Is it for real? C’mon, this can’t be for real, unless it is a bunch of old rednecks in a
cornfield? Dirt track racing died out in the 70’s did it not? I picture the old-timers drifting sideways on the old Harleys and Triumphs, smacking into those old wooden fences and tumbling into the crowd. So I always assumed it died out because all the riders died out, from crashing or old age. Sanity prevents newer riders from engaging in this activity – right?
For the last year or so I have been hearing rumors, seeing pictures and even had a few invitations to attend some flat track events in Alabama. Well the stars aligned Saturday – it was an amazing, cool spring day – prefect for the ride to Toney Al, to attend my FIRST ever dirttrack event at Beaver Creek Speedway.
As I roll into the gate, the kid’s cart racers are coming out, just having finished their events. I see the bikes are already lined up under ease-ups, and it looks like a smaller version of the Barber Vintage Festival paddock, sans oil-drip-pans. I feel I am flashing back to an earlier time. I hear The Stones, and Led Zep playing in my head, a cloud of Turkish drifts in the air. Then I park the bi ke, and snap back into reality.
The crowd seems very laid back, and after talking to the guy with the microphone, it seems even cooler than ever. Just a bunch of cool guys that like to race, they are all friends, that miss the days of racing around a banked oval track. Pat Bedford, President of Tennessee Valley Flattrackers, gave me a short history of the revival of the sport, after a decade or more of absence. He and some friends just decided to put something back together, and made it happen.
The Vintage racers
Lucky for me, we also were treated to the vintage machines with AHRMA racing on the same day. It was great to see the modified machines, singles, twins, 4 stroke, 2-smoke, all fun to watch. Talk about a flash back. Even got to experienc
e legendary racer Dave Aldana show everyone how it was and is done in the hard-packed dirt. Truly a cool experience, and a great way to spend an evening, and I highly recommend to anyone into any kind of racing. Also a cool event if you just like bikes.
One thing Pat stressed is how simple and affordable it is to get started in FT racing. Drop the suspension, cheap road tires, and $20, and you can race too. Besides the vintage bikes that were there, most others were dirtbike/motards that looked mostly stock – not a single $10k race bike in the mix. In fact, he also stress
ed that it is SO affordable that even kids can race, XR100s with knobbies can run out there. I really like the idea of accessible racing, and even better racing with your buddies.
This might also be the experience that all of our motard-crowd is looking for. With cheap trackdays typically starting around $150, and don’t even get me started about WERA – this is accessible racing for just about everyone in the family. Leave the GIXXER at home, pick up a cheap motard/dirtbike and get out there. Man that looks like fun.