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Evening News- Home Track Hero Jeffrey Carver Jr. Triumphant at Springfield Mile: Harley-Davidson workers across the USA are reeling from the planned closure of the motorcycle maker’s Kansas City plant

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Source: American Flat Track

Home Track Hero Jeffrey Carver Jr. Triumphant at Springfield Mile I

SPRINGFIELD, Il. (May 28, 2018) – It may have come a day later than originally planned due to Sunday’s weather postponement, but American Flat Track made good on its Memorial Day tradition. The world’s greatest dirt track motorcycle racers once again put on a spectacular show for the crowd who came back out to the Illinois State Fairgrounds on Monday for the series’ crown jewel event – the Harley-Davidson Springfield Mile I.

First, the stars of tomorrow set them up with the first-ever AFT Production Twins race. And then the stars of today knocked ’em down with an epic AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines Main Event.

And to the delight of the fans, the star that shined brightest was none other than Illinois native Jeffrey Carver Jr. (No. 23 Roof-Systems/Indian of Metro Milwaukee Scout FTR750).

In the early going, Carver was involved in an intense five-rider fight for the lead that also included some of the sport’s living legends – Jared Mees (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle Rogers Racing SDI Scout FTR750), Kenny Coolbeth (No. 2 Nila Racing/Columbia Avionics Indian Scout FTR750), and Bryan Smith (No. 4 Indian Motorcycle Racing backed by Allstate Scout FTR750) –  as well as an on-form rising star in Davis Fisher (No. 67 Double D Performance/RMR/Bob Lanphere Indian Scout FTR750).

Carver, who was seeking his first-ever AFT Twins Mile victory, seemed to have history stacked against him. After all, Mees had won the most recent running of the Springfield Mile last fall and had yet to be beaten in a straight fight all season long. As for Coolbeth and Smith, the two boasted a combined 13 Springfield Mile wins between them.

Rather than be intimidated, Carver just continued to throw down fast lap after fast lap. He gradually shook free from the pack and had a response ready each time one of his rivals took a run at him in hopes of cutting into his gap.

At one point, up-and-comer Fisher actually looked like the rider with the best hope of successfully doing so, narrowing the advantage to back under a half-second deep into the contest. However, Fisher ultimately found himself swallowed up by Mees and Coolbeth in the final push to the checkered flag.

Following 25 blistering miles, Carver claimed victory with 0.819 seconds in hand as the grandstands roared in approval. Mees edged Coolbeth at the line by 0.058 seconds to finish as the runner-up. Davis came home another 0.205 seconds back in fourth as he continues to knock on the door of his first AFT Twins podium, while Smith cruised home to round out the top five.

The triumph was Carver’s third-ever premier-class win, leaving him just a Short Track victory short of a career Grand Slam. Additionally, he’s only the second rider from Illinois to win the Springfield Mile. The only other Illinois native to win the race was Dave Camlin from Rock Island, Ill., who won both races in 1996 aboard a Harley-Davidson.

A jubilant Carver said, “I just love it. Springfield is one of the places [I’ve always wanted to win]. I watch old videos of Scotty Parker, Ricky Graham and Chris Carr out here, just trying to learn their moves. And chasing [Mees and Coolbeth] and watching them, it’s just been a big learning curve. My team is putting everything together, and it’s really starting to show. That’s giving me that extra bit of confidence I need.

“I love the challenge of just going in a circle. It’s simple, but it’s so perfect. You can focus so much on just that, and you can always continue to learn. I’m going to just try to keep winning races. If I put too much pressure on myself, sometimes I get a little nervous and mess up. We’re a little bit down on points, so my plan is to just go out and have fun and learn the motorcycle and try to go faster. These guys have won 30-some nationals for a reason. I’ve got a long way to go, but I’d love to get in the history book a little bit myself.”

Chad Cose (No. 49 Indian Motorcycle of Oklahoma City Scout FTR750), Henry Wiles (No. 17 Bandit Industries/Wilco Racing/Willing Built Indian Scout FTR750) and Mikey Rush (No. 54 G&G Racing/Machete Energy Yamaha FZ-07) finished sixth, seventh and eighth, respectively.

57-year-old Ronnie Jones (No. 266 Tim Estenson Racing/Rod Lake Indian Scout FTR750) not only increased his record as the oldest rider to make an AFT Twins Main Event by a week, he finished in ninth place while doing so. Jay Maloney (No. 12 Indian Motorcycle of Springfield/JMC Scout FTR750) rounded out the top ten.

With the AFT Singles contenders having already completed their class assignment with Saturday night’s Springfield TT, a number of undercard regulars identified the Springfield Mile I as a prime opportunity to get some miles on the bigger, faster twin-cylinder machinery under their belt.

Reigning AFT Singles champion Kolby Carlile (No. 36 Estenson Racing/McCandless Trucking Center Indian Scout FTR750) and Arizona Mile winner Kevin Stollings (No. 99 Roof Systems Honda Indian Scout FTR750) brandished yellow plates signifying their AFT Singles regular status to mark their AFT Twins debuts. Carlile was unlucky to see his maiden premier-class entry end following just three laps in Sunday’s Heat Race 1 after demonstrating solid speed throughout qualifying. Things went considerably better for Stollings, who earned the final transfer spot in Semi 2 to make the cut for the Main Event. There he would go on to finish 11th.

AFT Production Twins

Several of Carlile’s and Stollings’ AFT Singles rivals, meanwhile, took advantage of the introduction of the all-new AFT Production Twins class. The category was specifically designed to provide qualified AFT Singles riders a chance to get some seat time on production-based twins with an eye toward easing their eventual graduation into the AFT Twins class.

Michael Inderbitzin (No. 54 Weirbach Racing/Kawasaki USA Kawasaki 649) made it a Memorial Day weekend he’ll long remember, backing up a top-ten run in Saturday’s Springfield TT with a victory in the first-ever AFT Productions Twins race.

Inderbitzin recovered from a terrible launch at the start of the race to charge his way through the entire field and into the lead. Once there he successfully fought off a last-lap attempt by Tristan Avery (No. 16 Ron Ayers/Mr. Sign Kawasaki 649) by 0.178 seconds at the checkered flag.

Inderbitzin said, “[Following the start] I knew I had my work cut out for me… I need to work on my starts, and that’s about it. I’ve never ridden the Springfield Mile, and I’ve never ridden a twin at all. Yesterday, was my first time on one, and I couldn’t be more blessed having such a great, great motorcycle underneath me.”

The AFT Production Twins class will be back in action for its second race when the series returns to Springfield for the Harley-Davidson Springfield Mile II on September 2. Also, don’t forget to catch the NBCSN Premiere telecast of the Harley-Davidson Springfield Mile I June 9 at 5:00 pm ET.

Finally, there’s wonderful news regarding Brandon Price, who suffered a head injury in Saturday’s TT event. “Hey everyone,” his family wrote on his Facebook page recently, “Brandon is up, alert and joking as usual. If anyone would like to come by to see him you’re more than welcome. We are at Memorial Medical Center, Room G418, in Springfield. We truly thank everyone for the prayers and continued support!”

Next Up:

In just five days the AFT Twins and Singles competitors will be in Central Kentucky for the Indian Motorcycle Red Mile presented by Indian Motorcycle of Lexington on June 2 in Lexington, Ky. Live coverage can be viewed on FansChoice.tv beginning at 2:30 pm ET with Opening Ceremonies scheduled for 6:30 pm ET. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at https://www.showclix.com/event/red-mile-2018.

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Source: USA Today

 

YORK, Pa. — Harley-Davidson workers across the USA are reeling from the planned closure of the motorcycle maker’s Kansas City plant, even as the firm is expected to reap huge financial benefits from the federal corporate tax cut.

The Milwaukee-based motorcycle manufacturer benefited from the tax cuts enacted Jan. 1, then announced cuts of 350 jobs across the company in late January. On Feb. 5 , it approved a half-cent dividend increase and buyback of up to 15 million shares.

Harley’s U.S. sales have been sinking in recent years as Boomers decide they are becoming too old to continue riding and fewer younger people step up to take their place. As a result, Harley said it was forced to cut excess factory capacity.

“Unfortunately there is nothing that could have been done to address the pressure of excess capacity we have in the U.S. market,” Harley said in a statement.

The company maintains that the dividend increase and stock buyback are unrelated to the tax savings.

► May 21: Loud Harleys: Is motorcycle noise sweet harmony or out-of-control din?
► May 11: Harley-Davidson to ship work to Thailand from U.S. plant, union says
► May 10: Shareholders ask questions, but media kept out of annual meeting

Workers say they are dismayed.

“We did everything Harley-Davidson asked us to do,” welder Tim Primeaux said in an NBC News interview that aired last week. “To have it all blow up in your face is kind of disappointing.”

When Harley-Davidson announced in January that it would slash 800 jobs upon closing the Kansas City plant by fall 2019, Primeaux said he and other workers were in a state of “shock and awe.”

“It was like I was in a bad dream, just stuck in it,” Primeaux told the network.

In May 2017, Harley-Davidson had announced it was adding 118 workers at its Kansas City plant to consolidate Softail cruiser motorcycles and laying off the same number of workers at its Springettsbury Township facility near York, Pa.

Now with the Kansas City closure, 450 full-time, casual and contractor positions will be added in Pennsylvania, yielding a loss of 350 jobs overall.

Days after it announced the plant closure, the company announced the dividend increase that would reward shareholders and cost the company about $846,000.

The stock buyback plan, which has the effect of boosting share prices, was another expense of $696 million at the time, both to benefit shareholders. That came on the heels of the company’s corporate tax cut from 35% to 21% percent and its previous announcement last year that a new motorcycle assembly plant in Thailand would open later this year.

Harley has said the opening of the Bangkok plant is unrelated to the Kansas City closure

► April 24: Harley-Davidson profit falls as U.S. motorcycle sales remain weak
► April 20: Harley-Davidson seeks 8 interns to ride motorcycles for the summer

Rick Pence, who has worked at the Kansas City plant for 21 years, isn’t buying that.

“They are sending our jobs overseas. Absolutely,” said  Pence, a machine repairman

Milwaukee-based Harley has similar operations in India and Brazil, where complete motorcycles are assembled from kits. The Thai tariff on motorcycles assembled in the United States is about 60%, according to Harley.

“By opening this plant, we expect our regional (Asian) operations to help reduce those costs,” Harley spokeswoman Katie Whitmore said last year.

Company executives were asked multiple times what it would take to keep the plant in Kansas City, according to Kevin Amos, president Local Lodge 176 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers whose members work at Harley-Davidson’s Kansas City plant. He also has worked 17 years for the bike maker.

He said he was under the impression workers were doing everything to keep the company in Missouri.

“We thought we had met the mark. Clearly we didn’t,” Amos said.

The workers agreed they have loved working for Harley-Davidson, and Pence said he felt like he had won the lottery when he got hired.

Primeaux still is holding hope company leaders will change their minds and keep the plant open in Kansas City — not just for himself, but for his three daughters.

► March 14: Harley-Davidson going all-in on electric motorcycles
► March 6: Harley-Davidson responds to threat of EU tariffs on its bikes

“If my girls want to work there, it’s a good place to work,” he said to NBC News.

When Harley-Davidson received news of the tax cut in September, House Speaker Paul Ryan said reform meant companies like Harley would be able to keep jobs in America.

In January, a CNBC survey of the 100 largest companies by market capitalization determined that’s not happening, and only 10 of those companies said they planned to use the tax savings to boost worker pay. Harley, part of the S&P 500, is not in the S&P 100.

► March 1: Harley-Davidson invests in Alta Motors electric bike company
► Feb. 18: Harley still to close Kansas City plant despite Missouri delegation plea

But Primeaux isn’t holding the survey results against Congress or President Trump.

“I blame the company more than I blame the president,” he said.

Contributing: Rick Barrett, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Follow Candy Woodall on Twitter: @candynotcandace

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