overall title awarded to the rider with the highest total after combining the points earned in Twins and Singles championships.[4]
Honda (Singles)
2011 Jake Johnson Harley-Davidson (Twins)
Honda (Singles)
2012 Jared Mees Harley-Davidson (Twins)
Honda (Singles)
2013 Brad Baker Harley-Davidson (Twins)
Honda (Singles)
2014 Jared Mees Harley-Davidson (Twins)
Honda (Singles)
2015 Jared Mees Harley-Davidson (Twins) Unified championship (GNC1) including both Twins and Singles events.[4]
Honda (Singles)
2016 Bryan Smith Kawasaki
2017 Jared Mees Indian American Flat Track championship in AFT Twins
2018 Jared Mees Indian

References[edit]

  1. ^ Wilson, Andrea (February 13, 2017). "American Flat-Track Racing Revival". Cycle World. Retrieved February 23, 2017.
  2. ^ The First Sixty Years; An Illustrated History of the American Motorcyclist Association. American Motorcyclist. Books.Google.com. January 1984. Retrieved 1 January 2011.
  3. ^ Ridin' To The Races. American Motorcyclist. Books.Google.com. August 1978. Retrieved 1 January 2011.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "About AMA Pro Flat Track". AMA Pro Racing. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
  5. ^ Semmeling, Rob. "American Motorcycle Races" (PDF). pp. 32–33. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
  6. ^ a b "Carr opens title defense at Daytona". motorsport.com. 26 February 2004. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
  7. ^ "Former Road Racer Chris Carr, AMA Grand National Champion". Roadracing World Publishing. 27 September 2004. Retrieved 24 October 2015.

External links[edit]