Become a Member: Get Ad-Free Access to 3,000+ Reviews, Guides, & More

Ducati chases flat track glory

Ducati flat track (photo AFT)

Indian Motorcycle swept Harley-Davidson aside last year in the American Flat Track championships in a PR coup and now Ducati wants a slice of the action.

The big motorcycle companies are spending up big on the sport which they believe will attract a younger demographic to their brands.

Ducati has posted a $180,000-plus contingency and $10,000 incentive payout for a championship win.

To win the cash, riders must race on their 821cc twin-cylinder 2015-2018 Monsters or 2013-2015 Hypermotard models in the AFT Twins series.

It is interesting that Ducati is offering its contingency money to race the Monster and old Hypermotard models rather than the 803cc Scrambler.

However, it does fit in with Ducati celebrations this year for the 25th anniversary of the first Monster, the M900.

The first 1993 Monster M900 Ducati flat track (photo AFT)
The first 1993 Monster M900

AFT boss Michael Lock says Ducati’s support is “a testament to how important AFT is becoming to the motorcycle industry as a whole”.

High stakes

Harley and Indian big-bore flat trackers race spending snow
Harley and Indian flat trackers

The total contingency for the 2018 American Flat Track season is now a record $US2+ million, so the stakes are high.

The stakes are also high for the manufacturers who want to gain the attention of millennials.

Indian returned to flat-track racing last year after more than six decades.

They not only beat Harley, but their “Wrecking Crew” won the top three positions and thoroughly dominated the series.

Now Harley is fighting back with a record $US562,500 in contingency program money compared with the $350,000 Indian is spending on its Wrecking Crew.

Other motorcycle manufacturers do not have any factory teams in the competition … yet.

However, other models being raced by privateers include the Yamaha FZ-07 (MT-07 in some markets), Kawasaki Ninja 650 and Honda RS750.

We’d love to see these racing in Australia! At the moment, we only get the amateur Ellaspede Dust Hustle (watch this 2015 video for a taste of the fun).

If AMA Flat Track continues its success, professional flat track racing might migrate to other countries.

There will also surely be several spin-off production models.

New models

It is believed Indian will capitalise on their AFT supremacy with the launch of an FTR1200 street version of its FTRT750 flat track race bike.

Indian Motorcycle FTR1200 smaller spending
Indian Motorcycle FTR1200 concept

They showed the concept version at the EICMA motorcycle show in Milan in November but have yet to confirm production.

Flat track history

American Flat Track is one of the longest-running dirt championships in the history of professional motorsports.

It began as a professional event as the Grand National Championship in 1954 and was famously featured in the cult 1971 bike film On Any Sunday.

Riders race on mile tracks on twin-cylinder motorcycles generating 90+ horsepower at more than 140mph (225km/h) and on half-mile tracks on single-cylinder production-based 450cc motorcycles. 

The 2018 season opens at the Daytona International Speedway on March 15 at 6pm.

Click here for tickets and more AFT information.

  1. The Indian FTR750 is a “cheater”. As was the Honda RS750. Both pure race only engines. The “Indian” motor is hand built by the racing engine manufacturer SwissAuto in Switzerland.
    In 1933, the AMA promulgated rules for Class C Flat track racing that required all bikes to be based on production street bikes. In the 85-years since, the AMA, much to it’s discredit, has tacitly allowed three “cheaters”. The Yamaha TZ750. The Honda RS750. (the claim that this bike was based on a trail bike sold in Europe was ludicrous). And most recently the Polaris “Indian in name only” Indian FTR750.

  2. I have to agree: In my years around flat-tracking in Hollywood (1957-70), I had the opportunity to know several of the greats of Indian racing history, among them, Rollie Free and Burt Munro.

    They would take no joy and no interest in these non-U.S. developed and produced Indians. I surmise the off-shore origins of the engineering and production of these ‘Indian flat trackers’ will only be an adverse factor in marketing the brand in the North American market but perhaps there will be no negative perception in the international buyers of Indian street machines?

    I wonder if the reasons for the disinclination to utilize U.S. design and production capability for the competition machines will ever be the subject of a in depth fiscal and technical study report. To leave the ‘bragging rights’, as the only true American built racer, seems to me, a poor corporate decision.

Comments are closed.