Corbin Racing has issued a press release, stating that Nicky Hayden and Roger Lee Hayden have been named as the riders for a new Corbin-backed dirt track team that will contest a limited number of 2001 AMA/Progressive Insurance U.S. Flat Track Championships events independent of the current Corbin Pacific/H-D of Missouri team that fields reigning AMA Grand National Champion Joe Kopp and former Grand National Rookie of the Year Kenny Coolbeth.
The common link is Burks Motorsports, as Dave Burks will manage the new team, which will have primary backing from Samson Exhaust Systems and Corbin Motors (Corbin's electric car division). The Haydens will ride Harley-Davidsons - not Hondas - on the miles and half miles, with the usual brace of Rotax-powered equipment coming into play at TTs and short tracks. Early rumors had included information that Honda might be involved with a Nicky Hayden dirt track campaign in 2001, but sources say that Honda's inability to offer a 600cc machine that would be competitive against the Rotaxes was a major sticking point. The Samson/Corbin Motors team will feature the tuning expertise of Carl Patrick, with former Shaun Russell mechanic Kenny Mohler having also been hired on to the team. Hayden is excited at the prospect of the new team, citing the chance to win the Grand Slam [one win each in all four disciplines of dirt track along with an AMA Superbike win - Hayden currently has the Superbike, Short Track and Half Mile wins] and keep active in dirt track as two reasons why.
"To win the Grand Slam would be a big deal," Hayden said. "The guys who did it before, like Doug Chandler and Kenny Roberts, those guys were my heroes. They're the hard-core guys. It'll be tough to do. I still wish that I had gotten that win against Scotty Parker at Del Mar a couple years ago. But either way, dirt track racing is just something that I love to do. I believe it helps me with my road racing, and we only run 12 road races a year. That's not enough racing for me. I love the thrill of winning, and 12 times just isn't enough. I'm just really excited to be with the Corbin people. Leaving TCR, well, those people are like my family, but this is just a chance for me to try something new. I'm looking forward to the challenge."
Burks will take on the role of team manager while continuing to focus the majority of his efforts in the direction of the Corbin/H-D of Missouri team, which will conduct business as usual in 2001. Kopp will ride Dennis Town-prepared XR750s while maintaining his long association with Denny Lopp at the 600cc events. Bill LePage will join Burks in preparing Coolbeth's 600 and 750cc machines. As for the team's Suzuki SuperTracker program? Expect activity, although it is unlikely that Kopp will defend his SuperTrapp SuperTracker title in 2001.
"We have been trying to put this together for a few weeks," Burks said. "The way we've got it figured, Nicky will be able to run between 12 and 15 races next year. Our goal is to get him a Grand Slam, but none of this will affect our current team with Joe and Kenny. We look forward to the 2001 racing season, with a specific goal in mind, to exceed the accomplishments of the previous seasons and set the basis for this season and seasons to come. The entire group here at Corbin would like to extend our thanks to everyone in this outstanding association."