American Flat Track: The Next NASCAR?
Flat Track racing is quickly gaining popularity in America. Could it eventually become as popular as NASCAR among the nation's race fans? That idea was recently put forward in an article in Forbes Magazine.
Forbes interviewed American Flat Track CEO Michael Lock, whose resume includes executive positions with Triumph, Ducati, and Lamborghini. In the interview, Forbes asked what had attracted the Englishman to the job.
“Great product, passionate people in the company, passionate fans in the marketplace and an urgent need to review and modernize the business,” Lock said. “Human beings have a strong desire to be entertained and transported away from their everyday lives. I think this is eternal. A nostalgia-rich and heritage-laden sport like Flat Track has tremendous potential to thrill and delight as much in the future as it has done in the past. I think it just needs aligning to the expectations of today’s public.”
Lock has been a rider since his early teen years in England, and still has, in his own words, “a small garage full of bikes that are special and memorable to me. They are mainly loud, fast, uncomfortable and increasingly unsuitable to my oncoming middle-aged lifestyle. My favorites are my 1977 Laverda Jota and Honda’s greatest-ever bike, the V4-powered RC30.”
READ MORE: American Flat Track on NBC
The dynamics of flat track racing have always appealed to Lock.
“It’s America’s first extreme sport,” he said. “Motorcycles are being pitched sideways into dirt corners at the end of 130-mph-plus straights. The riders are often inches apart, hunting for the best line and are piloting bikes with no front brakes. Any race fan will appreciate the extreme levels of skill and bravery. The sub-plot of Harley Davidson versus Indian that recalls 60-year-old rivalries and the emerging new generation of young riders from all across the country, including a female racer, Shayna Texter, leading the championship – are all gripping entertainment.”
Lock acknowledged that this year’s contract with NBC Sports was a key component in the growth of American Flat Track, and that the network’s coverage in 85 million homes was already paying dividends.
“We want to create a whole new generation of AFT fans. New venues close to large cities, bigger and better participation by manufacturers and the growth of the TV show will all help. If we can drive better revenue into the sport, we can also help to get our riders and teams better compensated, too. That’s long overdue.”