Flat track racing, once among the most prestigious series in America, is enjoying a richly deserved renewal. Recent participation by three-time World Superbike champion Troy Bayliss, running the Indy Mile on the same weekend MotoGP visited Indianapolis for several years, and female racers moving up the ranks have all broadened this spectacular series’ appeal. Now for 2017, the re-entry of Indian with a specially built factory racer to challenge Harley-Davidson at its own game has really spiked interest levels. At the season-opener in Daytona, Jared Mees won aboard one of the new Indians, writing a fairytale new chapter into an American racing heritage that dates back over a century, when dirt and wood tracks flourished from coast to coast.
One Series, Four Kinds of Tracks
The American Flat Track championship consists of four different types of dirt tracks, this year including two Short Track, four TT, eight Half Mile, and six incredible Mile events. Through April, the 2017 series was just getting rolling with three out of 20 scheduled events completed in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina. In the top Pro Twins class, Indian’s Mees led the standings with 70 points, thanks to an impressive run of two wins and a second-place finish. Next up was Indian-mounted Bryan Smith, the defending Pro Twins champion, with a win and two podiums, while Harley-Davidson’s Sammy Halbert held third in the standings with one podium and two top-10 finishes. The title fight already looks to be shaping up between Mees and Smith.
In the single-cylinder Pro Singles class, Yamaha-mounted Dalton Gauthier held the lead with 50 points, earned through a pair of wins. Even with a DNF in round three, he remained a step ahead of Honda’s Kolby Carlile, with one podium and two top-seven finishes, and third-place Ben Lowe, with one podium and one top-six finish aboard his Honda. Highly impressive is Shayna Texter, who despite not qualifying for round one, claimed podiums in the second and third rounds to hold fourth in the points on her Honda.
How Dunlop Take the Lead
Despite the variety of machinery and tracks that make up the American Flat Track Championship, every rider, bike and race featured a common theme of excellence – Dunlop DT3 race tires. Designed and manufactured in Buffalo, New York especially for the series, these 17-inch asymmetrical dirt-track tires provide the tenacious and predictable grip that racers need when sliding bar-to-bar through turns at over 100 mph. Improvements for 2017 include a choice of two rear tire compounds; a medium compound for TT, short-track and half-mile tracks, and a hard for mile tracks.
The new compound choices show how the knowledge earned during Dunlop’s 118 years of manufacturing street, dirt and race tires contributes to American Flat Track racing today. And in turn, lessons learned in this exciting series will feed right back into Dunlop R&D, eventually helping to improve the production tires you can buy. Translation? Dunlop’s support of American Flat Track is a win-win-win for everyone.
The next American Flat Track race is the Arizona Mile in Phoenix on May 13, followed by the Sacramento Mile in California on May 20. Look for the Dunlop big rig when you’re in the pits!