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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Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).