Dirt Track Renaissance?

In many ways American dirt track (flat track) is one of the coolest forms of motorcycle sport.

MotoGP riders like Marc Marquez, Pol Esparago and Valentino Rossi are unabashed dirt track fans. Rossi watched the Indy Mile one year with ex-roadracer Chris Carr, peppering the former VR 1000 man with questions. The next year Rossi bought a Harley-Davidson XR750 and had it shipped back to Italy. 2006 MotoGP world champion Nick Hayden needs but a Mile dirt track win in order to complete the Grand Slam.

Mile dirt track racing under the lights is a spectacle of Americana that every motorcycle enthusiast should see at least once in their lives.

In terms of marketing and promotion, dirt track has hummed along in about the same state for years. The big promotional push that some felt was undoubtedly going to happen when DMG purchased dirt track never happened. Dirt track remains seemingly one of the coolest forms of racing that unfortunately relatively few seem to know much about.

But there are signs that the manufacturers are starting to put more focus and resources on dirt track. While the XR750 (introduced in the 1970s) is still very competitive (series champion Jared Mees rode one last year) the XR is being pushed hard by several different Kawasaki-powered bikes.

It’s been rumored for at least a year that Vance and Hines, working with Harley’s race department, are developing an engine which will become a possible modern replacement for what some consider to be the most successful motorcycle race engine of all time–the uber-cool but very high maintenance XR750.

Additionally, Yamaha has made no secret that they–via race boss Keith McCarty–have provided FZ-07 powerplants to several dirt track teams. Those teams, presumably, are developing Yamaha’s water-cooled, cross plane engine into a bike they hope will put Yamaha back on top in dirt track.

Dunlop is providing rubber for the dirt track machines and will be sending a Dunlop truck and support crew to all of the 2015 races.

A Mile dirt track race without an XR750 in it might take some getting used to, but there are potentially exciting details in the works for the future of dirt track racing.

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