Do you have the urge to race motorcycles? This summer you can show up at a Hooligan event with your bike, sign your life away on what is probably a pretty scary waiver, put on a helmet, and race your knees off.
There are two levels of Hooligan racing. The terms Hooligan and Super Hooligan are often used interchangeably so it can be confusing. Competitors in both Hooligan and Super Hooligan races are amateurs with day jobs, although occasionally an American Flat Track professional rider will show up for a Super Hooligan race.
Hooligan races are where you get started. The spirit of Hooligan racing is to “run what you brung,” meaning what you rode to the race. Bring a street bike with a 750cc or larger engine, a stock frame, dirt track tires, and no front brake — no racing bikes. Riders remove all unnecessary parts of their bikes for lighter weight and greater speed — there is also less to fall off.
The Super Hooligan races have more rules and the riders are more skilled, but as with Hooligan racing, people race for the fun and the competition. It is more fun when people race against others with equal or similar skills.
Hooligan racing got its start in the late 1940s when servicemen came back from the war. They had no money for racing bikes, but they wanted to have fun. Hooligan racing was mostly a Southern California thing where they could race year round. People would ride a motorcycle to the event, race with it, and then ride the same bike home.
In the last few years, Roland Sands and his company Roland Sands Design (RSD) have been instrumental in building interest in Hooligan racing. Sands was a professional racer for 10 years. After 32 broken bones, he stopped racing and started designing and building custom performance bikes. He formed RSD in 2005 and the company sells custom motorcycles, parts, and apparel. Sands is described as “brand-agnostic” in that he works with all brands of bikes, especially big twins.
Hooligan racing had become mostly a Harley-Davidson event, with some Triumphs, Ducatis, and Yamahas. Indian Motorcycle Company started getting involved with the Hooligan and Super Hooligan scene in late 2015. In November that year, five RSD Super Hooligan riders raced customized versions of Indian’s Scout Sixty 999cc bike in a warehouse in Los Angeles at the American launch event for the bike.
During the 2016 Hooligan season, Sands and RSD riders went to races promoting Hooligan and Super Hooligan racing throughout the country. Talking about Hooligan racing, Sands told Digital Trends, “The spirit is having a good time hanging out with friends and riding motorcycles.
“It’s about the heritage of the sport and ties people into motorcycling,” Sands continued. “It’s frightening and it takes balls, but there’s a lot of satisfaction and it makes beer taste really good. That’s how you feel after surviving Hooligan.”