Saddlemen

Bryan Smith’s Fifth Consecutive Sacramento Mile Win

| 14 June 2015 8:59 am

AMA Pro Racing Grand National Flat Track Championship Series
Round 4: Sacramento Mile at the California State Fairgrounds at Cal Expo

Story and Photos by David N. Haughs/www.haughsphotography.com
SACRAMENTO, CA, MAY 30, 2015

On May 30, 2015, the American Motorcycle Association’s Grand National Championship Series returned to the California State Fairgrounds at Cal Expo for the 50th running of the Sacramento Mile. The weather was sunny and hot as the best flat-track riders in the world filed into the fairgrounds and prepared to race the legendary Sacramento Mile.

Bryan Smith (42) is spectacular on the Sacramento Mile.

Bryan Smith (42) is spectacular on the Sacramento Mile.

As they arrived, the enormous amount of work required to compete began. Pit crews set up their areas, putting down tarps to create a clean working area, putting up canopies for protection from the hot sun, and unloading bikes, tools and equipment. Bikes would need final preparation before being rolled through tech inspection. Last-minute gearing and tire changes were made.

Every detail must be checked and rechecked. Tuner Kenny Tolbert makes some final adjustments on the number-one Harley-Davidson of Jared Mees.

Every detail must be checked and rechecked. Tuner Kenny Tolbert makes some final adjustments on the number-one Harley-Davidson of Jared Mees.

Grand National Champion Jared Mees checks and prepares his gear.

Grand National Champion Jared Mees checks and prepares his gear.

The bikes are inspected for AMA rules compliance and safety in tech inspection.

The bikes are inspected for AMA rules compliance and safety in tech inspection.

As the day wore on, practice began. This was each rider’s chance to test his or her equipment, get a feel for the track, and make any last minute changes to suspension, gearing, tires, and tire pressures. Anything at all that didn’t feel or look exactly right would have to be fixed.

In a practice session, Jared Mees (1) and Kenny Coolbeth Jr. (2) back their Harley-Davidson XR-750s into turn three.

In a practice session, Jared Mees (1) and Kenny Coolbeth Jr. (2) back their Harley-Davidson XR-750s into turn three.

Nichole Mees (15) and Jarod Vanderkooi (17F) come onto the front straightaway.

Nichole Mees (15) and Jarod Vanderkooi (17F) come onto the front straightaway.

Brandon Wilhelm (24J) chases Nick Armstrong (44E) in a practice session.

Brandon Wilhelm (24J) chases Nick Armstrong (44E) in a practice session.

Johnny Lewis (10) from Coatesville, Pennsylvania, checks out his Lloyd Brothers Ducati 1100.

Johnny Lewis (10) from Coatesville, Pennsylvania, checks out his Lloyd Brothers Ducati 1100.

Riders Brad Baker (6), Sammy Halbert (7) and Henry Wiles (17) freight-train down the front straightaway in a practice session.

Riders Brad Baker (6), Sammy Halbert (7) and Henry Wiles (17) freight-train down the front straightaway in a practice session.

With four consecutive Sacramento Mile wins under his belt, Bryan Smith (42) returned intending to make it five in a row.

With four consecutive Sacramento Mile wins under his belt, Bryan Smith (42) returned intending to make it five in a row.

The Western pop singing group Auburn Road, out of Sacramento, did an amazing rendition of the national anthem.

The Western pop singing group Auburn Road, out of Sacramento, did an amazing rendition of the national anthem.

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In what was being called “Clash of the Titans II,” racing legends Jay Springsteen and Chris Carr returned to Sacramento for a rematch. The two veterans appeared to be having a lot of fun, and their loyal fans loved it as they battled on the Sacramento Mile.

Three-time Grand National Champion Jay Springsteen (9) won the Clash of the Titans II exhibition race.

Three-time Grand National Champion Jay Springsteen (9) won the Clash of the Titans II exhibition race.

Chris Carr (4), seven-time Grand National Champion, finished second.

Chris Carr (4), seven-time Grand National Champion, finished second.

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Six riders lined up for the Dash For Cash. The winner of the Dash would receive $1,000 and one all-important GNC point.

Mikey Martin had pole position and wisely chose the outside, very close to the groove. Lining up next to Martin were Sammy Halbert, Brad Baker, Jared Mees, Shawn Baer and Nichole Mees.

Martin got a good start and had the lead going through turns one and two and down the back straightaway, but this race was far from over. Martin led three times, only to get passed each time. Mikey Martin, Sammy Halbert and Brad Baker all took turns out in front. In very close racing, the lead changed six times. Martin found himself in second place, behind Brad Baker, going through turns three and four on the last lap. He was able to draft Baker going down the front straightaway and shoot by him for the win at the checkered flag.

Mikey Martin (91) won the Dash For Cash aboard his Weirbach Racing Kawasaki EX-650.

Mikey Martin (91) won the Dash For Cash aboard his Weirbach Racing Kawasaki EX-650.

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Tristan Avery (16S), Nick Armstrong (44E) and Dan Bromley (54A) prepare for the start of the GNC2 main event.

Tristan Avery (16S), Nick Armstrong (44E) and Dan Bromley (54A) prepare for the start of the GNC2 main event.

As the GNC 2 main event lined up, it was Nick Armstrong sitting on pole position.

At the green flag, both Armstrong and Davis Fisher jetted off the line first. Fisher was able to get in front of Armstrong entering turn one.

On lap two, Armstrong overpowered Fisher coming down the front straightaway and entered turn one first.

On the next lap, Fisher took the lead again, and Armstrong fell all the way back to fourth place.

In some very exciting racing, the first four riders swapped positions many times, but it was Davis Fisher who led for most of the race. Fisher led several laps, with Bronson Bauman right behind him, fighting to take the lead. With only three laps left in the race, the two riders made contact going into turn one, and Fisher went down. Fisher was uninjured as he scurried off the track, jumping up onto the air fence to get out of harm’s way. The race had to be stopped to clear Fisher’s bike from the track.

Davis Fisher (67M) leads Andrew Luker (11Z) into turn three. Fisher led nine of the 14 laps actually run in the GNC2 main event.

Davis Fisher (67M) leads Andrew Luker (11Z) into turn three. Fisher led nine of the 14 laps actually run in the GNC2 main event.

The restart would be a single-file, staggered start, with Bronson Bauman at the head of the line. Behind Bauman would be Jamison Minor, Kolby Carlile, Tristan Avery, and Nick Armstrong in the fifth starting position. In accordance with the AMA rule book, there would be five laps left in the race.

Bronson Bauman got a good start and led everyone into the first turn. However, the lead would change several times before the five laps were over. Nick Armstrong worked his way forward from his fifth-place starting position to lead the last two laps of the race and capture his first career GNC 2 win.

Nick Armstrong takes his father, Craig Armstrong, on a mile-long victory lap.

Nick Armstrong takes his father, Craig Armstrong, on a mile-long victory lap.

Nick Armstrong celebrates his first-ever GNC 2 victory.

Nick Armstrong celebrates his first-ever GNC 2 victory.

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Riders on the front row prepare for the start of the GNC1 Expert Twins main event: (from right to left) Brandon Robinson (44), Shawn Baer (32), Nichole Mees (15), Brad Baker (6) and Sammy Halbert (7).

Riders on the front row prepare for the start of the GNC1 Expert Twins main event: (from right to left) Brandon Robinson (44), Shawn Baer (32), Nichole Mees (15), Brad Baker (6) and Sammy Halbert (7).

Mikey Martin had pole position for the start of the 25-lap GNC 1 main event. Martin got the jump and led the pack through turns one and two and down the back straightaway.

On the second lap, Brian Smith and Brandon Robinson slipped under Martin going into turn three. Robinson drafted Brian Smith down the front straightaway and shot by him going into the first turn. Down the back straightaway, it was Brandon Robinson in front, followed by Brian Smith and Mikey Martin.

The action continued like that for 22 more laps around the one-mile oval. The lead changed on nearly every lap as riders used the draft to slingshot past one another on the straightaways. The top four or five bikes were so close, you could have covered them with a blanket.

On the last lap, Brandon Robinson led Brian Smith through the final turn and onto the front straightaway. The riders tucked in as they raced for the checkered flags. Smith drafted Robinson, just inches off his rear tire. At the last second, Smith swerved to his right and shot up beside Robinson. Smith’s front wheel crossed the finish line just two-tenths of a second ahead of Robinson’s. Bryan Smith had done it: He had captured his fifth consecutive Sacramento Mile victory.

On the podium, it was (from left to right) third-place finisher Jared Mees, winner Bryan Smith, and runner-up Brandon Robinson.

On the podium, it was (from left to right) third-place finisher Jared Mees, winner Bryan Smith, and runner-up Brandon Robinson.

Bryan Smith was ecstatic standing atop the podium after his win.

Bryan Smith was ecstatic standing atop the podium after his win.

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Round five of the AMA Pro Racing Grand National Flat Track Championship Series will be the Hagerstown Half Mile in Hagerstown, Maryland, on June 20, 2015.

Sacramento Mile at the California State Fairgrounds at Cal Expo
Sacramento, California
Results: May 30, 2015 (Round 4)

DASH FOR CASH: 1. Mikey Martin (Kaw); 2. Sammy Halbert (Kaw); 3. Brad Baker (H-D); 4. Jared Mees (H-D); 5. Nichole Mees (H-D); 6. Shawn Baer (KTM).

GNC 1 MAIN: 1. Bryan Smith (Kaw); 2. Brandon Robinson (Tri); 3. Jared Mees (H-D); 4. Brad Baker (H-D); 5. Kenny Coolbeth (H-D); 6. Jeffrey Carver Jr. (Kaw); 7. Willie McCoy (H-D); 8. Sammy Halbert (Kaw); 9. Nichole Mees (H-D); 10. Mikey Martin (Kaw); 11. Jake Shoemaker (Tri); 12. Steve Bonsey (H-D); 13. Johnny Lewis (Duc); 14. Shawn Baer (KTM); 15. Jarod Vanderkooi (Kaw); 16. Kyle Johnson (Kaw); 17. Kyle Kolkman (Kaw); 18. Henry Wiles (H-D).

GNC 2 MAIN: 1. Nick Armstrong (Hon); 2. Triston Avery (Hon); 3. Brandon Wilhelm (Hon); 4. Jamison Minor (Hon); 5. Kolby Carlile (Kaw); 6. Bronson Bauman (Hon); 7. Ryan Kearns (Hon); 8. Jeffrey Lowery (Hon); 9. James Monaco (Hon); 10. J.R. Addison (Hon); 11. Dan Bromley (KTM); 12. John Vanderlaan (Hon); 13. Andrew Luker (Hon); 14. Michael Inderbitzen (Hon); 15. Tony Meiring (Hon); 16. Dominic Colindres (Hon); 17. Davis Fisher (Hon); 18. Rodney Spenser Jr. (Hon).

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