Article By: Tyler Porter
Photos By: Dave Hoenig/Flattrak Fotos
Originally Published In The October-November 2020 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
After months of talking about the AFT series starting, we are finally back racing! The AFT series still has holes in their schedule, but just outside of Barberville Florida in mid-July, gasoline flowed through the veins of us die-hard race enthusiasts. There’s no doubt the series is different this year. The double header format worked out great to get two rounds under the belts of both competitors and fans. The true beauty of flattrack showed with the race track drastically changing between the two days. On Friday night, the infamous a D-Shaped “oval” left a very narrow slippery groove around the bottom that absolutely destroyed riders that didn’t hit their marks perfectly on every lap. On Saturday, it seemed like the AFT crew may have moved the markers up the race track a little bit for practice and maybe even qualifying to widen the groove because the racing line was about twice as wide and opened up more opportunity for passing all night long.
Along with the format changes to the series, two other changes were looming large in every racer and team manager’s mind. This was the first AFT National where the all-new Dunlop DT4 tire has been the spec tire for the series. The other wild card is the new race timing format. No longer are the main events a set number of laps. Now they all have a certain time limit, plus 2 laps, much like motocross has been at the pro level for years. This meant that at a 20 to 24 second a lap track like Volusia Raceway Park, riders were doing, in some cases, twice the laps they were doing under the old format. Guess what, all of those extra laps can also introduce tire strategy too, so there was just a lot of questions going into the round.
After the race there was no question who the players are going to be for the 2020 season. In the Singles class Friday night The Thunder From Down Under, Max Whale, may have walked away from the field to his first pro career win, but we’re going to have some fireworks in this class all season long. The battles between Chad Cose, Henry Wiles, Mikey Rush, Shayna Texter and Dallas Daniels are going to prove to be worth any amount of money to attend a race this season. Max topped the podium on Friday night with Cose and Henry Wiles rounding out the podium. I have to say, while the Production twins class was a bit of a letdown for me all weekend, the racing up front was still fantastic. The field just isn’t very deep right now. I blame the pandemic on this, because I know at least 3 top level 5 riders who didn’t have the resources to make the trip to Florida but will be at the other rounds. I’ve long said that this class has the most potential. Friday Night in the production twins main event was a battle to the death between Ryan Varnes on a Kawasaki versus James Rispoli on a Harley Davidson XG750.
After working him on the inside and making contact a few times on the closing laps, Ryan made a heroic move on the very last lap around the outside of Rispoli. The Kawasaki had the grip and the drive off of turn four heading to the checkers to seal the deal in fantastic fashion. On Friday night in the Super Twins class, things started off with controversy. Jared Mees was off to a great start but everybody’s favorite privateer Jeffrey Carver wasn’t going to let him get away. Jeffrey drove his Indian FTR750 around the outside of Jared on the opening laps, and Jared moved up the race track a little bit, catching Jeffrey’s handlebars on his boots and sending him sliding across the hard Florida soil. With Jeffrey’s A-bike damaged too bad to make the restart, the team went to their B-bike, and started from the back row. This was too much to overcome.
On the restart, Jared launched off the line and was just plain gone. Behind him a 5 rider pack formed and gave the crowd the action they were looking for. Briar Bauman and Sammy Halbert were in an epic game of cat and mouse could only be backed up with a whimper on Saturday, where he finished 8th and was just off the pace for the main event. However, you had Dallas Daniels who didn’t even make the main event on Friday night come back on Saturday and win one of the wildest singles races that I have ever seen! The top 7 was in an insane dog fight during the entire main event. Up front you had Dallas Daniels, Chad Cose, Mikey Rush, Morgen M i s c h l e r , Shayna Texter and Brandon K i t c h e n s fighting tooth and nail. When rookie Aiden R o o s e v a n s crashed in the closing laps, it set us up for one heck of a shootout to the checkers. After some intense but respectable racing, it was Dallas Daniels who emerged victorious over Shayna Texter. Mikey Rush rounded out the podium. I’m telling you guys, go find this main event on the internet and watch it. It’s one for the record books!
In Production Twins Saturday, Cory Texter shook off some set up issues that he had with his bike on Friday night; going back to his tried and true 2019 championship winning chassis and I sure can’t argue about the call there. On last year’s war wagon, Cory absolutely dominated the field, with the only real battle on the track being between Friday night’s winner Ryan Varnes and James Rispoli. As the laps ticked away, Varnes’ bike started to slow down and in heartbreaking fashion, it gave up the ghost. This gave Rispoli the breathing room that I’m sure he welcomed as he took home the second spot. Dirt trackerturned road racer-now back to dirt tracker Danny Eslick rounded out the podium. For Super Twins, it was more of the same from Friday night. Jared Mees was just absolutely unstoppable. In the early parts of the race it looked like we were about to have a royal rumble with JD Beach getting the holeshot on the Estenson Racing Yamaha. 106 October – November ‘20 – CYCLE SOURCE MAGAZINE Briar Bauman on the factory Indian FTR750 answered quickly by getting by Beach for the lead and seemed to have this one in the bag. However, the rest of the field wasn’t going to let him go so quietly into the muggy Florida night.
The top 4 got into flying formation, Bauman, Halbert, Robinson and Mees. Mees made the first move and boy does make it count. Once around Briar for the lead, Jared Mees absolutely walked the dog on the field, leaving the racing action for the final podium spots. Briar Bauman settled into second and rode around in a lonely race, but these points are valuable, and I’m sure he’s happy to be leaving Florida on this positive note. The real battle was for third with Brandon Robinson and Sammy Halbert duking it out for most of the main. Robinson ended up with the spot over Halbert, but I think we’re going to see some more fireworks this year from these two privateer Indian riders. If you can’t tell, I’m excited. 2020 has been one heck of a disaster year and hopefully we are all starting to return to some sort of normalcy. For me, normalicy is flattrack racing, and man do we have some racing action now!