Yamaha Shows Off R1 Dirt Track Car In Exhibition Race

Drivers prepare to go racing during the inaugural R1 Dirt Track race Saturday night at Perris Auto Speedway.

PERRIS, Calif. — Eight talented racers from various disciplines of motorsports participated in Yamaha Motor Corp.’s inaugural R1 Dirt Track race Saturday at Perris Auto Speedway.

The event, which took place during the Budweiser Oval Nationals, was won by off-road superstar C.J. Greaves, but more importantly celebrated first race for the unique concept car that Yamaha hopes will have a significant impact on grassroots oval-track racing.

“We made some history last Saturday putting eight prototype R1DT cars on the track at once for the first time and watching some amazing competitors — current and future hall of famers — from so many different worlds of racing compete at a high level and put on a great show for the fans,” said Dave Park, Yamaha’s R1DT project manager. “These cars proved more than capable of some fast and fun racing even with drivers who aren’t accustomed to racing dirt track cars turning fast laps side by side, mixing it up.”

Greaves enjoyed the experience.

“It was pretty crazy to be able to have people from almost everything on wheels and an engine all racing against each other — so much talent all the way through the field,” said Greaves. “It was a blast racing the new R1DT, and if you ever get a chance to drive one of these you won’t be disappointed.”

Dirt late model hall of famer Donnie Moran finished second in his return to dirt track racing.

C.J. Greaves (center) bested Donnie Moran (left) and Natalie Decker (right) to win the inaugural R1 Dirt Track race on Saturday at Perris Auto Speedway.

“This was a blast from the past,” said Donnie Moran. “The Yamaha R1DT has a bright future. It’s the need for speed. Awesome ride. Thank you to everyone at Yamaha.”
NASCAR driver Natalie Decker finished third.

“I can’t thank Yamaha enough for having me out for the inaugural R1DT Invitational race,” Decker said. “It was really cool to be a part of the event representing TRD and competing side by side against some of the best drivers from a variety of motorsport disciplines. The car itself was so much fun and easy to drive. There’s no question this model would be the perfect car for a driver moving up the ranks or even someone with more experience. It’s definitely got plenty of speed and handling to be super racey. It’s really going appeal to a wide variety of drivers.”

Veteran sprint car driver Cory Kruseman also participated.

“I have raced dirt circle track cars my whole life, and in 35 years this is the first production race car I’ve ever driven,” Kruseman said. “Yamaha understands what it takes to make racing fun and economical again! I am looking forward to helping change the sport we love so much now that people can afford it.”

Longtime Yamaha Superbike racer Josh Hayes was also in the eight-car field.

“I want to say thank you to Yamaha for the incredible opportunity to drive their new R1DT dirt track prototype car in their first invitational race,” Hayes said. “Going from a Superbike to a four-wheeled vehicle was definitely an ‘out of my element’ challenge, but the car was so much fun to drive! I have to admit that my expectations were quite different. Where I expected the R1DT to drive like a high-powered kart, it was much more challenging by the fact that it truly drove much more like a real car with the ample power and amount of weight transfer. By talking with more experienced drivers, it seems this could be an affordable, and oh so fun way to get introduced to true circle track car racing! During the race, I unfortunately let my enthusiasm get the best of my inexperience resulting in my spinning the car twice. But I seriously doubt that anyone on track had more fun than I did, and I’ve gotten to do some pretty fun stuff. Now I’m hooked, and I just have to figure out how to get more opportunities to drive the R1DT, or find out how to buy one.”

Veteran Superbike racer Josh Hayes (4) leads a group of cars on Saturday night at Perris Auto Speedway.

American Flat Track rider Sammy Halbert was another of the exhibition racers.

“I had a blast driving the R1DT,” Halbert said. “It was something totally different for me. The mechanical DNF was a bummer because it was so much fun to drive the car. I wanted to get all my laps in and see what I could have done in the main. I know the R1DT is a prototype and Yamaha will dial in those cars even more. I look forward to seeing how they evolve and would love to race it again.”

captured attention from the racing world for its unique design and production possibilities. The tube chassis, purpose-built dirt track car is powered by a fuel injected, inline 4-cylinder engine from Yamaha’s R1S production motorcycle.

It is designed to be a low maintenance, low cost-of-operation turnkey production racer with the potential for national retail distribution, financing and parts support that could bring a new level of accessibility to fans and would-be racers from outside of the current dirt track world.

“We’ve seen a lot of interest in the R1DT from the pits to the grandstands and even throughout the country as dirt track fans and people who are new to dirt track are asking a lot of questions and showing a lot of interest in the cars,” Park said. “The R1DT is still a concept at this point, but this is the type of momentum we need to keep this project moving forward. We’re very excited with the result, and we’re already planning for how we can keep improving and pushing these cars towards full production.”