Harley-Davidson gains heavy hitters, Indian silent as private teams announce drafts for 2020 AFT season
Words by Joy Burgess Photos by Scott Hunter/AFT
The kickoff to the highly-anticipated 2020 American Flat Track season at the 4th annual Daytona TT is only weeks away, and silly season announcements and shenanigans are in full swing. The last few weeks have been packed with big team announcements that have flat track fans chattering – and wondering about some key riders who, at presstime, remain unsigned.
While the Indian factory team has yet to announce its 2020 lineup as of Jan. 3, the big announcement was the heavy hitter additions to the Harley-Davidson/Vance & Hines team, which hired the Grand National Championship duo of Bryan Smith and noted crew chief Ricky Howerton to join current team rider Jarod Vanderkooi and 2019 AFT Singles Champion Dalton Gauthier on the factory-level SuperTwins team. (Read more from Chris Carr on page 8).
That left some fans with the question: What of former Harley rider Sammy Halbert? The answer may come from Coolbeth-Nila Racing, a joint effort between three-time Grand National Champion Kenny Coolbeth and John Weiss and wife Nila. Coolbeth recently told AFT, “We’re going to do all the races by the sound of it, and you know, we have a good rider that can win races.” While we’re still waiting for an official announcement, Halbert definitely has the skills to be competitive in the new SuperTwins division.
Jerry Stinchfield’s Roof Systems of Dallas announced its SuperTwins roster, and it was no surprise the team once again included 2019 Rookie of the Year Brandon Price. Roof Systems also brought 2018 AFT Singles champion Dan Bromley on board, and while not officially confirmed, word is that Brandon Robinson might also join their SuperTwins team. A formidable trio, for sure, and on Indians, too.
Although the Roof Sytems’ announcement left out Jeffrey ‘The Wizard’ Carver Jr., Carver recently announced that he’ll be managing his own team by teaming up with Bryan Bigelow Racing to race as an AFT SuperTwins wild card. Another twist is that he’ll be riding the Indian of James Monaco, whose crash at the 2019 Minnesota mile resulted in a spinal injury. Monaco says he will be joining Carver Jr. at the races as much as possible, choosing to continue contributing to American Flat Track behind the bikes.
Briggs Auto Racing recruited rider Davis Fisher to compete in the SuperTwins class and they also added the skill and knowledge of seasoned tuner Johnny Goad (former mechanic for the three-time Grand National Champion Ricky Graham). Estenson Racing announced its duo for the SuperTwins class – veteran JD Beach and up-and-coming twins rider Colby Carlyle, with Yamaha expanding its partnership with the impressive team for 2020. And perhaps one of the biggest surprises was the news that Henry Wiles (AFT’s winningest TT rider ever) has taken a detour from Twins racing to join the American Honda-backed Richie Morris Racing team in the Singles class.
New Year’s Eve resulted in one more surprise – 2019 AFT Twins champion Briar Bauman popped the question to the winningest Singles rider ever, Shayna Texter. And what did she say? “Yes,” of course! Congrats to them both! Stay with Thunder Press for more breaking AFT news in the coming weeks on thunderpress.net.