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A Day at the Calistoga Half-Mile

Flat Track is a deeply American sport. Here's what it looks like from both sides of the bleachers.

If you're reading this now, you may already know that Jared Mees won the twins class at the Calistoga Half-Mile held on Saturday, July 29. His Indian Motorcycle wrecking crew teammate, Brad Baker, took third. Sammy Halbert, riding for Yamaha, took second. In the singles, it looked like this -- Tanner Dean, Brandon Price, and Kolby "the Flying Tomato" Carlille in third.

The big final race in these two categories is the culmination of a day that starts in the morning with a lot of prep. By early afternoon they've moved into the qualifying rounds, followed by a big break until the quarterfinals and semis. There's a lot of down time in between until by evening you've got the showdown between the young guns racing the singles followed by the more experienced racers on the twins.

If you go to a race and don't either pay attention or don't have access, you might miss everything else that goes on between the races. The people, the bikes that many ride to the event, and the ancillary action (like post-heat bike weigh-ins) that makes this still one of the simplest and barebones sporting events on the planet.

Rather than go into more detail, we'll let the photos show and tell the story.

Getting ready for qualifying.

Yeah, even flat trackers get an occasional umbrella when it's hot out.

Indians in the paddock. This would be like going into the locker room before an NFL game and seeing the gear. Like that would ever happen.

You don't need a press pass to get into this area. If you're lucky, the riders might be out and willing to talk.

Yes, that is Kolby "the Flying Tomato" Carlille.

This is about as close as any fan will get to an actual race. Still not a bad view.

There was a live band to keep things interesting between races.

Seems only right to ride a motorcycle to a motorcycle race.

No flat trackers here, but plenty to look at.

Food, drink...and shade...

...and some wishful thinking.

The crowd begins to grow in anticipation of the start of the heats, semis and finals.

An empty track before it gets loud and torn up.

Probably not too far off.

The start of the finals for the singles class. Unfortunately, only crew and media get this close.

The bikes get weighed after a run.

As seen from Turn One...yeah, it's noisy and fast!

More at Turn One.

Start of the Twins Finals...wonder what these guys are saying to one another?

And a small bit of racing action to finish the day...

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