For the past 78 years, Sturgis bike rally has turned a small town in South Dakota into a motorcycle "must-go" bucket-list item. The week-long party includes many events like concerts, food, and ziplines, but for Hayden Gillim, the most important event is the Buffalo Chip TT. Unlike a standard oval track, the TT at the Buffalo Chip is unique having both left- and right-hand turns topped off with a jump dropped right in the middle of thousands of bikers.

Having won the Buffalo Chip TT last year in the 450cc Singles class, our Man in a Van with a Plan was looking forward to coming back. With very little seat time on the new bike, he was not sure what to expect and did not know how the Indian Scout FTR750 would work with his riding style at this track. Hayden, in true privateer fashion, set up the bike with his dad, Frankie Gillim. After some basic changes, he headed out to practice and put in some laps. To his surprise, he was fifth-fastest in practice, boosting his confidence in the bike.

Gillim ran well in practice and had confidence going into qualifying.Nik Wogen

After some minor changes to the suspension and gearing, Hayden headed out for Qualifying 1 to set down some solid times to put him at the front of the pack for the start. Unfortunately, after a few laps he lost the front end on a right-hand turn and went down bending the fork, the axle, and crushed the brake reservoir, taking him out of qualifying. After walking his bike back to the pits, Hayden's spirits were also crushed as he did not have a replacement fork or an axle to continue racing and feared his only choice would be to put the bike back in his van and head home. Fortunately, he was pitting with Bronson Bauman and the Howerton Motorsports Team, which came to the rescue with a new fork leg, axle, and brake reservoir just in time for Qualifying 2. Gillim was able to put the MVP FTR750 into 12th place. Not the result for which he had hoped, but considering the circumstances it was acceptable.

Howerton Motorsports saved Gillim's race after his crash in qualifying.Nik Wogen

His problems, however, were not over yet. During the heat race, the kill switch malfunctioned and brought the bike to a stop just two laps in. Gillim once again had to walk the bike off the track and back to the pits. Fortunately the with the size of the field, Hayden was still in the main. John Cornwell from Öhlins jumped in to replace the kill switch and prep Hayden for the final race.

A malfunctioning kill switch had Gillim walking back to the pits in his heat race.Nik Wogen

After a long rain delay and some track prep, the main began. When the flag dropped, Hayden got to work, getting a great start, and battling his way through the pack, fighting his way into second place. The battle continued as the front pack included Jared Mees, Jake Johnson, Sammy Halbert, and Bronson Bauman. With quite a few laps finished out of the 25 lap race, Hayden started feeling the toll of riding a larger, more powerful twin around the TT track, losing two spots by the time the checkered flag came out. The end result was a fourth-place finish behind Jake Johnson, Jared Mees, and Sammy Halbert.

Despite the troubles early in the day, Gillim put the MVP 3.0 FTR750 in the running for a podium before dropping back to fourth place.Nik Wogen

Pleased with the result for his first AFT Twins race, Hayden packed up his the Indian Scout FTR750 looking forward to the Black Hills Half-Mile. With only one day between races, Hayden (and his dad) will prep the bike for the half-mile and get ready to race. Stick with Man in a Van with a Plan for the next update from the Black Hills Half-Mile later this week.