Changes for AMA Pro Flat Track
AMA Pro Flat Track will see many changes in 2017…Photo: Andrea Wilson

Following the AMA Pro Flat Track season finale at the Santa Rosa Mile, AMA Pro Racing's CEO Michael Lock had some big announcements to make at the year-end banquet about the future of the series. The cliff notes version of those announcements was an effort to streamline and make the sport more understandable to current and future fans, starting with the name itself and a rebranding of the championship to American Flat Track (AFT).

"We are extremely excited about the rebranding of the series," said Michael Lock, CEO of AMA Pro Racing. "The rejuvenation of the sport will bring a new level of excitement to racers and fans. Everyone will be able to easily understand what's happening on the track and will be able to enjoy all of the action from the moment they arrive to when they head home. It's a very exciting time for the sport of professional Flat Track racing."

New American Flat Track logo
Changes start with a complete rebranding of the series to American Flat Track.Photo: Andrea Wilson

The confusion between American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) in Pickerton, Ohio and AMA Pro Racing owned by Daytona Motorsports Group (DMG) in Daytona Beach, Florida has been an issue since inception. To be fair, it was still confusing even before AMA Ohio sold its professional racing property to DMG back in 2008. Add to that, there was a lot of baggage that went with the AMA name after many years of racing. So it was decided to give the series a new name that reflected the sport and eliminated confusion.

American Flat Track will have a new class structure as well – AFT Twins and AFT Singles. The premier class – AFT Twins – has the sports best riders on fire-breathing twin-cylinder motorcycles (650 - 999cc), while the support class – AFT Singles – has up-and-coming riders on 450cc single-cylinder motorcycles.

Flat track singles
The support class, formerly known as GNC2, will only run singles.Photo: Andrea Wilson

The class restructuring was discussed last year, but it was finally made official last night along with the rebranding of the series. It’s another move that was made to simplify the sport and make it more understandable to new fans. If you follow the series regularly, it may not have seemed confusing, but it’d be like Valentino Rossi racing one Grand Prix on his Yamaha M1 and then racing a KTM or Honda Moto3 bike at another Grand Prix because Yamaha didn’t make a Moto3 bike.

That might sound a bit ridiculous, but it puts these Flat Track into perspective. It also brings up the point that the old class structure was similarly not appealing to manufacturers. The new class structure also allows one brand to claim the crown alongside their rider.

Flat track twins
There will also be a complete restructuring of the classes, with the premier class running twins only.Photo: Andrea Wilson

AMA Pro Racing also has made the move to change up the traditional race format to a tournament style of elimination races. The fastest 48 riders from timed qualifying advance to the heats. From there, the race program will consist of four six-lap Heats with nine of the 12 riders transferring to one of the two Semis. What was traditionally a last chance effort to make the Main, the new Semi format is a knockout round where 18 riders duke it out for the nine spots that transfer them to the 18-rider Main. The Main events themselves see little changes, with the premiere AFT Twins class keeping its traditional 25-lap Main and the support AFT Singles class sees a slight increase from 12 to 15 laps.

Keeping in line with the goals to streamline and modernize the series, AMA Pro Racing worked with their Advisory Group (made up riders and team members) and made changes to the rulebook. That new rulebook was said to be released at a later date.