Briar Bauman and Jared Mees DNFShakopee, Minn., Sept. 19—Bryan “Mile Master” Smith (No. 4 Indian Motorcycle Racing backed by Allstate Scout FTR750) scored a crazy, surprise-twist victory in Saturday evening’s AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines Main Event at the Indian Motorcycle Minnesota Mile—a race in which 5000-plus hearty spectators turned out in 45-degree temperatures to experience.
Briar Bauman (No. 14 Zanotti Racing Indian Scout FTR750), fresh off his first victory of 2018 at the Williams Grove Half-Mile, looked certain to continue his devastating form. He was basically running away from the field and powering to his first-career Mile victory to complete the Grand Slam when disaster struck. With just two of 25 laps remaining and holding a massive lead over second, Bauman’s Scout FTR750 ran out of fuel and he was forced out of contention.
Smith was more than happy to storm by the helpless Bauman after earlier doing the same to reigning Grand National Champion Jared Mees (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle Rogers Racing SDI Scout FTR750), who encountered a mechanical problem late in the race while trailing the speedy Bauman.
Smith said, “I saw Jared peel off and I thought, ‘Okay, I’ve got second. This is good, but there’s no catching Briar, he’s putting the clinic on everyone today.’ And then I did a double take and thought I saw the #14 pulling off. ‘Am I leading this thing?’ I’d rather be lucky than good any day!”
The evening marked American Flat Track’s first trip to the Minneapolis area and Canterbury Park since 2010, with preparation of the soft and sandy horse-racing surface a key issue. Several days of track prep yielded a racetrack that was both groove and cushion, and one that offered multi-line racing – which typically yields more exciting action and more passing opportunities for riders. While there were some rough spots, most riders felt the track to be challenging and one that rewarded bravery, skill and creativity.
“This is definitely one of the toughest, most challenging, technical Miles we race,” Smith said. “It was a free-for-all. Everybody was taking different lines and doing different things.”
Bauman and Mees appeared most ready to capitalize, the two engaging in a thrilling back-and-forth dogfight during the race’s opening half before Bauman broke Mees’ challenge. Bauman was well on his way to a statement-making victory before the dramatic twist finish.
In addition to Smith’s surprise win, runner-up Henry Wiles (No. 17 Bandit Industries/Wilco Racing/Willy Built Indian Scout FTR750) and third-place Robert Pearson (No. 27 R/J Performance/Hite Trucking Indian Scout FTR750) saw top-five rides transformed into podium performances.
The DNF ends Mees’ hopes at equaling the legendary Ricky Graham for most wins in a single season at 12. However, if he concludes his season with an 11th triumph in next weekend’s 2018 Meadowlands Mile finale, Mees will lay claim to the highest single-season win percentage in American Flat Track history.
American Flat Track’s 2018 finale happens next weekend at the Meadowlands Mile presented by Ducati at the MetLife Sports Complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey, on October 6. Live coverage can be viewed on FansChoice.tv starting at 3:30 p.m. ET with Opening Ceremonies scheduled to get underway at 6:15 p.m. ET. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased here: https://www.showclix.com/event/meadowlands-mile