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Indian Challenger wins Round 1 of 2021 King of the Baggers

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  • Indian Challenger wins Round 1 of 2021 King of the Baggers

    An exciting Round 1 of the Mission King Of The Baggers Championship saw Tyler O'Hara of Mission Foods S&S Cycle Indian Challenger take a stunning victory by less than half a second at Road Atlanta.

    Last year's King Of the Baggers winner Tyler O'Hara fought back in spectacular fashion against Kyle Wyman who got the holeshot aboard his Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson Road Glide Special. Both the riders took turns at the front with the latter giving away the lead to O'Hara on Lap 5. After an intense battle and a few exchanges for the lead among the two, it was O'Hara who ultimately took the chequered flag.

    The final place on the podium went to Frankie Garcia who was riding his Roland Sands Design Indian Challenger. This podium marks his second consecutive podium finish in the King Of The Baggers series. At the inaugural King of the Baggers last October too, the two Indian Challenger entries finished first and third in a field that featured 13 Harley-Davidson baggers.

    “Kyle is riding awesome,” O’Hara said of the newest addition to the King Of The Baggers rider lineup. “To have that full factory effort coming in here, it’s an awesome challenge. I love a challenge, and I think it’s great for the sport and it’s just going to elevate both of our programs, and our bikes are just going to get better and better. So definitely it’s good to have. Hopefully, we can get some more bikes. The Indian Challenger, you can go out and buy it and basically get all the parts that I’m running on my bike and come out and race. I’m looking forward to getting more bikes on the grid, but for sure there’s definitely more of a challenge this year.”

    Previously, Indian Motorcycle had announced three privately-backed teams running the Indian Challenger at 2021 bagger racing events. The three teams included reigning King of the Baggers Champion Mission Foods S&S Indian Challenger, 2020 King of the Baggers third-place finisher Roland Sands Design (RSD), and new Indian Challenger converts, Saddlemen. Among the teams invited to the King of the Baggers and Bagger Racing League events, S&S, RSD, and Saddlemen are the only Indian Challenger entries.

    “Despite numerous naysayers and doubters of last year’s inaugural King of the Baggers race, it proved to be a massive success and the ultimate proving ground for the Indian Challenger, and we’re excited to be a part of it again in 2021,” said Gary Gray, Vice President – Racing, Technology and Service for Indian Motorcycle. “We’re proud to have three privately funded teams showcasing the Indian Challenger’s superior performance in both the MotoAmerica Mission King of the Baggers series and the Drag Specialties Bagger Racing League.”

    Mission Foods S&S Indian Challenger
    As reigning King of the Baggers champion, Tyler O’Hara and S&S entered this year as the clear-cut team to beat at round one of the MotoAmerica series at Road Atlanta on May 2.

    “Most race teams don’t learn a whole lot from winning, but we did. We’ve spent the past year meticulously refining our setup specific to Tyler’s preferences to ensure the highest level of performance,”said Jeff Bailey, crew chief for the S&S team.“Backed by Tyler’s phenomenal skills, S&S has decades of racing and performance expertise, and the undisputed bagger racing king, the Indian Challenger, our expectations are extremely high.”

    But King of the Baggers will not be the only action for S&S and O’Hara in Atlanta that weekend. In a throwback to the golden age of the AMA Grand National Championship of yesteryear, O’Hara will split duties, piloting the Indian FTR750 at the American Flat Track Atlanta Super TT the day before throwing a leg over his Mission Foods Indian Challenger to begin his King of the Baggers title defence.

    Armed with the RSD Indian Challenger, Roland Sands and the 2020 King of the Baggers third-place finisher, Frankie Garcia, returned with a chip on their shoulder and ambitions to dethrone O’Hara. In addition to King of the Baggers, the RSD Challenger will be one of two RSD entries in the Bagger Racing League series as RSD adds the new 2022 Indian Chief to its stable of race-ready Indian Motorcycles to compete in the Big Twin class.

    “We faced so many curveballs at Laguna Seca last year, not the least of which came when Frankie looped the bike in practice, and we scrambled through the night to get the bike, and Frankie’s body, ready to go for the final. Frankie putting it on the box, after all, that was an incredible accomplishment, and we couldn’t be more motivated to raise the bar and take the crown in 2021,” said Roland Sands. “There’s no doubt we’re the guys known for having a little too much fun, but make no mistake, the Indian Challenger is an absolute beast and our sights are set on the top of the box.”

    “Last year’s inaugural King of the Baggers was an unforgettable experience and when it was all said and done, I was incredibly proud to be on the podium. At the same time, after coming so close in spite of nearly catastrophic challenges, we were all left wondering what could have been,” said Garcia. “That experience provides a ton of motivation heading into the expanded series this year and podiums will not be enough. We want to wear the crown when it’s all said and done this year.”

    After finishing in the middle of the pack at the inaugural King of the Baggers, Saddlemen came to the age-old conclusion, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”

    The team enters the 2021 bagger racing season, discarding its Harley-Davidson Road Glide in favor of the reigning king, the Indian Challenger. To pilot the new race-ready bagger, Saddlemen called upon the highly-skilled Patricia Fernandez. Dubbed “the world’s fastest female road racer,” Fernandez will be the only female rider in the field. The team will be led by famed custom bike builder, Michael “Woolie” Woolaway, and will compete in select rounds of the King of the Baggers series and Bagger Racing League.

    “It was an honour to take part in the inaugural King of the Baggers last October, but it was obvious we needed more performance after watching Tyler and Frankie make quick work of the field aboard their Indian Challengers,”said Woolie.“This year, we have the luxury of a machine that packs enormous power and incredible performance capabilities right out of the box.”

    “After seeing so much excitement around the inaugural race last year and hearing the news of an extended series in 2021, I couldn’t help thinking how cool it would be for a queen to be the King of the Baggers,” said Fernandez.“Thankfully, my friends at Saddlemen stepped up to give me the opportunity, and I could not be more excited to throw a leg over the Saddlemen Indian Challenger and show the world what I’m capable of.”

    For the 2021 season, MotoAmerica will host three rounds of King of the Baggers racing. The first round was kicked off at MotoAmerica Superbike in Atlanta April 30-May 2. The newest racing series added to the fold is the Drag Specialties Bagger Racing League, which will host its inaugural event at the Utah Motorsports Campus June 25-27.