Mees Scores Win Number Six at AFT Calistoga Half Mile

Indian factory rider Jared Mees is putting together a season not witnessed since 1993. Mees dominated the Calistoga Half Mile for his sixth win of the year.

As unlikely as it seems, Jared Mees is having a season not seen in American Flat Track racing since Ricky Graham dominated the series in 1993, and Mees was on fire once again at the 2017 Calistoga Half Mile last Saturday night.

Jared Mees (9) dominated the AFT Calistoga Half Mile at the Napa County Fairgrounds, winning the race by 3.5 seconds. It was his sixth AFT Twins main event win of the year. PHOTO BY DAVE HOENIG/FLAT TRAK FOTOS.

Mees’ Indian Motorcycle/Rogers Racing Indian Scout FTR750 is in its first year of competition, and his two fellow Indian riders are also former Grand National Champions, none the less. After his dominant performance at the Napa County Fairgrounds’ Calistoga Speedway he has six wins, three seconds and one third-place finish. The only blemish on his year thus far was his own race, Lima, Ohio, (promoted by himself and his wife). Mees was penalized for jumping the start (twice) in the semi, and he failed to qualify for the main event.

AFT Twins
Despite a restart on lap nine of the 25- lap Calistoga main event, which was round 11 of the AFT Twins season, Mees had no problems as he raced to an almost 5-second lead before backing off and beating Sammy Halbert (Estenson Racing / Yamaha) by an easy 3.5 seconds for the AFT Twins main event victory.

Even though the race had to be restarted in the latter stages, Mees (9) kept a cool head and laid down the fastest laps to score the win. PHOTO BY DAVE HOENIG/FLAT TRAK FOTOS.

“The motorcycle was just phenomenal,” Mees said. “I feel like anybody could have jumped on that thing and rode that thing and won on it. Before the restart Kenny (Tolbert) came up to me and said, ‘Just keep doing what you’re doing. You’re two tenths a lap quicker than everyone.’ I thought, okay, as long as I can come off of turn two nice and clean I should be fine.”

Mees’ execution was perfect on the restart, and for all practical purposes the race for the Calistoga win was over. Halbert settled into second.

Sammy Halbert (69) rode his Yamaha FZ-07-based flat tracker to a second-place finish. Reigning American Flat Track Champion Bryan Smith (1) was fourth, behind teammate Brad Baker (not shown). PHOTO BY DAVE HOENIG/FLAT TRAK FOTOS.

“We’ll take it,” Halbert said. “We’re making progress with the Yamaha FZ-07. This was our first time running the Yamaha on a clay half mile. We definitely have to be happy with second. We will just keep plugging away. We will try to give Big Blue a win here soon.

“You had to stay right on the groove tonight,” Halbert added. “If you got off the groove you were going backwards. I was able to keep it on the rubber. It was a nerve-wracking race, and I was nervous with the restart. With it being such a technical track my nerves were high tonight for some reason. I was pleased when we crossed the finish line and I had a big gap on third.”

Smith was disappointed with his fourth-place finish as it dropped him 18 points behind Mees in the battle for the championship. PHOTO BY DAVE HOENIG/FLAT TRAK FOTOS.

The battle for third went down to the wire between Indian Motorcycle/Allstate Motorcycle Insurance teammates Brad Baker and Bryan Smith on their Indian Scout FTR750s. Baker claimed the last podium spot. The banked Calistoga half mile had developed a very narrow groove and was very unforgiving to anyone who ventured off it. Smith paid a price early in the race when the draft pulled him into turn one harder than expected.

“When I slipped off the groove I tried to get it and just about high sided,” Smith said. “Maybe on the outside edge of the groove in three and four, maybe an inch or so, there might have been some traction, but you’re flirting with disaster at that point.

“It pisses you off when you follow everybody and they are making the same mistakes as you,” Smith added. “You just can’t go. It felt like riding a short track. Like at the old Daytona (Municipal Stadium) you had to wait for the guy to mess up or stuff the hell out of him.”

Briar Bauman ran strong early but slipped bacl to fifth place aboard his Kawasaki. PHOTO BY DAVE HOENIG/FLAT TRAK FOTOS.

Briar Bauman (Zanotti Racing/Rod Lake Racing Kawasaki) held second early, but slipped back, before charging back into the fray. He finished in fifth place, just behind Smith.

Mees now holds an 18-point lead over Smith in the AFT Twins series standings with seven races remaining on the 2017 schedule.

AFT Singles
The 15-lap AFT Singles main was dominated by young Tanner Dean (Walrath Racing/Hovey Racing Honda), who was making just his fourth try at AFT racing. Dean weathered two restarts to lead every lap of the main, but was under constant pressure from Brandon Price, who has just switched to the Parkinson Brothers Honda and for a first ride it had to be considered a success.

Tanner Dean (138) scored the AFT Singles win at Calistoga in only his fourth ride in the class. PHOTO BY DAVE HOENIG/FLAT TRAK FOTOS.

Almost as good, Kolby Carlile, who has moved over to ride the vacant Estenson Racing Yamaha, was able to pull off a close third, just 0.294 of a second off the win.

Ben Lowe (Bruce Lowe Excavatiing/Low-Life Performance Honda), Shayna Texter (Richie Morris Racing/McElroy Packaging Honda) and Kevin Stollings (Ben Evans Racing/Dave’s Cycles Honda) were also less than a second off the lead.

Shayna Texter has a commanding lead in the AFT Singles points race. Kolby Carlile is 29 back, and Brandon Price is just one back of Carlile. Ben Lowe is 60 points behind Texter in fourth place.

2017 American Flat Track Series
Napa County Fairgrounds
Calistoga, California
Results: July 29, 2017 (Round 11 of 18)

AFT Twins Main

  1. Jared Mees-Ind
  2. Sammy Halbert-Yam
  3. Brad Baker-Ind
  4. Bryan Smith-Ind
  5. Briar Bauman-Kaw
  6. Jeffrey Carver Jr.-Kaw
  7. Jarod Vanderkooi-Kaw
  8. Chad Cose-Yam
  9. Brandon Robinson-HD
  10. Ryan Wells-HS
  11. Davis Fisher-Kaw
  12. Kenny Coolbeth JR.-HD
  13. Scooter Vernon-Kaw
  14. Ryan Varnes-Kaw
  15. Jake Johnson-HD
  16. R. Addison-Kaw
  17. Nick Armstrong-Yam
  18. Rob Pearson-HD

AFT Singles Main

  1. Tanner Dean-Hon
  2. Brandon Price-Hon
  3. Kolby Carlile-Yam
  4. Ben Lowe-Hon
  5. Shayna Texter-Hon
  6. Kevin Stollings-Hon
  7. Dylan Bell-Hon
  8. John Vanderlaan-Hon
  9. Cameron Smith-Hon
  10. Wyatt Anderson-KTM
  11. Oliver Brindley-Kaw
  12. Beau Thompson-Hon
  13. Michael Hill-Hon
  14. Shane Narbone-Hon
  15. Michael Rodrigues-Hon
  16. Sandriana Shipman-Yam
  17. Dan Lowther-Hon
  18. Damon Coca-Hon