The main players in the current pro flat track scene, H-D and Indian, along with American Flat Track, are in a marketing space race that is putting the sport in front of more people than it has been for decades. Crucially, they're not simply preaching to those already involved with the sport.
Indian's involvement with Travis Pastrana's Evel Live jumps, completed on a 2018 FTR750 flat track race bike, will undoubtedly have sparked conversations along the lines of 'They race those things? Where?'
American Flat Track spent last weekend in the UK at the Goodwood Festival Of Speed with top riders Mees, Shayna, Carver, Baker, Cose, Bauman and Brindley, reminding motorsport fans about flat track, meeting potential series sponsors and, hopefully, laying the foundations for a European stadium round of American Flat Track.
Harley-Davidson might be getting a kicking from Trump on Twitter and Indian on the racetracks, but they're still marketing the pips out of the sport. This weekend will see the fourth annual flat track race at the X Games. There's a twins race for invited pros and a hooligan knockout that was so popular it required a pre-qualifying race in Idaho to progress to the Minneapolis event (look at the amount of hooligans in pits in the film below. Jeremy 'Twitch' Stenberg is a freestyle MX star and X Games Gold Medallist).
Flat track's inclusion in this hugely popular televised, crossover event, the Olympics of extreme sports, is solely down to H-D. Some woefully uninformed so-called flat track experts are publishing dumb comments about non-Harley racers being excluded from the race, when a simple look at the invited athlete entry list shows exactly who has invited, and there are more Indian racers than Harley riders - as anyone who has seen a single AFT race this year would realise. Additionally, there are Kawasaki and Yamaha riders. How could the grid be filled with regular Harley riders when there is only three factory riders, plus Carver and perhaps Pegram and Bauman, who have easy access to a race ready Harley? The invited list is not the final entry list and perhaps there will be some political (with a small p) pressures put on riders to not attend, but an X Games Gold Medal is a big deal in the US and all the riders will want one, especially in a season being dominated by Jared Mees - there are slim pickings for bragging rights in 2018. Bryan Smith, Jared Mees and Sammy Halbert have one gold each. No flat tracker has two yet.
I understand the tribalism of the Indian v Harley or the 'Anyone but Harley' negativity of some people, but if you're making out you're a voice in the sport, at least try to have a grasp on the facts.
On the Hooligan front, this stepchild of the sport doesn't seem to show any signs of slowing down. The entry list is packed with familiar names from the US hooligan scene, plus stunt legend Robbie Madison.
Go to xgames.com to find out details on live feeds. The racing takes place on Sunday between 10.30am and 13:00 Central time.
#IndianFTR750 #XGames #SammyHalbert #TravisPastrana #Hooligan #HarleyDavidson