Hayden shoots for elusive Grand Slam at Springfield Labor Day weekend doubleheader. PICKERINGTON, Ohio - In the nearly half-century since the AMA formed the Grand National Championship, there have been only four riders to earn the elusive Grand...
Hayden shoots for elusive Grand Slam at Springfield Labor Day weekend doubleheader.
PICKERINGTON, Ohio - In the nearly half-century since the AMA formed the Grand National Championship, there have been only four riders to earn the elusive Grand Slam: Dick Mann, Kenny Roberts, Bubba Shobert and Doug Chandler. The distinction is for riders who have won an AMA National in dirt-track's mile races, half-mile, short-track and TT, and a road race or Superbike race. Since the AMA Flat Track and AMA Superbike Championships became separate championships in 1986, the Grand Slam has even become less common since flat track racers very rarely compete in Superbike racing. This weekend, Aug. 31-Sept. 1, Nicky Hayden can become the fifth Grand Slam winner with a win in the classic Springfield Mile on Sunday. On Saturday night, the Illinois State Fairgrounds will also host a Short Track Grand National, a the same track where Hayden won on in July. The traditional Labor Day Weekend races at Springfield makes this event one of the biggest on the AMA Progressive Insurance U.S. Flat Track Championship calendar. The races on the Springfield Mile have a special place in the hearts of all motorcycle racing fans. Dating back to the beginnings of Class C racing in the 1930s, the winner of the Springfield Mile was crowned AMA National Champion from the late-1930s until 1954, when the Grand National Championship Series was established. Even today, this race is the most coveted in the championship.
Chris Carr comes into this year's Springfield Mile as the heavy favorite. Carr, the defending champion from Fleetwood, Pa., leads the series coming into this weekend's doubleheader and has won the last two Labor Day Springfield Miles. Another rider to watch this weekend on the mile is Harley-Davidson factory rider Rick King. King is on a roll, having won two of the last three rounds of the championship. Kevin Atherton and Jay Springsteen are also riders who always seem to excel at Springfield.
But it's the entry of newly crowned AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike champ Nicky Hayden that's causing the most stir. Hayden has won three of the five AMA Grand Nationals he's entered this year, including a victory at the prestigious Peoria TT. That makes him the winningest rider on the circuit this year in a season of nearly unprecedented parity in which there have been 10 winners in the 14 races. Honda is backing Hayden's effort to win the Grand Slam and has reported to have shipped in special parts directly from Japan to put on Terry Poovey's Honda RS750 that Hayden will be riding at Springfield. Honda last won the Springfield Mile in 1993 with the late Ricky Graham.
"I definitely have a goal to win on a mile, and Springfield would be a great place to do it," said Hayden, who could become the youngest rider to ever accomplish the Grand Slam. "I mean you look at the riders who've been able to win the Grand Slam and it's a pretty select group of legends. To have my name alongside Mann, Roberts, Chandler and Shobert would be unbelievable. All of the guys are heroes to me and I consider them the best in the history of our sport." Winning a dirt track mile may well be one of the hardest things to do in motorcycle racing according to American Motorcyclist magazine managing editor and dirt-track racing historian Bill Wood. "Amateur dirt-track racers come up gaining a lot of experience on short-tracks, TTs and even half-miles to a lesser extent," Wood explains. "But it takes a lot of experience to learn how to race the miles. It's taken even some of the best riders years on the circuit to finally win a mile. Hayden certainly has the talent to do it, but if he does I'm sure he'll consider it one of his greatest racing accomplishments."
In addition to the Springfield Mile on Sunday, the fairgrounds will host a Short Track Grand National on Saturday night. Hayden and his brothers, Tommy and Roger Lee, would all have to be considered top contenders on that track. Nicky won the last race there in July. Bryan Bigelow, who is third in the series standings, was runner-up to Hayden at the July Short Track Grand National and should be a frontrunner.
There will also be a 505 expert class support race on the Springfield Mile on Sunday.
For additional information contact the Illinois Motorcycle Dealers Association at (217) 753-8866 or visit www.illinoismda.com.
<pre> SCHEDULE OF EVENTS AMA PROGRESSIVE INSURANCE U.S. FLAT TRACK CHAMPIONSHIP ILLINOIS STATE FAIRGROUNDS, SPRINGFIELD, IL SHORT TRACK AUGUST 31, 2002
SATURDAY, AUGUST 31, 2002 3:00 p.m. - Practice 4:15 p.m. - Qualifying heats 7:30 p.m. - 7:40 p.m. - 1st Progressive Insurance Grand National Heat 7:40 p.m. - 7:50 p.m. - 2nd Progressive Insurance Grand National Heat 7:50 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. - 3rd Progressive Insurance Grand National Heat 8:00 p.m. - 8:10 p.m. - 4th Progressive Insurance Grand National Heat 8:10 p.m. - 8:20 p.m. - 5th Progressive Insurance Grand National Heat 8:20 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. - 6th Progressive Insurance Grand National Heat 8:30 p.m. - 8:40 p.m. - 1st Progressive Insurance Grand National Semi 8:40 p.m. - 8:50 p.m. - 2nd Progressive Insurance Grand National Semi 8:50 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. - 3rd Progressive Insurance Grand National Semi 9:00 p.m. - 9:10 p.m. - 4th Progressive Insurance Grand National Semi 9:25 p.m. - 9:40 p.m. - AMA PROGRESSIVE INSURANCE GRAND NATIONAL FINAL
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS AMA PROGRESSIVE INSURANCE U.S. FLAT TRACK CHAMPIONSHIP ILLINOIS STATE FAIRGROUNDS, SPRINGFIELD, IL MILE SEPTEMBER 1, 2002
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 1, 2002 9:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. - Practice (extra practice time for SuperTracker testing) 11:15 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. - Qualifying Heats 1:30 p.m. - 1:40 p.m. - 1st 505 Heat 1:40 p.m. - 1:50 p.m. - 2nd 505 Heat 1:50 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. - 3rd 505 Heat 2:00 p.m. - 2:10 p.m. - 1st Progressive Insurance Grand National Heat 2:10 p.m. - 2:20 p.m. - 2nd Progressive Insurance Grand National Heat 2:20 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. - 3rd Progressive Insurance Grand National Heat 2:30 p.m. - 2:40 p.m. - 4th Progressive Insurance Grand National Heat 2:40 p.m. - 2:55 p.m. - 505 SUPPORT FINAL 3:05 p.m. - 3:15 p.m. - 1st Progressive Insurance Grand National Semi 3:15 p.m. - 3:25 p.m. - 2nd Progressive Insurance Grand National Semi 3:25 p.m. - 3:35p.m. - 3rd Progressive Insurance Grand National Semi 3:50 p.m. - 4:05 p.m. - AMA PROGRESSIVE INSURANCE GRAND NATIONAL FINAL