Saddlemen

Hammerin’ Hank Nails Thirteen in a Row at the Peoria TT!

| 17 August 2017 1:44 pm

AFT American Flat Track Series
Round 14: Peoria TT at the Peoria Motorcycle Club Race Park

Story and Photos by Kurt Bauer/Dirtbauer.com
PEORIA, IL, AUG. 13, 2017

Over the years, the Peoria Motorcycle Club’s greatest claim to fame has been their AMA Grand National Championship TT race, which has been held every consecutive year since 1947. This annual event is the longest-running dirt-track race in the world.

Henry Wiles (17) put the hammer down at the 2017 edition of the Peoria TT.

Henry Wiles (17) put the hammer down at the 2017 edition of the Peoria TT.

This year would be different than in years past, as the Twins would be running on all the tracks this year. The Twins had run on the temporary TT track at Daytona International Speedway with a speed bump of a jump, and at Sturgis, but these venue’s jumps were tame compared to Peoria’s. There had been talk in the off season of modifying the jump, so in June the PMC had some of the Twins show up for testing and a short race after they had done some modifications, calling in the Caterpillar guys to add a jump before the existing jump in hopes of slowing down the riders for the original jump. This seemed to be successful, but sure to disappoint some of the old die-hard fans. After a few more tweaks, the jump was ready for the National TT race in August.

As the fans started rolling into the Thunder in the Valley, they were greeted with some beautiful blue skies and temperatures in the low 80. The 450s were getting some good air on the new jump, but it was definitely slowing them down for the original one. After the practice sessions were complete, there had been no big get-offs, but there were a few wasted footpegs on the big V-twins.

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The Singles started out the afternoon’s racing, with the fastest qualifier, Jesse Janisch, taking the win in the first heat race, ahead of former AMA Pro Singles champion Kyle Johnson. Local racer Steven Sandoval got a good start and ran up front, finishing in the third spot.

The second Singles heat saw the event’s first crash, with Indiana’s Jeremiah Duffy getting tangled up on the new jump and bringing out the red light, as fellow Hoosier Shane O’Banion had to put his bike up in the grass to avoid hitting Duffy. Meanwhile, Duffy’s bike got into O’Banion, but he was okay and ready to make the restart. Duffy took a ride to the infield and called it a day.

The second Singles heat race resulted in a red flag after Jeremiah Duffy crashed on the first jump. He was able to take a ride back to the pits on a side-by-side but it was pretty certain he was done for the afternoon. Shane O’Banion got stuffed in the grass off the track but then got hit by Duffy’s bike – but he was also okay.

The second Singles heat race resulted in a red flag after Jeremiah Duffy crashed on the first jump. He was able to take a ride back to the pits on a side-by-side but it was pretty certain he was done for the afternoon. Shane O’Banion got stuffed in the grass off the track but then got hit by Duffy’s bike – but he was also okay.

On the restart, it was Brandon Price leading the way, with Ben Lowe and Cole Fredrickson going into turn two, heading for the jump. Ben Lowe got by Price for the win, ahead of Cole Fredrickson. Price finished in third, making it three Hondas finishing ahead of KTM’s Dan Bromley. Wyatt Anderson rounded out the top five.

The restart of the second Singles heat, without Duffy.

The restart of the second Singles heat, without Duffy.

The third Singles heat had the “Flying Tomato,” Kolby Carlile, living up to his nickname, as he’d been airing it out well off the new jump in qualifying. When the green light lit, it looked like Morgen Mischler might take the lead in turn one, but he got loose up high, and Carlile took the lead on the inside. After a restart, Carlile would take the win, with Jacob Lehman taking second place less than a half-second behind Carlile.

Kolby “The Flying Tomato” Carlile (36) gets airborne.

Kolby “The Flying Tomato” Carlile (36) gets airborne.

After some time out for track maintenance, it was time for the V-Twins to race for the first time at Peoria since the early 1980s. With only 22 entries for the Twins, the officials had to slightly alter the schedule. There would only be two heat races.

First up would be the current “Master of Peoria” – Henry “Hammerin’ Hank” Wiles, on a Kawasaki 650 stuffed into an aluminum frame. He was lined up with the always tough TT competitors “Jammin’ Jared” Mees and Jake Johnson. It didn’t take long for Wiles to get the lead, but Mees wasn’t far behind, and at the finish the order was Wiles, Mees and Johnson, with Bronson Bauman finishing in the fourth spot. Brad Baker finished back in ninth place, which would put him in the last-chance race, hoping to advance his Indian into the main.

The second Twins heat, with Henry Wiles (17) leading Jeffrey Carver Jr. (23), Jared Mees (9), Brad Baker (6), Jake Johnson (5), Jacob Shoemaker (55), Bronson Bauman (37) and the rest of the pack.

The second Twins heat, with Henry Wiles (17) leading Jeffrey Carver Jr. (23), Jared Mees (9), Brad Baker (6), Jake Johnson (5), Jacob Shoemaker (55), Bronson Bauman (37) and the rest of the pack.

As they lined for the second and final Twins heat race, Rob Pearson’s bike had a gas leak, so they had to take care of that while they sent the other riders around for one more practice lap.

At the start, Sammy Halbert came off the line in first, putting the Yamaha out front for the first few laps, and he was looking strong, ahead of Briar Bauman, but Bauman then got by Halbert, and then Halbert began to drop back, as his footpeg was getting loose; eventually it would go away. Nevertheless, Halbert continued on the grueling TT track and finished in seventh position without a right footpeg. He would have to make his way into the main by the last-chance qualifier. Briar Bauman held on for the win, ahead of Indian’s Bryan Smith.

Halbert would have to go his backup bike for the LCQ, as the footpeg was beyond repair.

Jared Mees (9) at speed in Peoria.

Jared Mees (9) at speed in Peoria.

The last-chance qualifier was won by Brad Baker, ahead of Jeffrey Carver and J.R. Addison. Halbert struggled to a fifth-place finish, but that was good enough to put him the main. Harley Davidson’s Kenny “King of Cool” Coolbeth would be in the final spot for the main.

The Singles main had Carlile and Janisch exchanging the lead for the first few laps before Janisch took the lead for good and then held off Carlile for the win. Ben Lowe finished in third.

Ben Lowe (20) would end up finishing third in the Singles main.

Ben Lowe (20) would end up finishing third in the Singles main.

There was lots of close racing in this 15-lap contest, as these young riders were giving it their all to make the podium at Peoria. Their elder, at age 29 (and soon to be 30) took the win – his second at the Peoria TT.

Singles winner Jesse Janisch (132).

Singles winner Jesse Janisch (132).

After his heat win, Janisch had said that he felt good and that the bike was awesome and that he was wishing “The Man in the Van with a Plan” was not out road racing, as he might have something for him this year. (Hayden Gillim won on his Suzuki, operating out of his van, last year.) But this year, it was a well-deserved win for Janisch, as he looked smooth on the new track all afternoon.

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Obviously, Wiles’ winning at Peoria 12 years in a row made him the man to beat. Mees can always keep him honest, but he has not been able to get to the top of the podium against Wiles. If Wiles were to win this year, it would tie him for the most wins at Peoria with Chris Carr’s 13 wins. As long as that Kawasaki’s still running at the end, he would be almost impossible to beat. In Sturgis the week before, when Wiles was leading the main, the Kawi bottomed out after the jump, causing an oil leak to end his night in South Dakota. You could tell that Henry was cautious on his jumps, but he was still flying well in Illinois.

The start saw Wiles in the lead, with Mees really close. Jake Johnson got a good start, as did Jeffrey Carver, passing on the outside of turn two heading for the jump. Briar Bauman made some passes, moving up toward the front.

Wiles and Mees battled for the lead, but it didn’t look like anything would change, and Wiles held on to score his 13th straight win at Peoria, ahead of Mees and Briar Bauman. Indian took three of the top five places, with Smith and Baker in fourth and fifth, respectively.

The victory flags are flown by Kevin Clark as “Hammerin’ Hank” makes it 13 wins in a row at Peoria.

The victory flags are flown by Kevin Clark as “Hammerin’ Hank” makes it 13 wins in a row at Peoria.

On the Peoria Twins podium, it was (from left to right) runner-up Jared Mees, winner Henry Wiles, and third-place finisher Briar Bauman.

On the Peoria Twins podium, it was (from left to right) runner-up Jared Mees, winner Henry Wiles, and third-place finisher Briar Bauman.

Henry Wiles’ son gives a thumbs-up for Dad after Wiles’ victory lap.

Henry Wiles’ son gives a thumbs-up for Dad after Wiles’ victory lap.

Peoria TT
at the Peoria Motorcycle Club Race Park
Peoria, Illinois
Results: August 13, 2017 (Round 14)

AFT SINGLES: 1. Jesse Janisch (Yam); 2. Kolby Carlile (Yam); 3. Ben Lowe (Hon); 4. Kyle Johnson (Hon); 5. Cole Frederickson (Hon); 6. Dan Bromley (KTM); 7. Wyatt Anderson (KTM); 8. Jacob Lehmann (Hon); 9. Kevin Stollings (Hon); 10. Tristan Avery (Hon); 11. Jake Fell (Hon); 12. Cole Zabala (Kaw); 13. Brandon Price (Hon); 14. Dawson Schieffer (Yam); 15. Clayton Vonmoos (Yam); 16. Steven Sandoval (Hon); 17. Jay Newton (Yam); 18. Morgen Mischler (Hon).

AFT TWINS: 1. Henry Wiles (Kaw); 2. Jared Mees (Ind); 3. Briar Bauman (Kaw); 4. Bryan Smith (Ind); 5. Brad Baker (Ind); 6. Jarod Vanderkooi (Kaw); 7. Jeffrey Carver Jr. (Kaw); 8. Davis Fisher (Kaw); 9. Bronson Bauman (Kaw); 10. Chad Cose (Kaw); 11. Brandon Robinson (H-D); 12. Sammy Halbert (Yam); 13. James Monaco (Kaw); 14. J.R. Addison (Kaw); 15. Justin Jones (Kaw); 16. Kenny Coolbeth Jr. (H-D); 17. Jake Shoemaker (Kaw); 18. Jake Johnson (H-D).

[For more from this event, please see “Wiles Stays Perfect in Peoria!”… Editor]

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