Brad Baker dominated the Ramspur Winery Santa Rosa Mile Main Event and won the race. He dominated so badly that cameras didn’t even show him cross the finish line, because he was 10.5 seconds ahead of one of the most incredible championship battles ever witnessed, coming down to a pair of last lap bobbles that had even casual race fans coming out of their seat or off their couch depending on where they were watching. That battle culminated with Bryan Smith earning his first ever Harley-Davidson GNC1 presented by Vance & Hines Championship.
The day was’t easy for Brad Baker who suffered a mechanical failure in the heat which moved him to a back up bike in the semi. Starting on the back row of the semi and a back up bike, it looked like an uphill battle for Baker to even have a chance to get to the final. But, he lined up his bike aimed at the outside line and within half a lap passed the entire field to take the lead, and went on to win the semi.
In the final, all eyes were on the championship battle. Defending Champion Jared Mees on his Harley versus Bryan Smith and his Kawasaki. A few weeks ago it looked as though Mees had a lock on the championship, as Smith had been disqualified after running second at the Central NY Half-Mile concerning a possible rule violation dealing with rotating weight on the rear wheel.. But, then last week, AMA Pro Racing released a statement reinstating Smith of his winnings and points from that event. That placed Smith in the points lead entering the finale in California.
All Smith had to do was finish ahead of Mees in the Main event and the championship was his. When the green flag dropped, Smith bolted to the front of the field, but in moments Factory Harley-Davidson rider Brad Baker rocketed around to take the lead and never looked back.
Meanwhile, the man they call “The Jammer”, Jared Mees was trying to work his way through traffic on his Rogers Racing Harley-Davidson. Dust filled eyes focused on the bright green leathers and helmet of Bryan Smith, knowing he had to get close to him for any shot of a 4th straight Grand National Championship.
Meds worked his way into third and started reeling in Smith. As the laps dwindled, Mees tried every line he could think of to pass Smith but to no avail. Meds was finally able to get to the inside and show Smith a wheel and the intensity kicked up even more at that point. They battled til the last lap with Smith never relenting, then as Brad Baker was taking the checkers, Smith and Mees entered turns three and four, Smith bobbled and went towards the fence midway through the turn, as Mees shot underneath him, but coming out of turn four with a championship in front of him, Mees then bobbled just enough so that Smith who was back on the throttle hard shot in front of him, taking his line and charged to the checkered flag for second place but a first Grand National Championship.
“If a racer ever said that he’s gave it everything on the last lap or last corner, I’d call him a liar because that was everything that I had inside me,” Smith said. “The grips were falling out of my hands, my feet were falling off of the pegs and I could not hold on, so thank God that it worked out.”
They raced close but clean, something even Smith commented on post race. For two guys that have had some serious battles and exchanged bumps and barbs at times, there was nothing but respect for each other following a tremendous race and championship battle.
It was an incredible finish to a fantastic season for AMA Pro Flat Track
In GNC2, Ryan Wells who claimed the championship back at the Central New York half-mile, scored his fifth win of the season to cap off his year.
PHOTOS: AMA Pro Flat Track