Craig Murto: Flat track action returns

There was plenty of exciting racing last weekend, both locally and nationally, but the best is just around the corner.

Anybody who watched the AMA Pro Flat Track and Pro Harley Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship motorcycles Saturday evening on fanschoice.tv will attest to the fact that the feature race on the Sacramento Mile was the best race of the weekend.

Trucks, Xfinity and Cup cars at Dover were fun. Sports cars and IndyCar in the rain at Detroit’s Belle Isle Park course were challenging and entertaining. But nothing matched the excitement of the flat track motorcycles on the mile.

Those who logged on were rewarded with a last-lap slingshot pass for the win, as Bryan Smith drafted his Kawasaki by the Triumph of Brandon Robinson on the front stretch to win in a photo finish. Smith is becoming known as the best rider on the mile tracks, and certainly has a lock on wins at Sacramento.

If you’re not checking out fanschoice.tv, you’re missing some great racing broadcasts. Some believe that Internet broadcasting is the future, and if that’s the case, then fanschoice.tv is ahead of the curve. Paid for by the Daytona Motorsports Group, all the Grand National Championship flat track motorcycle events are broadcast, as well as select Weekly Racing Series events and Tudor Sports Car races around the country.

As exciting as the flat track races are on the Internet broadcasts, nothing matches actually witnessing them live and in person. You’ll get that chance on June 20, when Hagerstown (Maryland) Speedway hosts the AMA national flat track riders for the 34th annual Hub City Classic.

A truly American form of motorsport, many believe that flat track racing is poised to make a comeback in popularity. The athletes are certainly “old school,” in that they are some of the bravest racers you’ll ever find; you don’t put roll cages around motorcycles.

There are two classes: The top class is GNC1, and there is the GNC2 class. Think of them as their Cup and Xfinity series. They are mostly full of riders who follow the tour nationally, but they do pick up some regional AMA racers who join in, much the way local Sprint Car drivers compete with the World of Outlaws when they come to town.

I can’t promote this show enough. If you want to see some great racing that really hasn’t changed in 70 years, you don’t want to miss the Hub City Classic. Advanced reserved and general admission seats are available. Visit www.hagerstownspeedway.com or call 301-582-0640 for information.

For those who prefer four-wheel action to two and aren’t afraid to drive a few hours down the road, Saturday night the Pro All Stars Series will bring their competitive brand of Super Late Model racing to South Boston Speedway. PASS routinely attracts up-and-comers such as Jared Irvan, son of former Sprint Cup racer Ernie Irvan, and Daniel Hemric, who impressed with his top-five run in the trucks at Dover. Also on the card at South Boston are the local Late Model Stock Cars and Midgets. It should be a good show.

If you need to stay closer to home, Shenandoah Speedway will open the oval track to Late Models and the Virginia Sprint Series, always fun to watch. In fact, the Sprint Cars probably have a lock on the track record at that facility.

If dirt is more your thing, Winchester Speedway features Super late models competing 35 laps for $3,000 to win. Hagerstown Speedway features the Appalachian Mountain Late Model Speedweek. Gregg Satterlee is defending winner of the event. Hagerstown’s Late Model Sportsman are also on tap. On June 27 the Late Models go topless at Hagerstown, always a fan favorite as spectators get to watch the drivers wrestle the wheel.

There are other tracks in the region worth exploring. Lincoln and Williams Grove Speedways in Pennsylvania are not too far away. East Side Speedway and Natural Bridge are practically in our backyard. And Motor Mile Speedway is only a straight shot down I-81 to Radford. And Summit Point Raceway in West Virginia is home to grassroots road racing.

I hear a lot of race fans complain about the quality of racing they see on their TV, and the fact that they don’t like the way the racing’s changed. It’s probably time those people went to the local tracks and got in touch with the heart of the sport. A good way to start would be to attend the Hub City Classic at Hagerstown on June 20.

Veteran motorsports columnist Craig Murto is a Linden resident.