The smile on Jared Mees’ face as he stood on the first place podium was proof positive that he was more than pleased with his win at this year’s X Games in Austin, Texas.
Motorcycle racer Jared Mees was on his way to winning the first ever Harley-Davidson Flat-Track race at the 2015 X Games, in Austin, Texas. But in the last lap, near the finish, Jared’s bike suffered mechanical problems and he had to watch as Bryan Smith crossed the finish line and claimed the gold medal.
Yes, the gold is real on the first place medal won by Jared Mees in the 2016 X Games.
Mees was less than 15 seconds from the finish and negotiating turn two of the last lap with a 2.34-second lead over Smith. Mees had led for 18 of the 20 laps. As he pushed the throttle to get the victory burst, his Harley-Davidson died. “It felt like I hit false neutral,” Mees explained later.
He originally thought that the chain of his bike broke. Instead a nut blew off his Flat Track XR750 Harley Davidson forcing the sprocket to disconnect from the hub. Although the chain and the sprocket remained on the bike, they were no longer connected to a power source.
To make matters worse for Mees, a rivalry had developed between him and Smith. Mees has won the AMA Pro Flat Track Championship over Smith two years in a row. The two live about 15 minutes apart in Michigan and there have been issues between the two as they competed for a series championship. To say the least, Mees was angry about the X Game result.
“Having mechanical problems in the last lap was a huge bummer,” he said. “So I focused on the 2016 X Games to redeem the loss.”
The 30-year-old has won four AMA Grand National Championships and has been racing motorcycles since he was 6 years old. That’s when his father, who also raced motorcycles, gave him his first bike – a Yamaha PW50.
Jared Mees waits in anticipation for the start of the Harley Davidson Flat Track Race at this year’s X Games.
He said that he didn’t prepare any differently for the redemption match up. “I just made sure that I didn’t repeat the mistake I made last year,” he said.
Mees explained that he does a lot of physical training to prepare for a race. In addition, he said that he rides a motocross style motorcycle at a motocross track near his home during the week.
“It’s kind of like cross training,” he said. “I don’t ride my Flat Track Harley during the week because the bike is very expensive to maintain.”
The day that would permit him to put last year’s disappointing loss behind him came on June 2 of this year. This time, there were no mechanical issues and Mees won a close race by only 0.369 of a second over Kenny Coolbeth Jr. and Brad Baker.
“It was a fun race. I got off to a decent start, then had to make some passes. Coolbeth was breathing down my neck during the last laps, but I kept it up and was able to get the win,” he said.
Jared Mees’ race team celebrate the victory at the 2016 X Games in Austin, Texas on June 2, 2016.
He admitted that the race was close, but he added that it was not the closest race in which he has competed.
Michael Kirkness, who would ultimately be the fifth place finisher, took the lead at the start and led the field of 12 racers into the first turn when Smith, who was favored to win the race, snagged the toe of his boot on the edge of the track. He fell to the ground taking Sammy Halbert with him. Jake Johnson grabbed the lead and led for the first four laps before Baker jumped out front going into Turn 4 with Mees right behind him. When Baker ran wide on lap 8, Mees took advantage and grabbed the lead.
It wasn’t long before Coolbeth started to challenge Mees and that’s how it went for the last 10 laps of the 20-lap race.
“This race was something I really wanted to win. We won and got the redemption we were looking for,” Mees concluded.
By the way, as a result of his spill Smith finished 11th.
Although he’s not sure where the X Games will be held next year, Mees plans to compete.