Indian is going flat track racing (or so it appears)

Judging from a few bits of news popping up around the Interwebz, it seems Indian might be planning to finally start another race program, with a return to flat tracking.

Since the introduction of Project 156 last year, it’s looked like Polaris subsidiaries Victory and Indian are splitting duties: Victory appeared to be aiming for the performance market, while Indian focused on retro machines with lots of chrome and tassels. Now this looks like it might not be the case. is reporting the AMA has approved an Indian 750 for flat track racing. Hrm. There’s no 750 cc motor in Indian’s lineup right now, and there’s nothing even remotely resembling a flat tracker in their showrooms. Even last year’s Project 156 — a tracker-style bike built around an engine derived (it appears) from the motor in the Indian Scout — bore the Victory brand.

Indian motorcycles
Roland Sands Design built this Scout Sixty flat tracker for the show circuit; will it be adapted for dirt track racing?

But this week, along with the AMA announcement there’s also an Indian press release about their SuperHooligan race series, using Scout 60 motorcycles as base models for flat trackers. This appears to be a sort of exhibition series that is going to travel to high-profile bike events; it ran at the the Mama Tried custom show and also at The One Show.

The bikes were built in conjunction with Roland Sands Design, the same racer-led outfit that built Project 156. The title photo shows one in action at Mama Tried.

Polaris has already proven quite willing to mess around with that liquid-cooled powerplant from the Indian Scout (there are two versions for the Scout, and it appears the Victory Octane also uses a permutation of that motor), so it’s not hard to imagine a sleeved-down version (or maybe with shorter stroke?) in a flat track chassis.

If we really do see Indian take up racing, that’s good news. Race programs breed better motorcycles, as long as what’s learned is passed on to development and design teams. Harley-Davidson dominated flat track racing for decades (partly thanks to rules favouring its XR750), yet never seemed interested in applying its track know-how to its street lineup. If Indian can avoid that trap, the future could be bright for America’s reborn cruiser company.



  1. From Cycle World Magazine:

    In a development long anticipated by insiders, AMA Pro Racing has by its Pro Flat Track Competition Bulletin #2016-03 approved Indian’s race-only 750 twin engine for competition.
    This is an all-new engine which we suspect was designed by Polaris’ Swissauto division (because of its large experience in racing), not a result of combining existing Indian Scout crankcases with added race-suitable components such as crankshaft, pistons, heads, etc. as provided under the new rules.
    This is an exciting development because not since Honda’s RS750 of the early 1980s has an all-new, designed-for-racing engine been approved for US flat track competition.
    Because both the 1133cc and 999cc versions of the Scout are liquid-cooled DOHC four-valve designs, it is very likely that the new race-only 750 will share these features. Liquid cooling allows safe use of modern torque-boosting high compression ratios. Use of DOHC and four smaller, lighter valves per cylinder also allows high valve lift with short-duration valve timing—a combination that widens engine torque range. Although these features are already in use in dirt trackers based on the Kawasaki Ninja 650 twin, that particular powerplant was not designed as a racing engine.
    If we imagine an engine with a stroke long enough to provide an efficient, fast-burning combustion chamber, we might consider dimensions like 86 x 64.5mm (that’s 3 3/8 x 2 17/32 inches in carpenter’s measure), able to operate routinely at 10,000 rpm while making 110 hp.
    What does that mean for flat-track fans? Well, if anything, that you should at least look forward to a renewal of the ages-old Harley/Indian racing rivalry.

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