News has broken that Bronson Bauman will be riding a privateer Indian FTR750 for the 2021 season. The younger of the Bauman brothers will be supported by Indian Motorcycle of Oklahoma, among others. He says, 'I plan to contest the entire series and chase down the championship on my own dime and time. I want to thank all of the supporters who stepped up to keep me on the racetrack this year. Racing for a factory for two seasons was a dream come true, but I still have goals to chase and will keep working hard to make it happen.'
We did a bit of digging and were told that the S&S-run Indian factory team will not replace Bronson, and, instead, compete in 2021 with just one rider, two-time champ and current number 1, Briar Bauman.
It's a pragmatic move in financially uncertain times. Bronson was third overall in 2019, but slipped to fifth overall in 2020. He scored points in every round in 2020 (though that should have been a given, considering the new SuperTwins structure of every rider guaranteed a spot in the final as long as they stayed fit), but came away with just two podiums - Williams Grove HM and Atlanta ST - and was a distant fifth behind two Indian privateers, Sammy Halbert in third and Brandon Robinson in fourth. If you're a team who already has the number one rider, and there is absolutely zero risk of him leaving for another manufacturer, because the FTR750 is the only bike worth being on, then why pay to develop up and coming riders when they have next to no choice but buy and race your bikes anyway?
If Briar couldn't race for some reason the Indian S&S factory team would have the pick of any rider in the paddock. Why pay for a second rider and crew at a time when the FTR750's dominance is almost expected and marketing budget could be spent targeting other areas of the motorcycle world, and be used to push the newly released Chiefs? It's not want flat track fans want to hear, but it's business economics. And, predictably, the rider the factory team has let go is still riding an FTR750, but someone else is paying for it all.
2020's season standing ended with Indian riders filling nine of the top ten places, with only Vanderkooi on the factory Harley breaking into the top 10, in ninth. With the dissolution of the Harley team, Vanderkooi will be racing an FTR750 in 2021 too. Production Twins champ, James Rispoli, is likely to be the only Harley racer in the Mission SuperTwins class, competing on the Latus Motors privateer XG750R.
The Progressive Insurance AFT 2021 season starts with a double-header at the Volusia Half-Mile in Florida, on 13-14 March. Get tickets or find out how to watch online at Americanflattrack.com