Wiles’ Night, Mees’ Year!

Paul Carruthers | October 24, 2009

It was a night of firsts at the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds in Pomona, California, with Henry Wiles earning the first AMA Grand National Twins win of his career while Jared Mees came away with his first AMA Grand National Twins Championship, ending Kenny Coolberth’s three-year run as the series champion.

Wiles was smooth and fast all night on the rough and tumble Fairplex half mile and in the main event he put the K&K Motorcycle Supply-backed Harley into the lead off the start where he battled for the first five laps with Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson’s Bryan Smith, the Michiganite and Coolbeth the only riders with a legitimate shot at taking the title from Mees. The race came to a premature stop on the fourth lap when Steve Bonsey crashed in turn three and Sammy Halbert couldn’t avoid the fallen Harley.

After the red flag (Halbert restarted, Bonsey didn’t), it was Wiles again leading the way but he was soon gobbled up by Smith. Smith’s run at the front leasted until the 10th of 25 laps when he coasted to a stop on the outside of turn one with a mechanical failure. That left Wiles out front with Coolbeth keeping him honest but never seriously challenging with Wiles ending up 2.9 seconds ahead at the finish.

Halbert bounced back from his get-off to finish third, the Washington resident riding hard to come from as far back as 10th after the restart. Joe Kopp also put on a charge, the Latus Harley-Davidson rider coming from ninth to fourth after the red flag.

A somewhat nervous Mees ended up in fifth place – after having to transfer from the second semi – and that’s all it took for him to come away with his first AMA Pro Grand National Twins Championship. The 23-year-old from Clio, Michgan, ended up nine points clear of Coolbeth, 142-133, after nine rounds of twins racing. Mees was hoping to come away from Pomona with his first win of the season in addition to the title, but in the end the title was the most important thing and he did emerge with that – despite not winning a twins race in 2009. Mees became the first rider in Grand National Championship history to gain the title without winning a race.

Halbert ended up third in the series standings with 125 points, but ended up the “Grand National Champion” if you combine the twins and singles points from the now-completed season. Smith ended up fourth in the points with 119 – just two points clear of Kopp after earning eight points after being credited with 16th place in the National.

Matt Weidman, Jake Johnson, JR Schnabel, Chris Carr and Dan Gedeon rounded out the top 10 in the tonight’s National, held before a large crowd in the return of Grand National Championship flat track racing to Southern California.

The race was held in conjunction with Gene Romero’s West Coast Flat Track Series and the K&N Open class in that was also won by Wiles – just moments after he was finished celebrating his win in the National.

The AMA Pro Singles Championship race was won by Jeffrey Carver over series champion Brad Baker. It was Carver’s first win of the season.

Twins Final

1. Henry Wiles (HD)

2. Kenny Coolbeth (HD)

3. Sammy Halbert (HD)

4. Joe Kopp (HD)

5. Jared Mees (HD)

6. Matt Wiedman (HD)

7. Jake Johnson (HD)

8. JR Schnabel (HD)

9. Chris Carr (HD)

10. Dan Gedeon (HD)

Paul Carruthers | Editor

Paul Carruthers took over as the editor of Cycle News in 1993 after serving as associate editor since starting his career at the publication in 1985. Carruthers has covered every facet of the sport in his near-28-year tenure at America's Daily Motorcycle News Source.