Jared Mees is a polarising presence in 21st century dirt track. Five National titles, and 53 National wins, put him in the third in overall wins behind Scott Parker and Chris Carr. Perhaps it's this dominance that people don't like, but he's not dominating now, due to a combination of Briar Bauman and injuries.
Perhaps some of the animosity is due to the time he made an indiscretion (let's say cheated) when he was found to have run a doped tyre at Atlanta in 2018. He was caught, and held his hands up. He certainly won't have been the only one, and the reported run on new Dunlops in the days after the announcement is anecdotal proof. Really, the anti-Mees movement predates 2018.
Jared Mees has embraced social media to show a lighter, less intense side to himself. The intensity comes from the desire to win combined with, and this is from other riders not me, the opinion that he isn't the most naturally talented, but he is arguably the hardest working rider. If he's going into a race knowing he has to be as close to 100% to beat more talented riders, then that would make him more focussed during the weekend. His win figures back up it's a method that works.
AFT have even made an 'Anyone But Mees' official T-shirt, that Jared undoubtedly uses as fuel to fire his next race, but must also make him wonder why people have taken against him so much, when they don't even know him.
I've changed my opinion of Jared Mees over the years. When in the past I might have sided with the Anyone but... brigade, nowI'm a huge admirer of his work ethic, the way he looks after his sponsors, the humour he puts into his social media films, and the vision he has for a future in the sport, beyond being on the track. And that's news behind this post.
It has just been announced that Jared and wife Nichole Mees* are to take over promotion of the most famous race in flat track, the Springfield Mile. After 40 years, the current promoters, Kiesow Racing, are retiring and have agreed a deal to have the Mees take over the promotion.
This follows the pattern of the Lima Half-Mile. The Mees bought the rights to become promoters of the historic Ohio race in late-2015, for the 2016 season, when the previous long-running promoters retired. It's also a new chapter of the intertwined history of the Mees and Springfield. The pair were married there on a race day in 2013, and competed the same day, both making the 18-rider main from an entry of over 40 Expert twins.
The 2021 Springfield races, the last of the Kiesow era, take place on 3-5 September, with AFT Singles short track racing on Friday, while twins take to the Mile on Saturday and Sunday. For more information, go to AmericanFlatTrack.com
*For those new to the sport, Nichole is a former National dirt track racer, who competed at the highest level on Harley XR750s. That's her, #15, in the photo above, battling with her future husband, Jared. We interviewed Nichole for Sideburn 41. , accompanied by this artwork by Kim Thompson.