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Flat Track Racing

Track racing refers to different categories, mainly speedway, grass track, long track, ice racing, and flat-track racing. These motorcycle racing forms revolve around the same principle, a race in which multiple competitors race around a short, dirt oval. 

 Participants can compete in teams or individually. The administration responsible for these sports is the Federation Internationale de Motocylisme (FIM), which was founded in Paris in 1904 under the name  Fédération Internationale des Clubs Motocyclistes (FICM).

History of Flat Track Motorcycle Racing

 

Flat Track Racing

 

Flat track racing, also called dirt track racing, is the only motorcycle race that originated in the  U.S. Its roots stretched back to the early 20th century and shaped the landscape of the American motorcycle scene for years to come. 

The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) took over the organization of the races. It was founded in 1924 and created the AMA Pro Flat Track racing series in 1932. In 2016, it was renamed American Flat Track (AFT). 

In the beginning, the sport was hazardous and took place on oval tracks covered with slippery wooden planks. While this provided a fantastic spectacle for spectators, it also caused many falls and injuries. Because of this, sports organizers decided to make the sport safer after World War II.

The races were held on flat sandy tracks, hence the name of the sport. The AMA Championship continued into the early years of World War II. However, the race ended when the US joined the Allies in 1942. After the end of the war, the returnees jumped back onto the tracks, but it was only a few years after the war that things started to happen again.

In the 1960s, the sport slowly won the hearts of Americans. Even films about the sport have been released to learn more about the mark’. 

Motorcycles sports became a ridiculous business that brought foreign manufacturers into the race during that decade. The late 1960s and early 1970s are considered the golden age of flat track racing. Companies like Harley Davidson, Indian, Yamaha, BSA, and Triumph competed for the title. 

The competition and investment quickly proved too much for British manufacturers. The engines became more powerful in the 1970s, leading to street racing. More and more riders moved off the dirt roads onto the sidewalk.

Flat Track Racing

 

Back on Tracks: The Comeback

Flat Track Racing is now making a comeback. Many manufacturers worldwide began creating models to tribute to their bikes’ heritage. This caused public attention to shift to dirt track racing. Bobbers and cafe racers all played significant roles in the sport’s revival. The market trend pivoted from performance to nostalgia, leading people to rediscover almost forgotten flat track racing. 

New technologies and engines are available today, giving infinite sports possibilities for its future. Racing is now evolving, and many manufacturers have started developing flat tracker bikes. Only time will tell which engines will reach the finish line first and bite the dust. Meanwhile, spectators can enjoy a show that gives them a complete overview of the route. One thing is sure: this sport is in a class of its own.

 

Flat Track Racing

 

Rivals Since the Very Beginning

Flat Track Racing showcased a never-ending rivalry between Harley Davidson and the Indian manufacturers. When the Great Depression hit in the 1930s, these two American manufacturers were the only ones able to fund the sport and keep the engines running. The nation began to recover from that event, the two brands were still favorites, and their rivalry acted as cement for the sport and its audience.

The mid-1950s marked the end of  Indian motorcycles and made Harley Davidson the number one player in the flat track racing scene. Even though other companies such as BSA, Triumph, and Yamaha entered the race, the American manufacturer remained at the top. Harley Davidson shaped the landscape of the sport, but Indians weren’t about to give up easily.

Now that the sport is back on track, Indian Motorcycles is determined to fight for the top once again. The 2016 season marked the manufacturer’s return to American Flat Track after the absence of fifty years. Indian manufacturers worked hard and snagged first place at AFT in 2017 and 2018 with driver Jared Mees.

 

Flat Track Racing

 

Indian FTR1200 and FTR1200S

In 2017, Indian Motorcycle announced a street-legal custom with a flat-track chassis: the FTR1200. This model is based on the 2017 American Flat Track Series winner FTR750. The FTR1200 shares a similar rear swingarm and fuel tank as the FTR750. Dunlop tires are dirt-track style. The Analog speedometer and USB port give the bikes a touch of modernity.

On the FTR1200S, a Bluetooth-enabled customizable LCD touchscreen replaces the speedometer. This allows the bike to benefit from Wheelie Mitigation Control, Traction Control, and Banking Stability Control. You can choose between standard, sport, and rain. The suspension has a rear piggyback, adjustable preload, compression, and rebound.

Flat Track Motorcycles

Flat trackers are different from other trackers, like the motorcycles used for speedways. They’re bigger, heavier, but more potent than their speedway counterparts. Another critical difference is the presence of rear brakes, allowing a different technique in turns.

Flat trackers are divided into primary classes, additionally known as divisions. First up is the Singles category, which includes smaller and lighter 450cc motorcycles. They usually look like custom bikes. The twin category includes progressively larger 750cc four-stroke motorcycles. They are specifically designed for flat track racing.

 

Flat Track Racing

 

Technique

Driving a flat tracker is a dangerous and challenging task.It consists in turning left after accelerating in the straight line of the oval. There are three critical moments. First, the rider slows down by turning the tires sideways to slide in the opposite direction of the bike. “Scrubbing” the front tire is usually reserved for professional riders as it is consequently more complex than just using the rear wheel side. 

 

Flat Track Racing

 

The rider spins the front wheel into the corner and applies the rear brake as soon as the rear starts to slide.  The rider then releases his left leg to dangle off the bike and prepare to slide.The middle of the curve is considered a significant turning point. At this point, you can be slightly ahead of your opponents. Pro riders can instantly turn e wheel in the right direction. 

Instanter comes with experience. Finding the right balance is done through throttle control and body position. The rider uses his left leg to slide alongside the bikes, which helps him balance and tip the bike over. The rider must slide the rear of their bike enough to turn it in the right direction without going too far and falling. The sooner you spin the cycle, the sooner you can get out of the corner.

The last part is the exit of the curve. It is recommended to place the shoes back on the motorcycle as soon as possible and lean the weight to the side and back. Of course, everyone has a different technique, but the same approach remains.  Get a grip on the rear wheel while keeping it correctly. Throttle control is key to getting out of the corner and accelerating straight ahead in the right direction.

Championships

 

Flat Track Racing

 

1. USA 

The most popular flat track championship is the American Flat Track. There are four different forms of competition: short track racing, half-mile, mile, and TT steeplechase. 

TT stands for Tourist Trophy. These races sometimes have left, and right turns and jumps that resemble obstacle courses. American Flat Track has hosted races since the 1920s and has hosted the Grand National Championship every year since the 1950s. However, the flat track racing scene is not limited to the AFT or the United States.

2. Canada

Seeing the rise of flat track racing in the US, Canada began organizing its event, the FMA/CTA Dirt Track Championship, in 1950. The competition was integrated into the FIM in 1957 and hosted three main classes Experts, Seniors, and Juniors.

They are often divided into subcategories. The significant figures in the Canadian flat track scene are Don McHugh, Yvon Duhamel, and Don Taylor.

3. Europe

Europe also has its share of the championship. The European Short Track Championships have been held every year since the early 2000s, but only Dutch drivers are in the stands even when British drivers take part. 

 

Flat Track Racing

 

A more significant event based in Germany and supported by ADAC and Mefo Sport features riders from  Italy, The United Kingdom has held the “British ShortTrack/FlatTrack Championships” every year since 2005. However, the top positions are occupied mainly by Italians. 

 The event also features a Thunderbike class for large bikes (over 600cc and twins), primarily Harley-Davidsons. The leading manufacturers in the PRO class are Honda and Suzuki. The championship features different courses: 6 to 8 lap short track (less than 400m), half-mile dirt circuits, and TT obstacle courses.  Most of the events are short-distance races.

 

How do you stay safe?

Preparing correctly is a massive part of being ready to compete in an off-road race. But it’s essential to have the right gear for a successful racing experience. 

One of the essential parts is being able to communicate with your crew during the race. Most racecourses will be out of cellular range, and it’s crucial to have a satellite phone. This will ensure reliable connectivity in an emergency, as your safety may depend on it. 

A satellite phone like Iridium 9555 ptt or Thuraya is the best satellite phone to stay connected in such situations.

Extreme ptt

 

 

 

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