Photo courtesy American Flat Track

American Flat Track motorcycle racing series unveils 2019 schedule

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American Flat Track, the world’s premier dirt track motorcycle racing series and one of the longest-running championships in the history of motorsports televised on NBCSN, on Thursday announced its provisional 2019 race schedule.

Next year’s 18-race slate features two new venues and the series’ return to Southern California.

The season kicks off March 14 at Daytona International Speedway with the annual DAYTONA TT and ends in fall at the MetLife Sports Complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey (date to be announced).

The two new events on the schedule are Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park (formerly Firebird Raceway) in Chandler, Arizona, just south of Phoenix, as well as the short track near Laconia, New Hampshire.

The latter event – for which a location will be announced in the near future – will likely be tied in with the annual Laconia Bike Week (June 8-16).

The series returns to Southern California to the half-mile at Perris Auto Speedway in Perris, California, site of the 2017 championship event.

All told, the 2019 schedule will have good balance with six mile-long tracks, five half-mile tracks, four short tracks and five TTs. Also, while the schedule is 18 races, AFT Singles run a TT and Short Track before each of the two Springfield Mile events.

“AFT is coming off the back of a record-breaking season and we have planned the 2019 schedule to push things to the next level,” AFT CEO Michael Lock said in a media release. “We are delighted to be restoring the series to Southern California and taking American Flat Track to New England next summer, two traditional hotbeds of professional motorcycle racing.”

AFT enters its third year of broadcast coverage on NBCSN and its sixth year of live streaming on FansChoice.tv.

The series is coming off a record-breaking 2018 season when it drew over 3 million viewers – either at-track, on TV or on live streaming – the largest combined audience in series history.

Two races remain to be shown this year on NBCSN, as well as two re-airs, meaning the 3-plus million viewer total is sure to climb before 2018 comes to a close.

The first is the Indian Motorcycle Minnesota Mile on Sunday, October 4 at 5 pm ET (with a re-air on Oct. 17 at 4 pm ET).

The second race is the Meadowlands Mile presented by Ducati AFT season finale on Sunday, October 21 at 2 pm ET (with a re-air on October 24 at 4 pm ET).

Here is the provisional 2019 American Flat Track schedule:

1. March 14: Daytona TT – Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, FL

2. March 23: Atlanta Short Track – Dixie Speedway, Woodstock, GA

3. April 20: Texas Half-Mile – Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth, TX

4. April 27: Wild Horse TT – Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, Chandler, AZ

5. May 11: Perris Half-Mile – Perris Auto Speedway, Perris, CA

6. May 18: Sacramento Mile – Cal Expo, Sacramento, CA

7. May 26: Springfield Mile I – Illinois State Fairgrounds, Springfield, IL (AFT Singles Springfield TT same weekend)

8. June 1: Red Mile – Red Mile, Lexington, KY

9. June 15: Laconia Short Track – TBA, New Hampshire

10. June 29: Lima Half-Mile – Allen County Fairgrounds, Lima, OH

11. July 6: New York Short Track – Weedsport Speedway, Weedsport, NY

12. August 4: Buffalo Chip TT – Buffalo Chip, Sturgis, SD

13. August 6: Black Hills Half-Mile – Black Hills Speedway, Rapid City, SD

14. August 17: Peoria TT – Peoria Motorcycle Club, Peoria, IL

15. September 1: Springfield Mile II – Illinois State Fairgrounds, Springfield, IL (AFT Singles Springfield Short Track same weekend)

16. September 7: Williams Grove Half-Mile – Williams Grove Speedway, Mechanicsburg, PA

17. September 21: Minnesota Mile – Canterbury Park, Shakopee, MN

18. TBA: Meadowlands Mile – Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment, East Rutherford, NJ

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Dean Wilson’s life as a privateer reconnects the rider to his roots

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One of the added benefits of subscribing to NBC Sports Gold is the in-depth interviews from each Saturday’s action. Last week between the first and second rounds of qualification for the Glendale Supercross race, a relaxed and confident Dean Wilson joined Race Day Live’s Daniel Blair and Jim Holley to review his fourth-place finish in the season opener and his mindset moving forward.

Losing factory support from Rockstar / Husqvarna at the end of 2018 was not exactly what Wilson had in mind, but after getting off to a great start in the first two races this season, it may well have been a blessing in disguise.

The life of a privateer is not exactly relaxed, but it affords a rider the opportunity to call his own shots. For Wilson, it is also a way to reconnect with the grassroots feel that attracted him to Supercross in the first place.

“I think that’s what I like,” Wilson said on Race Day Live. “I think that’s the environment and atmosphere I like – it’s just more low key. At Anaheim I, you would think I was local racing at Glen Helen. I had a Sprinter and I had another trailer just to chill in, do my spins. It was so cold I had a little propane heater to warm me up. But I like that. That’s what works for me.”

MORE: Dean Wilson’s Cinderella story at Anaheim 

The program Wilson was able to put together during the offseason produced back-to back top 10s – a much better start to the 2019 season than he experienced last year.

In 2018, Wilson did not score a top 10 until his fourth feature at San Diego. His first top five would not come until late March in Indianapolis.

This year Wilson got the hole shot and led 14 laps at Anaheim in the opener before finishing fourth. Last week in Glendale, he finished eighth.

“What was going through my head was ‘it’s about time; it’s about five years too late to lead some laps here,’ ” Wilson described his emotion as he led at Anaheim. “It was nice because I did a lot of work in the off-season and my starts were really good. The thing is I haven’t over-analyzed my starts and practice.”

At Anaheim I, Wilson struggled with visibility as his goggles began to get fouled by mud. A once comfortable lead was eroded by Justin Barcia. With pressure from behind, Wilson made a minor mistake that was then compounded by lapped traffic.

“I was leading my laps; I was just trying to hit my marks. I was doing really well until I made a couple of mistakes. I couldn’t hit that middle double, double … the rut was getting real chewed out, but I was already on the right side where you couldn’t double the middle part so you had to go roll, roll, roll – and Barcia was already on me.”

Wilson’s pair of top 10s was enough to keep him fifth in the standings, three points behind Glendale’s winner Blake Baggett.

For more, watch the video above.

Next Race: Anaheim II Jan. 19, 11 p.m., NBCSN

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