Turf Paradise, the iconic one mile horse track in Phoenix, hosted the AMA Pro Flat Track racing series first appearance in the Valley in more than 30 years, and to say it was received well would be a massive understatement. A packed grandstand was on hand to welcome the return of the bike boys…and girls, as they reintroduced dirt track motorcycle racing to a town that last experienced it, at the now closed Manzanita Speedway, in 1985.
And here are 10 things we learned, on Saturday, as we anticipate the series return next year, and well into the future. File these pearls and nuggets away, and you’ll be well prepared to be as much of a flat track cycle racing know-it-all as we are, following a full day’s immersion into the minutiae of the sport.
- Race day was sunny and hot (100 degrees), but none of the riders were about to lose much weight as they are all to “buff and skinny” to be affected, unlike the fans, most of whom had only “tatts,” protecting them from the harmful UV Rays.
- The Bikes race in two (2) divisions, Grand National Championship 1 (GNC-1), for Twin Cylinder bikes capable of speeds in excess of 140+ mph, and Grand National Championship 2 (GNC 2), 4-stroke Single Cylinder bikes capable of racing at 115+mph.
- The AMA is quite a traveling show, complete with dragging along their own version of “soft walls,” for rider safety, which is actually an inflatable “air fence” erected in critical areas of the track to “buffer” impact with any permanent fences, or walls. These “air fences” are augmented by the traditional “hay bale” safety fences. High tech safety uniting with “old school” safety. Something for all generations to embrace.
- The series utilizes a “Christmas tree” stop and go light, to get things underway. The races themselves (Heat’s, Semi’s, and a pair of Main’s) are flagged “old style,” with the flagman “doing his deal” on the inside track surface, just inches from the bike racers. No flag stand, just “big cajones,” especially when waving the “double checkers” at race end.
- Just so you know, these bikes, like NASCAR, depend on “drafting” down the straights at 100+ mph, while in the turns you’ll observe the riders with just one hand on the throttle/handle bars, while the other (left hand) is out there “waving around” in an effort to maintain balance. And that, along with our lack of skill and bravery(?), is why we watch from the safety of the grandstands and not the lunacy of the bike seat.
- AMA Pro Flat Track racing is not just for the guys, as there were a couple of gals in the field, including Shayla Texter in the GNC-1 Series, and Greenfield, Wisconsin’s (home of NASCAR Champ – Alan Kulwicki) Charlotte Kainz, wheeling a Harley Davidson, of course, in the GNC-2 Series.
- Local racing personalities on hand included 76 year old bike racing icon, Buddy Stubbs, who served as Grand Marshal, and took a few laps on 1972 Harley XR-750. Stubbs shared that he was preparing to participate in the upcoming BAJA 1000, not on a bike, but in a car, to celebrate his 77th Once a racer, always a racer. Go Buddy GO!!!!
- Also on hand was Sprint Car great, Billy Shuman, along with Ted and Linda Martin, both of who worked at, and helped coordinate, the last appearance of the AMA Pro Flat Track bikers at the 1985 Manzanita Speedway show. They each shared interesting, and humorous stories, arising from that event.
- We also learned of the “new” to us, TV, an internet broadcasting site which broadcasts the entire AMA Pro Flat Track Series schedule, and one which we will add to our “favorites,” and visit often.
- Be sure to visit the attached link for the full AMA Pro Flat Track Series “Arizona Mile” results from this inaugural event. http://www.amaproracing.com/flat-track/results/default
Now you know almost as much as we do about AMA Pro Flat Track Racing, and hope you will find the interest to follow this series, as we will, and make plans to be there next year for this revived Arizona tradition.