DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – As the American Flat Track paddock makes its annual pilgrimage to the Allen County Fairgrounds in Lima, Ohio, for the Indian Motorcycle Lima Half-Mile on Saturday, the spotlight shifts its glare back Jared Mees.
Mees’ younger Indian Wrecking Crew teammates have stolen away some of the attention he so thoroughly demanded during back-to-back AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines title runs in 2017 and 2018. Briar Bauman currently holds a 34-point championship lead on the strength of a perfect seven-for-seven podium record in 2019, while Bronson Bauman rides into the Lima Half-Mile still savoring his maiden premier-class victory.
For Mees, the Lima Half-Mile represents equal parts pressure, opportunity, and responsibility. It’s not only his home race, he’s also the event promoter. It also just happens to be exactly the sort of demanding, physical track that Mees loves to conquer as a showcase of his ability and focus.
That increased focus can play out in more than one way. In 2017, the Lima Half-Mile was the only Main Event Mees failed to qualify for – or podium for that matter – due to penalties he incurred for jumping the start in his semi. A year later, he got his redemption in the form of a runaway victory that was arguably the centerpiece performance of his successful 2018 title defense.
Which way things go this year could very well play an important role in determining if Mees will be able to secure three consecutive Grand National Championships. Winning this weekend could be far from easy; Briar Bauman took the Main in 2017 in dominant fashion and second-ranked Brandon Robinson took top honors at the venue in 2016.
Fans should also keep their eyes on last year’s race runner-up Jeffrey Carver Jr., the returning J.D. Beach, Harley teammates Sammy Halbert and Jarod Vanderkooi and so many others with the potential to steal the spotlight for themselves.
The showdown in the Roof Systems AFT Singles presented by Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys class should be equally intriguing. Shayna Texter comes in as the defending Lima Half-Mile winner, while AFT Singles points leader Mikey Rush is riding a two-race win streak.
There’s also the likes of Dalton Gauthier, Dan Bromley and Ryan Wells to take into consideration.
Fans should also keep an eye on Dallas Daniels, as this challenging track marks the debut event for the fresh-blooded wunderkind of the already-formidable Estenson Racing front.
As an added bonus, the AFT Production Twins championship fight resumes this weekend after sitting the Laconia Short Track out. After three races, it’s Cory Texter against the field. Unless someone can stop him, Texter is in position to up his perfect season’s win streak to four this weekend.