Brainerd International Raceway is Bobby Fong’s world. We just had the pleasure of living in it for a weekend. Photo by Brian J. Nelson.

Random notes, comments, statistics, musings, and bits of trivia from the MotoAmerica Superbikes at Brainerd event:

You’ve Been Fonged

I told Bobby Fong a couple of rounds ago that I want to get some shirts made up that say, “You’ve Been Fonged” on them. At Brainerd International Raceway, a whole lot of people were “Fonged.” Josh Herrin was “Fonged.” The “factory ” Superbike teams were “Fonged.” We were all “Fonged” by what the pride of Stockton, California, Wrench Motorcycles Yamaha‘s Mr. Robert Fong, did up in Minnesota.

The dude led every practice session, every qualifying session, and won both races. The only session he didn’t lead was Sunday morning warm up, and that’s OK. Let’s just say that Bobby Fong is “easy like a Sunday morning.”

And now, the 2024 Steel Commander Superbike standings have been “Fonged,” too. Bob now has an eight-point lead in the Championship.

Mathew Scholtz turned it up to 11 at Brainerd international Raceway. Photo by Brian J. Nelson.

1+1=2 For Mr. 11

To say that former Steel Commander Superbike rider Mathew Scholtz was a little reluctant to race in this year’s MotoAmerica Supersport Championship is an understatement. During the eight years or so that Scholtz had raced (and lived) here in America, he had only competed on Yamaha YZF-R1s. It’s not that he hasn’t raced middleweight motorcycles, because he has—in the Spanish CEV, German IDM, and FIM World Supersport Championships in 2011, 2012, and 2013—but it’s been a minute, and Scholtz thought those days were behind him.

Until Westby Racing suddenly shuttered its Superbike program at the end of 2023, leaving Scholtz without many options. Enter successful entrepreneur and club racer Peter Strack, whose team, Squid Hunter Racing, had been fielding legend Josh Hayes. Strack and company put Hayes over the top in 2023, helping him capture the record for most race wins in AMA/MotoAmerica history. For 2024, Strack decided to work with Scholtz and also hire Scholtz’s long-time crew chief Ed Sullivan to create a “really big show” as Strack Racing Yamaha.

Scholtz’s neighbors in Georgia let him know who’s number one on the block. Photo by Brian J. Nelson.

There has been a bit of a transition for Scholtz, to say the least. While the YZF-R6 is a Yamaha stablemate of the YZF-R1, and they share a lot of the same design language, the 599cc R6 is a fair bit smaller than the mighty R1. As a result, Scholtz, who at 6-foot tall, is an an absolute motorcycle road racing adonis, somehow managed to lose a full 20 pounds, in order to put himself at least at fighting weight aboard the smallest-displacement motorcycle on the MotoAmerica Supersport Next Generation grid.

This past weekend, all the hard work put in by Scholtz and Strack Racing paid off big-time when the number 11 took the checkered flag in both races. Scholtz’s gap in race one was 8.491 seconds, and his lead across the finish line in race two was 4.419 seconds. They were dominant victories in both races, and they have now put him just two points adrift of the Supersport Championship lead with five rounds and 10 races remaining in the season.

What’s Tougher? Superbike Or Supersport?

At MotoAmerica, we are constantly and consistently driving home the point that Steel Commander Superbike is the premier championship in the MotoAmerica series and one of the top motorcycle road racing championships in the world. But, how much harder is it than, say, Supersport? Well, we asked Mathew Scholtz himself to assess the two race classes, expecting him to say that Superbike and Supersport are fairly similar, especially given the talent level in this year’s Supersport Championship. Scholtz’s answer somewhat surprised us:

“Not even close,” Scholtz said. “The Superbike definitely is a lot more physical. The races are longer, plus, there are just more guys battling so you have to be on the absolute limit in every corner of every single lap. But I’ve been training harder, and I’ve lost five or six pounds compared with what I normally weigh riding a Superbike. I was actually up to 180 pounds during the off-season after I lost my Superbike ride. I kind of lost my motivation for a while. But I’m down to 160 pounds now, and I’m eating differently and concentrating on my cardio. I think all the cardio I’ve added to my training definitely helps me out there on the R6.”

Scholtz also made it clear that the Supersport Championship is serious business, and he is obviously taking it seriously by literally transforming his body into a significantly smaller version of himself. And, his battles this season with Rahal Ducati Moto‘s PJ Jacobsen, Vision Wheels M4 ECSTAR Suzuki‘s Tyler Scott, and others have been truly epic. “I don’t mean any disrespect to the Supersport class or the competition,” Scholtz added. “But I’ve been a Superbike rider for a long, long time, and that’s a completely different level, as it should be.”

Tyler Bengford is the speed king of Brainerd International Raceway. Photo by Brian J. Nelson.

Taking Stock Of Trap Speeds

It takes me a really long time to put together these “Duly Noted” columns, especially when it comes to the sections where I report on some of the empirical numbers generated during a MotoAmerica race weekend. I have a responsibility and a personal, chemical need to get this information correct, and I pore over all the timing and scoring results that are produced over the weekend. In total, I carefully study more than 60 session reports, which include basic results, fastest segments, lap charts, lap analyses, and much more. I’m telling you this not to give myself a pat on the back, but to tell you that what I am about to report is true.

Stock 1000 rider Tyler Bengford, by far, had the fastest trap speed of the weekend at Brainerd International Raceway. The rider of the number 129 BPR Racing Yamaha YZF-R1 went 163 miles per hour on lap 3 of the 11 laps he completed during Saturday morning’s Stock 1000 Qualifying 2 session. It’s true. You can look it up yourself.

Even Steel Commander Superbike rider JD Beach didn’t go anywhere near that fast. Beach recorded a trap speed of 161.1 miles per hour aboard his Tytlers Cycle Racing BMW on lap 2 of Saturday’s 18-lap Steel Commander Superbike race one.

So, cheers to you, Tyler Bengford. You are one fast mo-fo. And Bryce Prince, dude, you sure build some hella-fast Yamaha R1 Stock 1000-spec engines.

Here are the other, possibly slightly more mortal maximum trap speeds achieved over the past weekend at Brainerd International Raceway:

Mission King Of The Baggers: 148.1 miles per hour by S&S/Indian Motorcycle‘s Troy Herfoss on lap three of the nine-lap race one.

Supersport: 146 miles per hour by both Strack Racing Yamaha’s Mathew Scholtz and Suzuki’s Max Van during Saturday’s 16-lap race one. Scholtz reached 146 miles per hour on lap two, and Van matched Scholtz’s trap speed on lap three.

BellissiMoto Twins Cup: 137.9 miles per hour by Rodio Racing – Powered by Robem Engineering Aprilia‘s Alessandro Di Mario on lap four of Sunday’s 11-lap race two.

Junior Cup: 122.7 miles per hour by New York Safety Track Racing Kawasaki‘s Yandel Medina on lap three of Saturday’s six-lap race one.

Bad Boys Racing’s Avery Dreher (left) keeps a watchful eye on his talented and rapidly rising teammate and sister Ella (right). Photo by Brian J. Nelson.

Big Brother Is Watching

We need to give a special MotoAmerica shout-out to Avery Dreher. Not only is he carrying the big number one on his Bad Boys Racing Kawasaki Ninja 400 this year as he defends his 2023 Junior Cup Championship, but he is also racing the number 99 TopPro Racing Aprilia RS 660 in the BellissiMoto Twins Cup Championship. Oh, and did we mention that he is coaching and training his little sister Ella Dreher, who is Avery’s teammate in Junior Cup? Ella’s meteoric rise in Junior Cup this season has been incredible and, at Brainerd, the 14-year-old phenom joined her brother on the Junior Cup race one podium, marking the first time in AMA road racing history that a brother and sister have reached the podium in the same race.

Obviously, full credit goes to Ella for having the poise, talent, racecraft, and skill to already be a podium finisher at just 14 years of age, but we know how much her brother Avery is in her corner. So, Avery, big congrats to you on handling all the responsibilities you have on your plate right now.

Hit Records

Lap records were falling like swatted mosquitos this past weekend at Brainerd International Raceway. Here are the riders who set new lap records or race lap records in their respective classes:

Hayden Gillim, Stock 1000 Lap Record: 1:31.449 (Qualifying 2)

Hayden Gillim, Stock 1000 Race Lap Record: 1:31.831 (Race 1)

Mathew Scholtz, Supersport Race Lap Record: 1:33.300 (Race 1)

Troy Herfoss, Mission King Of The Baggers Lap Record & Race Lap Record: 1:34.359 (Race 2)

Alessandro Di Mario, BellissiMoto Twins Cup Lap Record & Race Lap Record: 1:35.505 (Race 2)

Jump. Hayden Gillim is the Mac Daddy and the Daddy Mac. Photo by Brian J. Nelson.

Dads Rule

It was a big weekend for fathers, but no dads had a better weekend than Hayden Gillim and Stoney Landers. Gillim led every Stock 1000 practice, qualifying, and warm up session; broke a bunch of Stock 1000 lap records; earned the pole position in Stock 1000; and won one of the two Stock 1000 races. Plus, he led every Mission King Of The Baggers practice, qualifying, and warm up session; earned the pole position in Mission King Of the Baggers; won the $5,000 winner-take-all Challenge; and won both Mission King Of The Baggers feature races.

A rolling Stoney (Landers) gathers a lot of hugs. Photo by Brian J. Nelson.

On Saturday, after Gillim’s RevZilla/Motul/Vance & Hines teammate Rocco Landers earned the BellissiMoto Twins Cup pole position, was runner-up in the Mission King of the Baggers Challenge, won BellissiMoto Twins Cup race one, and was runner-up in Mission King Of The Baggers race one, I texted Landers’ father Stoney to send him congrats. Little did I know at the time that Stoney was already on his way to Brainerd to celebrate with his son. So, on Sunday, there was Stoney Landers at trackside waving the American flag for Rocco after he won BellissiMoto Twins Cup race two.

Pretty awesome way to wrap up a great race weekend at Brainerd International Raceway.

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