Newly crowned AMA Pro Grand National Flat Track Champion Jared Mees of Clio, Mi, came to Las Vegas, gambled and won. Big time. In Friday’s final event in the AMP Flat Track National Tour at a new, ultra-short track at the Orleans Casino Arena, Mees scored a safe third in the Feature race and clinched his third overall National crown.
This Saturday night on the same track, Mees worked through a crazy-busy set of Heats and Semi races to be one of four Flat Trackers to start the main event, then defeated his Flat Track peers and the top racers selected from other disciplines (“All Stars”) to become the first winner in the new all-comers Invitational Superprestigio of the Americas presented by Yamaha.
Aboard his Las Vegas Harley-Davidson backed Honda single, Mees placed second in the 12 Lap final Q race for Flat Trackers, behind Brad Baker of Eatonville, WA, to earn one of the four spots for “his kind” in the Superprestigio race.
In the 15 lap Main Event, Mees ran second early, then cut under Baker when the just-back-form-injury rider clobbered the plastic wall on the outside of the front straight. Baker, frequently millimetres from the barrier, continued in second but Mees was solidly in first.
Mees won over Baker by a second and a half, with Kenny Coolbeth Jr. taking third, another second back. Honda swept the podium. For much of the race, Coolbeth staged a great dice with top “All Star” class competitor Roger Hayden on a Suzuki, but road race ace Hayden fell in the final turn and was classified seventh.
Top “All Star” class Feature race finisher was veteran 40 year old Larry Pegram in fourth with the Foremost Insurance Honda. Teen-aged road race sensation Joe Roberts was fifth, while top young Brit road racer Oliver Brindley placed very worthy sixth on his Kawasaki single.
The Superprestigio concept was relaunched two years ago in Spain, and while three Spanish road racers took part in Las Vegas, none made it to the main event. This was mostly due to bad luck – only four riders from each category could take part in the final, out of an entry of 15 per division.
“What a way to top things off at the end of a great year,” began Mees post-race. “I’m almost at a loss for words, it’s really a big deal, winning a Superprestigio. I knew Brad would be tough, he got the best of me in the race before, but I kept my focus. Now Brad and I are heading over to Spain to represent the American dirt trackers.”
“I don’t think they could have designed a better track to create chaos,” joked Mees after his win. “Any time you do something different, it’s fun. The whole thing was hectic, but it was nothing compared to what we go through in Spain. It’s really cool that it was so fast paced.”
“The way the track was set up, it was racy,” continued Mees. “You could stick somebody, really go hard, like you were racing 100s in my back yard with my buddies. With us having the event the night before, it gave us an advantage, we knew what was going to happen, how the track would change. In the future maybe this can be a stand-alone race.”
Second placed Baker admitted that “I definitely had a wild wall ride, for a flat track style bike! To ride clean on this track is tough, but that’s the goal. It was really fun racing Jared, he rode so good, and I made too many mistakes. I had a bike break, I got hung up on the starting gate in one of my heats – I really can’t complain after coming back on such a rough night!”
Third placed Coolbeth said that “I had a really awesome fight with Hayden, we were really back and forth, it was really aggressive, it was real short track racing. I got to third and I just stayed there. The track was kind of slick, kinda dry, we slowed down our bike so we could go a little faster.”
The sole Canadian invited to the first Superprestigio of the Americas was newly crowned Flat Track Canada Champ Doug Lawrence of Mississauga, ON. After adjusting his bike after Friday’s racing, Lawrence had nothing but bad luck in his heats. Although Lawrence got close to making the cut in is Flat Track Semi qualifying race, he stalled his Town Moto Honda in a tight turn while battling for position and was unable to Qualify for his Main.