Harley Racers Fulfilling Dream To Compete At Red Bull Indianapolis GP

Thursday, August 18, 2011

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Pete Demas leans into a turn while testing his Harley-Davidson racing bike Aug. 18 at IMS for the AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 series races during the Red Bull Indianapolis GP on Aug. 26-28.

Nearly 20 riders in the AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 series tested their Harley-Davidson racing motorcycles Thursday, Aug. 18 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for the Red Bull Indianapolis GP on Aug. 26-28.

The practice session served as the Brickyard debut for the XR1200 series and the first time that Harley-Davidson motorcycles and their distinctive V-Twin rumble have run at speed at IMS since the first motor race at the facility in August 1909.

The Harleys will compete in two AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 races at IMS, at 4:10 p.m. (ET) Saturday, Aug. 27 and 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 28.

Among the riders testing their XR1200 machines for the first time on the newly repaved, 16-turn, 2.621-mile circuit were 2010 United Kingdom XR1200 champion Jeremy McWilliams and 2011 AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 points leader Chris Fillmore.

Former MotoGP standout McWilliams, a 47-year-old native of Northern Ireland, will ride for Harley-Davidson of Bloomington, Ind., with support from Warr’s Racing of London.

“It’s a bit of a dream come true,” McWilliams said. “I’ve never been to the Brickyard as you call it, and it’s lovely to be here. I’m pretty blown away by the size of the place. It’s a pretty good layout, and I’m really enjoying the fast sections.”

McWilliams appreciates the history of Harley’s return to IMS for the first time in 102 years.

“That’s incredible,” he said. “This class only started a year and a half ago in America, and to grow it that quickly is pretty awesome. But then we know that Harley over here is such an iconic brand, and it’s a fun race to be taking part in.”

Fillmore, from Oxford, Mich., leads the U.S. XR1200 standings as a rookie on the strength of three victories. He competed in AMA Daytona SportBike in 2009-10 and also has raced in Supermoto and motocross.

“It’s suiting me pretty well,” Fillmore said of XR1200 racing. “It feels comfortable with the big wide bars, and it kind of goes back to my days with Supermoto a little bit.”

Fillmore never set foot inside IMS before today. The memories from the test will last a long time.

“I came here this morning and I walked out of the garage and walked right on to pit road before any sessions started, and it kind of gave me goose bumps looking down the start stretch,” he said. “The facility is world-class looking, and it’s definitely going to be neat to line up here in front of all the fans. It’s going to be exciting, and we’ll try not to let the nerves get to us too much.”

The test also held special significance for Mike Morgan, a resident of Goshen, Ind., who is fulfilling a lifelong ambition to race at the Brickyard.

“Not in my wildest dreams did I think this would ever happen,” Morgan said. “It’s like a dream come true. I’m speechless. The 100-year anniversary was just a couple months ago, and now we’re here racing motorcycles – and Harleys, at that – so it’s amazing.”

Morgan and McWilliams aren’t the only XR1200 racers with Indiana connections.

Gene Burcham of Indianapolis is racing an entry with support from Dreyer Motorsports and ERMCO Electric of Indianapolis. Shawn Higbee of Milwaukee will ride a machine fielded by Indianapolis Southside Harley-Davidson.

AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 testing will continue from 9 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m. Friday. Also testing from 11 a.m.-noon and 4-5 p.m. Friday will be young American stars JD Beach and Jake Gagne, who will compete in the Moto2 class at the Red Bull Indianapolis GP.

The public is welcome to view the test session Friday from the South Terrace grandstands adjacent to the IMS Hall of Fame Museum. Admission is free.

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2011 Red Bull Indianapolis GP tickets: 2011 Red Bull Indianapolis GP tickets are on sale now.

To buy tickets, visit www.imstix.com, call the IMS ticket office at (317) 492-6700 or (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area or visit the ticket office at the IMS Administration Building at the corner of Georgetown Road and 16th Street. Ticket office and phone hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) Monday-Friday.

The 2011 Red Bull Indianapolis GP is scheduled for Aug. 26-28 at IMS.

Race Day general admission tickets cost $40, with Friday general admission $10 and Saturday general admission $20. A three-day general admission ticket is $60. A Friday-Saturday general admission ticket is $25.

Children ages 12 and under will be admitted free any of the three days of the event when accompanied by an adult with a general admission ticket.

Race Day reserved seat prices will start at $70.