One of the fan-favorite events on the calendar, the series can count on a huge gathering of loyal and knowledgeable fans to turn out for the Lima Half-Mile and provide a spectacular atmosphere at the Allen County Fairgrounds.
Following a stretch of five Miles in six weeks, the Lima Half-Mile presents a different sort of challenge to the riders. In particular, the pea-gravel dirt track is famous for its cushion which favors the bold and the decisive.
All eyes will be on a rider who perfectly fits that description: AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines points leader Jared Mees (No. 9 Indian Motorcycle Rogers Racing Scout FTR750) – and he wouldn't have it any other way.
Mees isn't only leading the championship, the winner of three Lima Half-Miles, and the owner of an active two-race win streak, he's also this weekend's event promoter.
"The Lima Half-Mile – the best race on earth, and the best time of the year besides Christmas," Mees said with a laugh. "This place of course has got a lot of sentimental value. It was my first Grand National Main event win, and I've won the race three times. Also, it's basically now my hometown track, and of course my wife and I promote the event, so I'm very heavily looking forward to this race.
"On the racing side of things, we want to continue doing what we've been doing and that's winning. I would also like to win on a Half-Mile because it would also complete a grand slam in a single season – winning all four disciplines of flat track races – is actually something that I would like to try to get done this year."
Last year – Mees' first Lima Half-Mile as racer-promoter – he was forced to watch another rider climb atop the podium. Harley-Davidson's Brandon Robinson (No. 44 Harley-Davidson Factory Flat Track Team XG750R) took top honors, extending Harley-Davidson's remarkable success at the Lima Half-Mile where the manufacturer has scored the last 21 Main Event victories in succession.
Robinson's teammates, Kenny Coolbeth (No. 2 Harley-Davidson Factory Flat Track Team XG750R) and Jake Johnson (No. 5 Harley-Davidson Factory Flat Track Team XG750R) are proven Half-Mile masters, with Coolbeth the owner of 23 previous Half-Mile victories to go with Johnson's five. Perhaps this will be the weekend Harley-Davidson gets back into its groove (or perhaps better said, gets back into its cushion).
Whatever the record books say, recent history suggests the Indian Wrecking Crew will be difficult to contain again this weekend. Lima's characteristics are not only well-suited to Mees' style – they also play right into the strengths of the similarly-armed Bryan Smith (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle Racing backed by Allstate Scout FTR750) and Brad Baker (No. 6 Indian Motorcycle Racing backed by Allstate Scout FTR750), who boast one prior win apiece in Lima.
Smith has been in outstanding form all season, with four Main Event wins to his name, including the season's sole Half-Mile to date in Charlotte. However, he's now looking to swing the momentum back in his direction after watching Mees steal it away in recent weeks.
Smith said, "I haven't won (at Lima) in a long time. I've been on the podium a lot there. Brad will be fast. Jared will be fast. Hopefully, I can school them."
Baker is done knocking at the door of his first win as an Indian Motorcycle pilot; he's ready to smash right through it if that's what it's going to take after suffering from multiple near-misses already this season.
Look for Sammy Halbert (No. 69 Estenson Logistics Yamaha FZ-07) to factor heavily into this weekend's outcome as well. Not only is Halbert on a roll (he sits third in the points on the strength of three podiums and no result worse than fourth in his last six outings), he's also a two-time winner of the Lima Half-Mile.
Meanwhile, fifth-ranked Jeffrey Carver Jr. (No. 23 Carver’s BBQ Kawasaki Ninja 650) continues to quietly assemble a commendable championship campaign. And don't sleep on Henry Wiles (No. 17 DPC Racing Kawasaki Ninja 650), himself a one-time winner at Lima.
If Shayna Texter's AFT Singles rivals were looking forward to getting the No. 52 Richie Morris Racing Honda CRF450R away from the big Mile venues, at which she recently took three out of four victories, they might not have thought things through completely.
The AFT Singles championship leader doesn't figure to lose any speed in the transition to the upcoming stretch of Half-Miles; she's a big fan of cushion tracks herself and a three-time winner at Half-Miles.
However confident she may be, title hopefuls Kolby Carlile (No. 36 Parkinson Brothers Racing Honda CRF450R) and Brandon Price (No. 92 DPC Racing/Don's Kawasaki KX450F) need to slow Texter's roll to keep the championship lead in reach; her advantage is now up to 11 over Carlile and 23 points on Price.
Carlile's consistency and versatility have served him well all year despite the fact that he's still seeking a first win on the season. Incidentally, Price's one victory this year came at the season's only previous Half-Mile in Charlotte.
While a disastrous early season has rendered him a long shot for the title, the rider on the move isTristan Avery (No. 16 Ron Ayers Honda CRF450R). In the last five races, Avery has finished lower than second just once, and is motivated to stand atop the podium for the first time in 2017.
On-track action begins with the AFT Twins and AFT Singles practice sessions at 2:00 p.m. ET with Opening Ceremonies commencing at 6:00 p.m. ET. During Opening Ceremonies, former Grand National racer Tom Duma will unveil the 2017 American Flat Track Championship rings. These one of a kind rings are designed by Duma himself and crafted by Thom Duma Fine Jewelers.
Then at 6:20 p.m. ET, the night kicks off with a fan favorite tradition – the George Roeder Memorial Dash for Cash. Followed by the Heat races at 6:30 p.m. ET and the Mains starting at 9:25 p.m. ET. Tickets for the Lima Half-Mile are now on sale and can be purchased athttps://www.limahalfmile.com/tickets.
If you want to ride in on your Indian Motorcycle, there are also three Indian Motorcycle Ride Groups (IMRG) sponsored dealers in the area: Indian Motorcycle of Toledo, Bairs Indian Motorcycle (North Canton) and Indian Motorcycle of South Detroit.
Catch all the Action on NBCSN and FansChoice.tv
As part of American Flat Track’s television broadcast package with NBCSN, the cable network will air the Lima Half-Mile in a primetime telecast on Thursday, August 31 at 10:00 p.m. ET/7:00 p.m. PT. The one-hour show will feature flag-to-flag coverage of both Main Events along with exclusive features giving fans a behind-the-scenes window into the sport. The complete television schedule for American Flat Track on NBCSN will be released in the coming weeks.
Live streaming coverage of every second from the Lima Half-Mile presented by Indian Motorcycle can be viewed on FansChoice.tv at www.fanschoice.tv/watch-live/american-flat-track.
Fans can also keep up-to-date with race day action by following American Flat Track on Facebook (American Flat Track), Twitter (@AmericanFlatTrk) and Instagram (@AmericanFlatTrack).