Indian Motorcycle’s American Flat Track effort has been wildly successful with Indian riders have dominating the championship since the company entered the tradition-rich series in 2017.
While it’s the riders who get the headlines, there are multiple women, often behind the scenes, who play integral roles in the operation’s success.
Starting at the top, defending American Flat Track champion Jared Mees will tell you without hesitation just how important the role his wife, Nichole Mees, plays in his success.
“She obviously gets it,” Mees said when talking about Nichole, who herself was a national-level rider a few years back. “She gets the training, the grind, the travel, the time commitments to sign autographs and make appearances. It’s awesome when you have someone supporting you who has been through all of the same things.”
The other benefit Mees has with Nichole being a lifelong racer, is that she is excellent at watching what others riders are doing on the race track and providing Jared insight he probably wouldn’t be getting if Nichole had never raced.
“When she’s at the track, she’s on the corners watching everything,” Mees explained. “Even when she’s not at the races, she’s watching at home on Fans Choice. She’ll text several times during the day and tell me about a line that another rider is taking that I should try and things like that.”
Mees said he’s grateful Nichole is fully behind what he does for a living and said he wouldn’t have it any other way before adding with a grin, “Plus, Nichole always tells me that women are smarter than men, so I guess I should make sure I listen to her.”
Another very important player in Indian racing’s success is mechanic and ex-racer Michelle DiSalvo, who is turning the wrenches for AFT Twins point leader Briar Bauman.
It’s rare to see a female tuner in the pro racing ranks, perhaps even more rare than female racers, but DiSalvo has earned the respect of everyone in the paddock for her hard work and attention to detail.
Bauman beams when he talks about her.
“She’s great and does a really good job. I wouldn’t be able to do it without her,” Bauman said. He also points to DiSalvo’s years of racing experience as something that definitely enhances their communication.
“A lot of times I come off the track and tell her something and she immediately picks up on it,” Bauman explained. “Having the racing experience she has is huge in that respect and makes everything for me a lot easier. Her and Dave (crew chief Dave Zanotti) are the best combo I’ve ever had behind me.”
For DiSalvo’s part, like any good mechanic, she’s focused on the task at hand and lets others evaluate what it means in terms of her being a woman in a position dominated by men. She agrees with Bauman that their partnership has produced results; one need look no further than Bauman’s success this season to understand that.
“We’re having a really good year. Briar’s led the championship since round one,” DiSalvo sad. “It’s been a lot of work, but very rewarding as well. Dave (Zanotti), Briar and I all get along great, so that’s been part of the success. We’re able to communicate well and everybody’s in a good mood and that makes for a great working atmosphere inside the team.”
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