(Photos Courtesy of American Flat Track/Indian Motorcycle Co)

Bronson Bauman burst onto the professional flat track racing scene with heaps of promise and potential. He turned pro in 2013 and recorded four Top 5 finishes, including a second-place finish at the Castle Rock TT, in his first year. The following year he qualified for every GNC2 main event and finished in the top 10 nine times. In 2015, he got his first sweet swig of victory at the Charlotte Half-Mile. But as it’s apt to happen when a rider goes up in class and competition levels are raised exponentially, a stretch of tough years followed. Those challenging times are a distant memory now, replaced once again by the sweet taste of victory after Bronson won his first AFT Twins race last weekend at the Laconia Short Track aboard his Indian FTR750.

“I don’t think words have been invented yet on how great it feels,” Bronson said. “I put everything I have into this and I’ve had a few rough years in the past. All of its been overlooked and just that feeling was unbelievable and I can’t wait to taste it again.”

Getting to the top step of the podium though was no easy task. When the race started, Bronson grabbed the holeshot and came out of Turn 2 with the lead, but after only a few laps, the first red flag came out. At the restart, Bronson was once again able to power his way to the head of the pack and began to pull away when his momentum was cut short by another red flag. As racers laid down laps on the new Laconia short track, the surface became rougher and trickier as lines shifted. After two restarts, the red flag came out for a third time.

Bronson Bauman on the gas in Laconia, spraying roost on the competition and powering to his first win in the AFT Twins class. 

“That third one on Lap 20 was probably the toughest on me because I felt good. My brother had actually just passed me and we were back a lap when the red flag comes out so I was back in the lead, and I knew I was back in the lead soon as it came out, which was a huge play in my favor,” he said.

The brother he speaks of is Briar Bauman, current AFT Twins points leader who’s on top of his game this year.

“But it was also tough on me, too, because my brother was rolling really, really well. Luckily enough, I got me another great start and I was able to lead it for the last five laps. The last five was Dash for Cash almost.”

While it was a battle of attrition, Bronson had a good feeling about his chances in Laconia after getting his first look at the track.

“I felt like I had some advantages on a cushion short track because I grew up racing on them,” he said.

He also credits his Indian Motorcycle Racing team for getting his Progressive Insurance FTR750 dialed in.

“Gearing was a little hard to come by, but I’ve got an awesome team with great minds behind me and we were able to figure it out. With my brother and I being on the same team it definitely helps, bouncing things off of each other. Set-up came fairly easy for my brother but for me it was a little more difficult. We kind of fought it all day until the semi, but when the semi came around it was spot-on.”

Even though the brothers may help each other out as fellow members of the Indian Wrecking Crew, don’t think for a second Bronson didn’t relish finally getting the best of his big brother.

“I would say that is the first time I’ve heads-up beat my brother. I don’t quite remember the first time I did, but I think I have just because of mechanical or him crashing, something like that. That’s the first time I’ve got to beat him heads-up where we were both on our A-games and I was the better man that day, so it’s huge for confidence. I finally got the carrot that’s been dangling in front of me for so long.”

Bronson's big brother Briar has been on a tear this year, but on the Laconia Short Track, Bronson was the better man that day. 

Of course, at the end of the race, Briar was one of the first to congratulate his brother on his first Twins win.

“I think he gave me three or four hugs. The support he showed, that brotherly love, it was huge. We both say it. If it’s not me winning, I want it to be him. He’s helped me so much throughout my entire career, more than he probably even knows. To me, he’s a huge supporter and a huge drive for me to do good,” said Bronson.

Their biggest supporters though are mom and dad, Lisa and Barry Bauman. The boys grew up in Salinas, California, a flat track hot bed that’s produced the likes of Ricky Graham, Doug Chandler, Steve Bonsey, and Bruce Johnson. Bronson said one Christmas when they were kids Briar wanted a motorcycle and he wanted a go-kart. The novelty of the go-kart played out pretty quick though so Bronson started to ride the motorcycle, too. They competed in their first race after their neighbors encouraged them to take their own son’s motorcycle to the fair to race.

“My dad was kind of against it because he’d been to some local flat track races back in the hey-day and he didn’t want us around it because he knew back then at the old races, there’s drunk people, there’s fights, it was just kind of a bad area. My mom actually won the battle and we got to go,” said Bronson. “Crazy enough our first race was the Ricky Graham Memorial Race and we all come from Salinas so it was a cool come-from story. I’ve been racing motorcycles since I was six-years-old. I took 3rd in my first race and wanted to keep doing it. We loved it from the very beginning.”

Thanks to the commitment and sacrifices their parents made, the Bauman brothers are now at the pinnacle of the sport, racing in the premier class on a factory team. Bronson said racing for Indian is a huge honor.

Bronson Bauman shares the moment with his two biggest supporters, mom Lisa and dad Barry. 

“As a kid, this is what we strive for, to be on a factory team. It’s an honor for me but it’s also a “thank you” to my parents as well. All of their hard work and dedication and sacrifices has finally paid off for my brother and I.”

It has indeed paid off. Briar won the first race of the season in Daytona, has podiumed at every race this year, and has a 34-point advantage in the 2019 Twins standings over the closest competitor. Meanwhile Bronson is in fourth-place in the standings courtesy of five Top 10 finishes in the first seven races. Sandwiched in between them is Indian Wrecking Crew teammate and defending Grand National Champion Jared Mees, who’s been absolutely dominant the last couple of years. When we asked Bronson how he and his brother have been able to close the gap on Mees this year seeing how former Indian Wrecking Crew members Bryan Smith and Brad Baker, both former Grand National Champions, couldn’t.

“I think all the pieces of the puzzle finally came together,” Bronson said. “My brother is an extremely talented rider and I feel like I am as well. We just need the correct equipment to get the job done. My brother’s already won multiple races, including one this year, and has been consistent. My brother is in the right mindset right now. He wants a championship. He has a goal in mind and my parents taught us both to work as hard as we possibly can until the goal is achieved.”

The Bauman brothers went 1-2 at the Laconia Short Track, with Jake Johnson joining them on the podium in third. 

That said, it will be interesting to watch the drama of the season unfold. The next race is on Mees’ home turf, the Lima Half-Mile. August is going to be wild as there’s six races on the schedule, including three in the span of one week (Buffalo Chip TT Aug. 4, Black Hills Half-Mile Aug. 6, Sacramento Mile Aug. 10). Before that mad rush though, as a sponsor of the Indian Motorcycle Racing team, J&P Cycles would like to congratulate Bronson on his first win on the big stage and hopes he savors the moment.

“There were so many emotions there at the track. I was so happy, there were tears of joy. I choked up a few times. You never really expect it to come and when it does, it’s just unbelievable,” concluded Bronson.