Top 10 Thrilling Things at Superprestigio of the Americas #1

John Burns
by John Burns

The AMA Pro Flat Track final was already scheduled for November 20 in Las Vegas, so veteran race promoter Steve McLaughlin had the brilliant idea – as he is wont to do – of promoting the first Superprestigio of the Americas the night after it. The SP’s been a big hit in Spain, so why not? None of your big MotoGP stars could be persuaded, but they did lure Tony Elias and Ant West to the boat, both of whom found themselves hard-pressed up against some surprising home-grown talent. The roadracers actually had their own “All-Stars” races, and the top three were then thrown in against the Flat Track professionals for the Superprestigio Main. Then there was the Hooligan race, sponsored and populated by Roland Sands and associates riding barely modified streetbikes. It was almost more thrilling than the Professionals. Okay not thrilling, more interesting maybe…

10. It’s Las Vegas

Not only is Las Vegas the greatest concentration of bread and circuses ever, there’s no other place in the world where they’ll let me in the chorus line. And the Elvis impersonator’s Viva Las Vegas before the races was so authentic it snapped me into the mood instantly. Where’s Ann Margret? The 1/10th-mile Chris Carr-spec oval inside the Orleans Arena was ready for action.

9. Yamaha’s Factory Rig

Don’t remember the last time I’ve seen this at a Flat Track event, probably because it’s never happened before. They probably didn’t need a truck this big to bring out Josh HayesYZ450 flat-tracker, but maybe it’s a warm-up? We did hear rumors Yamaha might be interested in developing a deeper flat-track relationship, with bikes based on its FZ-07 Twin.

Larry Pegram, Josh Hayes, Tony Elias and Taylor Knapp don’t really require pavement, but… actually their best lap times were around 10.5 seconds to the AMA Pros 10.4s. Not bad.

8. Bryan Smith’s Crosley Kawasakis

One of several of Bryan Smith’s Kawasaki 650-Twin-based bikes he used to win five rounds this season. Unfortunately, it’s too big for a 1/10-mile track. Smith crashed his Single out of Semi 2, handing the 2015 AMA Flat Track Championship to Jared Mees.

7. Mothers of Invention

Flat track attracts some characters, especially when there’s a Hooligan support class sponsored by Roland Sands.

6. Roger That

The Kentucky Kid’s kid brother Roger Hayden traded in his Yoshimura superbike for an RM-Z450 and appeared to know exactly what he was doing. Tire warmers helped him qualify for the Main on a chilly night in Vegas, in the outdoor pits anyway. Inside the Arena, it was Las Vegas climate-controlled all the way.

5. Hooligans

Roland Sands sponsored a “Hooligans” support class and built four Indian Scouts for himself (#10) and cronies to race in it, alongside a Sportster or two, a smattering of Triumphs and H-D Street 750s. It was surprisingly entertaining in a Special Olympics fashion show kind of way; almost makes you want to participate…

4. Thor Drake: Hooligan Master

Thor Drake, owner of See See Motorcycles in Portland, Oregon, was the class of the field on his H-D Street 750, which he said he’d taken “about 120 pounds” out of. His spoils were everlasting glory and a brand new Scout Sixty, courtesy of Indian Motorcycles.

Super Hooligans Results

3. Larry Pegram: The Worm Turns

There were a couple of AMA up-and-coming roadracers in the “All-Stars” field (non-AMA Pro flat trackers), like Joe Roberts and Taylor Knapp, and some seasoned pros like four-time Superbike champ Josh Hayes and Roger Hayden, and even a couple of actual GP riders like Tony Elias and Anthony West. The 42-year old AMA and recent WSBK vet Larry Pegram kept it calm and controlled and beat all of them in the All-Stars main. In the 15-lap Superprestigio Final, thrown in against actual dirt-track Pros, Pegram took 4th place, top All-Star. Hah!

Superprestigio All-Stars Results

2. Jared Mees: 2015 GNC and Superprestigio of the Americas Champ

The Harley-Davidson-sponsored Mees (#1) had to swap his Hog for a Honda CRF450R to do it, but he won his third GNC Championship on Friday night, then turned around and won the first SOTA Saturday night, against a determined Brad Baker (#6) and Kenny Coolbeth (#2), who finished second and third. Meanwhile, Larry Pegram stuffed himself inside Roger Hayden (#95) on the first lap, and held on for fourth. Not bad for a 42-year old roadracer, really. The kids, 17-year old Oliver Brindley (#24) and 18-y.o. Joe Roberts (#27), never knew what hit them.

Superprestigio Results

1. Getting There and back in a DC-3

Wow. Indian sponsored us to a ride from Long Beach to Vegas and back on a DC-3. If you love V-Twin motorcycles, you have to love an airplane built in 1943 with a pair of 14-cylinder radial engines that have the non-pressurized cabin smelling slightly like burning oil the whole time you’re up there. Each 1830-cubic inch Pratt & Whitney holds 28 gallons of oil, and “adding a quart” is code for five gallons. Gary Stark, who owns the old beast, also happens to be a big Indian enthusiast. More than an enthusiast really: His Starklite Cycles is a third-generation purveyor of Indian parts and knowledge. It takes a little longer to get where you’re going at 160 knots, but you see a lot more of the earth from 8,000 feet than you do from five miles.

The Superprestigio was a hoot, and everybody needs to go next year. For me, though, buzzing the Queen Mary in a DC-3 was about as vintage-cool as it gets. You can find out how to do it yourself right here.

John Burns
John Burns

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