Hooligan racing has gone big time. Roland Sands Designs have used their influence within the industry and ambition to create a national hooligan racing series called the Super Hooligan National Championship, SHNC.
The series spans the country and runs from February to October, with two rounds already in the books. There is $3000 of prize money at each round and an Indian FTR750 GNC racer, as seen on the cover of Sideburn 27, worth $49,900, for the series winner.
Sideburn contacted Roland about the series, 'The long term idea is to develop a raceable class that manufacturers can participate in with their best selling bikes inspiring the OEM's to support racing/flat track and the moto culture that supports their bottom lines. The bonus is that hooligan racing also brings the fun factor, a sense of community that makes it aspirational and inspirational as well as bringing new people to the sport. It's the perfect union of custom bikes and racing. Two genres of the motorcycling world that haven't always played well together. Hooligan flat track racing is that union.
'The SHNC represents a more structured twist on that idea with rules and support,' says Sands, 'It could potentially be a pro class. If we were riding miles and half-miles you'd obviously want experienced riders on the bikes but that's a whole different conversation. For now, it's really about keeping the speeds down and the racing fun. We want to focus on short tracks and interesting venues and events. The weirder and cooler the better.'
At the first race, The One Pro at Salem, Oregon, the same weekend as Portland's One Moto Show, the RSD crew continued their policy of inviting guest riders to race some of the fleet of Scout 60s the company modified. Sammy Halbert and Joe Kopp (both former AMA GNC champs and current front row GNC qualifiers) were two of the guest riders. This caused some of the regular racers to complain about the development of the sport, saying that the pros are only joining for the money (top riders, including Stevie Bonsey rode the RSD Scouts before this season) and that they ride in an overly aggressive manner.
I've seen both the SHNC races live and haven't seen anything worse than I'd seen at previous hooligan races, and certainly nothing worse than a regular short track race. The four-rider Dash for Cash at the One Pro was an incredible race. Halbert lined up with National Supersport 600 racer, Andy DiBrino and hooligan regulars, Chris Wiggins and Josh Johnson - two Indians, two Harleys. It looked like the recipe was working to me. Sometimes change is painful, but there will be dozens of hooligan races outside the national championship for less competitive, less serious riders in the US.
Also, riders like Sammy Halbert are hardly making decent money from racing in a series that, lest we forget, has killed his brother. It was his local race, promoted by one of his sponsors, See See Motorcycles, he got an invite, why not try to make some money for travel to Daytona? This is racing after all.
RSD have been very vocal on social media about their defence of putting pros on the Scout hooligans. Roland again, 'We've put a lot of people on the bikes including media, celebs and pros. The list is long and only been a few guys who've really stood heads above the field, Sammy Halbert and Stevie Bonsey being two of the quickest. We want to put the most talented guys on the bikes and see how far these bikes can be pushed. Being a pro doesn't guarantee you're going to be fast on a hooligan bike, it takes a special individual and that's what I think is the great equalizer with these machines.
'So yes,' Roland continues, 'We are bringing the money, the championship concept and some pros from all walks of motorcycling. We won't be fielding any pros for the entire series, just for select rounds where we can convince a pro it's a good idea to take his life into his own hands and get on the track with a bunch of hooligans [though that doesn't stop any rider from organising their own rides. GI]. Or when we get a phone call from somebody interesting who wants to ride the bikes. We've had some guys get annoyed when they've been beat by a pro. We've also seen pros get beat consistently. This adds a level of respect to the Hooligan class and what's being done from a riders perspective by everyday Joes who are riding the shit out of these bikes. There's no guarantee in hooligan racing that just because your the fastest you will win. If the field is packed, It takes a bit of luck just to make a main and a lot to win one. But there's certainly no guarantee that because your fast on a 450 or GNC1 bike you will be dominate on a hooligan bike.'
The next round is at the second round of the AFT championship in Georgia, March 24.
For more information go to rolandsands.com
For riders in the UK and Europe interested in hooligan racing, go to dirttrackriders.co.uk
Photos courtesy of Rolandsands.com
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