Harley-Davidson fans got revved when the MoCo’s legendary XR750 was the fastest bike at Daytona’s Short Track, and they were even more excited watching Sammy Halbert win the Mission Challenge race prior to the main events of AFT’s double-header round, held March 7-8. A Main Event victory would amount to 503 wins for the iconic racebike over its five-decade lifespan. 

Progressive AFT Harley-Davidson XR750
At Daytona, Slammin’ Sammy rode the same XR750 that Brad Baker rode to victory at Pomona in 2013.

Unfortunately, some bolts on the XR’s primary-drive cover loosened while Slammin’ Sammy was leading the Main Event, causing the bike to start smoking and Halbert to be unsure about how much traction he had. The smoke emitted from Halbert’s bike issue prompted AFT officials to display a black flag that might’ve disqualified him from the race, but the officials neglected to display Halbert’s race number along with the black flag, which is a requirement in AFT rules. As Halbert’s speed dropped, he lost the lead and dropped back to finish 5th. 

Related: Progressive AFT Season-Opening Daytona Short Track Results

Race 2 was another chance for Halbert to score a win on the Dodge Bros. XR750, using the same motor but with all the bolts cinched up tightly. Sammy again led the first half of the race, but he was overtaken by Brandon Robinson’s Indian and had to settle for a creditable runner-up finish.

Progressive AFT Harley-Davidson XR750
Brandon Robinson (44) leads Sammy Halbert (69) at the Main Event in Daytona.

Happily, it won’t be the last time we see Halbert riding the XR750 this year, as he is scheduled to race select rounds of the 2024 AFT season for team owners Tony and Andy Dodge, including the Silver Dollar Short Track in Chico, California, and the Ventura Short Track in Ventura, California.  

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“At this point in my career, I’m racing very select events and having fun with it,” said Halbert. “The opportunity to race the Dodge Bros. XR makes perfect sense for me. It’s the bike that I had the most success on in my career, and I’m excited to give the old girl another ride at the big dance.”  

After the races, Halbert posted videos about his experience on the XR at Daytona, which we’ve included below for your viewing pleasure.


  1. It says volumes about the state of AFT racing that a fifty year old design, with pushrods, can finish second at a Main Event.


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