Brad "The Bullet" Baker is days away from competing in the first-ever Harley-Davidson Flat-Track Racing event at X Games Austin. Known for career-making, limit-pushing athletic stunts, X Games might be the perfect venue for this no-holds-barred form of motorcycle racing where heroes of the sport, like Baker, leave nothing less than their best on the course as they hurl high-performance motorcycles around an oval track at speeds reaching well above 100 mph — only to greet each other in the corners, inches apart.
Flat-track racing's heritage runs as deep as its spectators' love of it. For Baker, 22, it was his father’s own involvement in the sport that got both he and his brother eager to pursue it. "I became interested in flat-track because it was introduced to me when I first started riding," he says. "My dad started racing it in the '70s."
Training involves getting a feel for the bike; the speed, the closeness of the other riders and learning to pass is mostly done on the racetrack. Because practice is paramount, Baker recently incorporated drilling his starts with a starting gate — something the X Games event will feature, but that not many AMA Pro races do.
As for the danger? "Lots of things can go wrong: mechanical failures, someone will have a blown engine or brakes go out; these things have taken riders in the past,” Baker shares. “Last weekend, going 140 mph at the end of the straightaway where a lot of the passes happen, inches away from another rider or guard rail — it can get dangerous because things happen really quick. Raw speed coupled with no runoff are the most dangerous components of this racing style."
Only time will reveal if it’ll be a good fit for the X Games, but Baker predicts it will. "It's not about going head to head," he explains. "It's 12 guys on the racetrack in a free-for-all. There's no judging. It's close, intense, fast, raw racing that is left on the track. This event brings a new element to X Games."
X Games Austin 2015 will take place from June 4–7 on ESPN and ABC. X Games Harley-Davidson Flat Track happens June 4 at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, and will be shown live on ESPN at 8:30 p.m. ET, 5:30 p.m. PT.
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