At the end of the 2018 season, the Indian Wrecking Crew — the factory’s awesomely talented trio of American Flat Track racers — was down to one.
Brad Baker was seriously injured during the X Games and was out indefinitely, and Bryan Smith and his crew announced they were going to contest the AFT Twins Championship on Kawasakis.
That left the Wrecking Crew with just one member, defending series champion Jared Mees.
Having Mees on board gave Indian officials tremendous leeway. They already had the most talented rider in flat-track racing, who just also happened to have one of the most talented crew chiefs in Kenny Tolbert.
With the luxury of Mees and Tolbert on board, Indian looked to hire a pair of young riders who they could build into future champions and who could potentially be contenders for many years to come.
In what now looks like a stroke of genius, Indian went with a brother act in the form of Briar and Bronson Bauman.
The younger brother, Bronson Bauman, already had experience with the factory Indian squad. As a young, up-and-coming AFT Twins rider, Bronson Bauman showcased his abilities last season and earned his first full-time factory ride for this season. Midway through the 2018 campaign, Bronson Bauman was hand-selected by Baker to fill in on his factory FTR750.
In Bronson Bauman’s first race aboard the FTR750, he secured a fifth-place finish at the Buffalo Chip TT. Bronson Bauman also recorded his first career Twins podium aboard the FTR750 with a second-place finish at Pennsylvania’s Williams Grove Speedway.
To find a third rider, Indian didn’t have to go far. As a privateer, Briar Bauman turned to the Indian Motorcycle FTR750 for the second half of last season. Through nine races, Briar Bauman secured six top-five finishes, including a second-place effort at the Peoria TT and his third AFT Twins victory at Williams Grove. His strong late-season effort rewarded him with a third-place finish in the standings and that was a strong enough résumé to earn him the ride with Indian.
American Flat Track has a long history of talented brother combinations. Before the Baumans there were the Hank and Gary Scott, Mark and Scott Brelford, Chuck, Larry and Dennis Palmgren and Tommy, Nicky and Roger Hayden, to name a few.
Indian definitely went for youth with the Baumans. Briar Bauman is 23 and Bronson Bauman just turned 22. And for the brothers, they couldn’t be in a better position, getting the opportunity to ride for the best factory squad in flat- track racing.
The Baumans, who grew up in the flat-track racing hotbed of Salinas, Calif., started racing at the same time, and surprise of all surprises, it was their mother, Lisa, who suggested they give it a try.
“Our neighbors asked if our parents could bring their bike down to a race at King City,” Bronson Bauman explained. “It was my mom who told my dad, ‘We should let the boys race.’ I think Briar and I both finished dead last, so we wanted to go back because we were kind of mad that we did so badly.”
Obviously, both brothers figured it out and quickly became two of the best amateur racers in the country.
Briar and Bronson Bauman admit they can’t totally deny the stereotype of brothers who were constantly fighting, but now that they are older, both say they couldn’t ask for a better teammate.
“I get along with pretty much everyone, but it’s nice to have Bronson in the pits,” Briar Bauman said. “We share stuff and try to help each other as much as we can. A lot of times when you get to the level where we’re at, teammates sometimes don’t work together that well. We’ve all seen times when there’s friction between teammates and that’s something we don’t have to worry about.”
For Bronson Bauman, simply having a teammate is a new experience.
“I’ve never really had a teammate before,” he admitted. “But it’s nice because we can bounce ideas off each other. We can talk about what lines on the track to run and things like that. That’s great for me, because that’s information he wouldn’t go around sharing with anybody else.”