After a 42 year absence, the two-wheeled daredevils of AMA Flat Track have returned to the cushioned mile at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. The Santa Rosa Mile. The rough, cushioned surface never blued up and because of the excessive heat, had trouble holding moisture. Even with the volume of calcium chloride applied, the surface was still loose and dusty. And even with all of these potential pitfalls; heat, loose track, dust, and a bumpy track, these pros had no trouble with it and lap times were fast.
The crowd was incredible and clearly knew their flat track racing. Each shotgun start, pass, and near step-off was met with very loud cheers and applause, by an audience that was hungry for fast bikes and hot shoes.
Personally I love the flat track bikes. Especially on the mile. There is nothing like seeing a rider, tuck in behind the bars for a 130mph plus, all out run down the straight, only to flick the bike into the long sweeping corner, sliding anxiously on the edge between control and catastrophe. If you have never been out to see one of these events, you are doing yourself a great disservice. It’s some of the most action packed racing you will ever see. It’s everything we love about racing: slides (imagine a quarter mile long drift, with your left foot dragging the ground along the way), great passing, spraying dirt and cute umbrella girls. It doesn’t really get any better! So I encourage you, my friends, make a point to get out and watch this truly incredible sport. You will be glad you did.
Here are some of my favorite shots from this past Sunday. I hope you enjoy them.
One of my favorites of all time, Kenny Coolbeth, takes some time to sign autographs for the fans. The AMA opens the pit area for one hour before the heats begin, so you can get right up close to your favorite riders.
Mikey Avila answers questions for a young fan. These riders were all great when it came to making time for the fans, and they all did a awesome job interacting with the kids.
Shayna Texter has a light-hearted conversation with a fellow rider just before the Pro Singles Final. Shayna had a good day in the saddle and would finish eighth in a very tough field.
Even through the heat and dusty conditions, Umbrella Girls USA’s model, Candice Lorraine Wurster always managed to look fresh and put on a smile.
Having already been given the hard charger award, and winning the $1,000.00 Dash for Cash, Sammy Halbert is focused and ready to ride.
The officiating team at the AMA are second to none and put on a clean, well-controlled program.
The Pro Singles riders leave the line. Every rider for himself as they bomb into the first corner.
The Pro Singles raced close and tough all day and the final was no different. Here, Dominic Colindres (66y), Rodney Spencer Jr. (74z) and Jake Shoemaker (55A) fight for position as they scream down the front straight.
The Pro Singles podium, and the champagne was flowing. Your winner Stephen Vanderkuur, who dominated the race from start to finish, got a good shower from second place rider Rodney Spencer Jr.. Third place finisher Cole Anderson gets into the mix, as well.
Kayl Kolkman looking fast down the front straight during practice. Unfortunately Kayl would have trouble pulling it all together and would miss making the final.
That’s right kids, there are BMW’s racing AMA Flat Track. Even saw a Ducati. Good slide here from Jethro Halbert in early practice. Jethro would come in fourth in the GNC Twins Semifinal 1 race, just missing the final.
Riders Ready for the GNC Twins Final.
Mikey Avila fighting for position early on with #12 Brad Baker. As we will later see, Mikey would be forced to retire on lap 11. Brad would go on to finish 7th.
Nichole Cheza, who would make the final by winning the LCQ, making the pass on Brandan Bergen. She would end up taking 11th while Brandan would be forced to retire with just five laps to go. It was like this all day. Great action. Lots of passing after a long draft down the straight.
Jared Mees. All Alone. Getting a clean run and working his way to the front.
If you have ever raced competitively…actually, if you’ve ever done anything competitively, then you understand what Mikey Avila is feeling here. But, as they say, if losing didn’t feel so bad, winning wouldn’t feel so good. I suspect the young rider from Madera, California will be back next week with even more determination…
“Slammin” Sammy Halbert takes the win to the cheers of nearly thirty thousand fans.
Something may have failed on his bike. That’s a thick layer of oil and dirt coating second place rider Jared Mees.
Your GNC Twins Podium: Sammy Halbert, Jared Mees and Bryan Smith. A great race. I am already anxiously awaiting next years AMA Flat Track season. Hopefully I’ll get out to three or four rounds here on the west coast.
I sincerely hope all of you get a chance to witness the non-stop action that is AMA Pro Flat Track Racing. You won’t see action like this anywhere else.