Wednesday, June 1, 2011

AMA Flat Track: 2011 Springfield Mile Memorial Day Weekend Review

The moment everyone has been waiting for in the 2011 season kicks off the first Twins Series event on the AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship Series on the Springfield Mile on Sunday, May 29.  Pole sitter Brad Baker #12, Bryan Smith #42, Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. #2, Sammy Halbert #7, Jake Johnson #1 and Chris Carr #4 lead the front row charge off the line at the flash of the green light for the 25 lap main event. 
On the second row, eventual main event winner Jared Mees #9, Justin Hittle #81 (B&B Racing/Goodwin Racing/Lucas Oil/Grayboy-sponsored XR, who unfortunately broke after the first lap and was credited with 18th place), #59 Willie McCoy, #10 Johnny Lewis and #87 Mick Kirkness followed suit.
Coming off of row three, Brandon Robinson launches his #44 Action Motorsports/Big Dawg Racing/Arai/Power Bar-sponsored XR (13th place finish in the main), with Nichole Cheza on her #15 machine alongside.

Jared Mees helps his team roll his #9 Rogers Lake Racing/Blue Springs H-D/Lucas Oil/Saddlemen-sponsored XRs through the tech line at Springfield on Sunday.  Applying returning sponsor Screamin Eagle's stickers to the bike while in the tech area, the '09 AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Twins Champion helped to put the finishing touches on his sparkling machines while the AMA officials checked off their list in the tech line area.  Mees went on to win his first race on the Springfield Mile after having battled at the front and finishing on, or just off, of the podium there for several years now.  Jammin Jared showed on the track why his consistency over the last few years has paid off in winning his first main event final since July 7. 2007 at the Joliet, IL. Half Mile.  With consistency like this, expect to see The Jammer up front even more as the year progresses which should see him fight for the overall championship in the 2011 season.

Brad Baker on the #12 Lloyd Brothers Motorsports/ Insurance/ENI USA-backed Ducati 1098 leads Bryan Smith on the #42 XR early in the running of the main event at Springfield, round 6 of the 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship Series.  If not for the front end wobble that started to make the big Duc look like it was fighting a tornado on the mile oval, the fine young man who calls Washington State home very well could have at least gotten a podium in his first full race with is new team, and in what was only his fourth-ever race in a Twins Series event.  With his 5th place finish, Bullet Brad finished only 2.914 seconds in arrears to winner Mees.  Smith broke several laps later on lap 11 to end his day prematurely.
Following the two up front are eventual winner Jared Mees on the #9 (partially hidden by an AMA official), Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. on the #2 H-D Motor Co/Screamin Eagle/Spectro Oils/Fox-sponsored H-D Factory XR-750, Sammy Halbert #7, Chris Carr #4, Jake Johnson #1, and in one of his few rides of the year, Willie McCoy on the #59 H-D of Wausau/Independence H-D/Tucker Rocky/Speed & Strength-backed XR-750.  McCoy would go on to finish 6th, 10.198 seconds behind the winner.

Mick Kirkness pushes his #87 Yeager Cycles/Memphis Shades/Steve Lievan Racing/Arai-sponsored Suzuki TL1000-based machine through the pit area after qualifying for the main event with a 3rd place finish in heat race #3 behind winner Chris Carr and 3-Time AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Twins Champion Kenny Coolbeth, Jr.  He went on to finish in the 9th spot in the main, 21.291 seconds behind winner Mees, and on the only Suzuki in the field for the day.  Great ride by the happy-go-lucky Australian!

Jared Mees Resurgent at Legendary Springfield Mile

SPRINGFIELD, IL (May 30, 2011) - Mother Nature tried, but ultimately couldn't stop the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship from getting another action-packed Springfield Mile into the record books before darkness fell on the famous mile oval.

The heavy rains that forced the postponement of Saturday's TT race also left the Mile a sea of mud, thereby forcing AMA Pro officials to adopt an abbreviated Sunday schedule to allow for time to get the track back in shape. The top six in three Expert Heats would advance directly to the National, foregoing the semis, while the Pro Singles class would run two heats, moving nine riders from each into their main event.

The first Twins event of 2011 was well worth the wait for the large crowd that filled the grandstands and infield, as the racing was unrelentingly intense once the "Rolling Thunder" series hit the track. And speaking of waits, Rogers Lake Racing/Blue Springs Harley-Davidson's Jared Mees hadn't won a Grand National event since 2007---- a drought he put an end to on Sunday. "I've been imagining this for about five years," said Mees, "and today it all came together. My last win was on 7-7-'07, and that added up to 21, my number at the time. I told Craig [Rogers] on the way out here this morning that I was going to change all that today."

The 25-lap race evolved into the much-anticipated Springfield "chess match," as a seven-rider pack dwindled down to three riders drafting to the finish line. Mees pulled around current GNC points-leader Sammy Halbert (Kings Kustoms/LZ Racing) to lead only his second lap of the race---- the most important, final lap. Defending Grand National Champion Zanotti Racing's Jake Jonson finished third just .06 seconds back, and Halbert picked up one bonus point for leading the most laps.

Harley-Davidson Motor Company's Kenny Coolbeth and rookie sensation Brad Baker (Lloyd Brothers Motorsports/Team HurtByAccident) renewed their heat race battle two seconds off the leaders' pace. Baker, who had set the fast time in Qualifying and won the first heat, was able to push his potent Ducati to the front early in the race, but the powerful machine developed a nasty head waggle and the youngster did a great job reining it in. After swapping the position several times, Coolbeth was finally able to make a pass stick on lap twenty.

Former teammates Chris Carr (American Motorcyclist Association/Dallas Fort Worth Honda) and Harley-Davidson of Wausau/Independence Harley-Davidson's Willie McCoy battled over sixth, with McCoy making a last-lap pass for the spot.

Scott Powersports/Dubach Racing Development's Mike Scott, Yeager Cycles' Mick Kirkness, and American Harley-Davidson's Rob Pearson filled out the top ten.

In all, five different brands were represented in this year's Springfield Mile, as Harley-Davidson, Ducati, Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Triumph were all players in the main.

The twelve-lap Pro Singles main was up next, and it was yet another barnburner as the top eight riders finished within a single second. Western Hills Honda's Zakk Palmer came away with the win, emerging from the pack to lead Weirbach Racing's Mikey Martin and Scott Powersports' Jake Shoemaker to the podium.

Also in the lead pack were three-time Springfield winner Michael Toon (Price Truck Line/Woody Kyle Racing), Sunny Cycle's Cody Johncox, Total Control Racing/Woody Kyle Racing's Stephen Vanderkuur, Weirbach Racing's Mike LaBelle, and Boughner Racing's Mikey Avila.

AMA Pro Pro Singles points-leader Gerit Callies missed the main by one position in his heat, but still holds the championship lead by one point over Avila heading into today's TT action.
The last race of the day was the four-lap Dash for Cash, a six-rider event for which one thousand dollars and five points are on the line at each stop on the schedule. Overall points-leader Halbert was able to draft by Moroney's Harley-Davidson's Bryan Smith at the line, Halbert once again proving himself master of the Dashes. He currently holds a 16-point lead over defending Grand National Champion Jake Johnson.

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Jared Mees #9 leads Jake Johnson #1, Brad Baker #12, Sammy Halbert #7 and Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. #2 during the main event of round 6 of the 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship Series event on the Springfield Mile.  AMA Pro Flat Track photo by Dave Hoenig.

The podium celebration at the Memorial Day Weekend running of the Springfield Mile shows the top men on the day hoisting their hardware after a hard-fought 25 lap National main event on the Illinois State Fairgrounds oval.  From left, 3rd place finisher Jake Johnson, winner Jared Mees and runner-up Sammy Halbert show off the goods after a day's work.  AMA Pro Flat Track photo by Dave Hoenig.

AMA Pro Racing is the premier professional motorcycle racing organization in North America, operating a full schedule of events and championships for a variety of motorcycle disciplines. Learn more about AMA Pro Racing at

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AMA Pro Racing Communications, (386) 492-1014,

Johnny Lewis stands next to one of his #10 Scott Powersports/Dubach Racing Developments/Saddlemen/Triple J Racing-backed Kawasaki 650R-based machines in his pit area before the action begins on the Illinois State Fairgrounds mile oval.  Lewis put the only Kawasaki in the main event amongst the 18 rider field, and brought it home to a solid 8th place finish, 20.392 seconds behind winner Jared Mees.  The team debuted their new look at Springfield on Sunday and looked as sharp and focused as ever for the first Twins Series event of the season.

Jake Johnson sits at the ready on his #1 Zanotti Racing/Schaeffer's H-D/MotionPro/Arai-sponsored XR-750 before the start of heat race #1 at the Springfield Mile this past Sunday.  The defending AMA Grand National Champion finished 2nd to heat winner Brad Baker, 5th in the Dash, and 3rd in the main behind winner Mees and runner-up Sammy Halbert.  However, he is slowly but surely doing what he has become famous for in getting solid results and podiums to work on retaining that #1 plate again for the 2011 season.  The man is as sure as can be, and let's his results do the talking for him, and makes it look like fun in the way he goes about it.  One of the nice guys of the sport, don't be surprised to see Jersey Jake be Mr. Solid again throughout the 2011 season!

Jay Springsteen talks with some of the fans in the pit area of the Monster Energy/Werner-Springsteen Kawasaki/Wossner Pistons/Millenium Technologies-sponsored riders Shaun Russell #28 and JR Schnabel #33.  In what was very uncharacteristic for the team, Schnabel's bike broke early in heat #1 and Russell, in his first ride for the team, finished 9th, some 12 seconds behind winner Brad Baker.  As a result, neither of the Werner-Springsteen bikes made the final, which after the great year the team had in 2010 was a complete turnaround.  Don't look for this to happen again, as the Grand Masters Werner and Springsteen will be on the case getting the Ninja 650-based machines straightened around before the Twins Series resumes in Hartford, MI. on June 11.

This is what it looks like when three riders are going for the same piece of real estate in the final feet of a heat race on a mile flat track race.  (Three you say?!  Yep, count the shadows AND the front wheels!)  In what was the closest finish on the day at the Springfield Mile this last Sunday, Sammy Halbert on his #7 Kings Kustoms/LZ Racing/KK Supply/Nelson Racing-sponsored XR-750 battled with eventual event winner Jared Mees on his #9 Rogers Lake Racing XR, along with former Werner-Springteen team member Bryan Smith on his new-for-2011 #42 H-D/ Racing-backed XR-750 for the majority of the 8-lap heat race #2. 
In the final run to the checkers, Smith went right around the outside of Mees (center) and Halbert to secure the win by .010 seconds over Halbert and .018 seconds over Mees, in what was surely one of the most exciting races on the day at the legendary mile oval at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.  Halbert ended up finishing the main in 2nd place to winner Mees, while Smith broke on the 11th lap to end what started as a very strong day for the Flint, MI. resident.
Halbert went on to finish 2nd in the main, and won the 4-lap Dash for Cash to earn max points on the day, while Mees won the main, but failed to make the Dash due to finishing 3rd in this heat race shot.

Nichole Cheza's #15 Global Products/H-D/D&D Pipes/KK Motorcycle Supply-sponsored XR-750s sit in her pit area while she signs autographs for some of the fans (back left/hidden), while her team gets ready for the day's events.  Nichole had a very solid day in finishing 5th in her heat to take a direct transfer to the main event (due to the re-structured program because of the weather, the top 6 qualified for the main).  She went on to finish in the 12th spot, 22.382 seconds behind winner Mees, to card her best main event result in an AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship Series final.  Great showing by the fan favorite and Michigan resident!

One of the best looking teams in the pits on the AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship Series tour can be found in the Lloyd Brothers Motorsports pit area.  With new rider and Rookie of the Year contender Brad Baker signed for the 11 Twins Series events for the 2011 season, and new sponsor Hurt by on board, the Ohio-based team debuted their new paint schemes on the Ducati 1098s. 
Team co-founder Mike Lloyd can be seen looking over preperation on one of the team's immaculate machines while rider Brad Baker (background/center) reviews his notes before the day's races begin.  Dave Lloyd (the other co-founder of the team) can be seen sitting on the far right side of the shot talking with another of the team's hard-working crew.  The team also debuted a new 'belly/diaper pan' on one of the team's units, which became mandatory some years back in AMA Pro Road Racing, to help soak up any oil loss should an unexpected engine problem occur on the track.
After setting fast time for the day in combined qualifying and winning his heat, 'rookie' Bullet Brad started on the pole for the main event, only to have a wobbling problem that had plagued the team all day re-occur.  But like the tough Northwestern woodsman that he is, the 18-year-old hung on to finish 5th in the final, and only 2.914 seconds back of winner Jared Mees, and after leading several laps in his debut with his new team.  Not too bad a day for the Washington State resident in his first National event with his new team, and you'd better keep an eye out for this fine young man with the million-dollar smile as it won't be long before he's on that Expert podium, let alone on top of it!

Early in the running of the Springfield Mile Memorial Day Weekend Classic, round 6 of the 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship Series, shows Brad Baker on the #12 Lloyd Brothers Motorsports Ducati leading 7-Time AMA Grand National Champion Chris Carr on the #4 American Motorcyclist Assoc/DFW Honda/Arai/Phoenix Racing-sponsored XR-750, with Bryan Smith on the #42 H-D/ Racing-backed XR. 
The winners of the three heat races for the day battled for several laps before Smith broke on the 11th lap.  Baker went on to hold onto the wobbling Duc and secure a solid 5th place finish, further adding to his run for the Rookie of the Year after winning the '09 AMA Pro Flat Track Pro Singles Championship and finishing in the runner-up spot behind '10 Champ Jeffrey Carver, Jr.  Chris Carr brought his Kenny Tolbert-tuned XR home in the 7th spot on the day for a solid run for the former champ's 2011 Farewell to Flat Track Tour.

Here's the story of the race thanks to Larry Lawrence and Cycle

Here is the link to the results for round 6 of the 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship Series at the Springfield Mile over Memorial Day Weekend thanks to AMA Pro Flat Track:

And last, but not least, here is the link to the complete results section for the Springfield Mile, again thanks to AMA Pro Flat Track:

Be sure and stay tuned to Stu's Shots as we will have another photo extravaganza later in the week from Monday's Springfield TT! 

Thanks for coming by and hanging with us as we get into the meat of the 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship Series season!

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