Flat Track In Photos

The Santa Rosa Mile was impossible to forget. The high point was certainly the battle royale between Jared Mees and Bryan Smith for the champion, with Smith nearly losing it all in the final feet, but holding off Mees to secure his first GNC1 title.  The low point was obviously the shocking death of both Charlotte Kainz and Kyle McGrane in separate incidents. Both riders were quite young and dark clouds surround the incidents due to anger over track conditions.

Aside from these two extremes there was also excitement on many levels, such as legend Joe Kopp coming out of retirement to bring the name of Indian Motorcycle® out of retirement with him. Although Joe will step back out of frontline duty to operate his racing school, he gave Indian the the jump out of the gate they needed to herald their return from a long absence.

After more than 50 years away from the sport, the marque has been resurrected by Polaris Industries® in a big way. Press releases from the Minnesota company originally said Indian would be positioned as the heritage brand, leaving Victory® to re-position as a more performance oriented brand. Well, “heritage” means something different in Minnesota apparently.

The story of this event is best told through pictures though, and that is what I’m here to do. I put together a few galleries of my favorites. Most aren’t framed right or in sharp enough focus. They are the ones you can’t use in an article, but they are the ones I like the most… the ones that say “flat track racing” to me.

Check ’em out…

Bryan Smith…

This series has too many photos to be used in a single article, but as a slide show they show Smith after the race in exhaustion, attempting to get the sand out of his eyes. Then they show him at the base of the stage, still catching his breath. I further selected a shot of him when he is smiling at friends from on stage, but not while he is having to interact with a microphone. They show the more fun and human side of racing; of being with your loved ones and sharing the experience.

 

Short Track…

Not all the action was on the mile. Friday and Saturday night had racing on the short track with amateur and Pro/Am racing, along with the Hooligan Derby.  As the name implies, it is a run-what-ya-brung event often dominated by custom bike builder Roland Sands and his buddies on some Indian Scouts. However, there are plenty of local lunatics that show up to foil those plans on a wide array of street machines.

This time the field included two of my friends. Eric L. was on his KTM, complete with a top box full of beer and looking to have fun, but Wade Boyd had brought his demonic Yamaha R1 with its full 170hp. In the end it was too much power for the small track, but it made a helluva racket anyway.

Out And About…

The pit lane and vendor area were more accessible than usual at Santa Rosa. They kept the races on the outside of the track, though you still needed a pit pass. Put with a pit pass you at least did not have to wait for a track crossing if you wanted in to see the action. The vendor area was spread out in a strange way, giving it a desolate feel despite there being quite a few things to check out.

As usual, Triumph had a lot of bikes there. They are a big sponsor of flat track, though it would be nice to see them on the grid with a race bike.  To be fair, Triumph isn’t nearly the size of Polaris Industries (which owns Indian), which stirs a lot of pots. In short, Harley is a juggernaut and Indian has other market segments to rely on… but I’d still like to see a Harley/Indian/Triumph war just for the poetry of it.

 

On The Track…

I shot the heat races and the GNC1 main event. Instead of giving a who’s who, I’d rather just share some of my favorite images.

Like what you see? Be sure to sign up for my weekly digest to have your inbox chock full of cool stuff every Sunday. You’ll have access to coo stories and photos relating to travel, motorcycles, hiking & camping, along with any news from the race track. If you’re more of the ADD type you can always stalk me on social media as well. Thanks for enjoying!

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