The life of a factory racer is far from "normal", and we were lucky enough to follow the Indian factory race teams riders the Bauman brothers through their Daytona TT day to get a glimpse of what a factory racer's day is like on one of the biggest stages of the year. Check out the video to see how race day shapes up.

Coming into the first round of the 2019 AFT season the J&P Cycles backed Indian Motorcycles flat track team had undergone a bunch of changes as well as the proposed Daytona TT track for this year making the first race of the year an uncertain event. The factory Indian team was sporting two new riders after Brad Baker's injury and Brian Smith's departure. The Bauman brothers, Briar and Bronson, are new to factory rides but far from new to success on the dirt track. But they were far from alone in the transition; they were bringing the genius of Zanontti racing with them. As experienced as they are, there were still details to be worked out. New Alpinestars race suits and boots had literally just been finished and flown in, brand spanking new Bell helmets were being un-boxed and tearoffs fitted. The FTR750, although dominant the last two years, had undergone some secret squirrel changes at the hands of the Zanotti/S&S Cycle mad scientists as well, the most visual being the classic spokes the FTR's were wearing for the TT race. The Daytona track that is built every year specifically for this event had a notable difference this year in that the track's back straightaway would venture up onto the historic banking of the Daytona International Speedway. Made an odd transition from dirt to an increasing amount of banked concrete and then a left hander back to dirt again. There was a fair amount of buzz from racers and fans alike leading up to the race leaving a bit of uneasiness in the pits before the race day began.

As the sun rose over the Atlantic Ocean, the pits were coming alive, bikes were coming out of rigs, racers were wandering about and mechanics were prepping motorcycles. The first practice groups were called up and the Indian twins rolled out onto the sand and dirt mix of this much ballyhoo'd track. Briar and Bronson adapted quickly  making the concrete transitions smoothly and sending their FTR750s airborne over the jump with no issues. As they moved into qualifying, both riders quickly proved worthy of their new earned factory rides. As qualifying came to a close, Briar (#14) was sitting in the #1 spot and younger brother Bronson (#37) was in the 8th spot.

The heat races began with Briar in heat 1 and Bronson in heat 2. Briar had a good battle with TT aficionado Henry Wiles and came away with a second in his heat. Bronson had some serious company in his heat race with the likes of road racer turned full time road AND flat track racer JD Beach along with 6 time twins champ including the last two season Jared Mees. Bronson held his own while Mees and Beach battled in front of him and came away with a 3rd. The semi's came up and the brothers Bauman weren't as lucky as they were with the heats and both were in the same semi race. Again they had their FTR's hooked up and flying as the finished 1 (Briar) and 3 (Bronson) with Jake Johnson sitting in the 2 spot. But at this point the damage to the track was starting to show and the track crew could only do so much to mitigate the ruts, holes and braking bumps developing in the sandy dirt mix that laid across the legendary Daytona infield. Coming into turn one was some pretty nasty braking bumps while the exit of the same hairpin turn required some skillful navigation to find traction, get the bike turned and pointed up the concrete banking. Once on the banking, the spinning tires would find immediate traction and yank the front wheel skyward and FTR's would hang their front wheel for about half track before making the gnarly left hand turn back into the dirt. As darkness fell and the lights came up, you can feel the mix of tension and excitement, mixed energy flowing through the venue. The 25 lap main event featured both the factory Indians on the front row and as the green light came on, it was Bronson with the holeshot. The Daytona TT was underway and #37 was leading the pack. As he cleared the first corner and exited, Briar emerged right behind his brother, pretty much a dream scenario for the team. After a few laps Bronson had some trouble exiting the aforementioned hairpin to concrete turn and Briar slipped by him for the lead. Briar started to put some distance on the pack as Bronson had his hands full with TT expert and crafty veteran, Henry Wiles. Bronson was solidly in a podium spot until those gnarly braking bumps coming into turn one upset the suspension on his bike and bucked him off. He quickly got to his feet and gathered the bike up while only dropping a few spots. Meanwhile, Briar had set sail on the rest of the field and rode his way to an epic Daytona win in the season opener. Bronson was able to make some passes and fight his way back to a 5th spot. All in all, a great start for the J&P Cycles sponsored Indian Motorcycle team.

It takes a certain kind of person to be a professional flat track racer. Obviously the riding skills have to be there, but there is a dedication to the craft that can't be faked or maybe even taught. The will to succeed has to be backed by countless hours of testing and preparation. Then there's the physical prowess to wrestle that bike all day and then again for a 25 lap main. Mentally, their ability to focus on a task while literally a whole group of other riders are working towards their failure at that task, may be the racer's biggest weapon in my estimation. It was an eye opening experience to witness race day from the racers perspective. And I can't wait to get back to the track.