DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Following almost 10 months of anticipation, preparation, lockdown, and limbo, the American Flat Track season is at last set to commence.
The long-awaited opener will kick off the resurrected campaign with the first of a season of doubleheader events, the Volusia Half-Mile I & Volusia Half-Mile II presented by Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys on July 17-18 at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla.
The global pandemic that pushed back the season by four months has changed the world in any number of ways, including a heightened awareness of the safety precautions needed for spectators and participants alike. As a result, tickets will be available in limited numbers, there will be a pre-entry health screening to ensure fan safety, and enhanced sanitation and cleaning protocols will be followed.
While the practice of social distancing is highly encouraged outside the air fences, the action on track promises to be as close and intense as ever.
The dawn of the AFT SuperTwins presented by Vance & Hines era comes alongside a reconfigured schedule that features a heavy dosage of Half-Miles, starting with AFT’s first visit to Volusia Speedway Park. That altered reality will force new Grand National champion Briar Bauman to defend his No. 1 plate against a field stacked with heavy hitters who sense this season may be the best chance of their careers to earn the coveted title themselves.
It’ll be vitally important for Bauman to get out the gates quickly to reestablish himself as the rider to beat, especially considering the past three GNCs went to the winner of the season opener.
Bauman’s stiffest challenge will likely once again come from his fellow Indian Wrecking Crewmen. Future Hall of Famer Jared Mees is angling to return to his commanding ways, while Briar’s younger brother, Bronson Bauman, seems primed to take the next step and emerge a genuine championship threat.
While the factory Indian Motorcycle squad has proven to be a series juggernaut in recent seasons, the series’ historic dominator enters the fight rebuilt, refocused, and more powerful than its been in years. Now overseen by title-winning crew chief Ricky Howerton, the Harley Factory Flat Track Team is loaded with talent. Bryan Smith spearheads the effort, flanked by the up-and-coming Jarod Vanderkooi and rookie Dalton Gauthier.
Yamaha has a pair of aces of its own in 2019 two-race winner J.D. Beach and 2017 AFT Singles champ Kolby Carlile.
In addition to the Wrecking Crew, Indian Motorcycle will again be represented by a deep bench of potential race winners on private FTR750s, including the likes of Brandon Robinson and Sammy Halbert.