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The Flat Track Scene: Indy Mile 2015

Indy Mile 2015 Checker Flag

Flat track racing is raw. It’s one of the few genres of racing that retains much of its original spirit. It’s dangerous and dirty and requires its competitors to wrestle their motorcycles on a constantly-changing surface. Why do people love it? Here’s my take, after a close-up view of the Indy Mile.

Indy Mile 2015 Flat Track Motorcycles
How many motorcycle brands can you find in this picture?

I walked out onto the big oval and looked up at the towering grandstand. Standing by the spray-painted finish line, it reminded me of stepping out onto a freshly lined baseball field before a game. On this giant horse track surrounded by the Indiana State Fairgrounds, the American vibes are strong.

Indy Mile 2015 Flat Track Turn 1
Crossed up and dragging the hot shoes: This is art. (Davis Fisher, left, and Nick Armstrong)

Thanks to some organized and invested people like AMA Pro Flat Track, this kind of event is still flourishing and still compelling its spectators to stand and pump their fists in excitement. Much appreciation from the fans and racers also goes to Family Events, the promoters and marketers who set the stage for the legendary Indy Mile (they’ve also brought back the DuQuoin Magic Mile).

Indy Mile 2015 AMA Pro Racing Prayer
In Jesus’ name we pray…let’s race.

Though commercially backed and well-organized, it still feels indie when walking the pits and listening in on the riders meeting. I heard an open and semi-heated debate between teams followed by a group prayer to “our Heavenly Father” for riders’ safety. There’s an obvious competitive spirit between these guys, but just as apparent is the collective desire to put on a great show for the fans.

Indy Mile 2015 Sammy Halbert
Slammin’ Sammy Halbert at the riders meeting.

Roam the pits and you’ll see families and friends lending a hand. You’ll see teams working hard and finding ways to give their riders the edge. Here, every hundredth of a second matters.

Indy Mile 2015 Harley-Davidson
The Zanotti Racing crew prepping Kenny Coolbeth’s Harley-Davidson.
Indy Mile 2015 Playing In Puddle
Flat track kids ain’t afraid to get dirty…and their moms let ’em.

What makes the scene of AMA Pro Flat Track races so endearing is its unpretentious environment. If you’ve been, you know what I mean. If you haven’t, it may be difficult to imagine how factory-backed teams with highly-skilled professional racers can create an atmosphere of a family reunion, but they do.

Indy Mile 2015 Dog In Puddle
He found his happy place in the infield.
Indy Mile 2015 Water Truck
Dust suppressant.

Flat track racing is one of the oldest organized forms of AMA-backed competition. The Indy Mile takes place on a horse track within fairgrounds established in 1892. Many of the motorcycles being raced have origins dating back to the first decade of the 1900s (Harley-Davidson: 1903, Triumph: 1902). You can’t avoid history’s presence here.

Indy Mile 2015 Starting Line
Bryan Smith (left) gets in the zone, followed by Coolbeth, Baker, Lewis and Wiles.

We don’t get too statistical here at Good Spark Garage; we’re more…nostalgical. So, if you’re curious about the final results and details of the 2015 Indy Mile, click here. I will say, numerically speaking, it’s a treat to watch a ‘main’ go the distance and be settled by .02 seconds at the finish line with third place trailing the leader by a mere .06 seconds. That was a rush.

Indy Mile 2015 Pits
Brush your radiators twice a day.

Have a look through the rest of these pics for a captioned tour of the evening, then rejoin the text near the bottom…

Indy Mile 2015 Nichole Mees #15
Nichole Mees (#15) gets some last-second assistance before a restart.
Indy Mile 2015 Mechanic
The riders have to be good, but beforehand, these guys hafta get it right.
Indy Mile 2015 Johnny Lewis and KennyCoolbeth
Lewis (left) and Coolbeth: It’s all about the draft at the Indy Mile.
Indy Mile 2015 Johnny Lewis
Lloyd Brothers Motorsports rider, Johnny Lewis, signs autographs during the Fan Walk.
Indy Mile 2015 Henry Wiles
Zanotti Racing’s Henry Wiles greets fans during the Fan Walk.
Indy Mile 2015 JD Beach
Flat tracker and road racer, J.D. Beach helping out in the pits.
Indy Mile 2015 Johnny Lewis Pit
It’s a family affair: Johnny and Alysha Lewis with son, Maxsen, prepare for the race.
Indy Mile 2015 Jared Mees Bikes
Jared Mees’ bikes: Team Rogers Racing Harley-Davidson
Indy Mile 2015 Flat Track KTM Duke
Michael Kirkness’ KTM 990 Super Duke
Indy Mile 2015 Jared Mees Track Check
Jared Mees examining track conditions.
Indy Mile 2015 Jared Mees on Straight
Jared Mees getting small to go fast.

Indy Mile 2015 Harley-Davidson Girls

Indy Mile 2015 Martin Leathers

Indy Mile 2015 Flat Track Racers
Like a Norman Rockwell painting.
Indy Mile 2015 Flat Track Staging
Staging: Just before the entry of the gladiators.
Indy Mile 2015 Flat Track Racer
GNC2 racer, Andrew Luker, tucked behind his Harley-Davidson.
Indy Mile 2015 Flat Track Racing
A view from under the guardrail of Turn 1: #27U Jamison Minor chased by James Monaco.

Indy Mile 2015 Flat Track Waiting

Indy Mile 2015 Flat Track Pitching It
Jake Shoemaker (55), Doug Lawrence (73), Jeffrey Carver, Jr (23) and Kayl Kolkman in Turn 1.
Indy Mile 2015 Motor Maids
The Indiana Motor Maids present the flag during the national anthem.

Indy Mile 2015 Crowd Grandstand

Indy Mile 2015 Harley-Davidson Girls

Indy Mile 2015 Bryan Smith Interview
AMA Pro Flat Track pit reporter, Dani Medin, talks with Bryan Smith.

Indy Mile 2015 Flat Track Bikes

Indy Mile 2015 fans infield
Fans make themselves at home in the infield between Turns 3 and 4.

Indy Mile 2015 Bryan Smith and Jared Mees

Indy Mile 2015 Brad Baker Wins
Brad Baker won the “Harley-Davidson GNC1 presented by Vance & Hines Race” by .02 seconds!

Indy Mile 2015 Flat Track Dusty

I remember the bliss of playing outside as a kid. We’d ride bikes, hit baseballs, or watch sprint cars well after dark, under the lights. Now, with a little dust and a scent of race-fuel hanging over a well-lit track, the Indy Mile brought back that ol’ feeling.

Indy Mile 2015 Grandstand
A Midwestern evening at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.

I’d encourage any motorcyclist, or any fan of racing, to attend a flat track race and let the evening unfold in front of ’em. The racing will entertain the senses, for sure, but join a Fan Walk or sit in the stands and observe the happenings between heats. It’s authentically American.

(Tune in to to watch this race online.)

– Corey Wilkinson | Follow Good Spark Garage on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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