It takes a special breed of riders to compete in flat-track motorcycle racing. Getting on a two-wheel missile, sliding into turns at over 130mph in huge packs on tracks as big as a mile is enough to rattle the nerves of even the most experienced competition riders. And that's why some may have been surprised when Lloyd Brothers Motorsports decided to go with 18-year-old rookie Brad Baker when selecting a rider for their twins program in 2011.
18-year-old flat-track motorcycle rookie Brad Baker
Getting on two-wheels and sliding into turns at over 130mph on tracks as big as a mile is enough to rattle the nerves of even the most experienced competition riders.
But Baker quickly proved that talent, no matter how experienced, can compete at the highest levels of the sport when paired with the right team.
"We talked to a couple of the established top guys, but thank goodness for those unanswered prayers," team owner Dave Lloyd said. "Brad has been a real solid fit with this team and is a breath of fresh air."
Baker has shined all season long. In his first start, he set fast time in all three practice and qualifying sessions, won his heat race, and led 9 laps before settling for a 5th place finish at the famed Springfield Mile in Illinois. After a hiccup in the teams second event of the year, they rebounded for a 4th place on the half-mile in Lima, Ohio.
Lloyd Brothers Motorsports' flat-track racer Brad Baker
"It's been great racing for Lloyd Brothers this year," Baker said. "Ever since the first test before Sprinfield, I've felt comfortable on the bike and with the team. It feels awesome being on a team that I can actually have personal relationships with, instead of just showing up and riding."
While most teams would do the mentoring, Lloyd thinks that Baker has brought just as much to his organization as Lloyd Brothers Motorsports has brought to Baker.
"I think we are bringing each other along, actually. We support Brad as he learns what it's like being an expert and riding a twin," Lloyd added. "On Brad's end, he is open minded about riding the Ducati. He gives great feedback and is adapting himself to get the most out of the bike each time out."
Baker has used his rookie status to his advantage this season. "Nobody expects you to win," he astutely pointed out. "So you have less pressure on your shoulders. Of course I set my goals as high as I can, but without the pressure, I just go out and ride."
With 10 events left in 2011, Baker and the team have their eyes set on a win. The team is supremely confident that it has found a rider to forge a relationship with for many years to come. "He's smooth, calculating and aggressive. He truly is one of the professionals in the paddock," Lloyd said.
Baker has his eyes set on a National Championship, a pretty lofty goal for a rookie. But with such a successful early start to the season, Rookie of the Year honors seem to be almost guaranteed, and Baker feels it's time to set the goals higher. If the dream does come true, K&N Filters will be right there with them.
"Lloyd Brothers Motorsports depend exclusively on K&N Products for our air and oil filter requirements. Motorcycle flat track racing is a brutal, dirty environment. K&N Filters keep the inside of our motorcycle engines clean and free of any unwanted dirt and dust while at the same time making the most horsepower that they are capable of making," Lloyd said. "We also use K&N products in our transporter to get us to the track.
Our transporter runs much better with our K&N filter kit and it even gets better fuel mileage."
Find K&N products for your vehicle using the K&N application search then use the K&N dealer search to find a K&N dealer in your part of the world.