The chase to crown the 2017 national champion of American flat track motorcycle racing returns to Turf Paradise in Phoenix on May 13 as Bryan Smith of Michigan is looking to defend his win last year on the Arizona Mile and his national title, as well.
Up to 60 of the nation’s top professional motorcycle racers are expected in Phoenix to compete in the Law Tigers Arizona Mile, presented by Indian Motorcycles. Phoenix is the fourth stop of the 18-race series which began at Daytona in March and will award the Number One plate to the top rider in Southern California in October.
How Flat Track Racing got its start
“Flat track racing was born in America and has deep roots on dirt tracks where riders race handlebar to handlebar at triple-digit speeds and draft each other on the front and back stretches, which can produce several lead changes and exciting racing lap after lap,” noted Chris Morgan, event co-promoter. “It is the ultimate pure competition with the riders in full view of the fans as they wrestle their big-motor machines on the track and the weekend promises to be very entertaining.”
Bryan Smith, the widely acknowledged “mile master” of the American Flat Track series because of his skill on high-speed big race tracks, launched his championship run with his win in Phoenix last year, the first of his four victories to claim the title by a mere five points over four-time champion Jared Mees, also from Michigan.
That intense competition between Smith and Mees has carried over into 2017 as the pair has dominated the season’s first three races, even though they are now teammates on a new factory effort by Indian Motorcycles, which is returning to flat track racing after an absence of 64 years.
Smith is coming to Phoenix with momentum after winning a few weeks ago in Charlotte, but Mees, who won the first two rounds in Daytona and Atlanta leads Smith in the championship tally but by a mere eight points. “I want it bad,” said Mees about what would be his fifth national title. “Bryan’s riding extremely well right now so it won’t be easy.”
The new Indian “Scout” FTR 750 is powered by an all-new race-only V Twin designed exclusively for flat track racing. The new Indian formally made its debut late in 2016, with Mees winning the season-ending race in Northern California, putting everyone on notice that it would mount a serious challenge.
Not to be outdone, Harley Davidson has unveiled an all-star team of riders—and a new bike—-to respond to the challenge. The team is led by three-time Grand National Champion Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. of Connecticut, and includes two-time titleholder Jake Johnson and Brandon Robinson, both from Pennsylvania, who among them tally 59 Grand National race wins.
“With the fuel injection, the Harley Davidson has a lot of potentials and I think we have the bike to beat,” said Coolbeth, as the American Flat Track series marks a turning point in the schedule at Phoenix, which is the first opportunity for teams to compete on a big mile oval that could be the equalizer for the rival teams after racing on shorter tracks up to now.
A full day of events is planned at Turf Paradise, including music, a historic bike show and an autograph session with the top flat track riders in America. Don’t miss Grand Marshal, Law Tigers’ owner, Ari Levenbaum, as he takes the first lap of the day! More info is available at www.arizonamile.com .