Years go by in the staid world of AMA Pro Flat Track racing, with the same dusty Harley-Davidson XR750s roaring around the same dustier tracks. And then, boom. Now, double boom.
Indian has confirmed it is returning to the top level of flat-track competition with a bike built around a new race-only 750 cc engine and has signed defending national champion Jared Mees to ride it. This follows the news that Harley is building a new flat-track bike using its liquid-cooled engine found in the Street 750. Harley versus Indian revisited. It's going to be just like the 1950s.
While it's worth noting that teams have had a lot of success in the top level of flat-track racing with bikes built around the Kawasaki 650 cc parallel twin, that's a street engine adapted to the dirt ovals. Harley is doing the same with its Street 750 engine. What makes the Indian effort significant is that it's the first new engine built specifically for flat-track racing by a major manufacturer since Honda tried to end Harley-Davidson's hegemony in the sport 30 years ago.
Best yet, while Indian is aiming for a full season of competition in 2017, the company promised it would race the new bike at a yet-to-be-named round this season.
We had warning this was coming. Earlier this year, the AMA approved the Indian engine for competition. Plus, Indian has been testing the flat-track waters by working with Roland Sands to field Scout-based bikes in the RSD Super Hooligan races. Not to get too far off topic, but if you haven't already seen it, this RSD video of the Super Hooligan race on a makeshift course in downtown Austin during MotoGP week is worth three minutes of your time.
Racing in parking lots in chicken outfits is one thing. Competing for a Grand National title is another. Polaris has done more with the Indian brand in a few short years than its previous owners did in a decade, and going racing will be the next exciting step. We already have our flat-track expert at work on a story looking at the Harley and Indian 750 cc engines, so expect to hear more.