Indian Motorcycle has just released a film about the start of what could be a record-equaling season, for their rider - Jared Mees. If he wins this season he will have a haul of nine Grand National Twins titles, equalling Scott Parker's record, that many thought was unassailable.
Winning eight is an incredible achievement for a rider who, the film shows, is really leaning into his opinion-splitting reputation. He has many fans and supporters, crucially within the industry - who support his factory-backed privateer team, but there is also a large 'Anyone But Mees' contingent in the stands and online.
A couple of things occurred to me while watching the film. One, Parker's title's were in the Expert class, won across a whole season contested on twins and singles. One of Mees' titles has come when the AMA split the 'expert'/GNC class (2006-09) into singles and twins championships. Mees won the Twins, Henry Wiles won the Singles, but if the series hadn't been split, Sammy Halbert would have won overall. That's why he's allowed to run a single digit number, only reserved for GNC champs. He chose 7, but changed to 69 in remembrance of his late brother, Jethro.
But that's nitpicking, and I'm not in the Anyone But Mees camp. He has won eight titles, no argument from us, I just wish there wasn't that anomaly (and I wish Sammy had that one real title). In each of those other split years, Coolbeth was both Twins and was overall champ, so there isn't the same anomaly that there is in 2009 with Halbert as de facto champ, Mees as Twins champ and Wiles as Singles champ. Newer fans, AFT era-only fans won't think there's anything weird, because the best riders win the Twins title, that's the premier class, but the 2006-09 was weird because the majority of the top riders rode both championships. Mees rode a Honda on the short track and TTs and an XR750 on the half-miles and miles.
See the full list of GNC/AFT champs at the excellent dairylandclassic.com
The second thing that the film made me think of borders on conspiracy territory (and, as such, doesn't have a great deal of basis). Here goes: is it a mastermind move on the part of Indian Motorcycle to disband the factory team prior to the year that Mees, on an Indian FTR750, can equal the record of the famous Harley XR750 rider? Did they think that not having a factory team would make it less likely that Briar would take wins from Mees. Or that Bauman would win the title, halting the chance of the record for one more year? Or, worse still, the two Indian factory-backed riders, would share wins among themselves and allow a Yamaha rider to win the title?
To discount my own conspiracy theory, Indian made the decision to disband their factory team in June last year, or that's when they informed Bauman, and Mees wasn't guaranteed his eighth title at the time (but who would have bet against him?).
And is all that academic with the form Dallas Daniels is in?
Anyway, it's a really good short film and the Mission Food AFT season continues on Saturday with the Texas Half-Mile at the Devil's Bowl Speedway. Tickets available from Americanflattrack.com or livestream it on fanschoice.tv
Words: Gary Inman
Photo: Tim Lester/AFT