Gettin' Sideways: AMA Pro Flat Track Sacramento Mile

Kenny Coolbeth Jr. race action shot

California has deep roots in AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship racing. Many champions were born and raised in the Golden State, including legends Chris Carr (Stockton) and Ricky Graham (Salinas). It’s no surprise that every time the series heads west the grandstands are packed with enthusiastic fans. Saturday night at the Cal Expo Center in Sacramento was no different. At 103 degrees, the temperature was hot, but the racing was even hotter. I had a roller-coaster day, going from almost last place in qualifying to securing my first-ever GNC top-10 main-event finish. Here are some highlights from the evening:

• Bryan Smith claimed his fourth consecutive Sacramento Mile victory, etching his mark in history as the first rider to accomplish this achievement at the historic racetrack. It was no easy task, as Smith was one of four riders that led laps in the main.

Bryan Smith race action shot

• Runner-up spot went to "Jersey" Jake Johnson, who currently resides not far from me in Coatesville, Pennsylvania. Saturday was the first time this season that Johnson was Kawasaki-mounted, riding a Lloyd Brothers/Ramspur Winery-sponsored machine.

• My early pick to win the main event, Jared Mees, finished third, just 0.056 seconds behind the winner. Even though he won the Dash for Cash, set the fastest lap of the main event, and finished on the podium, at the end of the day, Mees surrendered his points lead to Smith. The new championship leader has 150 points to Mees’ 148. Johnson is a close third with 142.

2014 Sacramento Mile - GNC Expert Main Event - AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship:

• Another California native, Briar Bauman, was Harley-Davidson-mounted for only the second time in his career. “It was a lot of fun riding the Harley,” he said. “Way different than the Kawasaki. It handled great in the corners.” He finished ninth in the main event.

• The racing surface was different than in the past, as a bunch of new sand was dumped on the track earlier this year. It took longer than normal to solidify a groove, but the track eventually came around nicely, and it was very “racy” in the main events.

Kyle Johnson race action shot

• Kyle Johnson claimed his fourth Pro Singles win of the season. Once again, he came from a sub-par start to track down early leader Davis Fisher. Nick Armstrong from Norco, California, finished third. Johnson leads the points with 122. Fisher has 119, and Ryan Wells is third with 111.

• Jeffrey Carver qualified for the main event on the Ron Wood BMW. This beautiful twin suffered a mechanical early in the race, and Carver was credited with 15th. This was the fourth brand of motorcycle on which Carver has qualified for a main this season. The others were a Honda, a Suzuki and a Kawasaki.

• To the delight of the fans, legends Jay Springsteen and Chris Carr put on an exhibition race during intermission. Carr rode a Zanotti XR-750 and Springsteen was on a Kenny Tolbert-tuned XR-750. They swapped the lead every lap and put on a great show for the fans. Rumor has it their lap times were every bit as good, if not better, than the regulars in the series. I was definitely impressed.


• Sacramento was the first time all season that a Triumph failed the make the main event. Mikey Martin finished ninth in his heat race and had a mechanical in the semi. My sister, Shayna, who has twice won the Pro Singles class at Sacramento, had a lot of bad luck. She suffered mechanicals throughout the day and didn’t complete a single lap in the semi.

• Sacramento dirt sure is tough on the eyes. I spoke with a few riders after the main event who said their eyes were really agitated from the loose sand and dirt. Even one shower and 12 hours after Saturday night’s 25-lap main event, typing this column was actually a challenge.

Next race: August 2, Round 9, Castle Rock Race Park, Castle Rock, Washington

Cory Texter is a third-generation motorcycle racer from Willow Street, Pennsylvania. He is currently national number 65 in the AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship and has also held an AMA Pro Road Racing license. His father, Randy, was the 1990 AMA TwinSports champion, and his sister, Shayna, is the only female to win an AMA Pro Grand National Expert Singles race. Cory also co-hosts Flat Track Weekly Radio.