The first half mile race of the 2019 American Flat Track season turned out to be an outstanding round for Red Torpedo's two star flat track racers, Jared Mees and Shayna Texter. Texter landed her first victory for the newly formed Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Flat Track Team in the singles class on a KTM 450 SX-F and Jared Mees took his first win of 2019 on the Indian FTR 750.
With almost a month's break since the Atlanta Short Track, the American Flat Track posse headed out from Georgia 800 miles west to Fort Worth, Texas for round three. For Mees, it brought a familiar return to the top step of the podium. He blazed his way through the last two American Flat Track twins seasons in a relentless display of world class 'sideways' domination. His consistency was remarkable: ten wins and seventeen podiums in 2017 and ten wins and fifteen podiums in 2018.
Jared Mees - Indian FTR 750, Texas Half Mile 2018
With three rounds done, here's how his season's been going so far.
Round 1 - Daytona TT
It was anticipated that the Champ would come out all guns blazing at the Daytona TT having failed to post a win during the last five rounds of the 2018 season. Instead, he had a torrid time, crashing twice in the semi final and retiring with a fuel pressure problem in the final whilst lying in fifth. It was his Indian "Wrecking Crew" 'shipmates' - the brothers Bauman (Briar & Bronson) who blasted off the line and into the distance.
After an initial head-to-head tussle, Briar began to pull away from his younger sibling. Henry Wiles (Indian privateer) was pushing hard and grabbed 2nd place by the half way point but he couldn't threaten the leader and Bauman powered over the line 5 seconds ahead of Wiles with Jake Johnson (Estenson Yamaha MT-07) in third. A big shout out for Jarod Vanderkooi's storming ride on an XG750R Harley Davidson after fighting his way through from the back to finish in fourth!
Round 2 - Atlanta Short Track
Leaving the Sunshine State, the American Flat Track convoy headed north for round 2 - Atlanta. It turned out to be a fascinating encounter. The "Jammer" pulled out an early lead and was controlling the race with a comfortable gap but Indian privateer Brandon Robinson was pushing hard and slowly closing in. With 5 laps remaining and the "Jaws" soundtrack reverberating in his head, he had hauled Mees right in and was sitting on his tail. Three laps from the end, he pulled the pin in an audacious outside overtake and held on to take the win by 0.621 seconds - his first AFT twins race win since Lima 2016. Briar Bauman took a hard fought third place almost three seconds behind Robinson and again, "stormin''" Jarod Vanderkooi on a Harley blasted his way through the pack from the back for another hugely deserved 4th. Indian privateer Henry Wiles was fifth.
Round 3 - Texas Half Mile
Mees entered round three in 5th place in the overall standings and desperate to kick start the season with a win. From the off, it was Mees and team mate Briar Bauman who were again slugging it out at the front having gapped the chasing pack. The two traded multiple overtakes but eventually with three laps to go, Mees began to gap his team mate, crossing the line 1.32 seconds ahead. It was another "full house" for Indian Motorcycles with Brandon Robinson (Indian privateer) taking third spot.
The "Jammer" gives the FTR 'the berries' at 2019 Texas Half Mile
Afterwards a delighted Jared Mees said,
"It felt so good to get back on top. I got by him but he came back up again and got me. I tried his line a couple of times when I was behind him and started picking up a little bit of what he was doing. We made it work but it wasn't easy."
Jared Mees - sharing the Texas podium with Briar Bauman (2nd) & Brandon Robinson (3rd)
Season Round Up so far
It has been an interesting start to the season in both the AFT Twins and singles classes. Three rounds gone, three different winners in each class. Briar Bauman currently leads the twins on 62 points and looks like the rider who could give Mees a run for his money this year. Brandon Robinson, an Indian FTR750 privateer, has had a belting start to his season and is lying second with 53 points. With the DNF at Daytona, Mees is currently in third on 47 points. Other riders who've started well include Vanderkooi and Halbert on Harley XG750Rs and Henry Wiles - Indian FTR 750 privateer.
Probably the biggest surprise is how Bryan Smith's first three rounds have gone. Smith came into this season on a roll having won three of four of the last races of 2018 season. He's switched back to Kawasaki - the Howerton Motorsports Crosley machine having been with Indian for the past two years. But he's currently 48 points behind Bauman and it looks like the team could be struggling to get a good set up with the Kawasaki. His best finish so far has been 9th - the only Kawasaki rider to have finished in the top ten in the first three rounds. We may have have to wait until the first mile to gain a clearer picture of what's going on and whether the Kawasaki is struggling to get the power down and drive out of corners.
Which brings us to another mile issue - and that's the extent to which the new AFT rule changes, particularly the one allowing production engines to increase throttle bodies from 38mm to 40 mm and introduced to establish greater parity between different manufacturers' bikes, will adversely effect the FTRs - particularly on the miles? FTR 750 Indians took every podium position in all of last year's mile races and all in the previous year bar two Yamaha MT-07 podiums - (3rd Springfield Mile & 2nd Red Mile). In some races, FTR750s took the first seven or eight places out of the top ten bikes crossing the line. Again, it will be interesting to see how this all plays out.
One final "shout out." Major congrats to Shayna Texter's big bro Cory for his stonking win in the production twins.
Round 4 (Saturday 27th April) moves to Arizona to the Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler for the Law Tigers Arizona "Super TT" instead of the Arizona Mile race of past years. So, what constitutes a "Super" TT - from just a, eh..plain, ordinary TT? Well, the track layout is described as having "multiple jumps" and a number of left and right hand turns. Whilst this might suit "King" Henry Wiles (19 TT wins) and co, it's not going to be everyone's cup of (ice) tea! We wish all riders in all classes "happy landings" and - go easy on the whips!
📷 Dave Hoenig
JARED MEES PREMIUM MERCHANDISE BY RED TORPEDO