Troy Bayliss, here pictured in his last AMA event at Sears Point in 2000, is hoping to race select AMA Pro Grand Nationals in 2015.
Photography by Henny Ray Abrams
Troy Bayliss is planning on coming back to race in America, but fans might be surprised to learn it’s not with MotoAmerica’s AMA Superbike Series, but instead Bayliss is slated to be an entry in select AMA Pro Grand Nationals in 2015. That’s the plan according to the 45-year-old three-time World Superbike Champion and MotoGP winner from Australia. Bayliss, who was racing a Vance & Hines Ducati in the AMA Superbike Championship in 2000, when he was called up by Ducati to replace an injured Carl Fogarty in World Superbike, went on to become one of the all-time legends of that championship. He is planning on racing select AMA Grand National Miles on the 2015 schedule, starting with the Memorial Day weekend Springfield Mile, racing a Lloyd Brothers Motorsports Ducati, hopefully he says with backing from Ducati.
Having a Ducati-mounted Bayliss racing AMA Pro Grand Nationals presents one of the most intriguing entries in the series since Kenny Roberts came out of retirement to race the Springfield Mile in 1985.
Bayliss, who recently hosted Troy Bayliss Classic flat track race in Australia, which featured AMA Pro Flat Track stars Henry Wiles, Sammy Halbert and 2014 AMA Grand National Champion Jared Mees, says his competitive juices have been rejuvenated by flat track racing.
“I always wanted to come and have a spin over there,” Bayliss said via Skype from his home in Australia. “It all started a couple of years ago when I had a ride over there with JD Beach. That really got me into doing flat track and long story short I’ve had a couple of the best Americans racing over here and I feel like I should come over there and do a few races.”
The idea of bringing Bayliss to America was originally dreamed up by SMI’s Steve McLaughlin and initially talks centered on bringing Bayliss over strictly to race the SMI-promoted Sacramento Mile. The concept morphed from there to include several more races. Bayliss is working with David Lloyd and Lloyd Brothers racing to run its race-winning Ducati.
“If we can find a budget to put this together I think this will be one of the most exciting things to happen to Grand National racing in years,” Lloyd said. “To have a rider of Troy’s talent and background riding one of our bikes would be a thrill.”
During his career Bayliss won the Superbike World Championship three times, as well as the British Superbike Championship and a MotoGP race, all with Ducati. He finished his career after winning the 2008 World Superbike title. To this day his 52 World Superbike victories are second only to Carl Fogarty.
Bayliss is schedule to meet next week with Ducati’s Ernesto Marinelli to see if details for running the Grand Nationals can be worked out.
“Knowing that the Lloyd Brothers have a Ducati that’s proven to be competitive, I thought that made sense,” Bayliss explained. “If I’m going to race over there (in America) I want to do it on a Ducati. I think it would be a great way to give brand more exposure over there.”
Bayliss’ thoughts on racing select Grand National Miles was that they would play into his racing experience better than the shorter circuits.
“The hard-pack Miles are a bit faster and some of the tracks that are a little bit more road racy might suit me,” he said. “You’ve got to do a little bit of slipstreaming and the races are long and you’ve got to use your head a bit as well.”
We texted current AMA Pro Grand National Champ Jared Mees, who’s raced Bayliss at Superprestigio and in Australia, to see if he thought Bayliss was ready to tackle a Grand National Mile and got the reply back “Heck yeah he is!”
Bayliss went on to say that with the exposure flat track gained through the Indy Mile and now with Marc Marquez racing in Superprestigio that he believes the sport is the hottest thing going right now.
“With Marquez and Rossi being huge flat track enthusiasts it’s sort of re-sparked interest in flat track racing and I love it as well,” Bayliss said. “I want to have a chance to race against the best in the world in the AMA and then hopefully start a Grand National-type series here in Australia.”
Finally when asked what his expectations were in racing Grand Nationals, there was none of just wanting to put it in the Main, or top-10 finish, no, Bayliss flatly said, “I want to win a Grand National Mile. That’s the goal.”