Super Hooligan Racing | Riding A Roland Sands Indian
Dirt track racing is nothing new. In fact, it’s one of the oldest forms of motorcycle racing, and arguably one of the gnarliest, as riders hurl themselves around a dirt oval at speeds that most mere mortals probably wouldn’t even dream of. Introduced to the masses in the popular film On Any Sunday—which featured some of the sport’s most iconic riders, including Mert Lawwill, Dick Mann, Gene Romero, Jim Rice, and Dave Aldana—dirt track quickly grew in popularity. Fast-forward to today, and not too much has changed when it comes to the motorcycles and racing rules. The bikes are still insanely fast, riders insanely brave, and the tracks are still unforgiving.
As the years have passed, though, dirt track has begun to lose a bit of momentum. Rider attendance has dropped and fans have slowly decided to go elsewhere to get their racing fix. Thankfully over the past few years, former racer and popular custom bike builder Roland Sands has begun to take a major interest in dirt track, particularly the Hooligan “run-what-ya-brung” class. Over the last eight years, Sands and his closest friends have been participating in numerous Hooligan events locally in California, and around the country, racing just about any type of bike he can get his hands on or build. “We started racing out at Costa Mesa about 10 years ago at harley night with Rad Brad Oxley. He really got the hooligan idea off the ground. Hell on Wheels has also been a big proponent of Hooligan racing. Back then it was all about straight-up fun,” Sands said of the start of Hooligan racing. “We started racing Harley Softails which are about 800 lbs. out there, and it was predominantly a Bunch of dudes racing heavy American twins. It was a full sideshow that was about crashing and entertaining the crowd as much as it was about racing.” Since that time, Hooligan racing has grown into a somewhat legitimate class, and this year the Hooligans were welcomed with open arms by the AMA to compete at the Super Prestigio short track race in Las Vegas alongside the stars of dirt track.
We were on hand to not only take in the spectacle that is Hooligan racing, but to also compete with Brendan Lutes aboard a custom-built Roland Sands Indian Scout Sixty and Meta’s Ben Giese on a Yamaha Bolt built by Roland Sands. “I’ve never experienced dirt track before, and when the opportunity arose to ride a custom RSD bike, I couldn’t pass it up,” Lutes said. “Riding that heavy bike around the tight Super Prestigio track was a little daunting, but after a the first practice session, I got the hang of it and had an absolute blast.” After qualifying in sixth, Lutes parlayed that into a solid evening, qualifying into the main event where he eventually finished eighth after crashing on the start. In spite of the crash, he left the track with an ear-to-ear grin.
Having fun in Hooligan racing is key, as the bikes aren’t purpose built for dirt track, making it all the more entertaining for the riders and spectators. “It was the sketchiest thing ever, but also super fun at the same time,” Giese said. “I was just hoping to make the night show, so the fact that I ended up squeezing into the main was really cool.” In the main event, Giese finished a solid seventh place even though he had zero seat time aboard the RSD machine. “I grabbed the bike from Roland’s pit, rode it around in the parking lot, went to turn, and the footpegs were scraping,” Ben remarked. “I knew that was a bad sign to start with (laughs).”
When the dust settled and the checkered flag flew, Thor Drake from See See Motorcycles took home the win and a brand new Indian Scout Sixty, but the racing wasn’t what the night was about. It was about having fun on motorcycles, battling with friends, and perhaps most importantly, growing the sport of dirt track. “I think it all turned out exactly like I was hoping for,” Roland said following the race. “It helped Hooligan racing gain a little bit more momentum, and it helped the outreach of dirt track racing by bringing more people in that weren’t maybe interested in dirt track prior to the event.” All in all, it was a good time for everyone involved—especially those who hadn’t experienced dirt track before. We’ll definitely be back.
Photos by Andrew Campo and Brendan Lutes
Super Hooligans Results 2015
1. Thor Drake (Harley-Davidson)
2. Chris Wiggins (Harley-Davidson)
3. Roland Sands (Indian)
4. Hunter Klee (Harley-Davidson)
5. Drake McElroy (Indian)
6. Travis Newbold (Indian)
7. Ben Giese (Yamaha)
8. Brendan Lutes (Indian)
9. Shaun Guardado (Harley-Davidson)
10. Helder Alvernaz (Harley-Davidson)
11. Travis Hayes (Harley-Davidson)
12. Mitch Gallagher (Harley-Davidson)
13. Aaron Colton (Indian)