As much as we are fans of the XG750R (and we really are, featuring it in Sideburn 39) it is gaining something of a reputation for knocking a nail or two on the lid of some long racing careers. Very few riders have climbed off the water-cooled Harley and looked back at the experience fondly.
The latest rider to move on from the official H-D Vance and Hines team is Sammy Halbert. Sammy scored two rare podiums for the bike, at the 2019 Perris Half-Mile and 2018 Buffalo Chip TT, and looked on for a win at one 2019 round, until a red flag caused a restart. Still he was beaten in the 2019 standings by his teammate, Vanderkooi, and finished 10th overall in the standings in both 2018 and '19. This from a former de facto champion (Halbert never got to run the 1 plate, because the AMA split the expert championship between twins and singles for a few years, and during that period Sammy had the best combined total. That's why he can race with a single digit, 7, but chooses to run 69 in memory of his late brother, Jethro).
That is all a precursor to the news that since leaving Harley Sammy has joined the Coolbeth-Nila race team, financed by John Wise and operated by former champ Kenny Coolbeth. He will race the team's Indian FTR750. Sammy on an FTR is going to make it even harder for Harley to win a race.
Sammy says, 'I'm honoured to have Kenny Coolbeth choose me to ride for him, especially after having raced with him in the AFT series since 2005. We've had a lot of great battles on the track over the years, which makes it that much more special to combine our efforts and talents to take on the competition. I'm excited to see what I can do on a bike that's already a proven winner. With the full support of this team behind me, and our growing list of partners including Roof Systems of Dallas, Texas, I am looking forward to great things this year.'
The season starts at the Daytona TT on 14 March.
Photo: Zach Prescott/American Flat Track