When you go to an AMA event and the [American] Superbikes are on the track, or the Super Sports, or the Daytona Sportbikes are on the track, nobody knows which is which because they all sound the same! When the Harleys are on the track, everybody in the place, everybody, says, ‘The Harleys are out there!’ explains Terry Vance, president of Vance & Hines regarding the AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 Racing Series. ‘We can’t go to an event without people knowing we are out there.’”
Since the XR1200 first debuted in Europe, it also spawned the first race series to boot, the Henderson Harley-Davidson XR1200 Trophy Series. Terry Vance liked what he saw across the pond and thought, “There’s no reason we can’t do that here [in the States].” Soon enough, Vance approached David Atlas, chief operating officer for the American Motorcyclist Association’s (AMA) Pro Racing division to pitch a spec racing series using the XR1200 with Vance & Hines parts, and as they say, the rest is history. After some R&D the Vance & Hines XR1200 race kit was developed ($3,500), which includes the Widow 2-1-2 stainless exhaust, a Fuelpak fuel tuner, a sportier tail section with seat undertray kit, a belly pan (required for all AMA road racing), a 17-inch front wheel, steering damper, steering stop assembly, number plate, oil cooler relocator kit, decals, and new front fender.
The engine and trans would remain the same to keep it competitive, but a high-flow air filter can be used. Other modifications would be allowed. Teams can replace the factory rear shocks with more tunable systems, but the front forks must utilize the factory fork legs; however, the guts can utilize a valving system or cartridge-style setup, according to the AMA. As with all AMA Pro road racing, Dunlop tires and Sunoco Fuels will sponsor the XR1200 series.
Harley-Davidson serves as a contingency sponsor in that it contributes money to the overall purse. The company relies on its dealers to actually sponsor race teams. And there are many dealer-sponsored teams for 2011.
The AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 Racing Series debuted last year June 4-6, 2010 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. The 2010 spec-bike series (one-make racing with minimal modifications) consisted of five rounds, starting in Elkhart, then round two in Lexington, Ohio, round three in Alton, Virginia, round four in New Jersey, and finally Birmingham, Alabama, to finish up the inaugural season at Barber Motorsports Park.
Danny Eslick, was the overall winner of the 2010 XR1200 series, but missed the last two XR1200 events. Since he wasn’t successful repeating as the winner for the 2010 Daytona Sport Bike series, Eslick decided to sit the 2011 XR1200 season out. “I enjoyed it last year and it was a lot of fun but I kind of have bigger fish to fry in the [Daytona] Sport Bike class. We’re just trying to stay focused on our main goal and win another championship,” Eslick says. When asked about his thoughts on racing the Vance & Hines Harley, “The XR1200 series is awesome! There are a few things here and there that are different on other people’s bikes, but not much. It pretty much comes down to the rider on that side of it,” Eslick says.
What started with five races has almost doubled to eight confirmed races with a ninth to be added (venue has not been confirmed at time of print, check hotbikeweb.com for location information). After a total of 10 riders showed up at Elkhart for the inaugural run, Vance projects around 30 teams to be there for the series’ first anniversary race at Elkhart Lake. “I’m pretty sure we can be close to 30 bikes. We’ve sold enough kits to have at least 27-30 bikes at Elkhart,” Terry states.