A few years ago the DTRA (that's the UK national dirt track series, if you're new around here) introduced transponder timing for the majority of classes. You can buy your own or rent one from the club. The timing is accurate and takes the pressure off finding volunteer lap scorers. The added benefit is the MyLaps timing system is linked to an app called SpeedHive which logs results, race times and lap times. People can check the data on their smartphones at the track, or refer back to it later.

I was having a bit of a timing sheet nerd-out after Sunday's season opener and discovered something interesting. I stood in the middle of the track for the Vintage final, because Sideburn is the sponsor and I choose a rider of the day (more about that later). I'd just been in the Thunderbike/Twins final, and knew the Vintage final looked fast. Sean Kelly and Mike Fisher were off at the front on their Suzuki and Bultaco two-strokes, being chased by old-hand Paul Harrison on his Honda single four-stroke framer. When I looked at the timings, those three riders posted quicker lap times than Gary Birtwistle did on his way to winning the combined Twin/Thunderbike class on the factory American Flat Track-spec Royal Enfield Twin. And while he only had to do enough to win the race, it a slight surprise that Texas Chris Jenner was fastest lap of the Twins/Thunderbike race on his modified CCM Rotax.

The Vintage final was 20 minutes later in the afternoon, and the track had had some water (according to DTRA boss, Anthony Brown. I was getting changed out of sweaty leathers), but it goes to show, just how much track conditions change and affect lap times. I was 1.2s a lap faster in the first heat to the final (over 60 races later).

Viva the Vintage racers!

#DTRA #DTRA2021 #Vintageflattrack #Thunderbikes

The Royal Enfield Twin FT is a bike we have followed and reported on since it first appeared as a concept show bike. We shared the very first spy shots of the race bike being tested in the UK; we covered its transformation into an American Flat Track Production Twin with Johnny Lewis’s MotoAnatomy team; their testing, first race and first win, then the news that Royal Enfield would race in the UK (see the bottom of the post for links to the coverage). Yesterday, two AFT spec Royal Enfield Twin FTs debuted in the DTRA series.

This was a big deal for a National amateur series. It shows the respect the DTRA is held in. Indian sponsor the series and support the Hooligan championship with top level S&S-prepped race bikes (and with Krazy Horse and their Scouts before that), and now Royal Enfield have joined.

The whole pits and track hummed with Royal Enfield's entourage. Mechanics; suspension experts; a film crew; photographer; the project’s leader, Adrian Sellers, and, of course, the two riders, Gary Birtwistle and Paul Young. Prior to the race I knew Gary was racing, but not Paul. Paul is one of Royal Enfield’s road tester and development riders (for their road bikes). He covers tens of thousands of miles, and countless laps of industry test facilities developing future models for the company. He is also the rider featured in the spy shots we exclusively shared, a former British National road racing champ, and a fast (by DTRA standards anyway) dirt tracker. ‘I’ve been thinking about this day for five years,’ he told me, illustrating just how long big manufacturers can sometimes take over the gestation of an idea.

I took these snaps in the pits before racing started, then got on with my own racing. The race shots were supplied by Royal Enfield. My snaps are worth sharing, and nerding over, because they show how different the two bikes are.

This is Gary’s, #11. It is closer to the spec Johnny Lewis started the 2020 season on. The top frame tubes are wider apart allowing for a tank big enough for AFT mile races.

Paul's #75 racer holds just five litres (1.3 US gallons). Both bikes have Harris Performance chromoly frames and alloy swingarms.

Gary’s bike has a direct/linear shock arrangement...

Where Paul’s has a linkage system.

Both bikes had machined R/H side engine covers…

But only Gary’s had a matching L/H side cover. Paul’s was a stock, road bike cover. Gary’s bike had a single downtube, from the headstock to the front engine mounts, while Paul’s had two tubes, side-by-side. The front alloy, dog-leg engine mounts differed too.

The bikes had different wheels too. Paul's had RSD Traction, with a Hammer rear, Gary’s were PM-style, split spoke forged alloy 19s. Each bike has an S&S two-into-one low exhaust and Ohlins suspension.

Gary is often quiet at races, but seemed especially under pressure to perform. The Twins class that the two Enfields were entered in is new for the DTRA, and as yet, there are few entries, so they raced with the Thunderbikes, the class for big four-stroke single framers, and modified street bikes. Because Saturday's racing had been rained-out, three Hooligans were also racing in the class.

There were total of 17 bikes in the combined Thunderbike and Twins class, but only three actual framer Twins, the other being Kye Forte's XS650 framer, the SB32 cover bike, a parallel twin of very different era. The DTRA are keen to keep the Hooligans and Twins distinct, as I understand it, but I'm not sure if there are rules in place to stop Hooligans entering Twins, or, now Hooligans have raced in the Thunderbike class, if more will enter in future the Thunderbike class to test themselves against these AFT level bikes on UK short tracks.

The format of the Thunderbikes class differs from the DTRA Pro class. Thunderbikes (like every class except Pros/Inters) has a practice, then three heat races. If the class has more than 12 riders, the heats are split in two and the the points/results from each rider's heat racers are combined to see if or where they qualify for the 12-rider final. Gary and Paul only won one of their heat races, each, and were beaten by George Pickering on the Indian FTR 1200H in the other. And, due to Covid restrictions, no spectators were allowed in to see the debut.

The final took place on a dusty, marbly track, blown out by 60-plus previous races. Paul went down in the first corner and was put on the back of the grid for the restart. Then there was another crash, and restart. The third attempt went the full eight laps, and Gary led them all with Texas Chris Jenner snapping at his heels. Texas Chris also got the fastest lap of the race, on his budget Survivor Customs CCM Rotax. Jake Young was third, in the combined standings, on the Stockwell Harley Sportster Hooligan, with Paul Young, on the other Enfield, in fourth.

I can't wait see the Enfields race at round two.


Royal Enfield Twin FT Concept

2019 Leicester Spy shots

Johnny Lewis describes testing and developing the FT Twin race bike in SB41

The story of the first race and first win in SB43

Gary Birtwistle interview

For more info on the DTRA, go to dirttrackriders.co.uk

#RoyalEnfield #DTRA #DTRA2021 #KingsLynn

The Roland Sands Design team behind the SuperHooligan National Championship (SHNC) have never allowed their series to be constrained by being a dirt track series. They race on asphalt car parks, on dirt, ovals, TTs, indoors, outdoors. For 2021, they've mixed it up again and devised the Quattro, with a nod to America's original Grand National Championship, that was contested on dirt and road race circuits.

This is how they describe it:

The plan: 4 races, 4 disciplines (Road Race, TT, Short Track, and Half Mile), the same bike must be used at all races to be eligible for the Championship. All races will be professionally live-streamed. Preliminary Schedule, TBD as noted SHGNC @Moto America (Road race ): July 9-11: Laguna Seca – Monterey, CA SHGNC @ TBD (TT): TBD, August SHGNC @ SoCal (Short Track) :September 11-12 SHGNC @ AFT (Dirt ½ Mile): Oct 8 – Charlotte Half-Mile – Charlotte Motor Speedway, Concord, NC Rule modifications: Twins Only in any configuration Same bike (frame and motor #) must be used in all races to be eligible for the Championship and prizes. Since the Road race is the first event, here are the basics of the rule mods for Road Racing (Formal rules to follow):

  • Riders will need to be approved by SHNC. Riders will need to participate in at least three road races to be completed before eligibility for SHGNC at Laguna.

  • Some existing bikes that race in SHNC will be eligible with modifications

  • Bikes will need to be outfitted for road racing, as listed below.

  • 17” slicks

  • Dual Disc Brakes

  • Belly Pan

  • Safety wire and various safety measures as specified by Moto America.

  • No glass allowed must be taped or removed.

  • Super Hooligan number plates on front and sides of bike

  • Recommended 52 degrees of lean angle

To get involved, contact racing@rolandsands.com

#RolandSandsDesigns #Superhooligan #hooliganracing