April 2016 at Arizona Bike Week with absolutely zero experience and never even having set foot on a dirt track I decided to try my hand at “hooligan” racing. In retrospect that might not have been the best way to start my foray into turning left. Having said that, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Rewind to a few months earlier that winter. I had been watching the southern California hooligan scene unfold via social media and an announcement was made that a indoor hooligan race called Flat Out Friday had been added to my favorite motorcycle gathering on the planet The Mama Tried Show. Seeing how that show is basically in my back yard (Milwaukee) I was really stoked. At the time I was working at S&S Cycle and they were gracious enough to entertain my plan to build not one but two hooligan Sportsters. I built the bikes with the help of my good buddy Dean Young II at his shop up the road from S&S. Neither one of us really had a clue what made a good dirt track bike and we made a few errors but overall we built two killer bikes, both of which were very street-able I might add. Mama Tried rolled around and I ended up giving up my ride to moto-writer extraordinaire and all around solid dude Joe Gustafson for an article he was doing about hooligan racing. Which brings me back to Arizona Bike Week…
We were at AZ Bike Week with the S&S rig demoing our go fast parts and doing exhaust installs, I had brought the hooligan bikes to display along with the only “gear” I owned for flat track racing a pair of Alpine Star Tech 7’s and my everyday street lid a ICON Airframe Pro . To say we were ill prepared is an understatement and was evidenced by our cardbord number plates. The day of the race my mechanic Mike Dolega and I wandered over to the arena where we met the Rusty Butcher crew, Hunter Klee, Brandon Gonzalez (The Gonz) and the man behind IV League Flat Track, Brian Bell. More on these guys and hooligan racers in general in a post to follow, but lets just say they couldn’t have been more welcoming and helpful.
I followed that race up with the the IV League race at the ROT rally then the Sturgis TT followed by my first indoor race at the October Fat Out Friday then again at the February edition at the Mama Tried Show, and a few months back went out west to the IV League race at Del mar followed by the Daytona indoor IV League race. The previous sentences encompass my entire flat track/hooligan “career”. While I managed to improve a little each race and am light years ahead of where I started, you can imagine my surprise to get an email form XGames Athlete Services. While I was pumped at the chance to race at en event I had been following since my late teenage years there was a couple of hiccups I needed to address. The biggest being the lack of a race bike. My departure from S&S a few weeks earlier had left me with out a set of wheels for the barn burner of a race that was about to pop off in Minneapolis .
After a few calls Mark Atkins (the famed Rusty Butcher) said he had a bike I could use, the only problem was that it resided in California, nothing new for a hooligan racer, bike transportation is a common problem. A day or so later my fellow Midwesterner Brad Gregory texted me and said he had a bike I could use. Not just any bike and definitely not a race bike, it was a bike he had built a few months earlier and ridden down to Mexico and back from Iowa on the famed Biltwell EDR . So I headed southwest to grab the Sportster turned highway bike so I could get to work turning it into a legit hooligan bike. The bike wasnt the only issue, I was in need of a few key parts, one of which was a set of triple trees so I could fit the traditional 19″ wheel with the wider dirt track tire and the another being 19″ wheels and tires. Both issues were actually solved by friends and fellow hooligans Hunter Klee and Jordan Baber. Jordan’s place was outside Des Moines on the way back from picking up the bike on the Nebraska/Iowa border so I swung through Des Moines, made a quick stop at the legendary Kung Fu Tap and Taco, grabbed the trees and hit the road. All that leaves me with seven days to tear the bike down and build it back into a functional hooligan bike….here we go.