A new era in the storied history of AMA Grand National Championship racing begins this week at Daytona Beach, Florida’s Municipal Stadium when the 2006 AMA Ford Quality Checked Flat Track Championship launches with a doubleheader national on Wednesday and Thursday nights, March 8 and 9.
This year will see one of the most significant changes in the championship structure since the AMA Grand Nationals began in 1954. Starting at Daytona there will be two Grand National Championships for 2006: one for twin-cylinder motorcycles and one for single-cylinder motorcycles. The Twins are set to run on Mile and Half-mile tracks while the Singles will compete on Short Tracks, TTs and select Half-miles.
Defending AMA Grand National Champion Chris Carr is hoping to be a contender for both championships. The three-time Daytona Short Track winner feels Daytona takes on added importance this year.
“There’s definitely going to be a sense of urgency at Daytona this year,” said Carr, who rides for his own team also sponsored by Ford’s Quality Checked Certified Pre-Owned brand. “If you had a bad weekend at Daytona, before you had 16 or 17 more races to make up for it. Now, not only is the race a doubleheader, but you also only have three or four more races in the Singles championship after Daytona. I think it’s a good thing. Not only will the fans get to watch two nationals, but all the riders are going to be giving it everything to do well there.”
AMA Pro Racing expects to add additional Singles events to the 2006 calendar.
Another change for 2006 deals with the Singles engine displacement. To align the engines with the current state of motocross and supermoto equipment, the new Singles series will feature 450cc machinery. This change along with the establishment of the new singles National Championship has influenced a number of major manufactures to become involved in the series. The manufacturers have sweetened the pie through contingency sponsorships. American Honda Motor Company, KTM Sport Motorcycle USA, American Suzuki Motor Corporation and Yamaha Motor Corp. USA, will award bonus awards to riders competing on their respective brands. Many have posted both event and series contingencies with some offering $5,000 bonus for each National win.
Carr sees no problem making the move from 505cc to the new 450cc formula.
“The bikes are basically the same except for engine displacement,” he said. “Things are going to get even more competitive in the Singles class with some of the manufacturers stepping up their involvement.”
Another bonus for fans at Daytona on Thursday night is AMA Motocross and X-Games star Travis Pastrana will attempt to qualify for his first AMA Grand National race on a Team 199/Red Bull/Cernic’s Suzuki.
“I’m doing the GNCC, the Daytona flat track and the Supercross during bike week,” commented Pastrana. “I’m really excited about it.”
Carr welcomes a rider with Pastrana’s recognition and appeal to Daytona’s Municipal Stadium.
“Travis has so much talent as a rider that he could shock a lot of people,” Carr said. “If he can make the main in a Grand National in his first attempt, that would be a major accomplishment. Daytona’s not the easiest track to do it either, so he has a tough road in front of him.”
Qualifying and scoring will also receive a boost for 2006. Starting at Daytona the AMA Ford Quality Checked Flat Track Championship will have transponder-based scoring at all rounds. Transponder-based scoring systems have been proven in the AMA Superbike Championship for over a decade and in AMA Motocross and Supercross for several years. Computer scoring provides a higher degree of accuracy in timing heats, semis and main events and can make for a more efficient race program.
Fans of the AMA Ford Quality Checked Flat Track Championship will get to re-live the excitement of the races when SPEED shows the races on Saturday, March 11 at 12:30 pm EST, following the AMA Superbike race.
Tickets for the Daytona Short Track at Municipal Stadium are available at www.racetickets.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.