The AFT 2022 season kicks off on Thursday, with back-to-back double header at the Daytona Short Track. It's the first Daytona Short Track season opener since 2016. All the subsequent Daytona March rounds have been TTs. The 2020 season wound up at the Daytona Short Track (pictured above) and Brandon Robinson won both nights, his only wins of that season, on the Indian FTR.
Here's a few bullet points in case you missed any of the major announcements.
There are 44 singles entered, as of Tuesday 7th. Kody Kopp returns with the number 1 on the front of his factory KTM. His team-mate remains the Australian Max Whale, twice runner-up in the championship, but fifth last year after an injury-hit season.
Another Australian joins him, surprise of the 2022 season, Tom Drane. He was second at Lima in his first ever AFT pro race. He joins Brunner in the Estenson Yamaha team.
There are three other international riders with wild card entries: Gerard Bailo - former DTRA champ, and current FIM world champ; Czech rider and second in 2022 FIM World Champs, Ervin Krajcovic; current DTRA champ, Gary Birtwistle.
Bailo and Krajcovic have acquired Hondas through the First Impressions team. First Impressions have now employed Cory Texter as team manager for their regular riders, Chad Cose and James Ott.
As we reported last week, Gary Birtwistle is racing a Husqvarna for Jeffrey Carver's Happy Trails Racing team.
The Turner Honda factory team has Mischler and Saathoff back, with Trent Lowe replacing Gauthier, who was second in the 2022 standings, is now on a D&D KTM with rookie Landen Smith.
Also, noteworthy in this super-competitive class, are the two women racers, Shayna Texter and Jess Reynolds.
That's just scratching the surface. This is a class packed with potential race winners.
The Production Twins class has been disbanded, so the SuperTwins entry is up to 25 for this opening round. There are six Indian FTRs on the entry list. Mees; Vanderkooi, Ben Lowe, Robinson, Fisher, Ross - who has swapped last season's Harley for the Indian.
Yamaha has the most representation, with eight bikes entered. The Estenson pairing of Beach and Daniels, plus: Cameron Smith; Carlile (taking the G&G Racing seat of the retired Cory Texter), Bromley (who is racing Singles this round, too), Kolkman, Lowery and, just confirmed, Sammy Halbert, who is racing a limited number of rounds. No Nick Armstrong, who won the Production Twins opener, at Volusia, last season.
Additionally, there are the Royal Enfield pairing of Lewis and Wells, the KTMs of both Baumans and Jordan Harris, though there's no Wally Bird Racing KTM of Janisch at Daytona. Add in three liquid-cooled Harley XGs of Rush, Brandon Newman and Kasey Sciscoe; two Kawasakis being ridden by Hill and Harvat and the, checks notes, Husqvarna Norden of MacAllister. I wasn't expecting that, but it's not a huge surprise. It's the same engine as the KTM.
I always thought it was a mistake for AFT to keep the hooligans at such arm's length. When they raced at the Perris half-mile, as an AFT support class, they put on a great race. When they were forced to race the dumb little pop-up at Daytona the other year, when Pastrana raced the RSD Suzuki GT750 two-stoke (see Sideburn 37) it was a massive missed opportunity. Now bagger racing is stealing the hooligan's thunder, but AFT are embracing the heavyweights flat trackers, with a GNHC organised class, that's Grand National Hooligan Championship. They have 25 entries from across the country, competing on the same track this time.
For more information, head to americanflattrack.com
To stream the races you need to pay for a pass fro FansChoice.TV.
Photo: Scott Hunter/AFT