Round Three – Waco, TX

Before we can talk about what happened at Waco, we have to cover a bit of what happened before Waco.

As most of y’all know Sturgis kicked my ass. Not only that it really did a number on my bike. So I spent a great deal of the time before Waco getting the bike back together and back into race shape.

One of the issues we had to solve for in the 11th hour was not one we realized had occurred in Sturgis. Apparently, when the battery and box exploded we also cracked the oil tank. This was not discovered until we did an oil change and test ran the bike two days before we were leaving. But as soon as the bike would get up to temp it would squirt a heavy stream of oil from both sides of the tank at the welds. Our suspicion is that the impact stressed the welds and then between the bouncing around in the trailer and the temperature changes those cracks opened up allowing the fresh oil to make its way out. Long story short it was a scramble but we got it fixed the night before I left for the race and we were good to go.

Pit setup for the weekend.

After all the chaos I had been through in Sturgis and leading up to this race I wanted to approach this one a bit differently. It no secret that Waco is one of my favorite tracks. It’s a fast track that genearlly grooves up really well, and it caters to my style. It is relatively close to home, its where I raced my first race, and where I had my biggest crash. But it’s just a great track with good people. Which was perfect, I had to get back to just hanging out with good people and riding. No stress, just go out there and have fun. So I showed up the night before, set up my pit. Hung out with friends, watched the AFT race, had some good food, and chilled.

Waco 1/2 Mile – Day One

Running it into the new turn one, in the lead.

I woke up to find the crew still working on the track, which is not unusual, especially considering we had just gotten a bunch of rain that week. So I just slow-rolled my morning. I had breakfast and enjoyed my Flat Track Coffee as I prepared the bikes. Checking tire pressures, fueling up, and doing my normal once over.

When the time came to roll out for practice I was ready. The track was not ideal but it was rideable and the new track layout looked promising. So I went out and just felt it out, found some lines that I liked and got comfortable. No one wins practice and I had nothing to prove. Just find your groove.

I was also racing the 450 again for the first time since race 2 in Sturgis. I had the same problem in Sturgis but the bike just beats me up. I have not been able to put much focus on dialing this bike in like I have the Sportster so it’s to be expected to some extent but lately its been a whole lot more obvious. I ended up somewhere around third or fourth in the heat, which I was happy with considering how hard the bike was to ride.

Leading up to my Hooligan heat people were talking about the track, discussing the “issues” and finding things to complain about. But to be honest, I didn’t care, I wasn’t participating. It was good enough for me and I didn’t want to put stock into anything other than just going out and riding. So when I pulled up to the line for the Hooligan heat I was finally calm, not a worry in the world, and it worked. I got a great start, taking the holeshot and running away from the pack to take the heat win.

When the main events rolled around I was ready, still calm, still focused, and just having a good time. I went out for my 450 main and got the start. Was off to a good first lap but just went backward from there. Once again I was just fighting the bike trying to get it through the turns. I ended up 4th and I was happy with that. My focus was on the Hooligan class and I was shooting for no stress.

The Hooligan main was a good size class with two rows of guys lined up ready to battle it out, and I found myself (with the second pick) right on the groove and cool as a cucumber. As the field lined up, I took a breath, closed my shield, and clicked the bike into gear. I was ready, and as soon as the green flag lifted I took off. I was first into turn one and already in my race gear, the holeshot was mine and the race was mine to lose. But that wasn’t going to happen today. I just put my head down and started clicking off laps.

Leading the field off the start and through the first two turns

I came around on the third lap and I could see people on the side of the track signaling that I had a huge gap. This was a good feeling, and knowing I had a gap I started to pace myself a bit. I didn’t want to push too hard and throw it away and they were signaling I had a gap so I opted to use that breathing room and just run a decent pace.

What I didn’t know was that Garrett was coming, and he was coming fast. When he saw me let up ever so slightly he turned it on. As I came around for the last lap I could see folks in the crowd jumping up and down, screaming and waving towards the finish. At the time I thought they were excited for me to win. Ha! What I didn’t know until I crossed the line was that Garrett had caught me going into turn one on the last lap and was in my pocket the whole way around the track. We crossed the line 1 – 2 with him about a quarter of a wheel behind me.

Lesson learned. Don’t listen to the crowd, and never let up no matter how big a gap you have. You never know what might happen.

Waco 1/2 Mile – Day 2

Turn three was fast!

For the second day of the weekend, the track crew did some INCREDIBLE work and got the track fully back to what Waco should be. The track was super wide and had a massive groove. Practice was a blast, the track rode like it was a road racecourse. You could drive it in hard and power off the turns pretty well. So I went into the day yet again with some confidence. But my goals had not changed, just go out there and ride, enjoy myself.

I lined up for the heat, again calm and ready to compete. I got a great jump off the start and today I wasn’t going to let up. I put my head down and ran away with the heat win, wire to wire creating and holding a pretty sizeable gap over second place.

Finding just how deep you can go into turn one.

For the 450 heat I got the start and again just went backward, fighting the bike all the way around the track.

In the Hooligan main event again we had a pretty decent sized group and again I had the privilege of choosing my spot on the line second. I chose to line up to the outside and on the groove, hoping I could hold the throttle on a bit longer than the riders to the inside of me. We all lined up and the flag waved, and for some reason after a weekend of great starts I spun. It was still a good reaction time, but not the launch I had hoped for. So I went into the first turn in about 3rd or 4th.

I was behind Carlos Bumwine and of course, Garrett. Coming around turn 1 Garrett found a way around Carlos and I knew I had to get by or he was going to get away. So as we came through turn two I started to roll on early (reminder I went off the back of the track and into the woods, full throttle, last year trying this pass) and was able to hold it together and get the drive through two to get around Carlos on the back straight away. Garrett was not yet too far off so I just put my head down and closed the gap by the time we hit turn one on lap two.

Garrett was running really fast, but I managed to stay with him. I latched onto his wheel, watching and waiting to see where I might be able to find a way around him. On every lap I would try and pressure him in a different spot, just hoping to find the right spot I could get by or to force an error. And with two laps to go, I felt confident I had a plan. I was going to try the same move off turn two in hopes to get enough drive to run it into three harder than he was and get passed him for the sprint to the finish line. As we came into one I set up on the inside and ran it in deep. He knew I was there. I let the bike drift wide on the gas early to get the drive, but as I came off the turn and twisted the throttle the bike bogged. This allowed him to hold his gap and get the drive he needed down the back straight. I stayed in it and was able to stay with him, the power quickly came back. I had one more lap to set him up and try the very same move. The white flag was out and I had my plan. Turn one, run it in. Turn two set up and get the early drive off the turn. Again the bike bogged and he held his run. I would chase him all the way down the back straight hoping for a last-ditch effort to going underneath into 3. But he was prepared for it and closed the door. We crossed the line 1 and two with me a half a wheel behind. A reverse mirror finish from the day before.

Turn three, had a fast line and a bumpy fast line. They were 2″ apart.

It was a hell of a race and I had a blast. I always love battling with Garrett and he rode the wheels off that bike to hold me off. I’d like to think I could have made the pass if the bike hadn’t of bogged but the truth is I am not sure. He was extremely fast.

As we crossed the line and began to slow down we both gave a quick fist pump and high fived. And then I noticed the smoke. My bike was bellowing smoke off the right side, not good. I quickly made my way to my pit and shut the bike down, which is when I discovered it was dumping oil out of the air filter and onto the exhaust. Definitely not good, but it stayed together long enough to make it to the finish so it could be worse.

As far as the 450 main, again I got a good start but made a bobble coming off 4 and went backward from there. It was again a physical battle to ride that bike. It was absolutely exhausting. At one point I hit a bump and had a little wobble and it took everything I had physically to hold it together. Though I did slow a bit as the race went on, I was able to grab a 3rd on the day.

So all in all a great weekend at the track. A much-needed bounce back from the previous round (7 races). We had a ton of fun and we were able to pull off some good results. Once again I couldn’t do this without all the incredible people that support me and put in hours of work on the bikes and the program and I cant express my gratitude enough.

And once again I’d be reaching out to them to see what was wrong with the Harley. We’ve got 2 weeks till the next race, which is back in Waco. So here’s to hoping we can get the bike torn down and fixed before then. If there’s one thing I know it’s that we’re sure as hell going to try!

Round Two – Sturgis, SD

This year Sturgis was a bit different. . .

With all the COVID chaos going on and the schedule shuffling things got mixed up a bit. But the Xtreem Flattrack series really stepped it up and ended up slating 7 races in 9 days at the 80th annual Sturgis Rally. So you know we couldn’t miss it!

We went into Sturgis with high hopes, the bike was dialed and the last few practice days on it went great. I felt good, we had been training, practicing, and dialing things in. We were ready.

Race One – Jackpine Gypsies Short Track

As usual, the track was pretty solid, a smooth slightly banked short track that you can ride multiple lines, multiple styles, and really just find what works on the night.

Practice went really well, felt fast and confident. However, come race time we started to have some clutch issues. When the clutch would heat up the bike would creep with the clutch in. And unfortunately despite our best efforts, this ended up causing me to “jump” the start because the bike was rolling forward with the clutch all the way in. So they put me on the back row and we were forced to try and fight our way through the field. Once I was underway I ran well but was only able to qualify for the second pick in the B main.

In the main we were still struggling with the clutch issues, so I attempted to combat it by standing on the brake to hold the bike back. Which helped for a moment, but ended up causing the bike to stall on the line. So yet again I had to battle from the back. But I was still able to fight my way up for a second place in the B main.

Race Two – Jackpine Gypsies Short Track

In an attempt to combat/fix our clutch troubles we tore the bike apart to inspect the clutch and find the source of our issues. Upon inspection we discovered the clutch was still in great shape and other than a couple random burrs on the basket everything seemed to be in spec. So we cleaned it up, removed the burrs and put it all back together. I have to call out that the flat track family is amazing here, because three of my fellow competitors were in my pit tearing things apart to try and get me back in the game.

The second race day started out really well. We got off the line good and ended up winning the heat by a decent gap despite 2 restarts. We were on it. I felt great and was riding really well. We were on the front row with the second pick for the main.

Unfortunately, I spun off the start and ended up in the pack going into turn one. I set up to try and go around the outside and make up lost positions. I ran it in with a rider on the inside and while managing the space between us to make a clean pass another rider never let off into the turn and absolutely cleaned me out. I’m not sure how it all happened but he hit me from the back/outside and basically pulled me over the high side.

I scrambled to not get run over with more riders coming & get off the track as they threw the red flag. This crash though not my fault at all would prove to be a bigger issue than we’d ever hope for. After the red flag and getting back to the bike we discovered the bike was hammered and I would be unable to rejoin the field for the restart, leaving me with last place points in the A-main.

Additionally, I suffered another shoulder injury in the crash that would prove to cause some troubles throughout or Sturgis trip. I was very lucky to have a ton of support on the trip with friends in the pits. I wouldn’t even have been able to load my trailer without the constant assistance of friends. So a huge shout out to everyone that helped, especially Cowboy Rob Harkins. Once we were squared away for the night our first priority was getting the bike repaired.

Off Day

Luckily we had an off day between race one and race two. With this off day, we were focused on getting the bike race-ready again. I have to extend a huge thank you to Gary at LightShoe who was kind enough to spend his off day back at the track helping repair the bike. We had to rebuild the brake pedal and get the whole front end of the bike square again. Somehow we managed to pull it off and we were once again ready to race day three.

Race Three – Jackpine Gypsies Short Track

Going into the third race I was in rough shape. My shoulder was still in a lot of pain but with all the work and passion that so many had poured into this trip both before and during as long as I could get on the bike we were gonna give it a shot.

We went out to practice and much to my surprise I was able to wrangle the bike and actually run pretty well. So we were back in the game. . . Or so we thought. In the heat race, we started experiencing clutch issues again. In an effort to combat them I stood on the brake to keep the bike from creeping which worked for a moment but unfortunately stalled the bike (AGAIN) just before the green light. So everyone took off as I sat there trying to get the bike fired up again. Leaving me no choice but to play catchup and try and battle my way into a qualifying spot. Somehow we were still able to claw our way back and get into the A-main.

During the main event, we were still facing clutch issues and a second row start. My plan was to line up 6-8″ behind the line to combat the creep. But that wasn’t enough and again I was flagged for jumping and got relegated to the back row. We ran the main and tried battling up as far as we could, it was a less than ideal finish but with all the adversity we’d overcome we took our points and set our sites on the Super TT.

We prepped the bike that night to be ready for the Super TT the next day. Installing the front brake and making some adjustments.

Race Four – Buffalo Chip Super TT

We were coming into the Super TT with high hopes of turning our rough go around, making up some points and coming through the races in one piece (myself and the bike).

But the adventure wasn’t over. On the first lap of practice, I came off a jump and my rear tire hit the battery box which broke and sent my battery through the swingarm.

So once again we’re back to damage control, and once again the flat track family came through to save my day. Another racer gave me battery, and Gary insisted on building me a new battery box to get me back out there. And some how we pulled it off, in just enough time for me to line up for the heat race. Though now survival and not breaking anything else was my priority.

We were in the heat and ended up qualifying for the main event with no practice. It was a rough race. I had never ridden a TT before, especially a Super TT but after a few laps, it was fun. We ran toward the back of the pack but we survived and took home some points.

Race Five – Buffalo Chip Super TT

We came into the second day of the Super TT with a little bit different mindset this time around. Our plan was to manage the race well enough to get as many points as we could but not take any extra risks and keep the bike in one piece to get us to the upcoming half mile. That would be my time to shine, we just had to make it there.

This track had one more rock to throw at me though….

I pulled up to staging for our heat race and one of the other racers asked me “Do you really want to run that low of pressure?” Answer, I did not, I had a rear flat with about 1 min till the heat race. So with no other choice I put my head down and tried to mitigate the issue. I hauled ass to the pit and pumped the tire up as high as I could not knowing how bad the leak was and got to the line just before the threw the green flag. Again my goal, get through the race in one pice and make it into the main. Though racing with the idea of a rear flat on a TT track in the back of your head is a tough prospect to power through. We still managed to qualify and somehow the tire didn’t go all the way flat.

With help I was able to get the tube changed out and be ready for the main. I was struggling though, mentally I had been through so much this week already and the outcomes were not what we had expected.

The main event time came, and we were still focused on getting points and moving on. During the race, I finally started to find a little comfort and was able to pass my way up to mid-pack. But on the last lap 2 turns from the finish I almost laid it down, and despite catching it I didn’t have the strength in my injured shoulder to stand the bike up and get moving before being passed back.

Race Six – Rapid City Half-Mile

The Rapid City Half Mile was the track and races, that I was looking forward to the entire trip. Getting to battle it out on an American Flat Track stop that’s a grooved half mile was not only up my alley but also an amazing opportunity. And with the struggles we’ve had, we came into it with high hopes for some redemption.

We knew we had to take a different approach here. The speed would be higher and our approach would need to change to better suit a fast groove style track. So we set out to get the bike dialed in. We spent the day dialing things in making adjustments to gearing, suspension and changed our tires out for a new set to improve traction. We had a hell of a time getting the front tire to seat the bead but we were optimistic on the day weren’t gonna let it beat us. Eventually, we got the bike squared away and sat back for a bit to rest before practice.

Yet again, we were forced to face a bit more adversity. We made it through the riders meeting and gearing up, we were all set. But about 10 min before practice we realized that the front tire that had given us so much trouble to get squared away was flat. I can’t make this stuff up. So once again I put my head down, graciously accepted help from my fellow competitors and we tore the wheel off to see what caused the flat. We came to find that the tube had actually split at the seam. No pinch, no sticker in the wheel, or a bur, the tube just failed. None the less, we tore it out of there and someone gave us a tube (as I had now used all of mine with the previous flats and tire changes) and we got it back together.

We got out to practice about 1/2 way through the session and felt really good. The track was a little bit one lined and had a bit of a loose spot coming off of two that’d cause the bike to slide and hop enough to pucker you up but it was manageable. I was running well, feeling comfortable, and finding speed.

We had a good run in the heat race, making a few passes. I even ran down a couple guys and made a last second charge for a pass at the line. I was feeling better, we got through the heat race and moved onto the main event.

I got a poor start with a bit of wheel spin and tried to just put our head down and pick people off. Then just a few laps in I was catching another rider and decided to run it into turn one deep, try and out break him and go underneath. It was all going to plan when he pushed wide and I was coming fast and was already lined up to go underneath when he suddenly turned down the track and almost sawed my front wheel off causing me to need to check up. As he blew across in front of me I still had the line and quickly got back on the gas to now go around him on the outside. But again as soon as I made the move he cut back up the track and almost ran me up into the wall coming off of two. I couldn’t believe it. Twice in one turn this guy almost took me out, and despite me having more speed I still hadn’t made it around him. These antics went on for another lap and a half, and finally, I opted to sit in and hope he’d make a mistake on the last lap rather than get crashed out. Mentally after all the things, we’d overcome I just didn’t have it in me to risk it all for the pass. We finished the day mid-pack as a result and worse than the result I was disappointed in myself for not taking the position and moving on.

Race Seven – Rapid City Half-Mile

We had come into this track with high hopes of redemption, some semblance of a success in the form of a decent finish to not only get passed the struggles but to end the two weeks of racing on a high note. This redemption would not come unfortunately.

After the stretch we had I chose not to touch the bike between the last race and this one. I just wanted one day that we didn’t have to turn wrenched up to the start of the race. The bike was in one piece and I wanted to stay that way.

So we ran it. We went out for practice and the track was a lot better. We were finding traction and with that more speed. I could get on the gas much sooner than I had and sooner than most of the guys were. This was all promising.

We went into the heat race with high hopes yet again, and we started having clutch issues yet again. Luckily we didn’t “jump” this time but I didn’t get a great start either. I made a few passes and ran well. We were able to hold onto a decent run and get into the main with a plan.

We would start a foot off the line and let the bike creep if it wanted to, no big deal let’s do this. Now what I hadn’t thought of is that all the rubber was laid down on the line a bikes length from the line, not a foot behind that. So they threw the flag, I dumped the clutch, my tire spun and the field lurched ahead. A bad start yet again, and yet again I just tried to put my head down and go to work. I caught the pack and did everything I could to work my way up, but I have to admit by this point yet again my head just wasn’t in it. I had the speed and was coming off the turns faster than the two guys ahead of me. I was getting on the gas sooner and would drive off turn four with way more speed, but I just couldn’t find a hole to get by before we’d swing into one. In hindsight, I can say that the room was probably there, and I think mentally I just wasn’t. I should have run it in, pushed the issue, and made them work for it but instead, I found myself racing up on them and letting up. Mentally I was drained. We yet again finished way behind where we expected to be and below the speed we were capable of running.

All in all, it was a very rough two weeks of racing. With an injury that was persistent throughout the trip, all the bike issues and struggles we had I just struggled. Probably the worst group of races I’ve ever had. We battled through issue after issue and tried to stay positive and keep at it, but we were defeated. But even with all of that, we had a really good time with some amazing people. People that didn’t hesitate to put their stuff aside to help me, people that gave me parts even though we were competitors. People that put off working on their stuff or resting before a race to make sure I made it to mine. I can not express how grateful I am to all of these folks, flat track is truly a family. If you’re not there I can’t really explain it to you but for those of you that are, you know what the Flat Track Family is like and its that family that makes this such an amazing sport.

See you next year Sturgis.

Round One – Ada, OK

What’s up y’all? It’s finally happening, we are finally going racing! Round One of the Xtreem Flat Track series is a go!
I headed up to Ada, Ok on Thursday afternoon to get the pit set up and get squared away before our Friday night race.

When I pulled in they were working on the track and it looked really good. Red clay 1/4 mile car track with a slight bank to it, and they were grading it super smooth. So I pulled into what I thought would be the best spot in the pits and set up camp/the pit.

The pit set up this race was a bit different than usual, for a few reasons. Mike would be coming up to race his Sunday for the first time, and we’d be racing at night. So I brought one of Tony’s canopies to have more space, and I added some lights to help us see during the evening.

The next day was race day, people started pulling in, the pits started filling up and we were all ready to go. But in typical Oklahoma race day fashion a storm rolled in about 20 min before practice was supposed to start, and it absolutely poured on us. Which unfortunately caused for a cancellation of the event for the day.

Luckily they were willing and able to move the race to the next day, it wouldn’t be a night race we were still racing! So we adapted. I made a little dinner, watched a few old Rusty Rogers races from the Camel Pro days, and got to bed a bit early. It seemed to rain off and on all night, which had me nervous but I was hopeful.

Saturday morning we woke up and the sun was out and the show would still go on. So we drug the bikes back out of the trailer, had a little breakfast, and started to get ready. The track however was not as eager to get started as we were. Granted them boys worked their tails off to get it into race shape, but it wasn’t ideal. There was so much moisture in it from the storm that they just couldn’t work out. They did a great job with what they had but we did have to deal with some wet spots. But hey after months of waiting due to COVID most of us didn’t care.

So we got out to practice for the first time since the Harley had been reconfigured and ran a few laps to get a feel for things. The bike was great, Mike and Bret did some incredible work helping to get that thing together for me and it was running very well. We were still struggling with suspension setup though with the rear shocks being way too stiff, but I’d just have to ride around some of that. I also had a blast running the 450 on a new track, I hadn’t really ridden it anywhere other than the practice track back home, so that was a lot of fun.

I wasn’t finding the speed I wanted but started to feel better with each lap. I was definitely struggling to find speed between our suspension package and the track conditions, but I knew that we just had to get out there and do what I could to get some points.

The heat races went well, I didn’t get the best starts but I was still in the fight. And though I was struggling through 1 and 2, I started to find a decent line through 3 and 4 which helped me to make up some time on the guys ahead of me. We fought hard and picked off a few guys in both heats and ended up running 4th in class in the 450 amateur heat, and 1st in class in the Hooligan heat.

When the mains came around I knew I had some work to do, maybe even some cobwebs to knock off but my goal was to go out and bring home some points. However, yet again I didn’t get my best starts and had to fight my way up. The mains were pretty quick due to the shortened program so I didn’t have a whole lot of time but I was able again to battle up to 1st in the hooligan main and 4th overall in the 450 amateur main. Which tells me that’s just where my speed was on the day.

All in all it was a good day of racing, we had fun, came home safe and secured some points in the championship hunt.

Race Finishes:
Hooligan – 1st Place
450 AM – 4th Place
Sunday – 1st Place

Series Standings:
Hooligan – 1st Place
450 AM – 4th Place
Sunday – 1st Place

Race Photos by: C.Coffey Photography