DAYTONA BEACH, FL – August 30, 2021 – (Motor Sports NewsWire) – The crown jewel of the 2021 season awaits as Progressive American Flat Track prepares for a monumental Labor Day Weekend double-doubleheader at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield, Illinois, on September 3-5.
The weekend will kick off on Friday evening with the Springfield Short Track Doubleheader, which packs two complete rounds of the tightly fought AFT Singles championship into a single evening. And then Saturday and Sunday will see the big twins head over to the “World’s Fastest Mile” for the Memphis Shades Springfield Mile I & II presented by Law Tigers.
An epic by any measure, this year’s Progressive AFT weekend in Springfield has a bit of added meaning as it represents the end of an era on two fronts.
First, it will mark the final time the “Mile Master,” Bryan Smith (No. 4 Crosley/Howerton Motorsports Indian FTR750) competes at the Springfield Mile after recently announcing his intention to retire at the end of the season. Smith is currently tied with the legendary Bubba Shobert for third all-time in Mission SuperTwins presented by S&S Cycle Mile victories at 25, nine of which have come at the Springfield Mile. Few could script a better ending to his history with the venue than by going out on top.
Perhaps the single biggest obstacle standing in the way of that sort of storybook ending is long-time rival Jared Mees (No. 9 Indian Motorcycle/Progressive Insurance FTR750). Mees has developed into a Mile ace himself in recent seasons, now boasting 18 Mile victories of his own, including three of the last four in Springfield.
Mees, coincidentally, also factors heavily into the other aforementioned era-defining shift. This year’s edition marks the final time that the race will be promoted by Kiesow Racing and IMDA. Kiesow Racing and IMDA resurrected the Springfield Mile in 1981 following a 15-year layoff and, over the past four decades, built it into arguably the most fabled motorcycle dirt track race anywhere in the world. Starting in 2022, Jared and his wife, Nichole, will promote the race, building on the massive success Mees Promotions has enjoyed doing the same for the Lima Half-Mile.
Briar Bauman (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle/Progressive Insurance FTR750) has a leg up on securing a third consecutive Grand National Championship as he powers into Springfield with a 25-point cushion over Mees. While he has two career Mile wins to his name, the champ is still looking for his first Springfield Mile win.
That’s not the case for third-ranked Brandon Robinson (No. 44 Mission Roof Systems Indian FTR750), who doubled at the venue back in 2013, nor Sammy Halbert (No. 69 Coolbeth-Nila Racing Indian FTR750), who was victorious in last year’s Springfield Mile I.
DPC Racing/Brian Bigelow Racing will field a pair of heavy-hitting wild cards in Jeffrey Carver, Jr. (No. 23 Happy Trails Racing/DPC Racing/Bryan Bigelow Indian FTR750) and Henry Wiles (No. 17 DPC Racing/Bryan Bigelow Indian FTR750).
Home track hero Carver was the star of one of the more memorable Springfield Miles in recent years when he defeated Mees and Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. to score a hugely popular win in 2018.
Wiles, meanwhile, will make a welcome one-off return to Mission SuperTwins action this weekend as well. The AFT Singles regular needs just one premier-class Mile win to complete the career Grand Slam. He’s come close in the past, including twice finishing as a Mile runner-up during his second-ranked ‘18 season.
Hayden Gillim (No. 59 Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson XG750R Rev X) is another intriguing wild card. The versatile Gillim is fresh off an impressive fourth-place performance in the AFT Production Twins class at the Peoria TT. He was rewarded for that effort with a shot at the premier-class on a Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson XG750R in Springfield.
AFT Production Twins presented by Vance & Hines
AFT Production Twins presented by Vance & Hines returns to the venue where the class was originally introduced to the world at speed in 2018.
The Memphis Shades Babe DeMay Challenge — a four-lap dash similar to the Mission SuperTwins Mission Challenge — will underline that important historical tie by providing class competitors an opportunity to win an additional $5000 on both Saturday and Sunday.
As always, Cory Texter (No. 65 G&G Racing/Yamaha Racing Yamaha MT-07) remains the rider in the crosshairs. While the heavy title favorite is still seeking his first-ever Progressive AFT win at the Springfield Mile, he did enjoy a career highlight here by finishing on the box in the premier class back in 2016.
Reigning AFT Singles champion Dallas Daniels (No. 32 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07) will look to keep his perfect class podium record intact while providing another glimpse of his future and immense potential on a twin.
‘18 AFT Singles champ Dan Bromley (No. 62 Memphis Shades/Vinson Construction Yamaha MT-07), meanwhile, comes in riding high after earning his maiden AFT Production Twins victory last weekend in Peoria.
Others to watch include Ryan Varnes (No. 68 RVR/Rausch Fuel Kawasaki Ninja 650) who won at Springfield a year ago, Ben Lowe (No. 25 Mission Roof Systems Harley-Davidson XG750R), who podiumed the race in 2018 and also comes in hot following a strong effort in Peoria, and Chad Cose (No. 49 Voodoo Ranger/Roof Systems Harley-Davidson XG750R), who finished second and third in last year’s Springfield Mile I & II.
Speaking of Cose, the Vance & Hines-backed pilot will be joined this weekend by a pair of talented wild cards in Jesse Janisch (No. 96 Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson XG750R) and Morgen Mischler (No. 13 Vance & Hines/Mission Foods Harley-Davidson XG750R).
An already wild AFT Singles title fight has the potential for another titanic shift with two full points-paying rounds taking place in a single night during Friday’s Springfield Short Track Doubleheader.
Dallas Daniels (No. 1 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F) and Max Whale (No. 18 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-FFE) have traded haymakers as the two rising stars have battled for 450cc supremacy all season long.
Daniels is coming off the roughest weekend of his young professional career, with a pair of crashes in the Peoria TT Main Event. The Springfield ST could serve as a “get-right” evening for the Illinois native, considering he’s finished first, third, and fifth in his only three previous attempts at the race.
Aussie Whale is no slouch on the tight oval either, having earned third- and fourth-place results a year ago.
Henry Wiles (No. 17 American Honda/Progressive Insurance CRF450R), meanwhile, is among the greatest Short Track riders in the history of the sport. He added to his legend by racking up a pair of Springfield ST second-place results a year ago. His young teammate, Trevor Brunner (No. 21 American Honda/Progressive Insurance CRF450R), meanwhile, earned his maiden Progressive AFT win here last year and has threatened to add to his victory tally on more than one occasion this season.
Morgen Mischler (No. 13 Mission Roof Systems KTM 450 SX-F) was the other rider to land on the podium at last year’s Springfield ST. It would come as a surprise to absolutely no one if he manages to do so again next weekend, as that’s something he’s done more than any other rider in the class thus far in 2021.
Four-time premier-class race winner Johnny “Showtime” Murphree will serve as the weekend’s Grand Marshal. Additionally, the Fan Walk will return, with fencing in place to provide safe social distancing while still allowing fans to talk with riders and crew members and get a closeup view of the racebikes.
Tickets for the weekend are available at https://www.springfieldmile.org/Tabs/Events/EventList.aspx. Included among the ticket packages is an option to purchase a Premier Pass for Saturday and/or Sunday that includes a ticket, t-shirt, program, pit pass, along with catered food & beverages.
Friday’s Opening Ceremonies will start at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT ahead of two full Main Event programs. On Saturday and Sunday, gates will open for fans at 9:00 a.m. local time with Opening Ceremonies slated to begin at 2:10 p.m. ET/11:10 a.m. PT. Live coverage of the entire weekend’s racing activities will be available on any device for only $1.99 a month via TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold.
The Memphis Shades Springfield Mile I & II presented by Law Tigers will premiere back-to-back on NBCSN on Sunday, September 12, starting at 9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PT. The Springfield Short Track Doubleheader will air one week later on NBCSN, starting at 9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PT. Both broadcasts will feature exclusive features and cutting-edge aerial drone and onboard footage.
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Progressive American Flat Track is the world’s premier dirt track motorcycle racing series and one of the longest-running championships in the history of motorsports. Sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing in Daytona Beach, Fla., the series is highly regarded as the most competitive form of dirt track motorcycle racing on the globe. For more information on Progressive American Flat Track, please visit http://www.americanflattrack.com, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, check us out on Instagram, live stream the events with TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold and catch all the Progressive American Flat Track racing action on NBCSN.
Source: Progressive American Flat Track