“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”
It was a Dickensian type of night for Jared Mees at the inaugural Harley-Davidson Flat Track race at the 2015 Austin X Games. The No.1 Las Vegas Harley-Davidson rider looked like a lock to be the first X Games Flat Track gold medal winner after jumping out to an early lead then distancing himself from the pack, dominating the race for 19 laps. Then fate struck in the form of a thrown chain on the last lap, taking Mees out of the race. This opened the door for No.42 Crosley Radio Kawasaki rider Bryan Smith, who had been battling with Sammy Halbert most of the race for the second position, to take home the gold.
“There were some twisted events there at the end and there were a few passes at the beginning. I’m sure it was a good show, and I’m sure it could be even better next time,” stated Smith in the AMA Pro Racing press release. “”Jared slowed, there were sparks coming off his bike, and it was like a mirage.”
Smith has been on a tear of late, winning both the Springfield and Sacramento Miles prior to coming to Austin. Now he’s etched his name in the record books as the first X Games gold medalist in Harley-Davidson Flat Track racing.
The X Games used a drop gate, motocross-style start in the 12-rider, 20 lap main event. The rumble of big Twins filled the night air as the gate fell and riders scrambled for the holeshot. Harley Wrecking Crew riders Mees and Brad Baker got off to a strong start, with Smith, Johnny Lewis and Halbert all in the mix. Baker looked particularly impressive earlier in the evening during his top qualifying run in Heat 1 and demonstrated he has no problem with the X Games starting format, establishing himself as the early favorite.
But Mees was the rider of the night for all but the last lap. After getting by Baker, he never looked back, distancing himself from the pack with consistently fast laps. Baker tried to muscle past Mees early on, but ran wide in Turn 2 allowing Smith to motor past on the inside. That particular turn seemed to be Baker’s bane on a track that was rough overall. First Jake Johnson got by Baker, and a couple laps later Halbert would get by both Baker and Johnson. By this time, Mees had pretty much checked out.
Smith and Halbert would then distance themselves from Baker, Johnson, and No. 14 Hart Racing’s Briar Bauman. Halbert hounded Smith throughout the race, but Smith fended off every move. When Mees’ bike malfunctioned, Smith won the sprint to the checkers, Halbert earning the silver medal. No. 6 Factory Harley rider Baker would claim the bronze.
Lewis on the Lloyd Brothers Ducati Scrambler-styled flat tracker would finish just off the podium in fourth. Johnson, riding a resurrected Harley from Colin Edwards’ Texas Tornado Boot Camp, parlayed his strong showing in Heat 2 to a fifth place overall in the Main.
As an added bonus, Smith won a 2015 Harley-Davidson Street 750 motorcycle to go along with his gold medal. But the real winner were the AMA Pro Flat Track riders who got international exposure thanks to ESPN’s cameras that broadcast the race to X Games fans worldwide.
2015 X Games Harley-Davidson Flat Track Results –
1. Bryan Smith
2. Sammy Halbert
3. Brad Baker
4. Johnny Lewis
5. Jake Johnson
6. Briar Bauman
7. Doug Lawrence
8. Mikey Martin
9. Kenny Coolbeth, Jr.
10. Michael Kirkness
11. Jared Mees
12. Brandon Robinson
- Brad 'The Bullet' Baker straps on his gloves and gets ready to rock-n-roll at the 2015 Austin X Games.
- A peek at the first-ever X Games Flat Track gold medal.
- Not only did he win gold, Bryan Smith will be taking home a 2015 Harley Street 750 as well after winning the first X Games Flat Track event.
- Current GNC1 points leader Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. is all smiles before the inaugural Harley-Davidson X Games Flat Track event.