Chase Saathoff got the opportunity to see what it takes to race at a professional level on Friday, Oct. 2, but the Hillsboro High School freshman hopes it wasn’t a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Part of the Progressive American Flat Track Series’ new Road To AFT program, Saathoff was invited to face off against ten other elite prospects who were selected to get a taste of what it takes to be a professional motorcycle racer.
“It was a really cool learning experience to be out in front of the pro teams, and riding out there under the lights in front of AFT fans. Watching the pros go and then try to follow their lines was really fun,” Saathoff said in an interview for www.americanflattrack.com. “This will most definitely be helpful to young amateurs coming up and getting close to the pro ranks, especially compared with just riding amateur until you go pro and then your first pro season you have no idea what to do.”
While the experience was important, the competitive nature of Saathoff shone through during the race at the Dixie Speedway in Woodstock, GA. Going head to head against Kody Kopp, son of former Grand National Champion Joe Kopp, Saathoff would pilot his Husqvarna 450 to a second place finish, 1.670 seconds behind Kopp.
In addition to the Road to the AFT, Saathoff raced four times the night before at the Senoia Shootout, picking up two wins and finishing no worse than sixth. The young racer would win both the 450cc Amateur and the Open Amateur, while also placing fourth in the Dash for Cash. Only when the pros were involved did Saathoff get pushed back a little as he placed a solid sixth in the Pro/Am race.
While the schedule for other Road to AFT events haven’t been announced yet, Saathoff’s performance in Georgia will surely yield him more opportunities to showcase his skills and build up his experience.
“The need for a springboard from amateur to an AFT Professional Singles license has never been more apparent,” said Joey Mancari, chief competition officer of Progressive American Flat Track. “The Road to AFT will not only accomplish that, but will also give AFT Singles riders with limited pro experience a place to hone their skills. In both cases, the Road to AFT program is where these riders will gain the skill sets needed to succeed as an AFT competitor.”