Since 1999


 

Home Subscribe Free   |   Marketplace   |   News Bytes   |   Blotter   |   Calendar   |   Hot Deal Bikes   |   Used Bikes   |   SR! Store  

FLATTRACK RACING

Washington State Loves It's Flat Track Racing

A flurry of snow splattered the windshield as we made our way to Elma, Washington and the Grays Harbor County Fairgrounds to race motorcycles.  Specifically, flattrack racing - on an indoor track in an arena more accustomed to horses than horsepower.

 Flattrack racing takes place on a hard-packed dirt oval or, ideally, a clay track.  The bikes are often custom built from production dirt bikes and feature engines mounted on specially designed chassis with lightweight street bike front forks, special shocks in the rear and what’s known as a ‘spool’ wheel up front.  Similar to a bicycle wheel, the spool wheel has one unique feature – no brakes!  On a flattrack bike, there are no front brakes.  What sets the flattrack rider apart from a road racer is the fact that he or she wears a steel (or ‘hot’) shoe on the left boot (at left).  Used as an ‘outrigger’ or balance point, the left foot is put down in the corner and skims along the surface of the racetrack helping the rider remain upright.

Started on the board tracks (yes, they were made out of wood) in the early 1900s, flattrack racing soon moved to the state fairs of the midwest and enjoyed great popularity up through the 1970s.  While the sport still survives, there are fewer tracks to run on and racing at the local level is sporadic at best.  It’s the purest form of motorcycle racing and one that enjoys a passionate, devoted following.  Most events in this area are sanctioned by the American Motorcyclist Association and promoted by the Catywampus Caveman Motorcycle Club of AMA District 27.  The Elma indoor season starts in November and runs through March with the next event on Saturday, March 23rd.

 With an arena smelling of corndogs, caramel corn, and, of course, coffee, the pit area and grandstand are littered with plenty of pimples, purple, electric green leather, some vanilla hair and tattoos, a cowboy hat or two, a few piercings, and several beards and ponytails. Regardless of the makeup of the crowd, the atmosphere is friendly and family.  Racers range in age from 6 to 60-something, male and female.  On the track or in the grandstand, there’s something for everybody at the event.

 And, flattracking isn’t just for motorcycles, either.  The race day program also includes speedway-style racers, quads, and occasionally riding lawn mowers (no blades, please).  The riding lawn mowers come in a variety of shapes, age, and designs.  Painted in strange colors like industrial blue and bearing titles like "Mad Dog”, it’s not clear whether the moniker is that of the lawnmower or the rider!  With a helmet to match the mower, a ring of keys jangling against the seat, and a pair of red suspenders standing between himself and embarrassment, the rider’s out for a night of four-wheel fun with no lawn in sight!

 Another unique form of competition is Speedway racing.  Hugely popular in Europe, teams represent various countries throughout the region and compete in the Speedway Grand Prix series.  Structured much like soccer leagues, teams often represent cities and compete in a national series, as well.  The bikes resemble large-wheeled bicycles and also operate without brakes – front AND rear!  In addition, the bikes are built low to the ground and feature only one gear – riders just climb aboard and grab a handful of throttle!  Check out www.speedwaybike.com for more information on this exciting form of racing. 

 As the snow turns to an icy, sleety rain the racing gets underway.  A smoky haze rises to the ceiling of the arena while the air is scented with the aroma of race fuel.  Engines begin to rev in a wa-wa rhythm as each class lines up at the pit entrance for their heat race.  From the heat races, riders prepare for their next run and depending on how many riders are competing, there could be a semi-main to further narrow the field.

Flattracking truly is a family sport.  It’s not uncommon to see a 6-year-old competing in the Beginner 50cc class while Dad (or Mom!) competes in one of the larger displacement fields.  While classes are based on engine size and rider experience, there are also classes based on age, with Over 30, Over 40 and Over 50 year old groups having a run on the demanding track.

Crucial to success in this form of racing is a quick, fast start - especially on a short track.  Getting out in front quickly makes it difficult (but not impossible!) to pass.  Although the quads have a propensity for driving over top of one another, crashes are mostly of the ‘whoops!-I-fell-down’ variety and minor fuel spills are handled with a quick flame and stamp of the foot.  Brooms and shovels are kept readily at hand for more serious divots.

 On this particular evening, one of the riders that attracted attention was wearing a conspicuous cowboy hat and an ear-to-ear grin.  Aaron "Hayseed” Weston (at right) started racing in 1995 at Oakwood Arena and last year was ranked 69th in the nation with Formula USA.  This year, Aaron hopes to achieve his national number with the AMA sanctioning body.  Hayseed runs a 1999 Wood Rotax 665 at local events and a 2002 Suzuki TL1000 for the nationals.  His favorite track is anything ˝ mile (check out Yakima on April 13th and 14th) or bigger with deep cushion for riding sideways!  Hayseed recommends riding often and having fun – but watch out for those back-40 events – they can be bone-bending!

This form of motorcycle racing doesn’t go without rewards, either.  The High Participation award goes to the riders who attend and participate in most, if not all, of the AMA District 27 sanction races.  The 2001 season recipients for High Participation were Shawn Dewey, 250/2 Stroke Quad Class, for participating in 31 of 34 races and young J. D. Beach (he’s yet to celebrate his 10th birthday!), 65cc M/C Class, for participating in 34 of 34 races.  The Bill Fogg Memorial Award is in memory of Bill Fogg and is presented to a rider who is always willing to help others and shows a great love for the sport.  For 2001, the recipient of the Fogg Memorial was Aaron "Hayseed” Weston.  The High Point Award goes to the rider who has earned the most points from January to December in a given year.  For 2001, Shawn Dewey was the 250/2 Stroke Quad recipient with 407 points in 31 races and Gary Moore in the +30 Open M/C class with 494 points in 31 races, as well as the +40 class honors with 487 points in 30 races.  For showing great sportsmanship throughout the season, Sportsman of the Year went to Dick Wall while Sportswoman of the Year went to Danielle Marshall.  Note:  You don’t have to be a rider to be eligible to receive this award – just a fan of a great sport!

For more information about this exhilarating sport, visit www.AMADist27.org, or call 425-745-4010 and let them know you read about it on Sound RIDER!

Story and Photos by Nan Darbous

Nan Darbous is a member of SSO Racing and WMRRA.  She races various types of motorcycles along with the SSO team.


The Flat Track schedule for the Northwest through the end of 2002

April    
Date Location Type
4/6/02 Indoor Short Track
Oakwood Arena
Roy, WA
Indoor ST
QUADS OK
4/13/02 Yakima Fairgrounds - 1/2 Mile Night Race
Yakima, WA
Catywampus Caveman MC  (425) 745-4010  
AMA Flat Track
4/14/02 Yakima Fairgrounds - 1/2 Mile Day Race
Yakima, WA
Catywampus Caveman MC  (425) 745-4010  
AMA Flat Track
4/27/02 Hannigan Speedway Flat Track
Mt. Baker M/C
Bellingham, WA
AMA Flat Track
     
May    
Date Location Type
5/4/02 Rainier Sportsman's Club Flat Track
Rainier, WA
AMA Flat Track
5/11/02 Hannigan Speedway Flat Track
Mt. Baker M/C
Bellingham, WA
AMA Flat Track
5/17/02 Castle Rock Practice  7-10
Mt. St. Helens M/C Club
Castle Rock , WA
Practice
5/18/02 Castle Rock - Semi-Pro
Mt. St. Helens M/C Club
Castle Rock , WA
AMA Flat
Track
     
June    
Date Location Type
6/1/02 Rainier Sportsman's Club Flat Track
Rainier, WA
AMA Flat Track
6/2/02 Dinosaur Daze Vintage Short Track
Thurston County ORV
Tacoma Motorcycle Club
AMA Vintage
Short Track
6/7/02 Castle Rock Practice  7-10
Mt. St. Helens M/C Club
Castle Rock , WA
Practice
6/8/02 Castle Rock - Semi-Pro
Mt. St. Helens M/C Club
Castle Rock , WA
AMA Flat Track
6/15/02 Hannigan Speedway Flat Track
Mt. Baker M/C
Bellingham, WA
AMA Flat Track
6/16/02 Short Track
Thurston County ORV
Cadywampus Caveman MC  (425) 745-4010  
AMA Short Track
6/22/02 Rainier Sportsman's Club Flat Track
Rainier, WA
AMA Flat Track
6/29/02 Castle Rock - Semi-Pro
Mt. St. Helens M/C Club
Castle Rock , WA
AMA Flat Track
     
July    
Date Location Type
7/5/02 Castle Rock Practice 7-10
Mt. St. Helens M/C Club
Castle Rock , WA
Practice
7/6/02 Castle Rock - Semi-Pro
Mt. St. Helens M/C Club
Castle Rock , WA
AMA Flat Track
7/13/02 Rainier Sportsman's Club Flat Track
Rainier, WA
AMA Flat Track
7/14/02 Short Track
Thurston County ORV
Cadywampus Caveman MC  (425) 745-4010  
AMA Short Track
7/20/02 Hannigan Speedway Flat Track
Mt. Baker M/C
Bellingham, WA
AMA Flat Track
  Mo'Di'Ro' (MX, Dirt Track, Road Events)
Thurston County ORV
Laurie (425) 745-4010
 
7/21/02 Mo'Di'Ro' (MX, Dirt Track, Road Events)
Thurston County ORV
Laurie (425) 745-4010
 
7/27/02 Castle Rock - Mt. Mania Night
Mt. St. Helens M/C Club
Castle Rock , WA
AMA Flat Track
     
Aug.    
Date Location Type
8/3/02 Rainier Sportsman's Club Flat Track
Rainier, WA
AMA Flat Track
8/10/02 Hannigan Speedway Flat Track
Mt. Baker M/C
Bellingham, WA
AMA Flat Track
8/11/02 Short Track
Thurston County ORV
Cadywampus Caveman MC  (425) 745-4010  
AMA Short Track
8/16/02 Castle Rock Practice  7-10
Mt. St. Helens M/C Club
Castle Rock , WA
Practice
8/17/02 Castle Rock -Harley Night at the Park
(125cc & Up Only)
Mt. St. Helens M/C Club
Castle Rock , WA
AMA Flat Track
8/24//02 Yakima Fairgrounds - 1/2 Mile Night Race
Yakima, WA
Cadywampus Caveman MC  (425) 745-4010  
AMA Flat Track
8/25/02 Yakima Fairgrounds - 1/2 Mile Day Race
Yakima, WA
Cadywampus Caveman MC  (425) 745-4010  
AMA Flat Track
8/31/02 Castle Rock - Semi-Pro
Mt. St. Helens M/C Club
Castle Rock , WA
AMA Flat Track
     
Sept.    
Date Location Type
9/1/02 Castle Rock - Semi-Pro
Mt. St. Helens M/C Club
Castle Rock , WA
AMA Flat Track
9/7/02 Rainier Sportsman's Club Flat Track
Rainier, WA
AMA Flat Track
9/8/02 Short Track
Thurston County ORV
Cadywampus Caveman MC  (425) 745-4010  
AMA Short Track
9/13/02 Castle Rock Practice 7-10
Mt. St. Helens M/C Club
Castle Rock , WA
Practice
9/14/02 Castle Rock - Season Championship
Mt. St. Helens M/C Club
Castle Rock , WA
AMA Flat Track
9/28/02 Rainier Sportsman's Club Flat Track
Rainier, WA
AMA Flat Track
     
Oct.    
Date Location Type
10/5/02 Rainier Sportsman's Club Flat Track
Rainier, WA
AMA Flat Track
10/26/02 Elma Indoor Short Track
Elma, WA
Cadywampus Caveman MC  (425) 745-4010  
AMA Indoor ST
     
Nov. 2002  
Date Location Type
11/9/02 Elma Indoor Short Track
Elma, WA
Cadywampus Caveman MC  (425) 745-4010  
AMA Indoor ST
     
Dec. 2002  
Date Location Type
  No Events Scheduled at this time  


ADVERTISING


ADVERTISING

ADVERTISING

TRENDING IN OUR ARCHIVE

  1. Rain riding
     
  2. Buying a dual sport motorcycle
     
  3. Cold weather gear
     
  4. Crash padding
     
  5. Motorcycle Camping

ADVERTISING

ADVERTISING


SPONSORED LINKS

Ride West Insurance- Motorcycle Insurance Specialists

Rich's Custom Seats - Ride more comfortably - LONGER!

Motorcycle Camping - 21st century comfort for the 21st century rider


ADVERTISING

ADVERTISING


SPONSORED LINKS

Columbia River Gorge Motorcycle Rally - Don't miss the rally in the Gorge

Pacific Northwest Touring Books - Leave the main roads behind


ADVERTISING

ADVERTISING

SUBSCRIBE FREE

Subscription has its privileges - Each month Sound RIDER! publishes new features on rides, clubs, dealers and events. Don't miss out on these informative stories.

Sign up today for your FREE subscription and you'll get notification each month when the new issue comes on line. You'll also be the first to find out about special Sound RIDER! events. From time to time, we also provide valuable coupons that can save you hundreds of dollars on motorcycle services. What are you waiting for? CLICK HERE to sign up now!

Used Bikes

Buy one here or sell yours today

The Big Skinny wallet

Less bulk, more comfort

New bikes for low prices

Shop hundreds now

SITE MAP

COMMUNITIES
Adventure/Dual Sport
Classic/Vintage
Cruiser
Maxi Scooter
Sidecar/Trike
Sport Bike
Sport Touring
Touring
 
DIRECTORIES
Dealers & Service
Other Services
Clubs/organizations
Calendar
Editorial archive
SHOPPING
Used bikes
Hot deal bikes (new)
Sound RIDER! online store
Sound RIDER! EVENTS
Cabin Fever Challenge
Cafe to Cafe Grand Tour
Road Trip Tour
Sportbike Northwest
Sport Touring Northwest
Dual Sport Northwest
Maxi Scoot Northwest
Rally in the Gorge
Sasquatch Dual Sport Tour
Northwest Motorcycle Exhibit
RESOURCES
Road conditions
Mountain passes
PNW Weather
Ferry schedule
 
COMPANY
About us
Magazine
SR! Events
Online store
Advertising/Media Kit
Jobs
Write for SR!
CONTACT/HELP
Contact Us
Site feedback/questions
Send us news tips
Send letters to the editor

Submit event listings
Request corrections
Copyright ©2013 Mixed MEDIA   |   Advertise with us   |   Privacy Statement