Editorial: The Sleeping Singles Giant
Due to the convergence of three key factors, one could make a case that the 2021 AFT Singles class is the deepest, most talented collection of riders the category has ever seen. That claim can only really be borne out with time, but consider the following variables:
1. The systematic increase in direct, manufacturer support, which has brought with it the entrance of some preeminent premier-class performers (chief among them Henry Wiles and Mikey Rush).
2. The rapid ascension of a superstar-in-the-making in reigning champion Dallas Daniels. At just 17, Daniels was, by rule, too young in his career to advance up the ladder in 2021 and therefore returned to defend the #1 plate.
3. An unusually large class of highly touted rookies and sophomore riders who’ve been added to what was already viewed as a stacked field, even when ignoring the likes of Wiles, Rush, and Daniels.
The Atlanta Super TT will present that field a mighty steep challenge to prove itself in a TT setting thanks to the existence of the greatest measuring stick imaginable -- the aforementioned Wiles.
Wiles opened his second AFT Singles campaign in relatively quiet fashion with finishes of 17th and 5th at last month’s Volusia doubleheader. That comes following a fine 2020 season in which he ended the season ranked third in the points race. He did so on the strength of six finishes of 1st or 2nd, including wins at the Indy Mile and DAYTONA ST, and despite some untimely injuries.
What he wasn’t given the opportunity to do a year ago, however, was demonstrate exactly what he can do in the class at a TT on a 450cc four-stroke single. And there’s little arguing two relevant points:
1. Wiles is statistically the greatest TT rider in Progressive American Flat Track history, and by a wide margin. He boasts 19 career premier-class TT wins, four more than any other rider in history and 16 more than any active rider.
2. Wiles is also statistically the greatest single-cylinder rider in Progressive American Flat Track history from a wins perspective. A two-time GNC1 Singles Champion, the Michigan native has taken 26 premier-class Main Event victories aboard four-stroke singles, in addition to the two he added in AFT Singles action a year ago.
Wiles will no doubt see the Atlanta Super TT as a golden opportunity to leap right back into title contention.
Every other rider in the field should consider it a golden opportunity to prove themselves against historical greatness.