DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (October 4, 2017)
– After a three-year absence, American Flat Track returns to Southern California to cap off an action-packed 2017 season at the Cycle Gear American Flat Track Finals presented by Indian Motorcycle in Perris, Calif. on October 7.
With the last race of the year up for grabs, 2017 AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines Champion Jared Mees (No. 9 Indian Motorcycle Rogers Racing Scout FTR750) looks to add to his already landmark season with win number 10. There’s no resting on his laurels for the newly-crowned champ. Mees wants to end the season how he started it – standing on the top step of the box for Indian Motorcycle.
“It’s been a great season,” Mees said. “I’m looking forward to the last race of the year in Perris and hoping to finish out strong.”
You don’t have to look far for another rider looking for a “W;” just across the tent to fellow Indian Wrecking Crew rider Bryan Smith (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle Racing backed by Allstate Scout FTR750). Mees’ rival has the most wins of any other rider at four, but it’s been awhile since the 2016 champ has won and Smith wants the last word in 2017.
Completing the Indian Wrecking Crew is Jarod Vanderkooi (No. 20 Indian Motorcycle Racing backed by Allstate Scout FTR750). With permission from his RMR team and sponsors, the young Vanderkooi got the opportunity to ride the factory Indian Scout FTR750 while full-time rider Brad Baker (No. 6 Indian Motorcycle Racing backed by Allstate Scout FTR750) is on the mend from a training injury.
The rider with momentum on his side is Jeffrey Carver, Jr. (No. 23 Ben Evan’s Racing/Carver’s BBQ/Goodwin Racing Harley-Davidson XR750). Carver made a big statement at the penultimate round in Texas, taking a dominant win over Mees and scoring the first win of the year for Harley-Davidson.
Lying in wait to close out the season with another win for Harley-Davidson is the factory trio of Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. (No. 2 Harley-Davidson Factory Flat Track Team XG750R), Brandon Robinson (No. 44 Harley-Davidson Factory Flat Track Team XG750R) and Jake Johnson (No. 5 Harley-Davidson Factory Flat Track Team XG750R).
Getting one last chance to take a win this year is Sammy Halbert (No. 69 Estenson Logistics Yamaha FZ-07). The season finale could very well play host to another Halbert vs. Mees fight for the finish, and Halbert would like to find redemption for some of those narrow losses and bring Yamaha a win.
There’s another challenger looking to win one for Yamaha in their back yard – JD Beach (No. 95 G&G Racing/Rickdiculous Racing/Team95 Yamaha FZ-07). Now that it’s the offseason, the 2015 MotoAmerica Supersport Champion is strapping on a steel shoe and returning to his flat track roots to race a Twin for the first time since 2013.
Returning for another shot at the top step of the podium is Johnny Lewis (No. 10 Team Nila/John Wise Indian Scout FTR750) At the previous outing, Lewis not only made history as the first rider to race a customer Indian FTR750 in American Flat Track competition, he put it on the box.
Meanwhile in the AFT Singles class it’s a fight to the finish for the crown. Kolby Carlile (No. 36 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F) is in the driver’s seat with a 24-point lead over Shayna Texter (No. 52 Richie Morris Racing Honda CRF450R). The “Flying Tomato” needs just two points to be named 2017 AFT Singles Champion and in spite of the pressure, Carlile is focused on getting the job done.
“Going into the weekend, I know it is a huge one for my career, but I don’t feel any added pressure,” Carlile said. “I’m going into it like I would any other race and I’m going to push hard for the race win. Luckily my strategy throughout the season has paid off so far and we will see what happens come Saturday night. I’ve had so many changes in my program this year I am grateful to be where I am right now with the Estenson Racing Team.”
As for Texter, her strategy is simple – she has to win: “My goal is same as it is at every other race and that’s to go out and get on top of the box.”
Although he’s mathematically out of the running, Brandon Price (No. 92 Brandon Price Racing backed by Parkinson Brother’s Racing/DPC Racing/Don’s Kawasaki Honda CRF450R) wants to end the season on a high note to make up for the tough weekend in Texas.
As in the Twins class, there are road racers coming out of the woodwork for the finale. Returning for one last go in 2017 is Hayden Gillim (No. 95 Cycle World Suzuki RM-Z450) So far, Gillim is undefeated this season in his part-time American Flat Track ventures, scoring a pair of wins on the TT tracks. The “Man in a Van with a Plan” would like nothing more than to steal the show once again at the finals.
Making his debut in American Flat Track is fellow road racer and Yoshimura Suzuki rider – Toni Elias (No. 324 Yoshimura Suzuki RM-Z450). The 2010 Moto 2 World Champion/2017 MotoAmerica Superbike Champion turned heads at last year’s Superprestigio, finishing second behind five-time World Champion Marc Marquez and ahead of 2013 American Flat Track premier-class champion Brad Baker. It will be a learning curve for the Spaniard on a bigger track and on a different surface, but Elias is very much looking forward to the challenge.
Held in conjunction with the SoCal Fair, there is plenty of fun to be had for all ages. Paying homage to the rich history of flat track racing in Southern California, there will be vintage bike displays and an autograph signing at the Ascot Motorsports booth with heroes from the past like Gene Romero, Eddie Worth, Eddie Mulder and Co-Grand Marshalls for the event: Sammy Tanner and Ronnie Jones.
Gates open for fans at 2:00 p.m. PT when bikes hit the track for practice sessions. Meet your favorite riders during the Open Paddock/Rider autograph session starting at 4:30 p.m. PT before Opening Ceremonies kicks off the evening program at 6:00 p.m. PT.
Tickets are on sale now and the price of General Admission also includes the fair, making for a day at the races with lots of entertainment on- and off-track at Perris Auto Speedway. Fans interested in a premium experience can purchase a VIP hospitality package for the Turn 1 Cycle Gear VIP Trackside Hospitality tent, which includes premium parking, catered food and drinks, paddock access and more.