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More from Calistoga: Brad Baker’s First 2014 Win!

| 28 October 2014 6:28 pm

AMA Pro Racing Flat Track Grand National Championship Series
Round 15: Ramspur Winery Calistoga Half Mile, Presented by Victory Chevrolet

Story and Photos by Karen Gould/Checkered Flag Photography
CALISTOGA, CA, SEPT. 27, 2014

Getting to the track the Friday afternoon before the penultimate round of the AMA Pro Racing Flat Track Grand National Championship Series, we were met with a beautifully prepared, smooth half-mile track, and folks were scurrying about, getting things set up and ready for a day of exciting racing. As the afternoon passed, the clouds opened and gave the track a thorough watering. Dennis Pearson – a.k.a. “Sunshine” – was pleased with nature’s wet gift. (Dennis also wanted to be sure that this reporter corrected his nickname in this story, so, Dennis, here it is!)

Sammy Halbert, Brad Baker, Bubba Shobert, Mikey Martin and friends set off for the ride through downtown Calistoga, California.

Sammy Halbert, Brad Baker, Bubba Shobert, Mikey Martin and friends set off for the ride through downtown Calistoga, California.

First thing Saturday morning, the Calistoga Half Mile riders were able to wow the crowd in downtown Calistoga by riding down Main Street with a police escort and then spending a few minutes in front of the Calistoga Police Station to meet and greet fans. Legendary AMA Racing Pro rider Bubba Shobert rode in the front of the riders’ parade, alongside Brad Baker and Sammy Halbert. The pits then filled with haulers, trailers and trucks, dropping off the bikes and gear that would soon be ridden on the track.

The AMA Pro competitors wowed the crowd with a meet-and-greet in beautiful downtown Calistoga.

The AMA Pro competitors wowed the crowd with a meet-and-greet in beautiful downtown Calistoga.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the grandstands, bikes were being set up and arranged for the Vintage Bike show. Pop-ups were put up to shelter the many vendors who were also getting ready for the day’s events. The sun was shining brightly on the track.

This custom Triumph, which held the world speed record for years and is now being restored, was on display at the Calistoga Half Mile.

This custom Triumph, which held the world speed record for years and is now being restored, was on display at the Calistoga Half Mile.

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Practice began as scheduled, followed by time trials and then a break in the action while the stands began filling with excited fans.

Jethro Halbert (69) and Danny Koelsch (93X) in practice.

Jethro Halbert (69) and Danny Koelsch (93X) in practice.

Davis Fisher (67M) during practice.

Davis Fisher (67M) during practice.

A group of special legends – which included Shobert, Dick Mann, Mert Lawwill, Eddie Mulder and more –signed autographs alongside several of the current Grand National riders and a group of top 85cc riders from the California Flat Track Association’s 85cc National Series.

The top CFTA 85cc riders were in attendance.

The top CFTA 85cc riders were in attendance.

Yamaha Corp. USA, together with Berkeley Yamaha, Santa Rosa Powersports, K&B Motorsports and Mach 1 Motorsports, provided a new Yamaha TTR125 that was raffled off during the evening. The winning ticket was pulled by Alexia Dunlavy, and the bike was awarded to 6-year-old Amanda Faivre. It was later discovered that Amanda was a twin, and only one of the twins won. The donating group huddled together and solved the situation by awarding each of the twins, Amanda and her brother Gabriel, with Yamaha TTR50s, bikes that fit their size.

A Yamaha TTR50 was raffled off to one lucky winner – no, wait, make that two lucky winners!

A Yamaha TTR50 was raffled off to one lucky winner – no, wait, make that two lucky winners!

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Getting ready for the riders’ parade.

Getting ready for the riders’ parade.

Many new faces took their places on the grid in the Pro Singles heat races. Davis Fisher and Jarod Vanderkooi won the heat races, followed by Kyle Johnson and Ryan Foster. Nick Armstrong and Bronson Bauman earned their front-row starting positions on the main-event grid by finishing their heats in third.

Davis Fisher got the holeshot at the flash of the green and was on his way to victory when a pile-up brought out the red flag.

The Pro Singles riders shoot into turn one in their main event.

The Pro Singles riders shoot into turn one in their main event.

On the restart, Fisher again took the lead, and then proceeded to earn his first victory in Grand National Racing. Vanderkooi and Foster followed him in second and third, respectively. Fisher was now six points behind Kyle Johnson in the Pro Singles points chase.

Davis Fisher (67M) and Jarod Vanderkooi (17F) at speed.

Davis Fisher (67M) and Jarod Vanderkooi (17F) at speed.

Ryan Foster (23Y), on his way to his first GNC podium finish.

Ryan Foster (23Y), on his way to his first GNC podium finish.

Davis Fisher (center) topped the Pro Singles podium with a best lap time of 23.692 seconds. He was flanked by runner-up Jarod Vanderkooi (left) and third-place finisher Ryan Foster (right).

Davis Fisher (center) topped the Pro Singles podium with a best lap time of 23.692 seconds. He was flanked by runner-up Jarod Vanderkooi (left) and third-place finisher Ryan Foster (right).

Johnson, unfortunately, was unable to finish the Calistoga Half Mile after being involved in some mayhem on the track; everyone wishes him well.

Jethro Halbert was also involved in a bad crash and was unable to complete the day’s event. (As of press time, Jethro remains in a coma.)

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Going into the Calistoga Half Mile, Bryan Smith was GNC points leader, nine points in front of Jared Mees. He struggled through the time trials, placing 20th; however, he finished third in his heat race, sending himself directly to the front row of the main.

Kenny Coolbeth, after crashing out of the Dash For Cash, won his heat race, as did Henry Wiles and Jared Mees. Doug Lawrence, Sammy Halbert and Jake Johnson all finished their heat races in the second position.

Sammy Halbert took the Dash For Cash win after Kenny Coolbeth Jr. crashed out on the first lap. Thanks to Mark and Randy Zimmerman of Specialty Fabrications, the Dash For Cash purse was increased to $6,000.

The Dash For Cash finish was close between Sammy Halbert (7) and Jake Johnson (5)!

The Dash For Cash finish was close between Sammy Halbert (7) and Jake Johnson (5)!

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As happened back in 2011, this was another AMA Pro Racing Grand National Calistoga Half Mile event with a major points upset. Jake Johnson, Jared Mees and Sammy Halbert headed into the first turn three-wide off the start. Mees quickly took the lead, with Sammy and Johnson following.

Jared Mees (9) took the lead from Jake Johnson (5).

Jared Mees (9) took the lead from Jake Johnson (5).

Johnson worked his way around Sammy on lap five and held the second position for four laps, when he was able to overtake Mees for the lead. During those middle laps, Bryan Smith had worked his way from sixth, behind Coolbeth, into the top three running, behind Mees and eventually running in second, behind Baker and followed by Mees. Sammy had dropped into the fifth position.

Smith’s bike began to smoke, and the black flag flew for him. Undeterred, he maintained his second-place position, bike smoking and black flag flying, through the remaining laps all the way to the finish, in front of Mees.

Bryan Smith (42) ran in second to the finish but was disqualified for his smoking bike and for ignoring the black flag.

Bryan Smith (42) ran in second to the finish but was disqualified for his smoking bike and for ignoring the black flag.

However, Smith was scored as last, with no points earned. Johnson earned the third-place points, and Baker took the win. Mees officially finished second and now had a 13-point lead over Smith, and Smith was leading Johnson by three points going into the Flat Track Finals in Pomona.

Brad Baker (1), riding like he stole it to the checkers!

Brad Baker (1), riding like he stole it to the checkers!

Brad takes his mom along on the victory lap.

Brad takes his mom along on the victory lap.

As Johnson said prior to Calistoga, “Anything can happen” – and it had. Each of the Expert podium finishers were awarded with a very large, lovely, engraved, gold Ramspur Winery bottle of wine.

The Expert Twins podium was comprised of winner Brad Baker (center), runner-up Jared Mees (left) and third-place finisher Jake Johnson (right). Baker’s best lap time was 23.807 seconds.

The Expert Twins podium was comprised of winner Brad Baker (center), runner-up Jared Mees (left) and third-place finisher Jake Johnson (right). Baker’s best lap time was 23.807 seconds.

Everyone is very appreciative of the support of the event sponsors: Victory Chevrolet, Rod and Marci Lake, Mark and Randy Zimmerman of Specialty Fabrications, Motion Pro, Yamaha Corp. USA, Berkeley Yamaha, Santa Rosa Powersports, K&B Motorsports, Mach 1, Craig Rogers Racing, Dave Zanotti of Zanotti Racing, Steve De Lorenzi of SDI Insulation, and many more. Without them, the promoters would not have been able to bring the Ramspur Winery Calistoga Half Mile to you. And to the staff members and volunteers who helped, a big thank-you. Your time and effort is very much appreciated.

To the fans: Thank you for sharing the day with us. We will be back in 2015 – watch the website and Facebook page to find out about the plans for next season!

Calistoga Half Mile
Calistoga, California
Results: September 27, 2014 (Round 15 of 16)

PRO SINGLES MAIN (16 laps): 1. Davis Fisher (Hon) – (best lap time (23.692); 2. Jarod Vanderkooi (Hon); 3. Ryan Foster (Hon); 4. Ryan Kerns (Yam); 5. Bronson Bauman (Hon); 6. Dan Bromley (KTM); 7. Jeffrey Lowery (Hon); 8. Nick Armstrong (Hon); 9. Kolby Carlile (KTM); 10. Cole Frederickson (Hon); 11. Cole Anderson (Hon); 12. J.R. Addison (Hon); 13. Ryan Wells (KTM) 14. Austin Helmholz (Hon); 15. James Monaco (Hon); 16. Austin Scaggs (Hon); 17. Kyle Johnson (Hon) DNS; 18. Molly Terry (Hon) DNS.

PRO EX GNC TWINS MAIN (25 laps): 1. Brad Baker (H-D) – (best lap time 23.807); 2. Jared Mees (H-D); 3. Jake Johnson (H-D); 4. Sammy Halbert (H-D); 5. Kenny Coolbeth Jr. (H-D); 6. Doug Lawrence (H-D); 7. Jake Shoemaker (Kaw); 8. Jeffrey Carver (H-D); 9. Brandon Robinson (Kaw); 10. Henry Wiles (Kaw); 11. Ronnie Jones (H-D); 12. Wyatt Maguire (Suz); 13. Chad Cose (Kaw); 14. Mike Rush (Suz); 15. Nichole Mees (H-D); 16. Colt Chebultz (H-D); 17. Scooter Vernon (Kaw); 18. Brandon Bergen (Kaw); 19. Bryan Smith (Kaw).

[For more from this event, please see “California Dreamin’ – or, The Calistoga Crush” by Dan Jacobson Sr… Editor]

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