Progressive American Flat Track will finally make its long-awaited return to Castle Rock Race Park for this weekend’s 28th Castle Rock TT in Castle Rock, Washington, on Saturday, August 13.
Prior to the eruption of nearby Mt. St. Helens weeks ahead to the scheduled race date in 1980, the event was widely recognized as one of the nation’s most important motorcycle races, regardless of discipline.
Since its glory days, the Castle Rock TT has returned to the Progressive AFT calendar for stints in the ‘90s, ‘00s, and ‘10s, connecting its original heroes – riders such as Dick Mann, Mert Lawwill, and Jay Springsteen – with a new generation of stars, including the likes of Chris Carr and Sammy Halbert (No. 69 Mission Roof Systems Indian FTR750).
Halbert, who hails from Graham, Washington, is a three-time Mission SuperTwins presented by S&S Cycle Main Event winner of the Castle Rock TT, boasting victories in 2007, 2011, and 2012. He’ll be back in action this weekend looking to add a fourth win to his impressive tally.
However, he’s not the only local ace with race-winning expectations. He’s not even the one most heavily favored. With five wins in the series’ most recent six TTs, JD Beach (No. 95 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT) would be considered the odds-on favorite at just about any TT, let alone one that’s basically set in his boyhood backyard, where he grew up racing.
Despite spending the bulk of his professional career collecting race wins and championships on pavement, Beach already ranks inside the top ten in career Progressive AFT TT wins. If he picks up another this weekend, he’ll not only move into a four-way tie for sixth all-time, he’ll also be within one-race striking distance of the championship lead no matter what anyone else does.
That said, the three riders currently leading him in the standings – Jared Mees (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle/Progressive Insurance FTR750), Briar Bauman (No. 3 Indian Motorcycle/Progressive Insurance FTR750), and Dallas Daniels (No. 32 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT) – all have serious TT skills of their own, along with a keen appreciation for history, which will similarly fuel them this weekend.
Meanwhile, any number of riders could emerge from the stacked field and prove to be spoilers at a track that was last on the schedule in 2014. That long list includes prior TT podium finishers Jarod Vanderkooi (No. 20 Mission Roof Systems Indian FTR750) and Bronson Bauman (No. 37 Latus Motors Racing Harley-Davidson XG750R), along with Warren, Oregon native Davis Fisher (No. 67 Bob Lanphere’s BMC Racing Indian FTR750).
Mission Production Twins presented by Vance & Hines
Jesse Janisch (No. 33 Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson XG750R) saw his recent run of perfection foiled at last weekend’s Progressive Black Hills Half-Mile and his Mission Production Twins presented by Vance & Hines championship lead nearly halved in the process.
With that in mind, Janisch is likely pleased to see another TT arrive at this time. The Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson star is already the all-time winningest TT rider in Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER history. If he wins again this weekend, he’ll hold that distinction in Mission Production Twins as well.
And he’ll likely want to increase his advantage with some tracks more suited to the style and strengths of defending champion Cory Texter (No. 1 G&G Racing/Yamaha Racing Yamaha MT-07) looming on the schedule in what promises to be a thrilling title fight right down to the season’s final checkered flag.
And don’t count out the hyper versatile Johnny Lewis (No. 10 Moto Anatomy X Powered by Royal Enfield 650), who finished as the runner-up to Janisch at the Peoria TT a couple weeks back.
Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER
The return to Castle Rock has served as an outstanding reminder that the Pacific Northwest is a serious dirt track talent hotbed. Along with the aforementioned Halbert and Beach, one of the most high-profile home-state heroes competing this weekend is Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER title leader Kody Kopp (No. 12 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-FFE).
Kopp’s form has been such this year that back-to-back fourth- and fifth-place finishes feel like something of a slump. The Mica, Washington native will be hungry to return to his winning ways this weekend with the support of the home crowd behind him.
Second-ranked Morgen Mischler (No. 13 American Honda/Progressive Insurance CRF450R) was never really regarded as a TT ace, but he changed some minds two weeks back when he finished as the runner-up to Max Whale (No. 18 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-FFE) at the Peoria TT.
While still 44 points behind Kopp, Mischler has made up ground with consecutive runner-ups and looks to have rediscovered the form that saw him score two wins and four podiums in the season’s opening five races.
Mischler’s teammates, Chase Saathoff (No. 106 American Honda/Progressive Insurance CRF450R) and Dalton Gauthier (No. 79 American Honda/Progressive Insurance CRF450R), could also pose a threat, along with last weekend’s winner and Peoria TT podium finisher Trevor Brunner (No. 21 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F).
If you’re looking for a dark horse pick, you might want to consider Snohomish, Washington’s Jacob Lehmann (No. 14 Roof Systems of Dallas/Bullet Strong Racing). Ten years ago, Lehmann entered the Castle Rock TT to compete in his first-career Progressive AFT event… and won.
The Castle Rock TT is destined to be among the most unique and memorable on the entire tour as it will run as the featured attraction of an epic motorcycle event branded “The Return of Castle Rock” and co-promoted by The One Motorcycle Show, the world’s largest and best-known custom motorcycle show.
Stunt performer, actor, snowboarder, and Jackass-alum Danger Ehren will serve as the event’s Grand Marshal, while Truncheon Things will be playing Clash covers in the Beer Garden ahead of Opening Ceremonies and Portland’s DJ LéMix will be providing music between races.
Along with all the associated activities, there will be plenty to keep fans entertained at the venue, including numerous vendors, a variety of food and beverage options, there will also be a special Castle Rock TT Legends Ceremony including the likes of champions Steve Baker, Joe Kopp, Brad Baker and many others, who will have their bikes on display and be signing autographs.
Visit https://store.americanflattrack.com/ebooking/ticket/view/id/3855 to reserve your tickets today. General Admission Grandstand tickets are available for just $40 with kids 12 and under free when accompanied by an adult.
Paddock Access Upgrades are also available for purchase, which provide all-day access to the pits where fans can scope out the world’s fastest dirt track motorcycles and get up close and personal with the stars of the sport.
Gates will open for fans at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT with Opening Ceremonies scheduled to begin at 10:00 p.m. ET/7:00 p.m. PT ahead of the day’s Main Event program. You can catch the livestream of all the weekend’s racing activities on FansChoice.tv. FansChoice.tv provides free-to-view livestreaming of Practice and Qualifying. FansChoice.tv subscribers will then be able to watch the drama unfold from Opening Ceremonies through the Semis, Main Events, and podium celebrations. FansChoice.tv offers two subscription options, granting unlimited access to premium AFT content. Monthly subscriptions start at just $7.99, while a six-month subscription is available for $44.99.
The Castle Rock TT will premiere on FS1 on Sunday, August 21, at 11:30 a.m. ET/8:30 a.m. PT, including exclusive features, cutting-edge aerial drone and onboard footage, and expert commentary.
For more information on Progressive AFT visit https://www.americanflattrack.com.To score the latest gear for the Progressive American Flat Track fan, visit our official merchandise store at https://store.americanflattrack.com.
How to Watch:
FOX Sports and FansChoice.tv are the official homes for coverage of Progressive American Flat Track. For the 2022 season, all races will premiere in one-hour telecasts on FS1 during highly desirable weekend time slots. The complete schedule can be viewed at https://www.americanflattrack.com/events-foxsports. FansChoice.tv provides livestreaming coverage of every Progressive AFT round at http://www.FansChoice.tv.