The 2009 AMA Pro Grand National Flat Track championship stepped into the spotlight this past Memorial Day weekend with the Illinois Motorcycle Dealers Association’s Springfield Mile. More than 240 bikes in the Grand National and Pro Singles divisions and a huge crowd descended on the Illinois State Fairgrounds for one of the sport’s biggest race weekends of the year.
On the big Springfield mile Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson/Moroney’s Harley-Davidson rider Bryan Smith won the Grand National Singles Main while Michael Toon took top honors in the Pro Singles race on his Price Truck Line/Kennedy Tire Honda. On the TT track, winners included Kawasaki USA/Jones Bros. Kawasaki rider Henry Wiles in GNC Singles and young rider JD Beach in the Pro Single main on his Team 95/Red Bull Honda.
Smith edged reigning GNC Champion Kenny Coolbeth at the line while Toon beat James Rispoli and promising young female rider Shayna Texter, who finished third. On the TT track, Wiles led Glen Schnabel Jr. across the line in GNC Singles while Rispoli scored a second runner-up showing behind Beach in Pro Singles.
Major manufacturers were well represented with no less than eight different brands – Harley-Davidson, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Aprilia, Triumph, Ducati, BMW and KTM – in action in Twins and six different makes – Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki, KTM and Husqvarna – doing battle in Singles.
The Springfield weekend was also noteworthy for the amount of AMA Pro Road Racing riders who took up the challenge of the Memorial Day weekend Flat Track classic. The list included Larry Pegram who made history by putting a stock framed Ducati into the Grand National Singles Main for Ducati Foremost / Lloyd Brothers Racing. Jay Springsteen’s AMA Pro SunTrust Moto-GT teammate Nick Cummings also showed well in his familiar Flat Track environment and finished fifth in the Grand National Singles Main after winning the first heat. Cummings also placed 15th in the GNC Singles TT main. Top Flat Track and AMA Pro Daytona Sport Bike competitor Danny Eslick was also at Springfield but saw limited action after hurting his back early in the weekend.
Post race inspection saw the entries of both Smith and Schnabel fail to pass although the GNC Singles TT runner-up was later reinstated. Frame alterations on Schnabel’s Yamaha YZF450 were originally found to be outside of the approved dimensions, but the frame was later determined to fall within the production variances reported by the manufacturer to AMA Pro Racing. Based on the information provided by the manufacturer, AMA Pro Racing has reinstated Schnabel to the second-place finishing position.
Smith, Sunday’s winner in the Mile National, was disqualified for violation of the fuel rule. Fuel samples were sent to an independent laboratory where it has been determined the fuel used in the main event was found to be illegal. Smith has been disqualified for the full day of competition for the May 24th race, resulting in loss of money and championship points. Smith will also be on probation for the remainder of the 2009 season.