The 2018 AFT Flat Track season wound up at Meadowlands, New Jersey on October 6. Eighteen races done 'n dusted, thousands of miles racked up in RVs across fourteen different US States and one Champion crowned "King of the Dirt Track Ovals."
For the second consecutive year, Red Torpedo's US brand ambassador, Jared Mees, reigned supreme - successfully defending his 2017 Championship to give him his 5th twins class career title and two successive Championship victories. It was also a second consecutive manufacturers win for Indian Motorcycles and their FTR 750 Scout flat tracker.
Before this season got underway, Mees had wondered whether he could attain the same level as he did in 2017 and repeat a win. He needn't have. It was another supremely dominant performance by the Pennsylvanian flat track superstar: totally focused, hugely determined and ruthlessly efficient.
Jared Mees on the Indian FTR 750 Scout
To mark another outstanding year, Red Torpedo's stoked to announce the release of a new limited edition Jared Mees "2018 AFT Flat Track Champion" tee. But more on that later. Let's first re-cap on Mees's performance this past year.
Jared Mees's 2018 season
Jared "Jammer" Mees totally smashed the first half (9 races) of this year's AFT Twins Flat Track season with seven wins from nine starts - a near 80% win rate. The other two rounds included a disqualification at Atlanta Dixie Speedway - (he was still first to cross the line though!) and a runners up spot at Illinois State Fairgrounds where he narrowly missed out on the win by 0.819 secs to Jeffrey Carver Jr. At the half way point, Mees was sitting on a hugely impressive tally of 195 points.
The season's second half kicked off with with his favourite race which he and his wife, Nicole also promote and run - the Lima Half Mile. It brought three more wins: Lima, New York Short Track and Black Hills Half Mile. He also landed four other podium finishes. He tied up the Championship at the 100th Springfield Mile where he finished in 2nd place behind "Mile Master," Bryan Smith. The job was done with three rounds still to go. Last year, he wrapped it up at Williams Grove, two rounds from the end - this year, he went one better.
By the time the final round was played out at Meadowlands - another impressive win for Smith, Mees finished the season 93 points ahead of runner up Henry Wiles and 150 points in front of Briar Bauman in third. It was another masterclass by Indian's and the world's number one flat track rider and his crew - in particular, crew chief Kenny Tolbert.
Mees on his way to winning the Texas Half Mile, Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth.
Championship runner up, "Preoria TT Master" Henry Wiles, won one round (the Preoria TT!) and had another five further podium finishes. Wiles is pretty handy round the Preoria TT: he's won every race there since 2005! But he had eleven finishes outside the top 4. Four of these were outside the top six. Third place man Briar Bauman, from Salinas California, also had one win - Williams Grove. He was denied a second victory at Minesota which would have been his first career mile victory but for the fact that his Indian Scout FTR 750 ran out of fuel on lap 23 with two laps to go. He finished his season with 13 top ten finishes - three of them podiums. But again, he had periods of major inconsistency during the season with a 9th, 10th, 14th, two 15th and a 16th place finish.
The "Hate to Lose" Factor
This season Mees nailed a total of fifteen podiums (ten wins, four 2nds, one 3rd) and had one disqualification, one mechanical DNF and one fourth place. Hang on a minute, fourth? Last year, he bagged seventeen podiums from seventeen starts with the same number of wins (ten), six 2nds and one 3rd. (He was a non starter at Lima).
Mees's ability to run at the front in every race and accumulate podium points has been astonishing. Right now, there's no one else who can live with his level of consistency. Five other riders landed one win each: Jeff Carver, Kenny Colbeth Jr, Henry Wiles, Briar Bauman and Jake Johnson. But they weren't able to sustain momentum and build upon it. They land a win but then tend to go 'off the boil,' stringing together fifth, seventh - even outside "top ten" finishes. Mees just continues to rack up wins - with unfailing regularity and on the odd occasion that he doesn't cross the line first, he's still ramping up big points.
Bryan Smith Challenge in 2019?
Other than Mees, the only rider to score more than one win was Indian rider and fellow "Wrecking Crew" team mate during 2018, Bryan Smith. He came through to finish the season strongly winning three of the last four races - all miles: Springfield, Minnesota and Meadowlands. Smith might well have been the man to make a bid for the title this year but he crashed heavily at the start of the season at the Texas Half Mile and broke his leg badly. He missed a total of seven rounds this season but he'll be back stronger than ever next year - and he'll be on a Kawasaki ER 650. So even Indian may have some competition to keep them honest.
Mees battling it out at the Black Hills Half Mile - another win for the "Jammer."
Jared Mees 2018 Flat Track Champions Tee
To celebrate Mees's outstanding season, Red Torpedo has released a limited edition Jared Mees Champions tee in men's and women's sizes. The men's tee, in black, is available in seven sizes - from small to 4XL. The women's tee, also in black, comes in in sizes 8 to 20. Deigned by our in-house designer Robin Leishman, the tee carries large original artwork on the front depicting Mees gunning his 750 Indian Scout. Robin describes his inspiration for the design:
"I wanted to capture that moment when the rider, having just rounded the final corner, transitions into a maximum tuck position for the slipstreaming dash to the line. Head down, ass up, throttle wide open - using every horse he has beneath him. The perfect synergy of man and machine hurtling towards Championship victory."
Red Torpedo's Jared Mees 2018 Champion's tee
On the reverse side of the tee is Jared's personal mantra: "To First be a Winner, You Gotta Hate to Lose."
2019 AFT Flat Track Season
The 2019 AFT Flat Track season gets underway on March 14 with the Daytona TT. The Twins schedule consists of six mile rounds, five half-miles, three short tracks and four TTs. AFT Flat Track will also be introducing two new events for 2019: Chandler, Arizona and a New Hampshire round - at a venue close to where the Laconia Bike Week takes place. Click this link for more information on American Flat Track. Events are live streamed at FansChoice.tv and screened on NBCSN
📷 Dave Hoenig