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Tuesday 21 March 2023

AFT news

Progressive AFT 2023 - Season Underway 

In the run-up to the season opening Short Tracks at Daytona in March, there was a slew of AFT news as the AMA, the teams, their riders and their all-important backers wiped the winter from their eyes and prepared to race into spring sunshine. 

One of AFT's biggest backers - Progressive Insurance - announced that it is continuing with the series sponsorship, signing a new multi-year continuation of its landmark partnership as series Title Sponsor naming rights partner and Official Insurance Company of Progressive AFT.  

Founded in 1937, Progressive boasts being the United States' leading motorcycle insurer and first became series sponsor in 2020 and has expanded its support of the sport over the years through digital and experiential activations at events. 

"Progressive has played an integral role in accelerating American Flat Track's growth over the last few years and we truly appreciate its continued partnership," said Gene Crouch, CEO of AMA Pro Racing. 

Bryan Smith has been appointed as AFT Series Director

Meanwhile, Royal Enfield North America (RENA) and Yamaha have again been named Official OEM Partners of Progressive AFT for 2023. Royal Enfield's multifaceted partnership has been a "model of innovative collaboration" and has enjoyed an impressive degree of success on the racetrack as its racing effort continues to evolve.  

Since the Royal Enfield Twins FT made its debut in 2020, the team has celebrated multiple podiums in the Mission Production Twins class, including a historic win at the Lima Half-Mile in 2021 - a first-ever feat for the historic brand.  

Its hugely popular 'Build. Train. Race.' (BTR) program highlights, celebrates and encourages the involvement of women in flat track racing, injecting new talent into AFT events across the United States - both experienced and beginner racers - to compete aboard customized INT650 motorcycles. Royal Enfield aims to continue this innovative program in 2023 at select Progressive AFT rounds. 

Meanwhile, MotoAnatomy Powered by Royal Enfield has announced a two-rider team for the premier class in 2023 - Johnny Lewis will race for a fourth season, and Ryan Wells added to the roster. Lewis carded multiple podium finishes in the last two seasons, including that historic Lima Half-Mile win 2021, and Ryan Wells is an established force in Progressive AFT, competition as the 2016 Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER champion and ranking among the Singles' class all-time winningest riders.  

Yamaha's returns as an Official OEM AFT Partner for 2023 after an extremely strong showing in 2022, scoring race wins and contending for championships up and down the class structure. Most notable was the incredible strides it made in the Mission SuperTwins presented by S&S Cycle category.  

Yamaha has again been named Official OEM Partners of Progressive AFT for 2023.

The Estenson Racing Yamaha's terrific tandem of Dallas Daniels and JD Beach combined to secure six victories, 15 podiums and 27 top fives. The duo finished a close third and fourth in the final standings after battling for the crown all season long in what was Yamaha's greatest championship showing since the days of Kenny Roberts in the mid-1970s. 

As part of Yamaha's impressive commitment to the series, it will also serve as the title sponsor of the Yamaha Senoia Short Track, which will take place on March 25 at Senoia Raceway in Senoia, Georgia - located just down the interstate from Yamaha's U.S.-based Headquarters in Marietta, Georgia.  

It has been a busy off-season in management terms for the AMA. The latest appointment of note is that of Bryan Smith as AFT Series Director, transitioning immediately from his prior role as the Director of Industry Relations. 

"Over the last year, Bryan has consistently demonstrated the leadership capabilities that are necessary to take on even greater responsibilities with the series," said Gene Crouch, CEO of AMA Pro Racing. "Bryan's ability to leverage the knowledge he's gained over the course of his motorcycle racing career as both a factory rider and championship-winning privateer will also be critically important as we form future strategies for the sport." 

Smith's race accolades include winning the Grand National Championship as a Kawasaki-mounted privateer in 2016 before becoming a factory rider, racing on the Indian Motorcycle and Harley-Davidson squads in subsequent seasons. "His understanding of the sport as a competitor, tactician, historian, mechanically minded rider, and now, series' staffer makes him uniquely well suited to tackle his new role as Series Director." 

In other news, the AMA honors Ryan Varnes with the 2023 Ryan Varnes 68 Memorial Scholarship being awarded to a current-year AFT licensed rider that is competing in SuperTwins, AFT Singles or the Royal Enfield (Build. Train. Race.) divisions. The scholarship will be awarded to a rider who has been accepted into an educational institution for 2022-2023, with the award - a minimum of $1,500 - being based on academics and not competition results ( 

AFT has also announced that it has partnered with 'All Kids Bike' to support its national movement to place Kindergarten PE Learn-To-Ride Programs into public schools. Launched in 2018, 'All Kids Bike' has already supported more than 800 schools across all 50 states, providing thousands of children the opportunity to experience the joy of two wheels via an inclusive, proven Learn-To-Ride curriculum ( 

Daytona Beach, Florida based Solar-Fit has been announced as the returning Official Solar Contractor of Progressive AFT for the 2023 season. The company was also the sponsor of its home round, the season-opening Daytona Short Track I & II at the Daytona International Speedway in March. 

Dunlop Motorcycle Tires has extended its official tire support for AFT racing once again - for the seventh straight year - and is continuing the successful Team Dunlop Elite Flat Track program to support amateur racers and continues to include minibike racers. 

Mike Buckley, Dunlop Sr. Vice President of Sales/Marketing, is quoted as saying: "Dunlop's support of amateur racing is unparalleled in the United States. We expect the Team Dunlop Flat Track Elite program will assist riders in their journey to the professional ranks, just as the motocross alumni have over the years." 

This year, Jess Reynolds, who was a part of the program since its inaugural year, has graduated out of the program and is on her way toward her AFT professional racing debut, as a Team Dunlop Elite Alumni. She will join the ranks of other alumni, including Chase Saathoff, Logan McGrane, Billy Ross, and many more. 

Klotz Synthetic Lubricants and Cometic Gasket have signed multi-year partnerships with eight-time Champion Jared Mees. Klotz Synthetic Lubricants is the Official Lubricant of AFT and Cometic Gasket the sport's Official Gasket. 

New for the 2023 season, the Pronto/Parts Plus Pole Award will see each of the season's fastest qualifiers in both Mission SuperTwins presented by S&S Cycle and Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER awarded a $500 "Big Check" during the opening ceremonies. The Pronto Network includes more than 200 wholesale distributors, 1,500 auto stores, and 4,000 service centers.   

Progressive AFT has announced a multi-year partnership renewal with KICKER Performance Audio to continue as both the presenting sponsor of the Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER class as well as the Official Performance Audio of Progressive AFT. 

Founded nearly a half-century ago as a two-man operation run out of a one-car garage, Stillwater, Oklahoma-based KICKER has since developed into a global power that designs and ships its high-performance audio products from its 280,000 sq ft facility. 

KICKER products will once again be awarded to the podium finishers at each Progressive AFT event, and the 2023 Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER champion will be awarded a full custom installation of new KICKER high-performance products in a vehicle of their choice. 

Progressive AFT fans will directly benefit from the renewed partnership as well. KICKER is set to expand its custom PA presence at the racetrack, adding a second custom mobile sound system to ensure a spectacular aural experience across the Mission Paddock Hospitality, Victory Lane and the Progressive AFT Marketplace.  

VP Racing Fuels has been named official fuel supplier for the fourth consecutive year.

VP Racing Fuels, Inc. will serve as both the series' Official Fuel Supplier and Official Performance Coolant for a fourth consecutive season in 2023. Founded in 1973 and described as "the world leader in fuel technology," VP Racing Fuels "have fueled champions in virtually every form of motorsport since powering more race winners than any other brand, dominating both two- and four-wheeled motorsport across a wide array of series and disciplines all across the globe". 

AFT has confirmed that Arai Helmet, Inc. will continue in its role as the series' Official Helmet for a sixth straight season in 2023. 

Producing motorcycle helmets for more than 70 years, "Arai is globally recognized as the world's premier helmet manufacturer. And despite its remarkable motorsport successes over the decades - including numerous titles across Progressive AFT, Formula 1 and MotoGP among countless other series - it remains a small, family-owned company. 

Arai has been named as official helmet for the sixth consecutive year.

"Arai's roots in American racing actually began in flat track, with our very first U.S. sponsored racer in the late 70s," said Brian Weston, Managing Director of Arai Helmet, Inc. "Arai first began racing support to learn and improve, and even after more than 40 years, we continue to apply lessons learned on the racetrack to the helmets we make for our customers.  

"We make only one level of helmet for all of our customers - racers and street riders alike - the very best helmet we can make for rider protection. Arai proudly puts its family name on every helmet it makes."