Triumph America have belatedly joined the 2018 Super Hooligan series, with a handsome Street Scrambler and a former AMA Pro and, predictably, it’s put noses out of joint.
Last year, Triumph came within one race of being inaugural Super Hooligan National champions when they paired Joe Kopp with British Customs (read how the deciding race panned out in our special 16-page Moto Beach Classic event supplement, free with SB31). Now they're back, three races into the 2018 series, but with a more concerted effort.
The new bike first. It’s a 2017 Street Scrambler, with what looks to be a stock tank and a neat variation on the typical rear fender, with a small vintage MX style blade fitting to the seat rails.
The mid-level exhaust is by Vance and Hines; R6 forks are in Co-Built yokes; Fox supplied the rear shocks; flat track racing 19in wheels have a front spool hub and rear knock-off hub.
It was painted by Ornamental Conifer, prep was carried out by BA Moto in Long Beach and the project was managed by Deus Ex Machina, Venice for Triumph America. It looks just about as purposeful as any hooligan bike out there.
Now the rider: It's only former national number 11, Scott ‘Big brother of Brad’ Baker. Baker isn’t racing many, if any AFT races any longer, but he has the skills and speed to put the right bike in a 2018 main, so the whole ‘Keep pros out of hooligan racing’ argument has been reignited. I’ve written at length about my thoughts about hooligan racing in Sideburn 33, but here’s so more of my opinion for nothing.
When a series starts it often has a club feel and riders who do well at it, like the feeling of doing well, but racing is all about competition, and unless you’re Marc Marquez or Jared Mees, someone is going to be quicker than you, get used to the feeling. I have.
There is an argument that hooligan racing is a victim of its own success. Some of the pioneers don’t like being beaten by the former pros, who have been attracted by decent prize purses. Some riders, like the Rusty Butcher (who I like and admire as a rider and businessman) says it should still be dirt track racing for dirt bags, but then he has a sponsored team with free shocks, free engines, free exhausts, sometimes even free bikes, that have been sent to him because he can get the companies involved good coverage. That’s how it works. But then, it's easy to argue, you can’t keep the club exclusive when the very explosion in interest that is feathering your nest attracts other cuckoos who want the goodies, prestige, coverage. Life doesn’t work like that.
US Hooligan racing has already grown to the point where there is often a pro ‘Super Hooligan’ class and ‘fun’ class for amateurs who just want to race their Sportsters, at the same meetings. Doesn’t this solve the problem? It seems not from the social media discord I've seen.
Triumph USA don’t give a damn about what the established faces of the Super Hooligan scene think of them muscling in with a hot shot racer. They just want to win races for their brand in an effort to sell more bikes. Hooligan racing has become so big that that is a legitimate possibility. We'll see if they can
//The Triumph Hooligan has its public launch at See See in Portland tonight, Thursday. It debuts at the Wild One Super Hooligan round on Saturday, at Castle Rock, WA (which just happens to be Scott Baker’s home track…)
Baker tested the new bike at a Ventura. Like his younger brother, he uses the back brake as a tractin control device. Look at the rear disc...
All photos: Scott Toepfer