American Flat Track: Harley-Davidson Announces 2020 Factory Team Riders

American Flat Track: Harley-Davidson Announces 2020 Factory Team Riders

© 2019, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. From a press release issued by Harley-Davidson:

HARLEY-DAVIDSON 2020 FACTORY FLAT TRACK TEAM ANNOUNCED  

Ricky Howerton Named Crew Chief of Three-Rider Super Twins Team with Riders Bryan Smith, Jared Vanderkooi and Dalton Gauthier  

MILWAUKEE (December 5, 2019) – The Harley-Davidson Factory Flat Track Racing Team will add former champions Ricky Howerton and Bryan Smith to its effort on the 2020 American Flat Track (AFT) SuperTwins series. Howerton will lead the team as crew chief, responsible for all technical aspects of tuning and set-up of the Harley-Davidson® XG750R competition motorcycles prepared by partner Vance & Hines Motorsports. Smith, the 2016 AMA Grand National flat track champion, brings veteran leadership to a talented team of riders including Jared Vanderkooi and Dalton Gauthier.

“Flat track motorcycle racing is the original American motorsport and Harley-Davidson and its factory teams have been part of this exciting competition since its inception more than a century ago,” said Jon Bekefy, GM of Brand Marketing for Harley-Davidson. “Our expanded factory team effort in AFT Super Twins complements our increased support for the AFT Production Twins class, with race-ready XG750R motorcycles for sale to independent teams and a $250,000 cash contingency program.”

The XG750R competition motorcycle is available for purchase for $35,999 and deliveries will begin immediately. Supply is limited and priority will be given to dealership teams. For details and ordering information, please contact Vance & Hines at [email protected]

The Harley Factory Flat Track Team expects to elevate its performance during the 2020 season.

“We are excited to have Ricky Howerton joining the Harley-Davidson Factory Team,” said Terry Vance, owner of Vance & Hines Motorsports. “He brings a wealth of knowledge and championship experience to an effort that already includes the tuning talent of Byron Hines and engineering resources at the Harley-Davidson Product Development Center. With our trio of great riders, I think we’ll be bringing a formidable team to the track in 2020.”

Crew chief Howerton and rider Smith won the 2016 AMA Grand National flat track championship for the Howerton/Crosley team.

“I think the Harley-Davidson Factory Team has all the ingredients in place to field bikes that can win every weekend, and the resources are there,” said Howerton. “We’ll have everything and anything we need to move the program forward.”

The team will field an updated Harley-Davidson XG750R flat tracker for 2020, according to Vance, powered by the liquid-cooled, fuel-injected and race-tuned 750cc Harley-Davidson® Revolution X V-Twin based on the production engine originally designed for the Harley-Davidson Street 750 motorcycle.

“We don’t plan to make many significant changes to the race bikes for the coming season,” said Vance. “We are focused on improving power delivery and grip, especially on slick track surfaces. Ricky Howerton and Bryan Smith bring years of set-up experience to the team that will be valuable in that regard.”

The Harley-Davidson Factory Flat Track Team will compete on the entire 18-event AFT SuperTwins schedule in 2020. The series kicks off on March 14 with the Daytona TT at Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Fla.

Harley-Davidson Factory Flat Track Team

Kevin Howerton. Photo courtesy of Harley-Davidson.
Kevin Howerton. Photo courtesy of Harley-Davidson.

Ricky Howerton

Howerton has been involved in flat track racing since 2012, leading the Howerton/Crosley team to win three AMA Expert Twins championships (2012-14) and the 2016 AMA Grand National Championship. His teams have earned 25 national wins and 70 podium finishes. Howerton earned a degree in Mechanical Engineering Technologies from Purdue University at Indianapolis and has worked in the racing field since his teenage years. He raced sprint cars and finished fourth in the USAC national points in 1990 and was named Rookie of the Year. Howerton is 49 years old and lives in Indianapolis.

Bryan Smith. Photo courtesy of Harley-Davidson.
Bryan Smith. Photo courtesy of Harley-Davidson.

Bryan Smith (National #4)

Known as the “Mile Master,” Smith has won 33 times in a 19-year Grand National flat track career, with 25 of those wins on demanding mile tracks. Smith is a three-time GNC Expert Twins champion (2012-14), the 2016 AMA Grand National champion, and won an ESPN X Games gold medal the debut X Games Harley-Davidson Flat Track event in 2015. After a very successful amateur flat-track racing career, Smith moved up to the AMA Pro Flat Track level in 2001 and was named Rookie of the Year in his first season in the series. In 2019, Smith finished 13th in AFT points and had three podium appearances. Smith is 36 years old and lives in Swartz Creek, Mich.

Jarod Vanderkooi. Photo courtesy of Harley-Davidson.
Jarod Vanderkooi. Photo courtesy of Harley-Davidson.

Jarod Vanderkooi (National #20)

The 2014 GNC2 Twins champion, Jarod Vanderkooi (VAN-der-koy) won his first pro event on the Springfield Mile. He moved up to the top Grand National Twins class in 2015 and was named Rookie of the Year after scoring four top-10 finishes. In 2019, Vanderkooi raced his Harley-Davidson Factory XG750R to sixth place in AFT Twins points with 13 top-10 results. Vanderkooi is 22 years old and lives in Mt. Gilead, Ohio.

Dalton Gauthier. Photo courtesy of Harley-Davidson.
Dalton Gauthier. Photo courtesy of Harley-Davidson.

Dalton Gauthier (National #79)

Gauthier has been a rising star on the flat track scene since he turned pro in 2015 at age 16. He finished second in the AFT Singles series in 2016, and in 2019 was crowned AFT Singles champion. Gauthier rode a Harley-Davidson XG750R to two wins in the 2019 AFT Production Twins series and placed fourth in season points. The 2020 season will be his first in AFT SuperTwins. Gauthier is 20 years old and lives in Pine Grove, Pa.

About Harley-Davidson Motor Company
Since 1903, Harley-Davidson Motor Company has fulfilled dreams of personal freedom with cruiser, touring and custom motorcycles, riding experiences and events, and a complete line of Harley-Davidson motorcycle parts, accessories, general merchandise, riding gear and apparel. For more information, visit www.h-d.com.

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