At a recent American Flat Track (AFT) advisory group meeting* a radical change for the future of the sport was tabled and discussed.
The idea is for the current Twins class to be renamed Super Twins and to be a 'closed shop' for 16 'star' riders, who will have guaranteed entry to the main at every round.
The idea is to promote a roster of stars the series can promote and then guarantee (barring injury), that if a fan turns up to see Brandon Robinson, that he's going to be in the final.
Clearly, this is different to every year of pro flat track, because entry numbers have always outweighed spots on the main. The new Production Twins class has taken the pressure off the 'Expert' Twins class. Production Twins is somewhere for teams with less money, less experience, less access to tuning or simply Expert level riders who want to win races and a title and don't have a realistic chance of winning the Twins class (that I've started calling the Expert Twins for clarity).
At Lima there were 20 entries in the Expert Twins class and 17 in the Production Twins.
So, if the proposal goes ahead (and I have no doubt it will) what does it mean for AFT's riders? Some questions:
Who decides who is a star? There are some obvious ones, but what happens when KTM want to come into the Super Twins class with two riders? Who loses a place? Or do KTM have to 'buy' an existing Super Twins rider off another team - like, say Real Madrid would in football or the Milwaukee Bucks would in basketball?
With all due respect, let's name names. Riders who could be facing the Damoclean sword and excluded from the new Super Twins class could be Jay Maloney, Brandon Price and perhaps even David Fisher. All are currently riding FTR750s. If they were told they're not be Super Twin stars and they have to move to the Production Twins class what are they going to ride? Why? Because FTR750s are not eligible in Production Twins. What happens to that hefty bike investment?
Is there going to a be a European football style arrangement of promotion and relegation? So X number of Super Twins riders who are the lowest point scorers in the class for the season are relegated to the Production class and replaced by the top X number of riders from Production Twins? Or are that 16 riders in until they choose to leave?
And if there is relegation, what happens if, for instance, one of Harley's two factory riders is relegated and a rider who replaces them doesn't want to ride a Harley or has a contract that precludes it? It's a big 'if', but it could be possible in the future.
The 16 star riders seems fundamental to the idea, but what happens if a new manufacturer wants in and no one wants out? See the KTM question above. There could be a point where there are 16 settled riders, with big teams behind them and, let's say, Triumph want to join with a factory Super Twins two-rider team. Then what?
It's fascinating. I'm sure there'll be more questions. Let us know yours.
* The members present at this meetin were, from the AFT staff: Michael Lock, Joey Mancari, David McGrath, Gene Crouch and the rider/team reps, Sammy Halbert, Jeffrey Carver Jr., Robert Pearson, Dave Waters, Brian Bigelow, Mike Hacker