57-year-old AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer planning partial season in motorcycle series
BY: AUTOWEEK STAFF
Jeff Ward — a seven-time AMA Motocross champion, AMA Supermoto champion, IndyCar and NASCAR racer, AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer. Motorsports Hall of Fame of America member, and one of the most versatile and successful competitors in the world of motorsports — will return to the racetrack to compete in select American Flat Track events in 2019.
Ward will compete in the AFT Singles division at all five TT steeplechase races and possibly a short track or two aboard KTM 450 SX-F bikes with support from fellow racer and Moto Anatomy riding school owner Johnny Lewis, Blackmore Ranch, KTM, Troy Lee Designs, Malcolm Smith Motorcycles, The W Training Facility and Monster Energy.
“Most folks probably don’t know this,” Ward said, “but I started racing flat tracks and TTs as a youngster and then gradually moved to motocross, so I’ve got some pretty deep flat track roots. I’ve been riding lately at the Blackmore Ranch flat track facility in Southern California and really enjoying it. I also watched all the AFT races on NBCSN in 2018, and I got to thinking, ‘Let’s try this’ — and here we are. I’ll ride one of Johnny’s KTMs at Daytona in March, and one of my KTMs in Arizona in April, as it’s close to my SoCal base. After that, we’ll figure out logistics for the rest of the rounds.
“I think we’ll be in contention for wins, too. I’m 57, but I’m still pretty fast on a motorcycle and in great shape thanks to all the motocross riding and mountain bike racing I’ve been doing. It will be a challenge, for sure, but I’m committed to this and plenty serious about the season.”
Ward will have logistical and bike setup support from flat-track veteran Lewis.
“Jeff’s a master,” said Lewis, “and he’ll adapt quickly. He’s just so intuitive and has such a good feel for the motorcycle, what it needs and how to extract maximum performance from it. I’m always amazed how good he is when I watch him. We’ll be working together and testing before the Daytona round on March 14, and afterward, too, so he’ll be ready. When you combine his world-class natural talent with the fact that he still wants to learn and pays attention to the smaller things I can help him with, he’s going to be tough to beat.”