Back in 2015 interested parties attended American Flat Track meetings in which they were assured that in two years, AFT Twins events would cater only for production-based engines like the Kawasaki Ninja 650 and, now, the Harley-Davidson XG750R.

Before that could happen, Indian jumped in with its racing-only FTR750, creating so much new and vibrant interest in dirt track that it would have been crazy to say, "Sorry, boys, we're going production-based. Take your racing-only dirt-tracker and go home." Still, the paddock remembers those 2015 assurances.

Now comes this announcement: “American Flat Track will introduce the AFT Production Twins support class at this year’s Harley-Davidson Springfield Mile I and II events on May 26 and September 1, respectively. Eligible machines include BMW, Ducati, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Yamaha twin-cylinder streetbike engines displacing 649cc to 850cc. Race-only engines from machines such as the Harley-Davidson XR750, Honda RS750, and Indian FTR750 are not allowed in AFT Production Twins.” Prospective riders must be at least 18 years old and have a current Singles license with minimum one season of AFT experience.

Testastretta 821-based engine
Lloyd Brothers Motorsports broke Harley-Davidson’s near two-decade-long string of mile victories by winning the 2010 Arizona Mile with an air-cooled Ducati. This season, the team is contesting 10 rounds of the series with this Testastretta 821-based engine and rider Stevie Bonsey.Silver Piston Photography

Is this at last the coming of "everyman's dirt-tracker," based on readily available production engines? I dove into the rule book to find out that AFT Production Twins is essentially wide open, permitting a vast range of modifications and/or parts replacements. What this suggests to me is that while Production Twins may be popular in the paddock because it fences out factory race-only engines such as the Indian FTR and this year's special DOHC version of Harley's XG750R, it won't be any cheaper than building your own Kawasaki Ninja 650-based 'tracker. Building a competitive racebike requires spending serious money for race-quality parts, such as pistons, con-rods, cranks, suspension, and chassis.

The new class is, however, a way for AFT to measure public feeling on the question of which way to go with either factory-engineered racebikes or with run-what-you-brung production-based engines.

During the long period when motorcycle racing in the US was administered by the AMA, that organization displayed this very same dual outlook: 1) Grassroots homebuilders are the natural basis of racing so we must put them first; or 2) pro-built factory bikes are the real show, so we must cater to the big teams.

The jury’s still out on this one.