Despite the headlining rivalry between the Harley-Davidson and Indian Motorcycle Factory teams, the King of the Baggers series showcases some of the best privateer efforts that racing has to offer. On the Indian side, the Roland Sands Design satellite squad holds its own. The same goes for the Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson team, and this year, top talent will help the operation challenge the boys with the big bucks.
Hayden Gillim piloted the original Factory-backed Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Street Glide for the 2020 King of the Baggers Invitational. Though number 79 snatched second place, he remained with Vance & Hines after the Motor Company parted ways with the aftermarket specialists prior to the 2021 season. In 2022, Gillim skipped the series altogether to focus on superbike racing exclusively.
2023 marks the Kentucky native's return to KotB and the Vance & Hines outfit, but he’s not alone. After an impressive 2022 KotB season, James Rispoli reclaims his seat with V&H. Bearing his trademark 43 number plate, Rispoli finished the season sixth in the overall standings and the top-ranking privateer Harley-Davidson rider. The 31-year-old collected a second-place and a third-place finish during the six-race calendar.
This season, the King of the Baggers series will consist of seven double-header rounds. The 14-race schedule will push all the teams to the limit, and Vance & Hines will rely on the Harley-Davidson Road Glide for the second year in a row.
“We’re really happy to see interest in the class grow and the increase in the number of races this year,” said Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Team Manager Craig Koontz. “James, with his strong technical feedback and great riding, was a real asset to the team this past season. Having James and Hayden on the track together is going to be exciting to watch. We’re eager to get to Daytona to see how we stack up against the rest of the field.”
The Factory-supported boys may dominate the KotB circuit, but we have a feeling the Vance & Hines will make some noise in 2023.
Sources: Cycle News, MC News, Vance & Hines