American Motorcyclist August 2018

Writing The Future Of American Flat Track

Four-Day Amateur Event Drew Racers From Around Globe

Michael Mayer (No. 33)

Among the 150 or so riders who competed for 22 AMA No. 1 plates at the 2018 AMA Flat Track Grand Championship at the Illinois State Fairgrounds, many hailed from Illinois or a nearby state.

Others drove from as far away as California or Washington State to compete at the event. A few riders even flew themselves and their motorcycles from Australia to take part in the United States’ most prestigious amateur flat track championship.

Among the three Australian riders who competed at the event, Tom Drane from Forbes, New South Wales, made the most of his and his family’s long trip to Springfield. Drane won three class championships and the 2018 AMA Youth Flat Track Racer of the Year Award.

According to Drane’s father Matt, it was the family’s first time traveling to the United States for a racing event.

Two of the event’s star performers trekked from the West Coast with their families to claim AMA No. 1 plates.

Dominic Demario, 13, traveled from Elk Grove, Calif., to compete in Springfield. It was the family’s second year attending the AMA Flat Track Grand Championship. Demario has been competing in flat track for eight years and won two class championships.

“Traveling to go racing is nothing new for us,” Demarino’s father said. “We sometimes leave at 3 a.m. to avoid traffic in California. We will drive 8 hours to race for 4 hours and then turn right back around and drive 8 hours home.”

Another competitor who made the most of a long trip to Springfield was Kody Kopp. It was the Kopp family’s third time traveling from Mica, Wash., to allow Kody to compete at the AMA Flat Track Grand Championship. Kopp ended up winning the 201cc-250cc class title and taking home the 2018 AMA Fast Brain Award.

“It is a 32-hour drive to get here,” Kopp’s father, Joe, said after the event’s awards ceremony. “We have to get going soon, because Kody has to be back in school on Monday.”

Some competitors did not travel far to the event but enjoyed a special experience while they were there.

Michael Mayer of Carbondale, Ill., made the short trip to the event to compete against family. Both Mayer and his uncle Dallas Mayer finished inside the top-three in the Senior 40+ Class.

Some of the families were able to race because of support they have received from others.

The Ross family traveled from Flint, Mich., to Springfield with support from pro flat track racer Bryan Smith. Billy Ross had been racing go karts but made the switch to flat track motorcycle racing just over a year ago. It was Billy Ross and his father Bill’s second time attending the AMA Flat Track Grand Championship.

“Bryan Smith is from our area of Michigan, and he has done a lot to help us get into flat track racing and get to this event,” the elder Ross said.

For some riders, competing at the AMA Flat Track Grand Championship is nothing new. Eric Bland of Thornton, Colo., has been racing flat track on and off for 47 years.

“There aren’t a lot of flat track racing venues in Colorado,” he said. “I have to travel a lot in order to race.”

Full race results from the event can be found at