Half-mile and TT competition determined titles for 19 classes
PICKERINGTON, Ohio — More than 725 riders from as far away as California and New York turned out July 19-25 for the 2020 AMA Flat Track Grand Championship, first at Plymouth Speedway in Plymouth, Ind., and, then, at Ashland County Fairgrounds in Ohio.
Rainstorms forced adjustments to the event schedule and racing disciplines. At the close of the week, three days of half-mile and one day of TT racing were completed. AMA National No. 1 plates were awarded in 10 Amateur and nine Youth classes.
Kody Kopp, son of 2000 AMA Grand National Champion Joe Kopp, is the recipient of the 2020 Nicky Hayden AMA Flat Track Horizon Award.
“Nicky was a great guy, the best on two wheels, in my opinion,” said the 15-year-old from Mica, Wash. “It’s such an honor to be the next person to receive this award.”
The Horizon Award is presented to the most promising amateur rider aiming for success in the professional ranks. Previous winners of this prestigious award include Jared Mees, Brad Baker and Briar Bauman, all of whom went on to become AMA Grand National Champions.
Eight-year-old Braxton Ragan took home the AMA Flat Track Fast Brain Award, which is given to a racer who also demonstrates excellence in the classroom.
This year’s Horizon winner, Kopp, won the Fast Brain award in 2018. “It’s the ‘A’ grades that matter most,” Joe Kopp said at the time.
The Fast Brain award includes a $1,500 educational scholarship and is funded by Tim Estenson of Estenson Racing, Jerry Stinchfield of Roof System Racing, AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Legend Bill Werner and Dave Zanotti of Zanotti Racing.
The week started strongly at Plymouth Speedway, with the half-mile getting underway on Monday afternoon after the clay track was prepped. The full program included two practices for each class, heat races, semis and, then, mains for 178 entries.
Following Indiana and Ohio state coronavirus guidelines, organizers mandated social distancing and mask wearing in the pits, and riders’ meetings were conducted over the public address systems. Only one person and one motorcycle at a time were permitted through tech inspection.
Tuesday featured TT racing, but rain stopped the program during the heats. Wednesday brought enough dry weather to complete the heats and a half-dozen semis before the skies again opened up, leaving parts of the TT track under water.
Organizers began reprepping the half-mile after the short-track course in the speedway’s infield, likewise, proved too muddy to use. An unexpected 11 p.m. curfew ultimately scrubbed any late-night activity. TT points were awarded based on the heats and semis.
Thursday, the championship moved 235 miles east to the Ashland County Fairgrounds, which hosted two more days of half-mile racing. After battling rains in Indiana, in Ohio, participants, some 375 across Friday and Saturday, encountered heat, wind and dust.
In all, 14 riders took home AMA National No. 1 plates at the 45th annual event, with Brandon Pflanders, Travis Horn, Casey Chisham, Chase Saathoff and Kopp collecting two each. Jack Brucks won the AMA Flat Track Youth Award, and Simon Neto captured the AMA Flat Track Vet/Senior Award.
“Success at the AMA Flat Track Grand Championship demands not just speed, but consistency across a multi-day event competing in different flat-track disciplines,” said AMA Track Racing Manager Ken Saillant. “While several riders excelled this year, we congratulate all who earned 2020 AMA National No. 1 plates and put their names in the AMA record books forever.”
AMA National No. 1 Youth Classes
50cc DTX SR (7-8): Linwood Patton (Cobra)
50cc DTX PW Shaft (4-8): Jace Dimatteo (Yamaha)
50cc DTX PW (4-8): Jackson Brown (Cobra)
65cc DTX (7-11): Jack Brucks (Yamaha)
65cc Modified (7-11): Dalton Hunn (KTM)
85cc DTX (7-11): Bradon Pflanders (KTM)
85cc DTX (12-15): Travis Horn (KTM)
85cc Modified (7-11): Bradon Pflanders (KTM)
85cc Modified (12-15): Travis Horn (KTM)
AMA National No. 1 Amateur Classes
250cc DTX: Evan Renshaw (Husqvarna)
250cc Modified (150cc 4-stroke excluded): Casey Chisham (KTM)
201cc-250cc: Casey Chisham (KTM)
251cc-500cc DTX: Kody Kopp (KTM)
450cc Modified: Kody Kopp (KTM)
450cc-Open Singles: Chase Saathoff (Husqvarna)
450cc-Open Modified (Singles & Twins): Chase Saathoff (Husqvarna)
Veteran 25+: Joey Boulis (Honda)
Senior 40+: Simao Neto (KTM)
Super Senior 50+: Kenny Dahlin (Honda)