Born on the dirt tracks of America way back in the 1920s, flat track racing has stayed as true to its roots as any. One of the most raw and shocking disciplines of motorsport, its raw and gritty – just like the riders. There’s no fancy livery in sight, no entourage or kitted out teams, its man and a van territory where you crowd under awnings and drink beers from the can.
While flat track racing remains firmly in the hearts of American spectators, momentum has been gaining in Europe, as ambitious racers are drawn to the sport to enjoy thrills without the cost. It’s big, it’s bolshy, but they absolutely love it.
Meet the Hooligan class – described as the fine line between order and chaos, and created to allow stripped-back, powerful road bikes to race with very little modifications, it’s one of the most dangerous forms of flat track.
The race qualities are simple – heavy, big-capacity road bikes are bought to race, allowing riders to create beautiful bikes that are also fit for the dirt… they’ve gotta have the go as well as the show. The demands on the riders, however, are hefty, it’s a physical sport that requires riders to essentially wrestle 180kg machines with only one brake, round an oval while being powered round corners in an extended slide – not an easy ask of anyone, but renowned Cutsomiser Charlie Stockwell thought he’d got it nailed.
“They’re awful things to battle round the track – you fall off and get run over by one, and they’re heavy bikes to be run over by!” – Charlie Stockwell
After landing a full-time job at the Harley Davidson showroom on London’s Kings Road, Charlie’s passion for motorcycles powered on. Taking his artistic flair and using it on the bikes that surrounded him, he quickly became one of the most talented customisers around and after successfully completing his first commission at 19 – it was clear he’d got the gift of the gab, so he hasn’t stopped since.
His artistic streak satisfied, but his need for speed was not so it was only a matter of time before these two impulses were destined to join together on the flat track. Drawn in by the sport’s grungy charm, Stockwell Racing was formed, with Charlie at the helm running his own team on his own handcrafted bikes.
After a few embarrassingly unsuccessful races, he decided to step out of the saddle to make way for a new face and resume his trade in the building the bikes for the team. Enter Jake Young… racing trials bikes from the age of eight, his fast and loose riding skills made him the perfect match for the Hooligan class and he was bought into the fold.
“It’s everything you shouldn’t do, but that’s what creates the buzz” - Charlie Stockwell
We’re stoked to see what this pairing do in the 2021 season, which will hopefully be full of races and no worries.