In one form or another, flat track racing has been around since the invention of motorcycles and has remained popular to this day. In the early 1900s, motorcycles were already becoming more powerful, they gradually evolved from mopeds to full-fledged motorcycles. As this transformation took place, track board racing grew in popularity, but also became too fast for its own good.
In the 1920s, the wooden plank tracks were far too dangerous, it was then the deadliest sport, with runners regularly losing their lives. It made sense to switch to dirt tracks, and so flat track racing was born.
ten Natural Evolution of Track Racing
As the bikes got more powerful, the small limits of the board track circuit became deadly. Oil spills were common, and the tracks would become more ice rinks than race tracks.
It made sense to move away from that concept, let the bikes get closer to their top speed and help riders survive the occasional spill.
9 Started in the 20s
Technically, it started as early as the 1920s, with riders replacing dangerous boards with softer dirt.
The bikes stayed more or less the same, but over time they evolved into something completely different from the early days. In 1932 it was recognized as an official sport by the AMA as the AMA Pro Flat Track Racing Series.
8 America’s Most Common Motorsport
Unfortunately, it wasn’t all smooth sailing, and the sport, like just about all sports, came to an abrupt halt when World War II broke out.
Pre-war records are rare, but by the late 1940s it was back in full swing and then went on to become the most popular motorsport in the United States in the 1950s, attracting all the top drivers and huge crowds.
seven Indian V Harley
Between the late 1940s and early 1960s, it was a straight shootout between Indian and Harley-Davidson, with Indian enjoying a golden age between 51 and 53, winning three championships in a row.
Unfortunately, Indian would go under the same year, leaving Harley to dominate for the rest of the decade until international competition arrived in the ’60s.
6 International competition
In 1963 Matchless, a British motorcycle manufacturer, broke a long Harley-Davidson winning streak. Unfortunately, they also fell by the wayside soon after, falling in 1966.
But by then BSA and Triumph had come along, and Triumph was particularly motivated to snatch the crown from Harley, and in 1967 they did, and then backtracked in 1968. That was really the age gold of flat track racing, Yamaha also entered the fray and also went back to back in 1973 and 1974 Harley struggled to keep up and was forced to find an answer.
5 Harley-Davidson XR750
If you can sum up flat track racing in one bike, that bike would be the XR750, a bike developed for the sole purpose of winning races.
It faced fierce competition from the British and Japanese contingents, but eventually overcame their respective challenges and became the most successful motorcycle in flat track history, and arguably motorsport history. , with 29 titles to his credit.
4 Decreasing interest
Between the lack of competition and the growing popularity of other motorcycle racing disciplines, interest was at an all-time low in the flat track series in the early 80s.
Road and track racing had become more organized, competitive and effective marketing tools for sponsors, but there was no doubt that the new kid on the block that was stealing most fans was Stadium Supercross, which s turned out to be a huge hit in the 80s.
3 Rule Changes
In an effort to help Harley maintain its edge, organizers almost unwittingly killed the sport by giving other manufacturers hurdles they simply couldn’t overcome.
The most egregious of these rule changes came in the form of limiting the capacity of two-stroke bikes, directly targeting the very successful Yamaha bike of the early 70s.
2 American flat track
Although it was at one point in history the premier motorcycle competition, today it exists as a niche motorsport.
With the glory days well and truly behind, there’s still enough interest to keep Harley invested, and with the return of Indian, there’s competition in the production class once again.
With rule changes effectively forcing international competition out of American flat-track competition, Speedway racing flourished in Europe.
Although technically sanctioned by the FIM, it is much closer to horse racing than motorsport, as most of the funding comes from the lucrative sports betting industry.