Flat Track Motorcycle Racing Will Return to Phoenix in May
PHOENIX---The chase for the 2017 national championship in high speed professional motorcycle dirt track racing will return to Turf Paradise in Phoenix on May 12 this year, following the inaugural race last year that featured a huge crowd and a rider roster that included every top racer in the country.
The Law Tigers Arizona Mile, sanctioned by American Flat Track, formerly known as AMA Pro, will be the fourth stop of the 18-race series stretching from Daytona in March to Southern California in October that leads one rider to the coveted #1 plate and a national title.
Last year at Turf Paradise Bryan Smith, the widely acknowledged "mile master" of the American Flat Track series from Flushing, MI, stormed to the first of his four race victories to claim the Grand National championship in one of the most-hard fought title chases in the sport's decades-long history, in which he claimed the title from four-time champ Jared Mees by a scant five points.
But in addition to a new name for the national sanctioning body, other changes in the series promise more excitement in 2017. Smith and Mees may again battle for the rights to the Number One plate, but will also be teammates on a new bike with a new manufacturer. They will ride alongside 2013 Grand National Champion Brad Baker on a team fielded by Indian Motorcycles, which is mounting a challenge to long time stalwarts in the sport such as Harley Davidson.
The new Indian "Scout" FTR 750 is powered by an all-new race-only V Twin designed exclusively for flat track racing. The new Indian formally made its debut late in 2016, with Mees winning the season-ending race on the Perris Fairgrounds half-mile oval by a full straightaway, putting everyone on notice that it would mount a serious challenge in 2017. "the season can't start soon enough," said Mees. "I wish the Daytona opener was tomorrow."
Not to be outdone, Harley Davidson has unveiled an all-star team of riders---and a new bike----to respond to the challenge. The team is led by three-time Grand National Champion Kenny Coolbeth, Jr., the return of two-time title holder Jake Johnson and Brandon Robinson who, among them tally 59 Grand National race wins. Developed in collaboration with veteran racers Vance and Hines Motorsports, the XG750R is a race-exclusive model powered by a liquid-cooled, fuel injected 750 cc V Twin.
"I've spent some time on the new bike and it's awesome," said Coolbeth. "With the fuel injection, it has a lot of potential and I think we have the bike to beat."
The rider who may give the top riders a stiff challenge in 2017 is Ryan Wells, the 2016 champion in AFT Singles who is moving up in class aboard a Kawasaki 650 Ninja. "Last season I achieved a life-long dream of winning my first professional championship," said Wells. "For 2017, I will be moving up to the premier class of American Flat Track and I'm looking forward to the challenge.
"We are very excited to bring the nation's best flat track racers back to Phoenix for the second time," said event co-promoter Chris Morgan. "The enthusiasm and support we received from racers and fans last year was outstanding as was the support of many local businesses who partnered with us, such as the iconic Buddy Stubb's Harley Davidson and Law Tigers, which is based on Phoenix. We are looking forward to building on that success to make this year's race day at Turf Paradise even bigger and better."
In addition to the running of the Arizona Mile, Turf Paradise will include a full day of events including music, a historic bike show and an autograph session with the top flat track riders in America.
Tickets for the Law Tigers Arizona Mile, presented by Buddy Stubbs Harley Davidson, go on sale February 15 at www.arizonamile.com