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Tuesday 4 January 2022

Bagger Racing League 2021

Bagger Racing League 2021 Season Finale
Story and photos courtesy of Drag Specialties Magazine

Even though the term "Performance Baggers" has been around for a while, many people laughed back in 2020 when the concept of racing Harley and Indian Baggers was first introduced. The laughter subsided in October that year when the first "Drag Specialties King of the Baggers" race was run at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, California. The racing was entertaining, and the audience enjoyed seeing the upgrades that the teams had made to raise the ground clearance, reduce the weight and increase the horsepower.

The most successful rider at the BRL Sonoma race was Benny Carlson. The Wisconsin rider was winner of the Lite Weight Twins and Big Twin class aboard the two #45 Suburban Harley-Davidsons seen here, as well as the Pro Stock Bagger race on the #9 SlyFox/Suburban Harley-Davidson.

That single race at Laguna Seca opened the door for an organization called the Bagger Racing League, dedicated 100% to roadracing American-made V-twin motorcycles. BRL founder Rob Buydos put together a two-event series for 2021 to include a variety of machines. Classes include the F/S Cup exclusively for water-cooled Harleys and Indians; Lite Weight Twins for Sportsters; Big Twins; Pro Stock Baggers and the premier Bagger GP class.
Following the first event at Utah Motorsport Campus in June of 2021, the series moved in December to Sonoma Raceway, located in the wine country just north of San Francisco Bay. 

Team Saddlemen rider Patricia Fernandez made some BRL racing history at Sonoma as the first female rider to win a BRL race or season title. Riding an Indian, she was the victor of the F/S class race and also took home the 2021 F/S season championship.


Points earned in Sonoma would be added to those from Utah to determine the 2021 Champions. One last-minute change was combining what would have been a two-day race into a single day on December 11th because of a heavy rainstorm due to arrive on Sunday.

The closest race of the day was the final one. Shane Narbonne put the Trask Turbo Harley-Davidson in the lead on the last lap of the race ahead of Cory West on a Saddlemen Harley-Davidson.

The newsmakers of the Sonoma round were Patricia Fernandez, first female competitor to win a BRL race when she won both the F/S cup race and the 2021 #1 plate in her class aboard a Team Saddlemen Indian; Benny Carlson, who won three races (ICON Lite Weight Twins, NAMZ Big Twin and Metzeler Pro Stock Bagger). He won the Pro Stock Bagger race and season championship on the SlyFox/Suburban Harley-Davidson, plus the Lite Weight Twins and Big Twin races for Suburban Harley-Davidson; and last, but not least, was Shane Narbonne who passed Saddlemen's Cory West on the last lap of the Bagger GP race to win both the race and 2021 title for his Trask Turbo Harley-Davidson team.

The concept of racing big Harley or Indian Baggers is still a relatively new concept, but as the SlyFox Pro Stock Bagger shows, the machines are modified to deliver excellent road-hugging agility on a racetrack and full-scale horsepower upgrades.

Ben Bostrom has come out of retirement to compete in the new Bagger Racing series, and he finished third in the Bagger GP Class at Sonoma. In his racing career, Bostrom was an AMA Superbike Champion, Daytona 200 winner and a successful rider in the World Superbike Series.