RAPID CITY — A clear mentality and winning mindset paid off for Ryan Varnes, who won the Production Twins main event at Tuesday’s Black Hills Half Mile in Rapid City. 

It marked his first national victory.

Varnes topped the 17-rider field by 1.471 seconds for the 15-lap main event race. He rode a Kawasaki Ninja 650 and received 25 standings points.

“If you don’t show up and you don’t plan on winning the day or wanting to win the day, there’s no point in being there,” Varnes said earlier in the day. “There’s no point in shooting for second or third.”

Earlier in the day, Varnes said improvement was his biggest goal for this season. The 21-year-old resides in Mohnton, Pa.

“We just built a new motor, a new bike,” Varnes said. “It’s supposed to be a little bit better than what we have now.”

Varnes began competing in flat-track racing at age 5. He is the third member of his family to race professionally, following his father Kevin and grandfather Jim.

“That was always the plan, kind of, to grow up and be a motorcycle racer,” Varnes said. “Like anyone who rides a motorcycle and races at one point, I think that’s what they want to do.”

Ryan earned a national number in 2018. That allowed the Varnes to become the first flat-track racing family to have three generations receive a national number.

National number 68 is what Ryan wears. Jim wore number 78 for two or three years; Kevin wore number 89 for almost 20 years.

Varnes turned pro at age 16. He said this is the first year for the Production Twins class as a series championship class.

The American Flat Trackers set 16 as the age limit for turning pro. Riders may apply for their card if they have collected enough points in their local district as an expert.

Varnes held the number 2 spot in the standings going into Tuesday. The season started with consecutive runner-up finishes, followed by a sixth-place finish one month ago.

“I changed a lot to my program, fitness and health-wise, since that last round,” Varnes said. He added he could feel the difference after one month.

Varnes recalled qualifying for only four main events in the Premier class last season. He added bike issues contributed to the frustration.

No bike issues have arisen in 2019. The racing team has three bikes after struggling to keep one running in last year.

Dirt and shape distinguish Rapid City’s track from others on which Varnes has raced. He said this track is one of the circuit’s fastest half miles, partly because of the black dirt.

“The banking helps you keep momentum up around the whole track,” Varnes said. “Because it’s so banked, you’re leaning the bike over pretty far and getting in there really hot.”

Training includes a lot of cardiovascular exercise and circuit training. Varnes prefers running for his cardio workouts.

Travel and the racing atmosphere appeal to Varnes the most. He has been to every state except Maine, Alaska, and Hawaii.

“We’re all like family in a way,” Varnes said in describing the atmosphere in the pits. “You’ve got a lot of people you can fall back on if you need help with something.”

His biggest challenge centers on adapting throughout the day. Varnes said the track continually changes, which affects bike setup and riding styles.

His sponsors include Don’s Kawasaki, Rausch Fuel Company, and Varnes Racing.

Varnes said he does not feel a lot of pressure racing professionally at his young age. “I just want to go out and do my best every weekend, and ultimately, just win,” he said. 

Mission accomplished.

Top-six results from Tuesday’s main events follow.

AFT TWINS

1 Briar Bauman (Salinas, Calif.) on Indian FTR750

2 Jeffrey Carver Jr. (Godfrey, Ill.) on Indian FTR750

3 Bronson Bauman (Salinas, Calif.) on Indian FTR750

4 Brandon Robinson (Oxford, Pa.) on Indian FTR750

5 PJ Jacobsen (Montgomery, N.Y.) on Indian FTR750

6 Jared Vanderkooi (Mt. Gilead, Ohio) on Harley-Davidson XG750R Rev X

AFT SINGLES

1 Chad Cose (Fremont, Calif.) on Suzuki RMZ 450

2 Shayna Texter (Willow Street, Pa.) on KTM 450 SX-F

3 Morgen Mischler (Beaver Dam, Wis.) on KTM 450 SX-F

4 Michael Inderbitzin (Modesto, Calif.) on Honda CRF450R

5 Dallas Daniels (Mahoon, Ill.) on Yamaha YZ450F

6 Dan Bromley (Warrington, Pa.) on KTM 450 SX-F

AFT PRODUCTION TWINS

1 Ryan Varnes (Mohnton, Pa.) on Kawasaki Ninja 650

2 J.R. Addison (Galion, Ohio) on Kawasaki Ninja 650

3 James Rispoli (Londonderry, N.H.) on Harley-Davidson XG750R Rev X

4 Dalton Gauthier (Pine Grove, Pa.) on Harley-Davidson XG750R Rev X

5 Kevin Stollings (Indianapolis, Ind.) on Kawasaki Ninja 650

6 Cory Texter (Willow Street, Pa.) on Yamaha MT-07

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