As the calendar has turned to 2020, action has been fast and furious in the AFT series as riders have made the jump to new teams. Harley Davidson was the first to announce their team as former champ Bryan Smith and 2019 Singles champ Dalton Gauthier join incumbent Jarod Vanderkooi as the HD name tries to return to glory in the flat track ranks. Estenson Racing announced their team shortly after and while JD Beach and Kolby Carlile will remain with the team, Mikey Rush will join them under the Estenson canopy after being plucked from Richie Morris Racing and Honda. Richie Morris Racing caused a stir when they announced that they had filled their open slot by signing Henry Wiles. A perennial frontrunner in the Twins class, Wiles will now find himself battling some of the best young talent in the Singles class. Another big name shifting teams is Sammy Halbert. After riding for Harley last year, Halbert has signed with Coolbeth-Nila for 2020 and will be looking to run at the front of the pack on an Indian FTR 750.
Speaking of Indian, 2015 Flat Track Canada Champion Doug Lawrence may have a new gig this year. Along with joining me in the announcer’s booth for FTC events, Lawrence has been named as an alternate rider for the Roof Systems of Dallas AFT team should any of their riders get injured. Lawrence will be taking part in a test session in early spring in order to come to terms with twisting the throttle on the potent Indians.
With the announcement of their 15 rider SuperTwins lineup (you’ll have to look it up, I’m not even going to try to explain the SuperTwins thing), the breakdown of brands is 3 Harley-Davidsons, 10 Indians and 2 Yamahas. With fifteen riders already registered for this class, frontrunner and fan favourite Jeffrey Carver finds himself listed as a wildcard while former champ Jake Johnson is currently without a ride.
As I feared, it looks like fans in Canada will be unable to view live AFT events this season. With the switch in coverage from Fanschoice to NBC Trackpass, it seems we may be out of luck as the channel is currently not available in Canada. I have contacted TrackPass and they told me they had confidence there would be a way for Canada to view the races before the season started. Well we are just over 40 days from the Daytona event and I have yet to hear anything regarding this and oh yeah, they have failed to answer my last two emails. Stay tuned.
Flat Track Canada has released their 2020 schedule and along with what has become their regular stops throughout the season, a new event has been added this year. In August the national series will have a race at Jukasa Speedway which will coincide with a weekend motorcycle festival at the track. The track will be a TT layout and will incorporate part of the paved oval much like Daytona does in the AFT series.
Five races into the Supercross season and as of now it is beginning to look like a two-rider race to the championship. Eli Tomac and Ken Roczen have both won two events and are within a few points of each other in the points chase. 2019 champ Cooper Webb struggled through the first few rounds and poor Adam Cianciarulo has been the fastest qualifier every round but has yet to win a race.
Finally, some sad news out of the racing world as I was informed that former Canadian Speedway rider Terry Rideout passed away last week after an accident in Alberta. Rideout, the 2013 and 2014 CMA Speedway Champion, was an accomplished rider but more than that he was an absolute riot to talk to. It was pretty well impossible to speak with Rideout without laughing out loud as he spun a tale with his ‘Newfie’ enthusiasm. There are so many stories I would love to tell here but I can’t share many of them because they would be lost without his colourful language. However, there is one story from a few years back that I would like to share so readers can get a small glimpse of the world according to Terry. It had been a rough couple of weeks for Rideout and between racing Friday nights in Paris and Saturday nights in Welland he had managed to crash four times in eight days. While none of the crashes were serious, you can imagine how tender his left hip was getting as it was the initial impact point every time he laid the bike down. The night after the fourth mishap we were in Welland when Terry approached me in the pits. “Check this out” he said as he pointed to a large bulge on the left side of his motocross pants. I was shocked and exclaimed, “Holy crap is that just from swelling?” With a smile on his face bigger than the kid who just stole the last cookie from the cookie jar Rideout proudly bragged, “Hell no. I cut up a couch cushion to use as padding. Let me tell you Corinne (his wife) is some pissed!”
Terry you’ve left a big hole in the racing world as everyone will miss your jovial (and endless) banter. Godspeed my friend, and I hope as you race in circles in the clouds there are lots of couch cushions available if needed.