Jared Mees crowned AMA Grand National Champion; Dallas Daniels goes back-to-back as AFT Singles Champ; Cory Texter takes second Production Twins title
October 11, 2021
By Joy Burgess
Photos: Kristen Lassen and Scott Hunter
American Flat Track’s season finale finally took place on Sat., Oct. 9 after being delayed a day due to heavy rain in the Charlotte, NC area, with two titles on the line (AFT SuperTwins and AFT Singles) at Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Dirt Track and a third (AFT Production Twins) already decided. And after some of the most dramatic racing seen in a long time, it was Indian factory pilot Jared Mees taking the AFT SuperTwins crown (his sixth), and Estenson Racing Yamaha’s Dallas Daniels scoring the AFT Singles title — his second in a row, a feat that had never been equaled in professional Singles competition.
Mees came into the race just four points ahead of Indian teammate — and 2020 AMA Grand National Champ — Briar Bauman. After an early dogfight with Mees, Bauman grabbed the lead, the two playing cat-and-mouse for several minutes, with Bauman managing to pull ahead despite riding on what looked like the ragged edge. Three quarters of the way through the Main, that ragged edge bit Bauman badly, a slick section causing him to lose control, clip a hay bale by the outside wall and get slammed to the ground.
Unfortunately, Bauman’s Indian ricocheted off the wall and flipped into the path of Coolbeth-Nila Racing’s Sammy Halbert, who centerpunched it at what looked like 80-mph plus and got catapulted high into the air. In a crash reminiscent of the one that sidelined Stevie Bonsey in the 2018 Texas Half-Mile, Halbert crashed into the ground was badly hurt, reportedly breaking multiple bones and lacerating his face. The race was immediately red-flagged, and Halbert was soon on his way to a local trauma center.
Since Bauman’s crash was the catalyst for the incident he had to start at the back of the pack on the restart aboard his backup Indian FTR750, but his crash had taken a physical toll and he pulled off after a couple of laps. Although Mees did not win the race — it was won by BMC Racing/Dick Wall 60’s Davis Fisher, his first-ever Grand National Twins victory — he finished second, scoring enough points over Bauman to claim 2021 AMA Grand National Championship.
According to American Flat Track, Mees boasts the 2012, ’14, ’15, ’17, ’18 and ’21 Grand National Championships, as well as the 2009 and 2011 GNC1 Twins Championship and the 2012 GNC1 Singles Championship.
“I hand it to Briar,” Mees said on the podium. “He’s definitely one of the toughest competitors — if not the toughest competitor — I’ve ever dealt with … Man, he made me step up my game these past few years — there’s no doubt about that. He’s one tough competitor. We had a little ‘bro-out’ moment back there, and I told him, ‘Hey, you’re gonna heal up and the battle will resume next year.’”
Mees’ Championship was also significant for his tuner and AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Class of 2021 inductee Kenny Tolbert. Tolbert’s tuning skills have now taken flat trackers AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer Chris Carr and Mees to a total of 12 AMA Grand National Championships.
In the AFT Singles Class, Estenson Racing Yamaha’s Dallas Daniels came into the event 20 points ahead of Red Bull KTM’s Max Whale. All Daniels needed to do was finish at least 13th to claim the title, something that seemed pretty basic going into the race…that is, until the racing actually started.
It was Whale and Latus Motors’ rookie Kody Kopp battling it out up front, while Daniels cautiously found himself in 12th place at one point. A red-flagged race led to a staggered restart, leaving Daniels to navigate his way through the pack, finally climbing to sixth place at the finish. While Whale made it to the lead to claim his fifth win of the year, it still wasn’t enough to beat Daniels.
Daniels is the first racer to win back-to-back championships in the AFT Singles Class, which left him emotional as he was presented with the AMA No. 1 plate by the AMA’s Racing Program Development Manager Joe Bromley.
“This championship has been tough,” Daniels said as he visibly fought back tears. “A lot of ups and downs this season. I can’t thank my team enough. It’s been a hard season and these guys stuck behind me. To make history like this is awesome. It was tough tonight because the track was treacherous. It just means the world to me.”
While the finale’s Production Twins race held plenty of drama, the Championship had already been decided. G&G Racing/Yamaha’s Cory Texter raced his way to a deciding victory at the Sacramento Mile I, winning the race and claiming the 2021 Production Twins Championship.
After a dominant season that included seven wins and four additional podiums, it was no surprise that Texter took the Championship, reclaiming the title after coming in second to Latus Motors’ James Rispoli in 2020.
“This class is super talented this year,” Texter said from the podium at the Sacramento Mile. “It was hard work versus talent. I have a lot of respect for the guys I race against, and this [championship] was earned. The grind it took this season… The injuries I had to work through this summer, and the training, and the studying notes, and losing it last year and coming back this year, and working for it and winning it. It all means so much to me.
“You don’t have to be the most talented guy out there,” Texter added. “You can work super hard and achieve your goals.”
The AMA congratulates Jared Mees, Dallas Daniels and Cory Texter on their 2021 Championships.