My 1980 Ironhead was completed two weeks before my first flat track race at the Dixie Speedway in Woodstock, Georgia, and we arrived there three days before the race, leaving plenty of time to fish and plenty of time for me to get my head ready. I don’t go in to anything just to do it; I’m competitive and need to win. If you’re not going to win, why do it? That’s the point of racing—to win, and I planned on winning.

I thought, “Flat track racing can’t be that hard.” I’ve raced motocross all my life; going in a circle would be nothing So race day comes and we get up early and head to Dixie Speedway. We pull in and it sets in that this is not my local district’s motocross races; this was the big leagues! We were racing along with the American Flat Track series, and all the factory guys were there: Harley, Indian, and all the other teams.

The Hooligan: First race, first podium!

The track was way bigger than I thought, but I didn’t show any fear at all. I unloaded my bike like I’d been doing it for years. I didn’t want the Roland Sands hooligans and all the other guys to know I was a new guy to the sport, but they knew anyway. Yet that didn’t change how they treated me; they all acted like we have been buddies for years, and I just met these guys. We live on completely different coasts but connected like we were neighbors.

The AFT makes us take our bikes through tech which is cool. Now I can say my 1980 Harley Sportster passed tech! I get back and start suiting up. It’s time for my first practice and now butterflies are starting to set in. I’m sitting in staging with all the other hooligans waiting to go out while the crowds start pouring into the stands. Factory teams are buzzing around like crazy and the guy waves us out onto the track.

I start going through the gears—first, then second, then I clicked into third. As I’m coming out of the first corner I realize I’m hardly going anywhere. I need to downshift and just run second so I click down a gear and the bike comes to life. But now all I can think is, “Wow, this track is so bumpy.” I feel every little bump out here like I’m riding down a rocky road. That’s the thing with dirt tracks; they look like glass but really there are holes that move as the night goes on and the track wears in.

The Hooligan: First race, first podium!

Practice is over and I’m feeling good but I realize that I need to just have fun and make it through the night because this track is no joke. This is not like riding a Harley on the street and the bike is not as light as the dirt bikes I was used to racing. They post our heat line-ups and I see I’m in the heat with a bunch of fast guys but I didn’t let that bother me. I know I just need to run second, stay low and get a good start and I’d make the Main.

They call us out on to the track and now the stands are packed full and I could hear everyone cheering. They line us all up and I could hear everyone’s bike revving then the green light flashes. I drop the clutch and just as I drop the clutch I really don’t hear anything; I’m in the zone shooting for that first turn. I come out of turn 2 in 4th but I’m quickly fading three laps in. Back second to last, I know I have to go harder. I want to make the Main so each corner I hold the throttle a little longer before I let off but this makes me rife up high on the track until I run into turn 3 way too fast.

I ride up the track and smack into the wall and next thing I know I’m tumbling down the track, wrapped up in a banner that came off an air fence. I’m OK but my pride is crushed. The bike is a wreck but all the guys come up and check on me in the pits. I’m sore but I’m going to make it.

The Hooligan: First race, first podium!

The night went on and Jorden Baber won the Super Hooligan Main. Afterwards the awards were handed out and that’s when they called my name for the cleanest bike of the race, basically a best of show. I was pumped. I crashed and still made it onto the podium. I got my picture on all kinds of social media and got a one-of-a-kind trophy from Roland Sands. I was hooked. I was ready to race back home to get the bike back together to go find the next race.

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