The 2019 Sacramento Mile, one of American Flat Track's most legendary races, turned out to be an awesome night for Red Torpedo's two flat track 'Red Riders' - Jared Mees and Shayna Texter. It's the third time that they've both bagged a "double" victory this season in their respective classes with earlier wins at the Texas and Lima Half Miles.
Jared Mees with his Champion's trophy - 2019 AFT Twins, Sacramento Mile
Mees took the honours in a hard fought twins encounter lifting his 44th career premier class win whilst in the singles division, Shayna Texter won her eighth career mile and seventeenth AFT win in a thrilling, classic draft finish crossing the line just 0.063 seconds ahead of Mikey Rush in 2nd. Texter's outstanding win in the singles class will be the subject of the next RT USA blog.
Sacramento Mile: AFT Twins
Originally scheduled for May 18th but postponed until August due to torrential rain, the legendary Sacramento Mile was eventually raced on August 10th. The rescheduling meant that it was slotted into the AFT calendar following South Dakota's Sturgis 'double header' - the Buffalo TT and Black Hills Half Mile. For riders, teams, officials and the whole AFT bandwagon, this resulted in an intensive three race programme in six days with riders moving from TT to half mile to mile races.
The Californian Mile, along with the Illinois Springfield Mile, is always one of the season's premier races. Both are steeped in flat track history and have produced some of the greatest battles and closest finishes in American dirt track racing.
Mees came into round twelve lying second in the championship, 32 points behind Indian team mate Briar Bauman with his bro, Bronson Bauman, in third. Prior to Mees's race win last year, the Sac Mile was won on seven consecutive years (2011 - 2017 incl) by 'mile master' Bryan Smith - an incredible run that he completed on three different manufacturers machinery: Harley Davidson, Kawasaki and Indian.
In the early stages of this year's race, the 'Jammer' sat with the pack and it was Briar Bauman who took the lead, upping the ante in an attempt to break free from the pack. Mees couldn't risk letting him go and immediately responded to ensure that he wasn't gapped. With the afterburners lit, he hit the front and began to really put the hammer down. Such was the defending champion's sheer pace around the mile that he really forced Bauman to hang on in. Bauman did manage to launch one heroic last effort but it wasn't enough. The champ held on taking the win by 0.151 seconds and closed the gap down by five points, twenty-seven behind his main rival.
Sacramento Mile - Mees and Briar Baumen battle it out round the famous mile dirt track.
AFT Twins Round Up
It's been a fascinating AFT twins season so far. For the past two seasons, Mees has been untouchable. His consistency was off the hook and he was relentless in his domination of nearly every round. In 2017 - ten wins, six 2nds and one 3rd - one of the greatest seasons ever witnessed in flat track racing. In 2018 - ten wins, four 2nds and one 3rd. He hardly put a (steel booted) foot wrong.
Elbow to elbow - Mees and six other riders jockey for position at the Lima Half Mile
But this year, things have been a little different. He's been pushed for the first time in a long while and hasn't been able to dictate in the same way. It's not that his level has dropped - he's far too good for that to happen but the fact is, others have raised their game. And the guys that have pushed him hardest at times have been his 'shipmates' in Indian's "Wrecking Crew" - the Bros Bauman, Briar and Bronson.
It's made the season all the more exciting for fans because there's still everything to play for. Six rounds remain and it's still pretty wide open. Although Mees has posted, by his standards, some fairly indifferent finishes this year that would have been difficult to contemplate at any point these past two seasons - (17th Daytona TT, 15th Laconia HM, 14th Black Hills HM), what's been really impressive is that he's come straight back with either a win, or following the Daytona TT, a 2nd place finish. That's grit - determination and "killer" instinct. The "hate to lose" factor in all its glory.
The 'Jammer' giving the Indian FTR750 some serious stick
But Mees is not the only guy who has done this. Current leader, Briar Bauman, has done exactly the same and continues to keep his nose in front - just. At Lima, he finished 16th but came storming back and won the next round, the New York Short Track. At Buffalo Chip TT he again finished 16th but hit right back to win the Black Hills Half Mile the following round. Double bicep emoji - and a smiley face.
Mees has been behind Bauman most, if not all, of the season but with six rounds to go there's now this differential of just 27 points. Given his experience, tenacity and race craft, he could still make it three in a row. What's more, the telling factor could be the remaining mile races. There's four of them left in the twins class: Springfield I and II, Minnesota and Meadowlands.
A moment's contemplation before being called to the grid.
Of the eleven career miles that the 'Jammer's' bagged, eight have been nailed since the start of his 2017 championship winning season. He has also won the only two miles raced so far this year - Red Mile Kentucky and the Sac Mile. So he's the 'mile muncher' just now and that could really stand in his favour in the run in to the season's end.
So, can he do the treble and take the 2019 championship? Yeh - of course he can. Will he? Who knows - with six rounds to go, anything can happen in motorcycle racing. As the Jammer himself says, "To first be a winner, you have to hate to lose. And I hate losing."
Next AFT Twins round: Peoria TT, Illinois on Saturday 17th August.
Next blog: Shayna Texter lifts her eighth career mile win.
📷 Dave Hoenig