Surprises at Lima AFT
This year’s Lima Half-Mile was full of surprises.Photo: Andrea Wilson

Racers hate losing. But it's safe to say that no one in the American Flat Track paddock was upset to see Briar Bauman score his first win on a twin in the Grand National Championship at the Lima Half-Mile.

2017 Lima Half-Mile podium
(Left to right) Carver, Jr., Bauman and Baker celebrate on top of the AFT Twins podium.Photo: Andrea Wilson

The Zanotti Racing Kawasaki rider looked to be on form all day, winning his Heat and Semi in convincing fashion. But still, it’s hard to bet against the usual suspects—Indian Motorcycle’s Jared Mees, Bryan Smith and Brad Baker. Both Mees and Smith have been the front runners in the Grand National Championship in recent memory and this season has been no exception. As such, Indian Motorcycle has dominated the championship until lSaturday night when Bauman wowed the crowd with an otherworldly performance.

“It means everything,” Bauman said. “This is what we’ve worked for since we were racing 50’s. Obviously, you want to win a championship, but this is definitely the first step for that. I’ve won some 450 races but it’s not a twins national. A twins national—this is top dog. This is what counts. I honestly can’t even give you words what it feels like right now.”

Jared Mees at Lima
Jared Mees was pulling double this weekend as race promoter and racer. The four-time Grand National champ took home the win and the $9400 cash prize in the George Roeder Memorial Dash for Cash, but lost valuable points in the title chase by not making the Main.Photo: Andrea Wilson

On the flip side, both Indian Motorcycle/Rogers Racing’s Mees and Indian Motorcycle Racing backed by All State’s Smith had a less than stellar night. Mees jumped the start twice in his Semi and failed to make the Main, allowing Smith to retake the championship lead. But it was also Smith’s worse finish of the season (sixth), so the pair are separated by just five points at the halfway mark in the season.

With Mees and Smith struggling, it looked like the third member of the Wrecking Crew—Smith's teammate Baker—was poised to spoil Bauman's party. Baker is quite at home on the cushion tracks, but Baker admitted that Bauman was riding like "an animal." After the restart of the AFT Twins Main, Baker had his hands full with Jeffrey Carver, Jr on the Carver's BBQ Kawasaki Ninja 650. Baker was able to best Carver to take second, his sixth podium this year.

In the AFT Singles class, it was another first timer—Goodroe Racing Honda's Parker Norris. The Michigan native has quickly risen to the scene with back-to-back podiums, but this time at Lima, it was the top step. Joining Norris on the podium was Ben Evans Honda's Kevin Stollings and another Parkinson Brothers Racing Honda's Kyle Johnson.

Bryan Smith at Lima
Bryan Smith (1) also had his worst result this season, finishing sixth. But Mees’ (9) error allowed Smith to retake the championship lead.Photo: Andrea Wilson
Kolby Carlile at Lima
Kolby Carlile looked to be the man to beat in the AFT Singles class until his pipe came off in his Semi, taking the “Flying Tomato” out of the Main.Photo: Andrea Wilson
Shayna Texter at Lima
Carlile’s misfortune gave Shayna Texter (pictured) a little more breathing room in the championship – 22 points clear of Brandon Price and 24 of Carlile.Photo: Andrea Wilson
Allen County AFT fans
The Allen County Fairgrounds is ripe with flat track tradition, including fans lining the fence of the track to catch the action and get pelted by pea gravel.Photo: Andrea Wilson
Keeny Coolbeth Jr at Lima
Riders catch a fair bit of that pea gravel as well… Even veteran Kenny Coolbeth, Jr.Photo: Andrea Wilson
Brad the Bullet Baker at Lima
Brad Baker loves a cushion track and many thought it would be his night.Photo: Andrea Wilson
Davis Fisher at Lima
Davis Fisher had another top night, the 2015 GNC2 Champion scoring his best finish in fourth.Photo: Andrea Wilson
Jeffrey Carver, Jr. at Lima
Jeffrey Carver, Jr. kicks back while waiting for the restart of the Semi.Photo: Andrea Wilson
Parker Norris at Lima Half Mile
Parker Norris’ rise in the last three rounds finally hit pay dirt with his first national win in the AFT Singles class.Photo: Andrea Wilson
Briar Bauman wins Lima Half-Mile
It was an emotional win for Briar Bauman, his first Twin win in the Grand National Championship and a dominant one at that.Photo: Andrea Wilson