by Bruce Mike
On September 11th I attended my first AMA Grand National Flat Track Race at Canterbury Park. Racing had returned after a 13 year absence. I knew I would have fun because I’m easily amused. What I didn’t expect was how exciting it would be. When I took my first look at the track, I was a bit disappointed. At first glance, the track appeared huge. After closer inspection I realized they would be racing on the inside half of the track which is why, as a whole, the track seemed bigger than a mile. My other concern was with the sight-lines. It appeared, that the only areas of the track I was going to see were the front straight-away, the entrance of turn one and the exit of turn four. All of my apprehension quickly dissipated after the first lap of the day.
When the racing began, I had positioned myself near the exit from turn four. My press-pass allowed me to get as close as anyone to the track. I wanted to find a spot where I could get some good pictures of these guys drifting through the turns, and I was not disappointed. I had to be quick with my camera because I knew the speed of the twins can reach 140 mph with the singles getting over 100 mph. These guys were flying, sometimes three wide in the turns.
I made my way back in front of the Grandstand as qualifying laps and the Dash for Cash finished up. I wanted to watch the Pro Singles and Pro Twins finals without worrying about taking photos. Seeing the racing from this position was much better than I thought. The big screen across from where I was standing did a great job of filling in what I couldn’t see. The singles event was the more exciting of the two because the competition was pretty tight from start to finish. The twins final was fun for me because Kenny Coolbeth (#2 pictured above) was my pick to win in a friendly wager with some friends.
Flat Track racing is America’s oldest form of motorcycle racing and something I never really had an interest in until recently. After riding The Grand National Replica my curiosity was peaked. I’ve always enjoyed motorized competitions. I’ve watched or been involved in everything from moto-cross to schoolbus rodeos but I never felt any strong desire to really follow anything through a whole race season. This may change for me with Flat Track. I think my interest stems from me thinking I could do this type of racing. I’m not saying I would be good at it but I think I could get around the track without embarassing myself.
I’ve been checking the schedule of events at flattrackmn.com, who also offer a Flat Track Racing School, and it appears ice racing begins in January. I’ve seen ice racing a couple of times but never made a point of going. This winter I will. The Flat Track season appears to begin in the early spring with asphalt as well as dirt track. I signed up for the electronic newsletter Flat Track News so I’ll be able to stay on top of events. I’m hoping if enough people get interested we won’t have to wait until 2023 for our next AMA Grand National race.