Holy smokes, Jeff Ward—yes, that Jeff Ward—is returning to professional racing in 2019. American Flat Track announced today that the seven-time AMA National Champion will compete in all five AFT Singles TTs—and maybe even a Short Track or two—this year. Ward will ride a KTM with support from fellow racer and Moto Anatomy riding school owner Johnny Lewis, Blackmore Ranch, KTM, Troy Lee Designs, and Monster Energy.
“Most folks probably don’t know this,” Ward said in a AFT press release, “but I started racing flat tracks and TTs as a youngster, and then gradually moved to motocross, so I’ve got some pretty deep flat track roots. I’ve been riding lately at the Blackmore Ranch flat track facility in Southern California, and really enjoying it. I also watched all the AFT races on NBCSN in 2018, and I got to thinking, ‘Let’s try this...’—and here we are!
“The plan,” continued Ward, “is to do the five TT events, and maybe catch a Short Track or two. I’ll be riding KTM 450s, with set-up, logistical and training help from Johnny Lewis. I’ll ride one of Johnny’s KTMs at Daytona in March, and one of my KTMs in Arizona in April, as it’s close to my So Cal base. After that we’ll figure out logistics for the rest of the rounds. I’m working on finalizing sponsors now, and we definitely have opportunities for companies to come aboard. We are going to have a lot of fun with this and stir things up a bit.”
Ward, 57, won seven AMA National Championships during his Hall of Fame career. After he was elected into the Hall of Fame for his motocross career, Ward won the 2004 AMA Supermoto Championship. After retiring from motorcycle racing, Ward began his career on four-wheels, racing in IndyCar. In 1997, he came within a few seconds of winning the Indianapolis 500 and finished third. He won the Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year award that year.
“I think we’ll be in contention for wins, too,” Ward said. “I’m 57, but I’m still pretty fast on a motorcycle and in great shape thanks to all the motocross riding and mountain bike racing I’ve been doing. It will be a challenge, for sure, but I’m committed to this and plenty serious about the season.”
In recent years, Ward has worked with riders such as current Honda HRC member Cole Seely.
The first TT is scheduled for Daytona on March 14, which will also serve as the opening round of the 2019 season. You can view the entire 2019 schedule here.
Main image: American Flat Track