Flat Track racing (also referred to as “Dirt Track”) takes place on a flat oval dirt track, which may or may not have banked corners. The racers compete for a given number of laps around the track, pitching their machines sideways through the corners and sliding their left feet along on steel shoes for balance. Riders tuck in close to their machines down the straights for smoother aerodynamics, and drafting skills are crucial. The goal is simple…be the first rider to the checked flag on the last lap! A TT is a similar type of race, but differs from a regular flat track event by including a right turn and a jump.
This type of racing evolved from board-track racing, which at the dawn of the era of American motorcycling were held on tracks made of wooden boards with banked corners, and sometimes elevated straights (and in fact, some of them were actually round). Racing motorcycles in this era, from the early 1900s to the 1920s, were practically bicycles with big motors…and no brakes. Crashes were commonly caused by warped and broken boards in the track, and it was during this formative era that the riders all started wearing heavy leather jackets and pants, which is what you’ll see modern flat trackers wearing…only now, their primary purpose isn’t to prevent splinters!
By the end of the 1920s, many “motordromes” were being shut down, arguably because of the propensity for injury from the wooden tracks. By then there had been one World War, and another was on it’s way – after WWII, similar racing with far superior machines would begin on oval tracks made of dirt, not wood, and the modern age of flat track was born.
There are youth and ATV flat track classes too!