Forget the once traditional, massive two-month gap between dirt track's Daytona opener and round two, which was often the Springfield Mile over the late-May Memorial Day weekend. American Flat Track were committed to plugging the gap, and there has only been one free weekend between Daytona's round 1 and 2, and the third race on the 2023 schedule, the Senoia Short Track, in Georgia. Not only that, there are five AFT events between Daytona Speed Week and the Memorial weekend race, that this year is the Red Mile, Lexington, KY.
The opening round did not disappoint. There were two doubles - Kody Kopp winning both nights on the Singles, Dallas Daniels taking top spot both days in SuperTwins. The only other rider to be on the podium both nights, in either class, was Dalton Gauthier, now racing for D&D KTM in Singles.
Reigning SuperTwins champ Jared Mees didn't make the podium, but is third overall in the early season standings, thanks to a pair of fourths. Mees' fellow Indian riders, Robinson, Vanderkooi and Fisher all did podium.
Other than Daniels' marching off with maximum points, the talk of the SuperTwins race, was probably Briar Bauman. Prior to the official AFT Wednesday test day, he had only ridden his Rick Ware Racing KTM 890 around a car park, with shorts on and no helmet.
Briar Bauman, testing the day before the opening round. Still waiting for his team leathers to arrive
The announcement on Bauman's team for 2023 was made just days before the season opener. It could be regarded as the ultimate marketing ploy, keep the public and media guessing to ramp up the rumours and interest. Or it could simply be because the deal with very late in being finalised. We don't know for sure, but Briar took to the track on the test day in unbranded leathers. That could be down to late sponsor confirmation too. Still, it didn't seem to slow him down much because the two-time champ put his brand new KTM on the podium on night one (in his brand new team leathers), following it up with seventh on night two, just behind Estenson Yamaha rider, JD Beach.
One sour note was a crash in a qualifying race that has seriously injured Mikey Rush. We wish him all the best, and if you want to donate to the injured riders' fund, you can do it via Rookies of 79.
Briar in the race. The leathers arrived...
Briar will be one of three KTM SuperTwins riders at Senoia, with his brother Bronson and reigning Production Twins champ, Jesse Janisch making his debut on the Wally Brown Racing KTM. We featured that bike in Sideburn 50, when it was being raced by James Rispoli, who put it on the SuperTwins podium at it's very first race, after qualifying through the Production Twins class. SB50 is available invidually, or as a three-issue bundle with SB51 and brand new SB52. Head to Sideburn.bigcartel.com
The Senoia Short Track is a new venue for AFT, and another short track, so both Kopp and Daniels will feel confident going in.
There are currently 21 entries for the SuperTwins class and 36 for Singles. Down from 25 and 44, respectively, at the same time before Daytona.
The GNHC hooligan class is back as the support class. Anna Serena (below), who features in the brand new Sideburn 52, is entered on her Royal Enfield. How? GNHC rules allow 650 twins, where hooligans had always previously had a minimum capacity of 750cc
Photos: Tim Lester/AFT