Posts Tagged ‘Kawasaki’

  One of the oldest motor sports in the world went prime time last night on ESPN. Yes that right, AMA Flattrack opened the 2015 Summer XGames in Austin, Texas. Fans that tuned in were not disappointed, the riders put on some great racing all night, and a very exciting finish in the Main Event.(Metal Round) 

Harley Davidson presented the first ever Flattrack event in the XGames. 20 years of X has been filled with all kinds of sports from skate boarding, Street luge, motorcycle step up, and BMX big air. It seems like that last few years motorsports have been creeping into this popular event more and more. Now this year with Flattrack the trend continues. 

The XGames crew trucked in tons of clay to create the battle ground for the two wheel warriors at the 2015 XGames. 24 riders entered this event trying to be the first to take home the gold in this addition to Summer X. They would to battle on a 3/8’s mile dirt oval, that was built in the middle of a field in Texas. With all the rain in the lone Star state, it made it a bigger challenge for the track builders, but they did a great job with what they had to work with. 

 #10 Johnny Lewis had a great run on his Ducati finishing 4th just outside a metal

24 of the sports top riders were on hand competing in two 14 lap heat races. Five riders would move onto the Metal round from the qualifying races, and the rest would have to go through the LCQ ( last chance Qualifier). Only two riders would advance to from the LCQ to the main event. Of course the XGames added a little twist to the Harley Davidson Flattrack race by having each race start with a MX like starting gate. Normally at a AMA Flattrack event, the riders line up in rows across  the start finish line. They line up handle bar to handle bar waiting for a green light  before they leave the line.  Not only did they have added pressure on them just from the prime time event itself, but also a new way to start a race on these 300lb beast. 

 #2 Three time Nationl champion Kenny Coolbeth Jr had to go through the LCQ, on a borrowed bike to make the Main Event at Summer X 2015

Twelve riders lined up at the starting gate in two heat races to open this years XGames. In heat one the gate dropped, and the competitors charged down Into turn one, jockeying for one of the top five transfer spots to the main. After all of the rain that Fell on Texas the freshly made track was a little rough, but definitely  good enough to put on a great show. #1 defending Grand National Champion Jared Mees got the hole shot on his Harley, with factory Harley Davidson rider #6 Brad “The bullet ” Baker hot in his heels  in second place. 14 laps was the distance making the hole shot very important to the riders.  The track rubbered up on the bottom, leaving very little room to pass on the 3/8’s mile track. Harley’s top rider Baker found some bite on the high side and drove past Meese for the lead and win in heat race number one. 

So five riders were locked in from race one. Now it was heat race no. 2 with 14 more riders at the starting gate. With fans from all over the world watching on ESPN, the gate dropped and they were off. #5 Jake Johnson, #7 Sammy Halbert, and #42 Bryan Smith were a few that flew down into turn one for the second heat of the night.  Johnson exited turn two with the lead with “Slamming” Sammy Halbert close behind in second. Kawasaki rider Bryan Smith went wide in turn one falling back a few spots, making his journey to the main a little harder. # 5 Johnson pulled away securing his metal round appearance with a win over Halbert, and lewis 

Cory Texter and his Sister Shanya Texter were both on hand for this grand event. They are the first brother and sister to ever compete against each other at the XGames, check out my interviews with these to young guns in Flattrack racing. Shayna TexterCory Texter. Neither Cory or Shayna made the main, but they are great ambassadors for the sport. Next up was the LCQ, this was it for the rest of the riders. If you finish in the top two you move on to the main, if not, you put it on the trailer and have to wait until next year to try and win Gold. 

Ten laps is all the riders had to get into the last to spots in the main. Above Kenny Coolbeth Jr finished second to Australian rider #87 Micheal Kirkness, in the LCQ These two got out front early and protected their ever important positions. Five of the 24 riders that were participating in this prime time event I have covered at Square Deal Riders in update NY. I have had the privlage of interviewing these riders as well as capturing wonderful images of them piloting their machines around the 1/4 mile track at SDR. 
ESPN did a great job of covering the racing, with a couple of cool behind the scenes pieces with the Texter sibIings and Brad “The Bullet” Baker. It was good to see them show who these riders are to the huge audience that have never seen Flattrack racing before. Riders lined up at the starting gate with their mechanics doing final adjustments to their bikes before they raced for the Gold. The Gate dropped, and the engines came roaring to life heading off into turn one. Scottie Deubler was in the booth calling the race for ESPN. Scottie does a great job announcing, helping new fans understand what was going on out there on the track during the event. # 1 Meese grabbed the hole shot followed close by Smith, Baker, Lewis close behind. Baker made a nice pass for the lead on lap two with Mees charging right back by him to wrestle the lead back from the former champion. The two battled back and forth for the first few laps. 

Mees was running the bottom on the very fine black groove, and Baker was running the top trying to build momentum to get around the defending champions Harley. Meanwhile the mile expert Bryan Smith was closing in on the leaders bringing along Johnny Lewis on his Ducati. Bakers efforts around the top wasn’t paying off, as Smith and Lewis got by him on the bottom around lap 4.  Sammy Halbert took advantage of a slip by Lewis, grabbing the third spot  around the 1/2 way mark. ” The Bullet” made his way back to fourth for a bit racing with Lewis for a few laps, making for some great racing behind the leaders. Mees pulled out a couple bike lengths on both Smith and Halbert. Sammy was trying everything to get around the green Kawisaki of Smith. He looked high he looked low, but Smith made his bike really wide for the last few laps. 
#1 Mees was out front when the white flag flew, with Smith and Helbert in the final two metal positions. Mees was only 3/8’s of a mile from Gold, entered turn one well on his way to the win, when he slowed bring everybody to their feet.  With Smith and Sammy swerving low to avoid hitting the bike of Mees. The # 1 bike popped his chain off with 1/2 a lap to go. What a huge bummer for the Defending AMA Grand National Champion. Jared’s wife Nicole Mees ( a fellow rider)  looked on as her husbands bike slowed down the back stretch. 
Smith said “thank you sir ” as he flew by for the win, with Halbert, and Baker close behind for the a Silver and Bronze metals. What a great finish, sad for Mees, but very exciting for the fans in Texas as well as the millions watching at home.  Mees walked back to his hauler very disappointed, not giving a interview with the TV crew.  In victory lane Smith said that he was all set  to finish second, but “Sometimes being lucky is better than being Good” 

Great coverage from ESPN, and good racing from the riders, made for a great XGames Debut for Flattrack racing. I hope this will move Flattrack Motorcycle racing up a few more notches in motor sports. 

Check out my Flattrack images at on my website at John Zachary Photography

Thank you for stopping by, 

I will see you at the track

Take care,