Sunday, July 24, 2011

AMA Flat Track: Mees Masters Field at Lake Odessa Half-Mile for Win #3 in 2011

Riders get ready to roll out for the first practice session of the day at round 11 of the 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship Series at the I-96 Speedway in Lake Odessa, MI., yesterday afternoon.  The fifth Twins Series event of the season was full of great racing that at the end of the evening left an even tighter overall points championship in what was the first event of the second half of the season.

Jared Mees #9 on his Rogers Lake/Blue Springs H-D/Lucas Oil/Saddlemen-sponsored XR-750 showed up ready for bear to Lake O's half-mile track, and he went after it all evening.  Qualifying 3rd overall, Mees finished second to Jake Johnson #1 in both their heat race and the Dash.  But come main event time, it was pretty much all Mees, as he took over the lead after five laps of the 25-lap National, and cruised home by 1.661 over runner-up Bryan Smith, who battled with Johnson throughout the night.  Mr. Consistency is making his charge for the 2011 AMA Grand National Championship, and it's time for everyone else to step up, as Mees and the Rogers Lake team have their game plan in place, and it sure looks solid!

Brad Baker (over Mees' shoulder) #12 on the Lloyd Brothers Motorsports/ Insurance/ENI USA-backed Ducati came out of the box with a bang yesterday after his and his team's dissapointing mechanical at Hagerstown two weeks ago.  Team owner Dave Lloyd confirmed it was a throttle position sensor failure that caused Brad to miss the main out east, and that he or the team had never come acrossed that problem with this machine before.  Before the heat races the team was busy huddled in their pit area checking out all of the data on their laptop to make sure everything was good.

After qualifying fastest of the 51 riders that timed in yesterday (by .042 seconds over second fast man Smith), The Bullet took the big Italian v-twin to his heat race win over current point leader Sammy Halbert on the #7 Kings Kustoms/White's H-D/LZ Racing/KK Supply-sponsored XR in one of best races on the evening.  Come main time, he wasn't able to hold off the advances of the XR-packed house, and after taking the lead early slipped to 9th overall on the night.  All in all, Brad and the Duc had a good, solid night and with the Sacramento Mile coming up next weekend, look for him to improve on his 5th place finish at the Springfield Mile. 

Chris Carr on the #4 American Motorcyclist Assoc/Classic H-D/DFW Honda/Phoenix Racing-sponsored XR qualified 9th on the day, came home 3rd in his heat behind Johnson and Mees, and rode a very strong race in the National to finish 5th.  The Prince of Peoria was awarded a 'retirement special' wooden rocking chair from the folks at I-96 in opening ceremonies as part of his 2011 Farewell to Flat Track Tour.  He may be hanging up his steel shoe after this year, but he can still show the young guns the fast way around a race track, something that over 26 years of Expert Class riding and seven Grand National Championships will help to trump the young 'uns in terms of competitive experience.

Previous event winner Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. on the #2 Harley-Davidson Motor Co/Screamin Eagle/Spectro Oils/Fox-backed XR-750 finished 4th in his heat behind Baker, Sammy and returning to action Henry Wiles.  After qualifying 13th on the day, he came home in the 8th spot in the National to keep him a solid 4th in the overall standings with 176 points, behind Halbert (206), Mees (203), and Johnson (197.)  The King of Cool again was one of two bikes (the other being Johnson, again) who ran the main event with brake discs glowing bright enough you probably could have fried bacon on them.  That didn't seem to effect either machine in terms of performance, and was a mere prelude to the fireworks that the track put on after the main event was over.

After qualifying 7th, Slammin' Sammy Halbert fought tooth-and-nail on his #7 machine with heat-winner Baker, but when the main event rolled off the XR-mounted overall points leader all season brought it home in a strong 4th place finish.  That was enough to hang onto the lead in the championship hunt, by three points over Mees and another six points over Johnson. 

Barry Smith (Bryan's Dad) rolls the #42 Moroney's H-D/ Racing-sponsored XR-750 into place in the line-up box.  Flyin Bryan put in another stellar performance all evening, but even more impressive then his 2nd place finish in the main was his run from the back in his heat race to take the win.  Smith picked off at least 10 or 11 riders using the outside line to take the fastest heat race win of the night.  After qualifying 2nd fastest, Smith came out of the event with another great run in what has been a highlight film of great finishes.  It's just a matter of time before this man is back on top of the box, and he moved up to 9th in the overall point standings (95 points) as a result of his charging rides last night.

Jake Johnson on his #1 Zanotti Racing/Schaeffer's H-D/Boughner Racing/MotionPro-backed XR had another champion-type night at I-96.  Qualifying 4th overall, Jake started the evening winning his heat-twice.  Leading at the half-way point over Mees, the 8-lap race was red-flagged for two riders that went down in between turns 3-4.  No one was hurt, and the race was re-started quickly, with Mees getting the jump on the field.  Jersey Jake didn't take long to get around and say 'see ya' to Mees, Carr and Matt Weidman to take the win, and also cement his spot in the Dash event.  Come main time, the defending 2010 AMA Grand National Champion rode like a Champ, getting to within striking distance of runner-up Smith with just a handful of laps to go.  Johnson then hit a spot in the track that bucked him out of the seat like a bronco rider, and from there he stayed firm to come home in a solid 3rd place finish, 1.826 seconds back of winner Mees, and almost 2.6 seconds ahead of 4th place finisher Halbert.  It was great to see The Champ back on the box after his run of off-finishes for this popular rider.  He was smiling big again on the podium, and it was good to see!

Johnny Lewis on the #10 Scott Powersports/Dubach Racing Developments/Saddlemen/Triple J Racing-sponsored Kawasaki 650R-based twin had a rough night as well, but made the best of the worst of situations at the Lake Odessa round.  Qualifying 32nd, Johnny started his heat in the back and was working his way to the front, when he pulled off with an expected mechanical.  In his semi, starting at the back, again, he had worked his way up to one spot out of a qualifying position, only to see another red flag.  Johnny was able to capitalize on the re-start, though, and went on to win his semi #2.  In the main, he fought with a group of riders that included Jimmy Wood #37 (on the only other Kawasaki in the field),  returning Henry Wiles on the #17 Greg Crow Racing XR, and Doug Lawrence on the #73 R&J Racing XR.  Lewis finished the night in 13th, to keep his 6th spot in the overall point standings (122 points) by 5 points over 7th place in the points, Chris Carr.

Matt Weidman on his family run and tuned #20 White's H-D/SNIP/Shoei/Silkolene-sponsored XR-750 had another good night at I-96, although the '08 Rookie of the Year may not agree on that fact.  After qualifying 10th, he nearly came home 3rd in his heat behind Johnson and Mees, but due to the red flag re-start, Chris Carr got the jump on him and the New York State resident had to settle for fourth.  A little frustrated after what was a good performance in that heat, Matt went out in the National and came home 6th on the evening, 5.1 seconds behind winner Mees, in what was in my eyes another solid run on the year.  Talking with Matt, he mentioned he will be riding one of Carl Patrick's H-D XR-750s next weekend in Sacramento, and was looking forward to riding one of the tuning legend's machines again.  After a rough 2010 season that seemed to decimate the Weidman team with mechanical failures, this year has been good in terms of no major equipment failures/breakages.  Here's hoping Stu's Shots doesn't jinx that for him as he still holds onto the 8th spot in the overall point standings with 104 points heading to round 12 at the Cal-Expo event on Saturday, June 30.

Hat's off to the AMA Pro Flat Track team for working diligently with the track prep crew at I-96 yesterday.  Working with cones to help move the line further out from the bottom, Steve Morehead and company made it work and it helped make for multi-line racing all evening.  The good crowd on-hand witnessed some great racing all night that showcased The Rolling Thunder Show, and if anyone left not thinking so, they couldn't have had a pulse when they came in the gates yesterday to begin with.  Another great event in the greatest show on wheels in the world!

Stay tuned this week for a pictorial rundown on more happenings at the Lake Odessa event, as we gear up for the return of the Sacramento Mile next weekend in California.  Thanks for coming by!

Mees Takes Victory at I-96, Championship Battle
Narrows to Three Points

LAKE ODESSA, MI (July 24, 2011) - Despite fierce competition at Michigan's I-96 Speedway, the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track field could not stop an assault by Rogers Lake Racing/Blue Springs Harley-Davidson's Jared Mees. Though Mees' race start left something to be desired, the home-state hero almost immediately began picking off riders, working his way up from fifth to take a big win in Lake Odessa that narrowed championship-leader Sammy Halbert's lead to a fragile three points.

Round 11 of the AMA Pro Flat Track Championship rolled out under cloudy, overcast conditions, but by race time the skies had cleared and temperatures soared at the half-mile venue. Rookie sensation Brad Baker (Lloyd Brothers Motorsports/ -- who'd earned fast qualifier honors and won the first heat -- nailed the start of the main, only to see Bryan Smith ( Harley-Davidson) muscle his way into the lead.

Mees, meanwhile, had suffered a poor start that relegated him to fifth at the end of the first lap, but he soon began methodically working his way to the front and was challenging Smith by lap three. "Bryan slipped a little high," said Mees after podium ceremonies, "and I was able to get inside. As soon as I got to the front, I knew I could win this."

Jared Mees' #9 Rogers Lake/Blue Springs H-D sits in the cradle in front of the Lake Odessa round winner after The Jammer took his 3rd win of the season at the I-96 Speedway.  Mees celebrates while AMA Pro Flat Track announcer Barry Boone waits to get his reaction during the podium celebrations.  AMA Pro Flat Track photo by Dave Hoenig.

As Mees proceeded to dominate the rest of the race, opening his lead to more than a second and a half over Smith, defending Grand National Champion Jake Johnson (Zanotti Racing) worked to keep his Harley right on Smith's rear tire. Johnson was unable to make any inroads on Smith's second position, however, while Halbert (King's Kustoms/White's Harley-Davidson) was stymied even farther back, forced to be satisfied with the fourth-place spot he took over on lap six.

Chris Carr (American Motorcyclist Association/Classic Harley-Davidson), Matt Weidman (White's Harley-Davidson/Snip), and Jeff Carver (Eddie Adkins Racing) did everything they could to make life difficult for Halbert, while three-time Lake Odessa winner Kenny Coolbeth (Harley-Davidson Motor Company) finished a lonely eighth. Baker and Action Motorsports' Brandon Robinson filled out the top ten.

Mees' significant victory has jumbled and tightened the points race. Halbert's fourth-place finish gives him only three points'-worth of breathing room over Mees, who's leapfrogged over Johnson into second. Johnson, however, lurks a mere six points behind.

Mikey Martin on the #91Y Weirbach Racing Honda CRF450R took a runaway win in the AMA Pro Singles main event at the Lake Odessa Half-Mile, and now has a ten-point lead over Gerit Callies (184-174) in the battle for the 2011 Pro Singles Championship.  AMA Pro Flat Track photo by Dave Hoenig.

It was another no-holds-barred performance by the Pro Singles field in the class' main event, for which Michigan's Stephen Vanderkuur (Mack Daddy Racing Honda) took the early lead. He almost immediately ran into trouble, however, and was forced to pull out after only four laps - an occurrence Weirbach Racing's Mikey Martin took full advantage of.

Another Michigan native, Chaz Springsteen, was soon in hot pursuit, but like Vanderkuur, Springsteen's night was over all too soon, as his Arai Helmets/K&K Supply/Jay Springsteen-backed Honda coasted to a stop after ten laps. Martin stretched his lead to more than four seconds over Diesel Minnesota's Conner Anderson and Scott Powersports' Jake Shoemaker, while Mike LaBelle (LaBelle Racing/Heads Up Racing) held off John Long (Powered by Clark/SICKBOY Racing) and Jason Isennock (Foard Racing) for fourth.

Martin's back-to-back wins have earned the young Californian to a ten-point lead in the Pro Singles point standings. In the first part of the season, it appeared the title would be decided between Mikey Avila and Gerit Callies, but Martin's strong showings in the last handful of races have significantly changed the championship picture as the series moves into its second half.

The AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship will next be in action at Sacramento, California's legendary Sacramento Mile, July 30 at the Cal Expo Fair. For tickets and information, visit or call 916-263-3049. To be a part of the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship, visit and join us on and

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

For additional information contact:

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

Race Stories, results and photos from round 11 at the Lake Odessa Half-Mile

Larry Lawrence (my worthy traveling companion for the trip to Lake Odessa yesterday) has a great starting shot from the Lake Odessa Half-Mile over at his The Rider, which in turn has the link to his coverage of round 11 of the 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship Series season at the I-96 Speedway, over at Cycle  You can read see and read that here:

Here is the link to LL's qualifying coverage from the Lake Odessa event, also over at Cycle

Thanks to AMA Pro Flat Track for the results from Lake Odessa (standard version):

.....and for the complete event results/info from Lake O's I-96 Speedway (PDF version):

Also, a big thanks to Dave Hoenig, the official AMA Pro Flat Track photographer, for his pics from yesterday's event at Lake Odessa:

Dave's pics from his super, Flat Trak, will be found here (usually posted within a few days of each event) as well as his version of the event results from round 11:

And a big thanks to Kevin 'Chew' Larcom and Mia Moore from for this round of great shots at Lake Odessa.  I had a blast hanging with these great folks yesterday, and we were able to meet and greet some new friends on the day, including member, Dave Leonard and his better half, Kathy.  It was a great time had by all!

The Dash for Cash event at the Lake Odessa Half-Mile shows Jared Mees #9 on his Rogers Lake Racing mount holding his own against eventual Dash winner Jake Johnson on his #1 Zanotti Racing XR.  Johnson took control in the money and extra points Dash race to edge out runner-up Mees after four fast and furious laps of great racing.  Brad Baker on the #12 Lloyd Brothers Ducati follows Jake on the high line, and went on to finish 4th, and show that the Ducati is working pretty well on the half-mile tracks, in his quest to win the Rookie of the Year Award for the 2011 season.

Sammy Halbert #7 finished in the 6th and final spot in the Dash, never seeming to come together with what he needed in the short, four lap event, but by the time the main had rolled around, Sammy had it together to finish in 4th for another great top-5 run.  Bryan Smith #42 continued his great series of runs to bring it home 5th in the Dash and grabbed himself another point to move into the 9th overall spot in the championship hunt.  Stu's Shots' 'pick' to win the event overall, came up one spot short, but all the more showcases the very strong runs that Flyin' Bryan has been putting in this season in the Twins Series. 

Jeffrey Carver, Jr. on the #23 Eddie Adkins XR (that Henry Wiles won Lima with in 2010) continues his solid runs of late and starting to come together with the big Twins Series machines.  The 2010 AMA Pro Singles Champion finished 3rd in the Dash, after taking 2nd place in his heat race to Smith, to earn his ticket to the Dash event.  Carver also qualified 5th on the evening out of 51 riders that timed in for the event in a program that saw the top 28 qualify within exactly .5 seconds of one another.

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