J.D. Beach turned heads in the motorcycle racing fraternity when it was announced he would be contesting both the American Flat Track and MotoAmerica Superbike championships this season.
Beach will race Yamahas in both series — an Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 in AFT Twins competition and Attack Performance-Estenson Racing Yamaha YZF-R1 in Superbike.
It’s going to be a whirlwind of activity with potentially 28 national events stuffed into a seven-month timeframe.
For the first three decades of professional motorcycle racing in America, the path to the national championship included both road races and flat-track races. From the inception of the AMA Grand National Championship in 1954 to the 1985 season, if a rider wanted to be AMA Grand National champion their chances of winning that No. 1 plate would be greatly increased if they were good on both dirt and tarmac.
Legendary riders such as Joe Leonard, Dick Mann, Gary Nixon, Kenny Roberts, Bubba Shobert and Nicky Hayden proved to be not only champions, but racers who could go fast on any type of track.
That era in American motorcycle racing ended in 1986 when the AMA separated road racing from the Grand National Series. At that point, all rounds in GNC were dirt. That also coincided with the time when fewer and fewer pro riders attempted to race in both the flat-rack and road- racing championships.
Beach started last month and will be pretty much on the go through the end of September.
There are five weekends with both MotoAmerica and American Flat Track events on the same weekend. In most cases, it would not be possible to do both races since they are on opposite sides of the country, but there are at least two rounds that are close enough that it’s conceivable he might attempt to run both national championships in a single weekend.
That’s the first question we put to Beach: Which series will take precedent with the races on conflicting dates?
“At the moment, we’re just going to wait until we get to those weekends to make a decision,” he said. “I think a lot of it depends on how we’re doing in each series.”
And on the possibility of trying to do the double, Beach is not ruling it out.
“There are a couple of weekends where I could try to do both,” he explained. “Again, I think we’re going to wait and see how the season is playing out in both championships before we decide if we want to try and do it.”
The double-duty weekend has famously been done in auto racing in the past with Robby Gordon, John Andretti, Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch running both the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte on the same day during Memorial Day weekend. It hasn’t happened all that often in motorcycle racing, but we talked to one rider who did it, three-time AMA Superbike champion Doug Chandler.
Chandler says he’s happy to see Beach doing both championships. In fact, he’s in favor of combining the two series once again into a single Grand National Championship like it was in the old days.
“When I did the double nationals, it was to earn extra points in the Grand National Championship,” Chandler explained. “It was a thrash. I think I flew by private plane and would show up that evening at the flat-track race with no practice, no qualifying and get in on the promoter’s option. You’d start at the back of the grid and just try to hang in there and work your way up to get a few points to say it was worth the effort.
“It’s different now with the championships being separate, but I think it would be interesting to see if J.D. could try to do both. He’s done both types of racing long enough now that I don’t think he would have a problem hopping off one bike and then on to another.”
If nothing else, a double-duty weekend would garner a lot of attention from the media and fans.
In terms of simply doing both MotoAmerica Superbike and American Flat Track during the course of the season, Beach claims he was looking for a new challenge. The multi-time road racing champion with dirt-track roots has shown to be competitive in both sports.