Some hot competition on the dark clay in Chico


After a two week postponement due to rain, American Flat Track made its much anticipated inaugural debut at the Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, California. The West Coast Swing headed north after Ventura in Southern California on the previous Saturday. Brad Sweet of SLC Promotions (Brad, Kyle Larson, Coby Copeland) had been excited for over a year to bring two wheel dirt track racing to the high banked, quarter mile, dark clay oval in Chico.

What a night of racing it would be.

Late in the day, we saw Twins riders gathered along the fence near the entrance of turn 3 to watch the Singles LCQ winner, #157 Ian Wolfe make a gutsy move up the bank, to ride the high line to try to make the Main. Ian’s move secured him that spot and captured everyone’s attention. The riders all got ready to race that high line. The fans were not disappointed with the exciting show!

Singles riders #157 Ian Wolfe and #151 Cole Frederickson battling on the high line; Twins riders along the fence to watch the Singles action.

The racing action shifted from down low in the turns to up high, and Sprint Car “drifts” became an aggressive racing tactic for the extremely brave. The racing was thrilling and the riding outstanding. Fans commented, the next day at a Lodi Cycle Bowl short track race, “That was the best AFT racing that I’ve seen in a long time!”

#1 Twins plate holder Jared Mees running down #69 Sammy Halbert, literally wheel to wheel.

Riding talent among the Twins riders was in no short supply as Dallas Daniels took on Jared Mees to take the lead at one point during the race. Sammy Halbert, who had led in early laps, wasn’t about to give up a podium spot and battled with Brandon Robinson to secure third place on his H-D XR750.

Halbert and #44 Brandon Robinson in a desperate duel for a podium spot.

In the Singles Main, #1 Kody Kopp was able to snag the top spot on the podium over a hard charging #88 Chase Saathoff, followed by #48 Trent Lowe.
Earlier, #10 James Ott along with #88 Chase Saathoff and #115 Justin Anselmi had been watching the high groove develop on the track during practice on the outside of Turn 3, and Saathoff played it well to take a podium position by race end.

Singles #1 plate holder Kody Kopp holding off the high attack of #88 Chase Saathoff.

During the intermission between the Main events, fans were treated to the “Running of the Buls” featuring many local riders, whom we photograph regularly at the Lodi Cycle Bowl 125 miles south of Chico. Although this class celebrates the Spanish builder Bultaco, 250cc 2-strokes can also enter the competition. Fittingly, it was #1 Jonathan Schaefer on his Bultaco who took the top spot, followed by #54 Micheal Rodrigues second, and #33 Kenny Netto to complete the podium. #47 Bobby Tocco, who DNS, lent his extra set of leathers to Michael. That’s says a lot about the camaraderie between riders at any dirt track event.

#1 Bultaco class plate holder Jonathan Schaefer under pressure from #54 Michael Rodrigues. So cool to see, hear and smell these old two-strokes racing on the oval.

We hope to photograph this race again next year, if AFT returns to Chico. This is an exciting stop in Northern California. The riders will no doubt strategize how to make the most of their abilities to drift up in these high banking corners, in order to excite dirt track racing fans as they ride the cushion!

Barb Nickless
*Photos by Geoff Nickless

For more on American Flat Track racing, click HERE.


NE Ga Motorsports

1 Comment

  1. Mike Hardy

    Great article …. I was at the Race and it was definitely one of the best I’ve experienced in years …. Hats off to AFT and Silver Dollar Speedway.
    Also, special thanks to Barb Nickless
    and Geoff Nickless for their dedication to the Sport 🏁


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