If you’ve ever imagined what it would be like to drift a motorcycle, you’ve gotta check out the badasses of motorcycle flat track racing. Considered by many to be America’s original extreme sport, it’s back for the 2020 season and coming to a speedway near you. And it’s faster, louder, and crazier than ever.
The 2020 American Flat Track season starts March 14 at the iconic Daytona International Speedway. Teams from Indian Motorcycle, Harley-Davidson, and more will be battling handlebar-to-handlebar to get a leg up in the standings. If you love roaring engines, intense racing, lively competition, and a great time, find an AFT event in your area. The full 2020 schedule is below.
You can also catch the races on NBCSports Network. More than 5.6 million people did just that in 2019. That’s a 75 percent viewership increase over the previous year, making it the fastest-growing motorcycle sport in the world. (By comparison, NASCAR’s TV ratings have reportedly dropped more than 50 percent since 2015.)
The Original Extreme Sport
Since the early 1900s, motorcycle daredevils have been flying around race tracks at breakneck speeds. “Board track” races were massively popular in the early days of vehicle racing. Similar to the birth of NASCAR, in areas of the country where wooden plank velodromes couldn’t be built, riders just raced around dirt ovals. And motorcycle flat track was born.
The American Flat Track series was founded in 1954. Over the decades, flat track spread nationwide; along with motocross, the sport enjoyed a halcyon period in the ’70s and ’80s. Motorcycle racing legends like Dick Mann, Kenny Roberts, Wayne Rainey, and Bruce Penhall all have roots in flat track. But the nationwide pro series was never able to capture a large audience or a TV contract, and the sport dwindled in popularity.
Back & Better Than Ever
Now American Flat Track is back. Comprised of both purpose-built custom and production classes, riders compete on Mile, Half-mile, and Short Track ovals (plus TTs, which must incorporate at least one right-hand turn and a jump).
AFT races are held at venues both legendary to attend and convenient to get to. Many are at iconic NASCAR tracks such as Daytona International Speedway (March 14) and Charlotte Motor Speedway (April 4). Others are held during traditional biker rallies such as Daytona Bike Week, New Hampshire Motor Speedway (June 13) during the Laconia Rally, and during the largest gathering of bikers in the world in Sturgis, SD (Aug. 9).
Other AFT races are at classic motorsports parks like the So-Cal Half-Mile at Perris Auto Speedway in Perris, CA (May 9), and others at horse racing tracks, like the Meadowlands Mile in New Jersey (Sept. 26). The racers are entertaining and hungry, and all the major motorcycle brands are finding American Flat Track a valuable proving ground—both for product and talent.
Flat track racing really is a blast to watch. And the live events are fun, affordable, family-friendly entertainment. There are demos, vendors, and plenty of food and drink. One of the most popular features is the Open Pit, a window of time set aside for fans and youngsters to walk among the racers and their bikes in the pit area. Fans can get autographs, ask questions, and take photos with the riders.
In addition to weekly replays and recaps on NBCSN, true racing fans can live-stream AFT events using TrackPass on NBCSports Gold, an app-based subscription service.
But like NASCAR, Formula1, or any kind of motorsports, to truly appreciate American Flat Track you need to see, hear, and experience live to truly appreciate it.
The 2020 American Flat Track season kicks off March 14, at the legendary Daytona International Speedway. A couple of days later, NASCAR’s premier event, the Daytona 500, takes over the speedway. So if you can, get down to Daytona and enjoy some amazing racing action beyond NASCAR.
2020 American Flat Track Racing Schedule:
- March 14: Daytona 200 & Daytona TT – Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, FL
- March 28: Atlanta Short Track – Dixie Speedway, Woodstock, GA
- April 4: Charlotte Half-Mile – Charlotte Motor Speedway, Concord, NC
- May 2: Texas Half-Mile – Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth, TX
- May 9: So-Cal Half-Mile – Perris Auto Speedway, Perris, CA
- May 16: Sacramento Mile – Cal Expo, Sacramento, CA
- May 30: Red Mile – Red Mile, Lexington, KY
- June 13: Laconia Short Track – New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Loudon, NH
- June 20: OKC Mile – Remington Park, Oklahoma City, OK
- June 27: Lima Half-Mile – Allen County Fairgrounds, Lima, OH
- July 4: New York Short Track – Weedsport Speedway, Weedsport, NY
- August 9: Buffalo Chip TT – Buffalo Chip, Sturgis, SD
- August 11: Black Hills Half-Mile – Black Hills Speedway, Rapid City, SD
- August 22: Peoria TT – Peoria Motorcycle Club, Peoria, IL
- September 5: Springfield Mile I – Illinois State Fairgrounds, Springfield, IL
- September 6: Springfield Mile II – Illinois State Fairgrounds, Springfield, IL
- September 12: Williams Grove Half-Mile – Williams Grove Speedway, Mechanicsburg, PA
- September 26: Meadowlands Mile – Meadowlands Racetrack, East Rutherford, NJ
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