It's the eve of perhaps the biggest weekend of the AFT season, and there is plenty to talk about. Here are the headlines.
TWO AFT SINGLE ROUNDS ON ONE DAY
Friday hosts two full rounds starting with practice at 16:00 local time. The first main is scheduled for 20:00, the second for 21:40.
It seems if a rider doesn't make the semis for the first main, they can't make amends for the second, so any mechanical issues, or crashes early in the day could cause a real headache for riders.
With a total of five rounds left, the Australian Max Whale leads the title, with 196pts, to the defending champion, Dallas Daniels' 180pts. Daniels had a horror crash at the previous round, the Peoria TT, but apparently isn't too badly injured.
Adding to an already busy Friday is a programme of Steve Nace All-Star Races.
SMITH TO RETIRE
2016 Grand National Champ, Bryan Smith used the Peoria weekend to announce his imminent retirement. He plans to compete this season's remaining mile races, then call it a day. This will be his final Springfield weekend.
Smith will race the unique Howerton Indian FTR750s, that are featured in Sideburn 46. Smith, who has won 25 GNC miles, and nine Springfield Miles, will have to upset the recent form book if he's going to add to that tally. He has only raced one AFT round in 2021, coming 12th at the OKC mile, when he was injured.
Riders retire from this often brutal sport, so we wish Smith well, a firm favourite of ours, but, perhaps more importantly, will his long-time collaborator, crew chief, and bike builder, Ricky Howerton also retire from flat track? To the best of our knowledge, he has never worked with another pro rider. We really hope not, we love Howerton's take on dirt track twins.
THE WIZARD RETURNS
Jeffrey Carver was supposed to race DuQuoin, standing in for the injured Sammy Halbert, but the race was rained out. He is back for his first race of 2021 on the DPC Bigelow Racing Indian FTR750, and he will be joined on the same team by Henry Wiles. Wiles will race the Turner Racing Honda singles on Friday, and the Indians on Saturday and Sunday.
Carver won Springfield in 2018, and, I'm pretty sure, Wiles is a Mile win away from the dirt track Grand Slam.
The SuperTwin entry numbers have been thin all year, but they get a further boost for Springfield with Hayden Gillim riding a Vance and Hines H-D XG750R in the class. Gillim was fourth at Peoria on the Harley in the Production class, but will race in the SuperTwins class.
There are 17 entries for the Mission SuperTwins class, with another wild card, Patrick Buchanan, listed.
END OF AN ERA
It's certainly more behind the scenes, but this is the final race of the current promoters, Kiesow Racing/ IMDA, before Jared and Nichole Mees take over the promotion of the premier race on the AFT schedule. I didn't know this, but it was Kiesow/IMDA who brought the Springfield Mile back in 1981, after a 15-year gap.
HOW TO WATCH
In the USA, you can livestream with an NBC Trackpass
Foreign fans can livestream using this link: http://www.americanflattrack.com/international-streaming
All photos: Scott Hunter/ AFT