It's kind of hard to believe, but we're now half way through the 2018 AMA Flat Track season. Nine rounds gone, nine to go and defending champion and Red Torpedo's USA brand ambassador Jared Mees is leading the Championship by 59 points ahead of Henry Wiles in second and Mees's Indian Motorcycles team mate Brad Baker, 20 points behind Wiles, in third.
Jared Mees's 2017 Season
Mees totally blitzed last season's AMA Flat Track Championship taking 17 podium finishes from 18 starts. He racked up 10 wins, six 2nd place finishes and one 3rd. And for those doing the math - yip - he didn't make the start for one race. The Lima Half Mile at Allen County Fairgrounds. He also nailed a dirt bike grand slam: a TT, short track, half mile and mile win to complete one of the best seasons witnessed in AMA Flat Track. It was so utterly dominant that he had secured the Championship by the Williams Grove Half Mile, with two rounds still to go.
The No 1 bike - leading the pack
Before the 2018 season blasted off, questions began to do the rounds. Could "The Jammer" produce a similar level of performance in AMA Flat Track again? Would Harley Davidson bounce back and give Indian a run for their money? Could Indian's "Wrecking Crew" team mates Brad Baker and Bryan Smith up their games and push for the title? And what about Jeff Carver, Kenny Coolbeth, Briar Bauman, and Henry Wiles? Could any of them get into the mix and run at the sharp end alongside "The Jammer?"
The "Hate to Lose" 'Killer' instinct
Like all elite sportsmen / women, Jared Mees is out to win. Nothing unusual in that. World class athletes, irrespective of their particular sport, ain't there to make up the numbers. They're out to be the best they can possibly be: to beat the competition... to nail PBs.....to achieve. And if they're right at the pinnacle of their sport, to write their way into the history books. Right now, that's the way Mees's career looks like going.
At present, he seems to be on a completely different level in comparison to his fellow flat track competitors. He's obviously hugely talented as a racer. That's a given. But, fundamental though that is, there's a lot more to it than just that. He's a winning machine - and he just hates to lose.
Mees gunning the Indian FTR750 at the Calistoga Half Mile
In interviews, Mees has to be about one of the most positive sounding athletes on the planet. Granted, he's not the only US athlete that's comfortable at readily articulating a positive mental attitude. Michael Johnson, Ali and Kenny Roberts were hardly shrinking violets when it came to describing their strengths and articulating goals. Normally, there never appears to be even a chink of doubt or a negative thought. But such was the nature of Mees's dominance in 2017, that even he - with his unshakeable self confidence, wondered whether he could ever repeat such a memorable year. In a pre-season interview he said:
"The scary thing for me is that I don't know if I can ever repeat such an historical, fun year. It's almost like - man, anything less than I did this (2017) year is going to be a little bit disappointing. But at the end of the day, we did it and not many riders and racers have ever done what we have done - and we'll try to go back next year and try to do the best we can and try to hit our marks." (Jared Mees)
So, how's it all been going given that it's the half way point through the season? Hitting his marks? Hell yeh. But he hasn't just hit them - he's obliterated them. He would have nailed a 2018 dirt bike grand slam by May 12 - the very first opportunity that could have arisen - had it not been for the second round Atlanta disqualification: he won the first mile (Arizona) of the season and was already sitting with the necessary TT win (Daytona) and a half mile - actually, two half miles - Texas and Calistoga. And whilst he now can't better his 17 podiums of 2017 on account of Atlanta, he can equal it if he stays out of trouble and race fit.
Jared Mees: a familiar sight these past two seasons
Jared Mees: Winning Machine
It's Jared Mees's win rate that's way ahead of this point last year. He's won seven races from nine starts - a 78% win rate (could have been 8 from 9) - which is rad. Last year he had "only" won 4 races after 9 rounds - a 44% win rate.
Mees celebrating his win at the Calistoga Half Mile
Mees on winning:
"Some people say that winning isn't everything. I beg to differ - I think winning is everything in my opinion. We work very hard to win and to be at the level we are. The 2017 Championship was one to remember for me because it was my 5th Championship. But man - the way we dominated the season on the new Indian motorcycle was just phenomenal." (Jared Mees)
Although anything can happen during a season, Mees is currently 59 points ahead, looks in imperious form and is stacking up consecutive wins. Furthermore, there's nobody consistently challenging him. Henry Wiles is lying in second place in the Championship with one 2nd, two 3rds, two 4ths and two 5th place finishes - so he is scoring consistently. But he's not winning.
The only guy that's taken a race from Mees this season is Jeff Carver - at the Springfield Mile by 0.819 seconds. Carver also ran him very close (0.114 secs) at the Calistoga Half Mile but Mees took it. Kenny Coolbeth "inherited" the Atlanta round 2 win having been moved up from lying in second place. Post race random testing found Mee's tire to be in contravention of regulations. But It's also the nature of some of Jared Mees's wins that's remarkable. He's just won his fourth mile of the season (Oklahoma) out of the five, mile races so far by nearly 13 seconds - which is just sick! He also bagged Arizona, Sacramento and The Red Mile, Lexington, Kentucky.
In the next blog we'll take a closer look at the first nine races, analyse some of the other riders' performances against Mees's and examine how the other manufacturers have been fairing against the might of the Indian Scout FTR 750. (Eh - basically, not well!) 'Til then - 'keep it sideways.'
Next race: Lima Half Mile, June 30, 2018
📷 Dave Hoenig (Flat Track Fotos)
Red Torpedo currently has two Jared Mees tee designs available in both men's & women's sizes in our range of casual apparel for bikers: the "Hate to Lose" tee and the "Flat Tracker" design. Both these tees are super high quality shirts and feature original artwork from Red Torpedo's in-house designer, Robin Leishman. Check them out here: https://redtorpedousa.com/collections/jared-mees