The 2023 King of the Baggers series kicks off in just a couple weeks, and we expect it to be even more exciting and action-packed than the 2022 season. For the Vance & Hines team, James Rispoli and Hayden Gillim return more committed than ever. With experience in a variety of racing categories, these two racers hope to go head-to-head with the Harley-Davidson and Indian factory teams this season.
Read the press release below for more, and check back for race news and information throughout the season.
Santa Fe Springs, CA – Vance & Hines continues its run at the championship of MotoAmerica’s King of the Bagger series in 2023 with experienced riders and a crew coming off a championship in flat track racing. Both team riders, James Rispoli and Hayden Gillim, have previously ridden for the Vance & Hines/Mission/Harley-Davidson Team.
Related: Indian Says Consistency and Teamwork Led to King of the Baggers Championship Win
James Rispoli returns to the team after a strong 2022 season aboard the Harley-Davidson Road Glide. Rispoli earned a second place and a third-place finish in the six-race season, where he frequently diced with factory teams from Harley-Davidson and Indian.
Rispoli has a formidable racing resume in both flat track and road racing. After winning back-to-back AMA Pro SuperSport championships in the U.S., Rispoli raced for five years in the prestigious British Superbike championships, then returned to flat track, winning the 2020 AFT Production Twins title in dominant fashion with seven wins aboard a Vance & Hines-built Harley-Davidson XG750R.
Rispoli will pilot a Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Road Glide bearing his signature #43 in 2023.
Related: Tested! King of the Baggers Harley-Davidson Factory Racer
Hayden Gillim returns to the Vance & Hines King of the Baggers team after focusing exclusively on Superbike racing in 2022. While rejoining his former team, he’ll have a dramatically improved motorcycle to ride.
The switch from Street Glide to Road Glide, along with the competition-driven development on the engine and chassis will give him a better-handling and more powerful bike than his previous KOTB ride.
Gillim has racing experience in MotoAmerica, MotoGP, WERA, and American Flat Track and has wins or championships in almost every class he’s ever raced. He has a winning pedigree as well. He’s a cousin of Nicky, Roger, and Tommy Hayden and hails from racing hotspot, Owensboro, Kentucky.
Vance & Hines puts its top technical team on the KOTB program in 2023. Crew chief Steve Polk has the same tech team that helped Jesse Janisch win the AFT Production Twins championship in 2022. With team manager Craig Koontz and technicians Josh Sutter and Ricky Castro, there’s no doubt that this team knows how to create winning race bikes. Gene Burcham provides suspension expertise at each event on the circuit as well.
MotoAmerica, seeing the popularity of the KOTB class increase each year, has expanded the race schedule in 2023 to seven of their ten race weekends. Each of those seven weekends will feature a KOTB double-header, making it a fourteen-race season for the Vance & Hines/Mission/Harley-Davidson team.
“We’re really happy to see interest in the class grow and the increase in the number of races this year,” said Team Manager Craig Koontz. “James, with his strong technical feedback and great riding, was a real asset to the team this past season. Having James and Hayden on the track together is going to be exciting to watch. We’re eager to get to Daytona to see how we stack up against the rest of the field.”
The King of the Bagger series is a racing class showcasing touring-style motorcycles with fairings and saddlebags. KOTB races take place at tracks around the country with the first of the bagger races slated for March 10 at the Daytona International Speedway.