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Indian Announces Riders Signed to First Factory Race Team Since 1953

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Indian announced today that it has signed three riders to contest AMA Pro Flat Track next year aboard the new Scout FTR750. Indian says this is its first factory racing effort since 1953.  Indian’s “Wrecking Crew” will consist of Bryan Smith, Brad Baker and Jared Mees.  Here is the full press release from Indian:

MINNEAPOLIS (September 26, 2016) — Indian Motorcycle®, America’s first motorcycle company, today announced the all-star members of its 2017 Wrecking Crew. Named after the famed Wrecking Crew of the 1940s and 1950s, the three riders will make history in 2017 as Indian Motorcycle continues its bold and aggressive return to AMA Pro Flat Track racing with its first factory racing effort since 1953.

The three riders were announced at the American Motorcyclists Association Flat Track Awards banquet following the Ramspur Winery Santa Rosa Mile AMA Pro Flat Track race in Santa Rosa, California. Indian Motorcycle is committed to winning, signing three of the world’s top riders who will live up to the legacy of the Indian Wrecking Crew of the 1940’s and 50’s that included Ernie Beckman, Bill Tuman and Bobby Hill.

Indian Motorcycle 2017 Wrecking Crew Team Members:

Bryan Smith:

“Flyin’” Bryan Smith, 33, from Flint, Michigan, began racing BMX at age six. He then moved to Flat Track and Ice Racing at age seven, and has been competing at the AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship level since 2001, gradually climbing the ranks every year. In 2015, Smith competed in his first X Games, winning gold in the Flat Track event. Smith earned his first Grand National Championship in the 2016 season.

Brad Baker:

AMA Pro Flat Track Expert Grand National Champion Brad “The Bullet” Baker, 23, originally hailing from Dryad, Washington, is the third youngest Grand National Champion in the history of the sport. Baker won his first two career victories at the Hagerstown Maryland and Pomona California half-miles and was also the 2011 GNC Expert Rookie of the Year. Baker took a dominating win at the Santa Rosa mile.

Ricky Howerton is the team manager for Smith and Baker.

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Jared Mees:

Multi-time AMA Grand National Champion Jared “Jammer” Mees, 30, won the AMA Grand National Twins Championship in 2009, the AMA Grand National Singles Championship in 2012, and the unified AMA Grand National Championship (GNC1) title in 2012, 2014 and 2015. Mees also became a Gold Medalist in the X Games in 2016, won the Superprestigio of the Americas in 2015, and the Troy Bayliss Classic in 2014. Mees earned a second place in the 2016 season.  Mees’ race bike will be handled by legendary flat track tuner Kenny Tolbert.

“Indian Motorcycle has a DNA in motorcycle racing. We will continue that push towards excellence on the street and in competition with the introduction of the Indian Scout FTR750,” said Gary Gray, Product Director for Indian Motorcycle. “AMA Pro Flat Track racing is highly competitive and we leaned on a global team for this factory effort and have engaged some of the best riders to exhibit our commitment to this legendary sport. That said, we are entering the series to do one thing – win.”

Having now successfully developed a lineup of nine award-winning models, Indian Motorcycle has fully dedicated its resources to a successful return to AMA Pro Flat Track racing with a purpose-built new race-only engine, a clean sheet design race bike, and world-class racing team that reflects the history and rich heritage of the brand. Indian Motorcycle was born out of competition, and throughout its history has used racing to develop and improve the product as well as expand the appeal of the brand.

The new Indian Scout FTR750 is powered by an all-new, race-only 750cc V-Twin that was developed in-house for professional flat track competition.  The chassis and overall design comes from the team at the Indian Motorcycle’s Medina, Minnesota headquarters with input from highly experienced race team personnel. The #3 Indian Motorcycle FTR750 was piloted in its debut by AMA flat track racing legend Joe Kopp on Sunday, September 25 at the Ramspur Winery Santa Rosa Mile AMA Pro Flat Track race in Santa Rosa, California. Kopp’s debut of the Indian Scout FTR750 was highly successful with strong heat races that put him on the inside front row for the final race. After quickly locking in his position in “the show” he attacked the Dash for Cash race and won. In the final race, Kopp took a holeshot when the green flag flew, and led the first lap. Over the course of the race the rough track conditions slowed the veteran racer, yet he still earned a solid 7th place in the final.

“Our team worked hard and had a pretty confident feeling coming into the weekend,” says Reid Wilson, Director of Marketing for Indian Motorcycle. “Our goal was to make the main event, a great achievement for a 100% new motorcycle racing a highly competitive GNC1 class. Joe was outstanding on the motorcycle and taking a strong win in the dash for cash was an epic first AMA Checkered flag for Indian Motorcycle since the early 1950’s. With our performance this weekend, and the announcement of the new riders, we are showing our commitment to both the sport and the history and future of Indian Motorcycle.”


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67 Comments

  1. WSHart says:

    ZZZZZZZzzZZZZZzzzZzzZZZzZzzzZZ…NASCRAP in the dirt. I doubt that many truly enjoy it but if so, good for them.

    As for Indian going racing? See the first line above.

    I don’t care about their past save that they pay homage as they see fit. Apparently that is being done on and off the dirt oval. The first of those two being not my cup of tea. But then I don’t drink tea.

  2. Bigshankhank says:

    I think Polaris figured out what was missing from previous (modern era) reincarnations of the Indian brand; you cannot simply trade on the name alone. One thing that really bothered me about the 90’s bikes was they were simply HD clones the likes of CMC or BigDog. With no development and only large capacity cruisers, they were nothing special. Now, the Indian Motorcyce Company at least developed their own engine, but again with only one real model, and that starting in the high $25+ thousands, no chance. Among my earliest rants on the internet was to decry the lack of a Sportster competitor. Well Polaris did that almost right out of the gate, and now here they are taking the next logical step in to racing. Whether Polaris uses Indian are a primarily cruiser/nostalgia brand and moves Victory toward more modern and diverse bike configurations, or vice versa, I think they are poised to build some cool American bikes in the next few years.

    • mickey says:

      It would be nice if Polaris saw fit to develop Victory as more modern up to date platforms rather than just more cruisers and left Indian as their V twin/nostalgia brand. Guess we will have to wait and see.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        That is what I initially thought would happen, particularly with all of the hype and tease around the bike that would be the Octane. However, after talking with some of the Victory guys at the last IMS I attended, they made it clear to me that they don’t have anything in their blood but cruisers and are still scratching their heads at the forced integration of Brammo into their brand. They said there is absolutely nothing in the works that doesn’t fit the cruiser mold. So unless Polaris forces something like that from the top down, I’m not hopeful.

  3. Jeremy in TX says:

    I confess that, as someone who really enjoys motorcycle racing, I’ve never cared much for flat track (save for the TTs which I think are really exciting.) Watching guys go around an oval just isn’t my cup of tea. Maybe I need to give it another shot.

    The resurgence of the genre is fascinating to me, though. Privateers have made the little Kawasaki twin very competitive. I wonder if it is getting to the point that Big Green will play a more active role in sport. Or will they just standby while Indian and H-D duke it out? As a smaller manufacturer, it would probably be a worthwhile investment for Kawasaki to get involved with some of these grassroots level racing genres.

    • mickey says:

      I know, you’re thinking Nascar on dirt huh?

      They are starting to build some pretty good flat trackers out of the Yamaha FZ-07’s as well I’ve read.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        I’ve watched the Superprestigio races in Spain these past couple of years and have enjoyed them. The shorter ovals are okay, especially when Marquez is out there. I always watch the Peoria TT. The “miles” though, I just can’t really watch. Definitely NASCAR on dirt as you said.

        If a few of the Japanese OEMs and some others get involved at the factory level, that would certainly get my attention though.

        • Bigshankhank says:

          Funny, because the really short ovals bug me, any race that is lost in the first lap sucks, and for short track if you don’t get into the first corner in the top five you may as head for the pits. Though I agree that the full milers are dull, the half and third miles are generally what I like.

      • mickey says:

        google Yamaha DT-07

  4. Mike says:

    Flat Track will get exciting again. Both Indian and Harley-Davidson now have new 750cc machines to race against each other, as well as against the other manufacturers. Harley’s new Flat Tracker is based on the Street 750.

    • mugwump says:

      Except that Harley’s “new” 750 doesn’t seem to be able to make the main, or the semi for that matter.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        Are they already racing it?

        • mugwump says:

          Davis Fischer has been riding it. I’m told the development is being handled by Vance and Hines. So far I’ve been severely disappointed by it. It’s part of the official HD Team, again making its debut very disappointing.

  5. Doc says:

    Just got off the phone with Indian! Because their email setup SUCKS! Anyway, told the dude on the other end I would like to see a street version of this bike. With minimal street equipment. Would take a serious look at it.

  6. Tom R says:

    “Indian Motorcycle®, America’s first motorcycle company, today announced the all-star members of its 2017 Wrecking Crew.”

    Not sure if “Wrecking Crew” is a desirable nickname for a motorcycle race team, or anything else related to motorcycling.

  7. Buzz says:

    Now if we could get the Del Mar mile to return I would be a happy man.

  8. BearChicken says:

    Indian/Polaris,
    Please build a Bonneville/Street Twin killer. I love those bikes, but I sure would rather ride American and not fool with a chain. Ergonomically speaking, Harley doesn’t build anything (non-cruiser) I’d want to ride. A V-twin Amercan standard motorcycle. That’s what would get me. Those closest thing I can thing of, although sportier, is the old Buells. I test rode the fleet one year and what a hoot ! I never bought one because the build quality seemed lacking, and I didn’t care for the way HD dealerships treated the brand. They sure were fun to ride though.

  9. thrus says:

    Indian can’t do anything that relates to anything that relates to prior to 2011 as that is when Polaris bought them and started using the name. There is no tie to their history other then as the name still existing due to a history of being sold. Here is a tip to Polaris “you can’t pay money to be older then you are”

    • GKS says:

      Ditto with KTM/Husqvarna

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      “Here is a tip to Polaris “you can’t pay money to be older then you are””

      I think Polaris has already nullified your opinion on that. So has Triumph. They both seem to have risen from the ashes just fine, and the market seems more than willing to connect the past with the present despite the void in between.

      The money has spoken!

    • Curly says:

      After so many failed attempts to bring Indian back to life over the decades I feel that Polaris has done it right and show their willingness to push into areas that may allow Indian to flourish and adapt to the market changes that are on the way. Jumping into flat track along with other manufacturers may reanimate an exciting sport that can be just as accessible and appealing as Motocross.

      • thrus says:

        They can definitely make a good bike and lead it to a future but pretending they are linking to their roots with this act is just silly. In 1953 Polaris was getting ready to be founded the next year. In 1953 Indian was changing hands for the first time. In 2016 Indian is on it’s 7th different parent company (1901 Original Indian, 1953 royal Enfields, 1963 Floyd Clymer, 1977-1999 a mess that I am calling 1, 1999 Indian motorcycle company of america, 2006 Indian Motorcycle Company, 2011 Polaris). The current Polaris and the one that raced before are so far separated they can’t be called the same company.

        A good bike is a good bike, Indian, Harley, Honda, or Buell’s name on the tank doesn’t make it good or bad it just tells you what company made it. Buy a bike based on the that bike’s merits and what you want at the time.

        • Auphliam says:

          1953 isn’t the first time the company changed hands. Both original founders had left the company by 1917. In 1930 they were purchased by E. Paul du Pont (Du Pont Automotive), and in 1945 were purchased again by a group investors that owned them until their first bankruptcy in 1953.

          If anything, the current Polaris ownership fits perfectly within the historical path of this company.

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          “The current Polaris and the one that raced before are so far separated they can’t be called the same company.”

          I disagree with that. Well, kind of anyway.

          I know that Polaris’s Indian is not the same company as the original Indian. Everyone knows that. But it is the same brand which I think consumers have demonstrated time and time again in many different industries is something altogether different and separate from the company. A company can build a brand, or a company can be built around a brand (or both.) You say that the name on the tank doesn’t make a bike good or bad, and that is true. But the name on the tank does have value completely separate from the merits of the bike itself.

          Others have tried this with Indian and failed. They weren’t true to the brand or committed enough or wealthy enough to create a quality product worthy of the mark. Polaris treats the Indian brand and invests in it like it is something very special. The products are very good, and the history of the company is being respected by the cards Polaris is playing. People see this and react positively.

          The brand itself, not the brick and mortar of a factory, is what fills the void between the original Indian and Polaris’s Indian. It is peoples’ embrace of the ideas, culture, lifestyle and any number of intangible things that make a brand. Heck, now that I think about it… The “company” is the least important factor when determining if it is an Indian or not.

          You are correct: Polaris’s Indian is not the same company. But Polaris’s Indians are real Indians as far as I am concerned. And the market seems to think so too. Not everyone will see it that way, and that is fine.

          • mickey says:

            excellent dissertation pup. Interesting view and one I can sort of see where you are coming from. I have always been one of those who say that this is a Polaris/Indian and not an Indian (single name) and that it is disengenous to buy or claim a heritage that you had absolutely nothing to do with. But I see where you are coming from.

            If Honda sold out to the Chinese (or to India, or wherever, only an example)who then began to manufacture Chinese bikes under the Honda name, I would no longer consider them Hondas, especially if a 60 year gap had passed since Honda Japan quit making bikes and the Chinese mfg started making bikes. I would not grant them history to 1949. I would not credit them with Honda’s racing success. But that’s just me.

            If the new Indian’s said “Polaris/Indian” on the side, or “Indian by Polaris” and “since 2011” on the derby covers (instead of 1901), I would be fine with that, and actually think it appropriate. I think claiming to be America’s oldest motorcycle company also disengenuous considering the 60 year gap since Indain went out of business. I think that title should go to Harley since you have been able to walk into a dealership and buy a new Harley off the floor every year since 1903… no half a century gaps.

            I have the same issue with Triumph and Norton, and Brough Superior, Excelsior etc.

            You cannot just buy or claim heritage. If I go down and have my name legally changed to George Washington, I have none of his blood in my veins, no claim to crossing the Delaware and defeating the British or being related to one of the founders of the country or the first President of the United States

            guess that’s the other side of the coin eh?

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            I understand where guys like you and thrus are coming from, and I don’t think your points or opinion are invalid. I just see it differently. While I think it is perfectly fine for them to claim to be a real Indian (as opposed to Polaris-Indian or something of the sort) and draw on Indian’s rich history, one thing we agree on is that I don’t like the “since 1901 / oldest American motorcycle company” bit either. I also find it disingenuous.

            Had I been in charge of Indian’s branding effort, I would have gone with a theme something like “Indian. A new chapter begins” or something of the sort, more of a resurrection story rather than pretending it never went away for several decades. But then there is probably a reason nobody is paying me a squillion bucks a year to manage Indian’s branding effort.

          • mickey says:

            Appreciate the civil discussion Jeremy and I think your “new chapter” idea would have been cracker-jack and spot on.

            Btw if Harley went out of business for 60 years and some company in Bangladash bought the rights and started making motorcycles under that name, no one in the world would consider them Harleys. Trust me on that.

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            I agree, but what if an American company bought the rights to Harley and started producing motorcycles in the same spirit? Would people consider them Harleys then? To you, perhaps not. But I think Triumph and Polaris have both proven that the market likely would.

          • mickey says:

            You are probably right … At least as long as they produced a 45 degree air cooled V Twin in cruiser guise, but if they bought the name and started building Gold Wing clones, or automatic scooters, and labeling them Harley Davidsons which they would be free to do since they owned the rights to do so… do you still think they would?

            That may be what is keeping Polaris-Indian from producing an up to date liquid cooled shaft drive tourer or sport tourer. It might be beyond their comfort level and they may be afraid of offending a new and expanding customer base if they veer too far from a big cruiser V twin with giant fenders with garish accoutrements. In other words they won’t build a Motus because their base won’t recognise that as an “Indian” being a V Four … there is history of an Indian inline 4 but to make a 1800-2000 cc bike like that today, it would be humongous, weigh a ton, and handle like a truck.

          • xLaYN says:

            Nice point Mickey.
            Nice point Jeremy.

            My non asked opinion is that you are pulling the same idea on opposite directions but I agree more with Mickey.

    • Auphliam says:

      Folks just gonna keep beatin that horse, huh?

      You know how much they care that you don’t want to make the connection? Yeah, exactly that much.

  10. redbirds says:

    Wise move by Indian to compete with Harley on this level.

    I would like to see a street version of this bike but think it unlikely. The cost of engineering and certifying this motor to meet EPA standards might be more than Indian would consider unless they believed a large demand would create profits worthy of the effort. If Indian does a street version they should change as little as possible from the original; it just looks right the way it is.

    • mugwump says:

      It’s the Harley model, I doubt you’ll see a street tracker. All you need is bragging rights to sell cruisers. Street tracker like supermoto’ don’t sell here, even though we invented both. Sad. I have a 300 cc street legal moto and am considering picking up an XL 1200S to make a tracker.

  11. EZ Mark says:

    Nice lineup. I guess Harley doesn’t have any interest in Flat Track anymore.

  12. Provologna says:

    A street bike based on that closed course race-only bike would be unspeakably awesome. I wonder how many riders would find it absolutely irresistible. I’d probably be among that group.

  13. Jim Saylors says:

    Great looking bike. I’m very excited to see Indian step into this arena. I loved it when Honda came in and stirred it up back in the 80s. Let’s hope H-D steps up to meet the challenge and not legislates rules to slow Indian’s bike down like they did Honda’s. Kudos to the builders of Kawasakis and Ducatis whom been in there throwing leather for the last several years. Forgive me If I missed other manufacturers whom been there too.

  14. mickey says:

    First off I think this is great, and an important mental move for Indian. I grew up with flat tracking. My brother was a pro flat tracker. My dad rode Indians. However, flat track racing is very much a forgotten sport. I dont read about it in the motorcycle magazines, I don’t see it on TV, I don’t see it on the Speed channel or on BEin sports. If you don’t live by a track which sanctions Flat Track races like San Jose or Peoria or whatever, you don’t even have a chance to see it in person, so I question it’s value to a company. Back when there was a Grand National Championship that included Road Racing, Flat Tracking, miles, half miles and short tracks and TT’s this kind of bike at least had a presence. Not so today. I’d venture to say if you showed this style bike to a millenial, they’d think it was some sort of bobber or something. And if you don’t build a street version of it, what’s the point today?

    • Provologna says:

      Considering most flat track bikes (I presume) are HD, Indian’s primary target, is it possible that flat track is of greater interest to potential Indian buyers vs. general MC riders?

      • mickey says:

        Absolutely. Indian riders or prospective Indian buyers will be interested in how they do, as long as they do well. However for the general motorcycle buying public this will have no impact at all. Tell a fellow that doesnt follow racing at all that Indian just won a flat track in Topeka and he will wonder why that is even worth mentioning.

        • redbirds says:

          Given the right promotion flat track could be popular I think. I attended one mile race in Atlanta in the early 70’s and saw some of the most exciting racing imaginable. BeIn Sport has been airing the Rally Cross championship from Europe and it has the same format as flat track with heat races and a main populated by heat winners. Very exciting to watch. I think flat track could be as successful.

          • mickey says:

            yea I’m not sure why American Flattrack fell by the wayside. Maybe it’s because it was dominated by one brand for so many years. Heck American roadracing basically went the same way, just disappeared from the scene for a decade or so. Now it’s attempting a comeback. Maybe flat track can make a comeback as well. I always enjoyed watching pro flat track, especially the Miles.

          • GKS says:

            DMG/AMA Pro/American Flat Track should look back at their failed roadrace series and learn from what MotoAmerica has done to invigorate it. That is a less expensive, smaller bike (perhaps spec) class that gives the aspiring pro rider a place to start. Like MotoAmerica’s KTM RC390 class.
            I remember back in the 70’s, the AMA (Ohio) had a three tiered class structure with novices on 250s, and juniors and experts on twins.
            Increase participation at the grassroots level and you will get more of the best that make it to the top level.

  15. Jeremy in TX says:

    They managed to scoop up Mees AND Baker? Man, Indian is going all in with this. It will be fun to watch the old rivalry with HD get underway.

  16. Motorhead says:

    My guess is that if you convert a race engine like this one into street-legal version, it loses too much horsepower and torque and then buyers like you and I say things like, “Heck, I can buy a Japanese 450 that is more powerful than that!” And then Polaris and HD sit with bikes nobody wants. Just sayin’. Too bad. I want one of these.

  17. Mick says:

    It would sure be nice if these guys pretended to be Polaris and sold the darn bike just the way it is. See what a front line 450 motocross bike is going for now days? There are not a lot of really fancy parts on dirt track bikes. I don’t get it. A closed course customer bike can’t be that hard to do.

    Heck, offer a few for sale and see how quick they get snapped up.

  18. Dino says:

    Slap a front brake on it, hang a headlight and whatever else you need to qualify for street use and I see a true link to Indian history.

    Gidee-yup!

  19. Scotty says:

    All the very best to them – its great to see a truly historic name coming back. And the sport has never been healthier by the looks of the grids.

  20. Curly says:

    Glad to see them get back in. I worked for Ted Edwards when I first got into the motorcycle business in 1972. He was a famous Indian Dirt track racer in the 1940s, finished 2nd at Daytona in 1947 and sold Indians until they folded in the 50s. He’d be happy to see them on the track again.

    http://georgiaracinghof.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/TedAndTeddyEdwards_2cp4w9y.jpg

  21. Gary says:

    The only reason a factory races on Sunday is to sell on Monday. I hope Indian puts that engine and frame to use in a street-standard or sport bike. It certainly looks as though it has the makings of a great street bike.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      Harley races flat track and never bothered to create anything interesting from the endeavor. I’m not sure Indian plans anything special either. From a marketing standpoint, I think their main goal is to further define their brand as a true and viable alternative to a Harley Davidson.

      • Dave says:

        It’s brand building (to whoever is watching). It would be fair to say that the HD flat track bike shares as much in common with the street bikes they sell as Ford, Chevy, and Dodge NASCARs & Trophy trucks share with the road going cars they sell.

  22. st1100boy says:

    That’s quite a lineup. Indian really is going big. I saw Kopp brought it home in 7th yesterday at Santa Rosa–not a bad first race.