Carver celebrates a victory at Hagerstown Speedway, finishing the season with 5 wins and 293 points.
Jeffrey Carver, Jr. is just another All-American kid from the midwest with dreams of hitting the big time. No, he is not on American Idol, Survivor or The Real World. He is a motorcycle racer, and has a starring role in a different type of reality show, the AMA Pro Flat Track series. Carver won the 2010 Pro Singles Championship, and is leading a deep pool of young talent into the highest level of their sport, the Expert class. In 2011, he will face the toughest challenge of his career, riding wheel to wheel against, current and former Grand National Champions, Jake Johnson, Henry Wiles, Jared Mees, Kenny Coolbeth, and Chris Carr.
Milestones were originally used during the reign of the Roman Empire to mark distance traveled or the remaining distance to the next destination. Travel was long and laborious, mostly on foot and with little or no infrastructure as we know it. Large granite or marble stones were placed along the route to aid travelers on their journey, marking distance covered and providing encouragement to reach the final destination. Over time, the literal meaning for “milestone” has been surpassed by a more figurative connotation. Today, a “milestone” represents a point of significance in the journey of life. Jeffrey Carver, is traveling down a road few have tread. At the final race of the 2010 season, he passed a milestone only a handful of talented riders ever will. Carver secured his second Pro Singles Championship with 11 podiums in 16 rounds. Five of those podiums were wins, earning him the respect of his fellow competitors and admiration from those that came before him.
Kevin Atherton, is a name anyone who watched a Flat Track race in the ’90s will remember. Atherton stormed into the paddock as Rookie of the Year in 1988. He enjoyed a 16 year career at the GNC level, before a series of debilitating accidents limited the use of his right leg. The most recent occurred while testing Joe Kopp’s Lloyd Bros. Ducati prior to the 2010 season. Kevin “Cupcake” Atherton was flying down the front straight of a test track at triple digits when his
outside, or right, knee clipped a rail post. The resulting crash yielded x-rays of bone that looked more like applesauce than a functional joint. Kevin, undeterred, turned wrenches and changed wheels for the American Agip backed team at the Expert Twins race in May. Joe Kopp made history in the high desert that day, breaking a 17 year stranglehold Harley-Davidson held on Twins events. Kevin held the checkered flag for the victory lap once more, on the back of the Ducati he helped develop.
American Flat Track is a very tight family. There are traditions and unspoken codes only a Dirt Tracker would know or understand. You won’t find a copy of these rules and traditions in the back of your AMA Pro Racing Handbook, but racers know, they live by them and honor them. One of those traditions is the passing of your National Number to a young rider you deem worthy. It is the ultimate acknowledgment of skill, work ethic and respect. Kevin Atherton had been keeping an eye on Carver’s career. Planning to announce his retirement, Kevin wanted a rider that would continue to build on the blood, sweat, tears and sheer pride he has behind the #23. Carver exhibited the composure and intelligence on the track, that officials, fellow competitors and sponsors admire in a young professional.
As Jeffrey accepted the Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles Championship, Kevin, with the aid of his cane, made his way to the stage. Carefully unwrapping the #23, he was about to give up a number that represented over two decades of successful Flat Track racing. As Atherton closed the book on his own career, he wished the young rider on to a Grand National Championship that eluded him. Carver on earning his national number and bringing the #23 back under the family name, “It’s a goal I’ve had ever since I got started in Flat Track. My Granddad and Dad both raced as #23. Earning this number and winning the Pro Singles Championship has made this the perfect season for me.”
Carver’s father, Jeff Carver Sr., has been waiting for this moment, “I think we are the only BBQ sponsored race team in the Country. It took a lot of BBQ to get to this point. I can remember Jeffrey as a little boy, carrying pork shoulders and firewood as big as he was through the kitchen.” The Carvers own and operate a BBQ restaraunt in Godfrey, IL. “He has put in the hard work and earned this opportunity. I might
#24P Jeffrey Carver tucked in over the finish at the Indy Mile. Notice his left hand on the tank to reduce drag.
have to fire him now, so he has enough time to train for the Expert Class,” his father says with pride.
Jeffrey Carver has little time to savor his 2010 season. He is advancing to AMA Pro Flat Track’s Expert class, and racing is not a cheap endeavor. As Jeffrey courts sponsorship to fund his program, he has to answer a very important question. What twin will he ride next year? Working closely with his major sponsor, Van’s Yamaha, Carver developed the new 2010 Yamaha YZF 450 into a winning platform in its first season. With Kawasaki and Ducati taking wins, loosening Harley-Davidsons death grip on the twins class, will Yamaha raise their presence in this iconic American series with a twin of their own?
The perfect scenario is unfolding for Yamaha. Carver has proven his talent and championship form, but more importantly, he has shown the capacity to take on new challenges and turn them into successes. Yamaha is introducing their 1200cc Super Tenere parallel twin on showroom floors in 2012. I can’t imagine a more appropriate proving ground for the new bike. Sliding sideways all over America at triple digit speeds in the hands of one of the World’s fastest riders on dirt, is a hell of a lot more convincing than any brochure you can dream up!