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The InSlide Line: Week 42

By Tyler Porter

Hello, and welcome to the InSlide Line Presented by Boughner Racing Suspension and Pro Plates. With a dominating victory from the man who needed to end the 2014 season on a high note more than anyone, we call our coverage of the 2014 season finished. What a year we have had too! From Kenny Coolbeth joining the Zanotti Racing squad and reeling off victories when many thought he was done to the Harley's losing their restrictors and giving every Kawasaki on Earth a run for their money, we had one heck of a ride! Let's talk about Pomona and our season. Let's get to work.

Pomona was awesome. We had title fights in both classes and oddly enough, the person trailing in the championship won both main events but narrowly missed scoring enough points to take the title from the incoming points leader. This meant that a lot of us were doing math in our heads as the checkers fell which as you can imagine, mentally exhausted the simpletons such as myself. The rumor was buzzing that this was the last Pomona that we would have, but that has been said before. That being said, I dove in and made my way west to try out the track for myself. Now, I'm not much of a big track rider but holy cow was that place fun! Pomona is bigger than a half-mile, some say 5/8's others say 3/4's. Either way, it's made of very long straight aways and tight corners with loose dirt in all the right spots. In practice the place was dry and honestly the lack of vision especially into turn 3 was pretty horrible. I'd say it was a bit unsafe, but we all made it through I suppose. However, for the night show, the place was incredible.

In the Pro Singles class it was all about who would walk away with the title. Kyle Johnson had a firm grip on the points all season long until he crashed in Calistoga and his points lead was whittled down to just 6 points when Davis Fisher took the win in wine country. Going into this race it was truly anybody's game, as both racers have shown strength on the loose half-mile tracks. However, Davis Fisher wouldn't be denied. Davis was your fast qualifier, fast heat race winner and then the main event winner. The kid was just on a rail around the place. However, by winning, he needed Kyle to finish worse than third and that didn't happen. Kyle won heat race number 2 and went on to finish 2nd in the main event, winning the title by just 3 points. The title remained close, both racers gave it everything they had all year long, I mean, honestly, what more can you ask for? Kyle wins this title in only his 2nd year as a pro and I can say one thing for Davis, we have a star in the making I believe. I was talking to Scott Baker before the main and he said, "How do you think I feel about Davis? I have to deal with him whooping on us at home all the time and he's been doing it since he was 14!"

Other stand outs in the Pro Singles class are of course Jarod Vanderkooi who finished 3rd in the race and had an awesome rookie season. Ryan Foster was impressive in his home state. The part time racer pulled off a 5th place finish at the checkers. Jeffery Lowery came home 6th which is nothing to be upset about but I know the Horizon Award winner has more in the tank. Hopefully 2015 will be better for him, because I believe Jeffery has a lot of potential. The gritty ride of the night went to James Monaco, or Jimmy Speed as we call him. James went down hard in his heat race and was nursing his shoulder but he went ahead and rode the main where he was an impressive 10th. Trust me, this track was not pool table smooth! I feel like my picks were sort of solid this week. Sure, I picked JR Addison for the win and he was 12th, but I did have Davis Fisher, Kyle Johnson and Jarod Vanderkooi next and they were 1st, 2nd and 3rd. I had Bronson Bauman 5th, but he had a DNF in the main after taking the Last Chance Qualifier win. The Pro Singles class is just so cut throat. People who think they can just jump right in and find their place are typically in for a rude awaking. These kids don't mess around! The level of competition keeps being raised and for the next several years, we have some excellent talent to transfer into the Expert ranks. How many times do I have to say that it's a great time to be a dirt track fan?

While the Pro Singles class provided us with a lot of entertainment, most of the fans at home and in the stands were there to see what would happen in the Expert class. The championship was coming down to the last round, but after Bryan Smith's smoke show in Calistoga where he left with no points, it was honestly Jared Mees' championship to lose. Bryan Smith wasn't going to go quietly into the night and what he did in Pomona was dominate. Sammy Halbert got things started off by being your fast qualifier but by the time the heat races came around, it was Bryan time. Bryan won heat number 1 by over 3 seconds and things were just getting started. Also in heat number 1, Cody Johncox, finished 3rd, making it his first main event as an Expert rider (he made a main using a pro singles provisional last year, which doesn't count towards a national number) so he will be dropping the "B" for next year. Cody is one of the most likeable riders in the pits and a fierce competitor on the track, so be watching for him next season! In heat 2 Brad Baker took the win over Henry Wiles who was aboard the Zanotti Harley Davidson. I asked Henry why he switched after riding the Don's Kawasaki all season long and he simply said, "I got the opportunity to ride it." I wasn't very impressed with the answer. I believe as a sport we need to act professional and jumping around from bike to bike when you are a top level rider and have a "team" already doesn't look good for any of us. Dance with the girl your brought you know? The off season is for trying new things. Anyway, back to topic: Heat race 2 also was the gateway to the main for Mikey Rush who was aboard the Ronnie Brown tuned Suzuki and for Jeffery Carver who had to hop on a back up bike after his race bike went south in qualifying. It looked like a stressful day for Jeffery Carver, but he just kept on going!

In heat number 3 it was Jake Johnson taking the win. Jake fought tooth and nail with Jared Mees during the whole heat, but got the win by less than two tenths of a second. With Jared finishing 2nd, that put him in the Dash For Cash, so it was impossible for Bryan to make up major points on him there. Rob Pearson looked strong on the Waters Autobody KTM 990 even after having to hop on the back up bike when the primary bike started pressurizing the crankcases and pushing oil out during qualifying. Rob can ride anything I think and it was good to see the KTM crew up front. Briar Bauman still has a hand on the mend, but he put the Werner/Springsteen Kawasaki into the main through the heat race which was very impressive to me. In the first semi, Scott Baker took the popular win with Dougie Lawrence finishing 2nd and Mikey Martin taking the last spot to the main with a 3rd. In semi number 2 it was my boy Kayl Kolkman taking the win, doing it all for Roy's Taco House. The Saddlemen Rookie Of The Year winner Wyatt Maguire finished 2nd and Dustin Crow put his Harley in the main event by finishing 3rd in the semi. Dustin had a goal of finishing in the top 20 in points while running his limited schedule and he was able to make that happen. Jake Shoemaker was one spot out of the main event, but used his provisional to get into the main event.

In the main event, what can I say other than it was the Bryan Smith show? Bryan got out front early and while he didn't check out and run away, he kept a nearly 2 second gap on the field the whole race. While Bryan started out strong, the main event didn't go well for Brandon Robinson who had a bike problem on the line and coasted to a stop in turn one, watching the entire main event from the wrong side of the guard rail. Brandon has had a tough season, from racing injured to a mid season team switch, I'm sure he is as ready for 2015 as anybody. While Bryan was out setting sail, who was going to finish 2nd was anybody's guess. In the opening laps it was Jared Mees and Brad Baker fighting for the spot. At right around the 5th lap, the Jake Johnson train started gaining steam. Jake pushed Henry Wiles back to the 5th spot and started working his way forward. By lap 9 Jake had pushed Jared back a position and took over 3rd. While Brad was still maintaining his lead, Jake was coming for him. Jake had elected to switch from the Lloyd Brothers Motorsports Kawasaki that he rode early in the day for their Harley for the last qualifying session and the races saying that he was just more comfortable on the Harley. After several laps of dicing, Jake finally got into the 2nd spot on lap 14. Once there he couldn't do much to shrink the gap that Bryan Smith had, but you can't take away anything from Jake Johnson, he had one heck of a ride. At this point, Jake doesn't have a ride next year and he even mentioned to me that he may not race unless something good comes up for him. It sure would be sad to see Jake hang it up, but with the lack of a lot of REALLY good rides in our sport, it could be a possibility. So much credit goes to Bryan Smith. Sure, he sort of had the title ripped from his hands after such an impressive season, but he put his mark on the season finale with an amazing ride. It looked like he never put a wheel wrong all night. I sure hope Bryan is able to make another run for the title next year because I sure would like to see him win one!

With his solid 4th place finish, Jared Mees is your 2014 AMA Pro Racing GNC Champion and who would have guessed that before Calistoga? Jared did things the right way, scoring 2 wins this year and being very solid week in and week out. He won the title by just 3 points, so it really did come down to the wire. I don't have any idea what Jared is doing for next year, but I would say it is most likely that his deal will remain similar, Rogers Racing Harley Davidson with support from Screaming Eagle and Las Vegas and Blue Springs Harley Davidson. Jared has always been great at sort of assembling his own crew, and I would say this is a crew that will stick together for a few seasons.

While Jared won the championship, his wife Nichole Mees didn't have the day she planned on. The world's fastest elementary school teacher had a rough go in qualifying when she got her foot caught in a hole and injured her ankle. Nichole left the track to have things checked out and returned to watch her husband's championship unfold on crutches with a cast. Get well soon Nichole!

Though the Grand National series is done for the year, there is still some local racing going on. Check out the races at the tracks below

Parkesburg, PA TT
Indianapolis, IN Short Track
Chowchilla, CA Short Track
Lodi, CA TT

Next weekend check out these races.

Indianapolis, IN Short Track (Halloween Race, RACE IN COSTUME!)
Perris, CA Short Track
Lodi, CA TT (Rough Scrambles)

The best thing to come out of our sport other than racing action was the good news from Jethro Halbert. From the report we got on Facebook, Jethro's doctors are happy with his latest CT scan and his swelling is going down. Jethro was moved to a rehab facility where they are going to start therapy. While Jethro isn't "awake" yet, he is alert and responsive and they say that is the next step in the healing process. It's not the end of the road of course though, so keep supporting Jethro and the Halbert family as much as you can because this is going to be a tough climb back to the top. Fight on Jethro!

We really had a great year in our sport. Sure, maybe your favorite rider didn't win the title or maybe didn't score a win, but for our sport as a whole, I see it as a pretty good deal. The FansChoice.TV coverage was excellent and I feel like we reached a lot more people than we have before. I know a lot of the people I work around in the industry have been following our sport closer than ever because of the internet coverage. People like Bubba Blackwell who is becoming a familiar face on several TV shows for his XR750 jumping skills are talking about us on their social media feeds, people like Roland Sands who has an enormous following in the motorcycle world is doing promos for our sport and building a lot of flattrack themed bikes to keep our sport relevant. These are all good things, things that we can certainly build on. AMA Pro Racing has done a very good job of tracking our fans and I'm sure they will provide this information to anyone who is trying to put together a media kit. You know, a media kit, the thing that EVERY PROFESSIONAL rider should be sending to their sponsors instead of the picture of them sliding sideways with words telling people of their accomplishments from their mini bike days. So far, on alone there is over 115,000 hours of coverage. Now, I have a feeling that is NOT just dirt track, I don't think that would even be possible, but that is an impressive number nonetheless. has had over 300,000 unique visitors and over 650,000 views as of about 6 weeks ago which is what this report is based on. These numbers are even higher now. Over 3 MILLION Youtube views on AMA Pro Racing's Youtube channel, we are getting seen by more people than ever. Our key group of supporters are between the ages of 18-44, the ages most likely to purchase the products that we advertise. These are encouraging numbers and things we need to be pushing as we go out and reach for help in the 2015 season.

How long has it been since you checked the steering stem nut on your bike? You know, the big one that is probably between 27 and 32mm? Well the folks at Works Connection have new steering stem nuts anodized in your favorite colors. Is there a performance advantage? No. However, they are pre-drilled for Safety wire if you think safety wire done right looks as cool as I do. While their isn't a performance advantage, you have to admit that they look cool, and I think we all know that looking cool is about 80% of the battle. There is a price to be cool though and that price is $29.95, though you can save about $6 on this by using the code FFDT when you check out. Pick from Red, Blue, Green, Orange or Black and stand out a little bit from everybody else at the track.

Next year is going to be quite interesting. Will Jake Johnson hang it up? Who is this OEM who is looking for a new rider? Will the KTM continue to improve and become a race winning threat? Who will move up from the Pro Singles class? How many teams will run the new Yamaha motor? We have one heck of an interesting off season ahead of us and with the media presence that is taking over in our sport, I think we may see a lot of room to grow. It's the off season now, time to prepare for next year. I hope that all of you are working on your program already. Now is the time to be securing sponsors. Now is the time to be putting your own media package together. Most importantly, now is the time to freshen up those race bikes! We will be keeping you up to date on things as soon as we get some info, but I can tell you right now, we are going to see several riders in different colors for the 2015 season. It's going to be a good one!

With that, we wrap up the column for the week. It's been a great year. I'm down here in Daytona Beach Florida right now working Biketoberfest and a lot of people from the industry who attended the race in Pomona are still talking about it. They just love the racing action that we provide! If we can put a good foot forward, show them how professional we can be, how much product we can sell for them, I could see a lot more sponsorships opening up. That's a good sign. The rumor is that Pomona is going away for the 2015 season, but hopefully AMA Pro Racing will figure something out for a Southern California venue because it is nice seeing so many important people in the industry coming out to see us work. Thanks for hanging in there with us all season long and make sure you come back next week and we have a very special column in store for you. Have a great weekend!

Best Of's

Best New Racing Leathers: Stevie Bonsey

Best Steel Shoe Inventory: Gary Kinzler/Light Shoe

Funniest Championship Trophy: AMA Pro Racing/Jared Mees