Photography by Larry Lawrence
Bryan Smith figured his newly-built Villa-Esparza/Crosley Radio Kawasaki would be the bike to beat in spite of going up against unrestricted Harley-Davidson XR750s. He was right, but just barely. Smith outraced Harley mounted Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. and Jared Mees by maybe a wheel-and-a-half in a duel that went all the way to starter Kevin Clark’s checkered flag.
In a race that was stopped multiple times for red flags after crashes, and once for a malfunctioning starting light, it came down to a five-lap restart that saw four riders breakaway in the closing laps.
In the end it was Smith holding a tight lines through the turns on the last lap and then was just able to hold off the drafting Coolbeth and Mees at the line. Jake Johnson was a close fourth on a Ducati. Brad Baker, still recovering from a badly broken arm, rounded out the top five in his debut with the factory Harley-Davidson team.
Smith talked about his win.
“I was just trying to keep my lines tight on that last lap to keep anyone from coming underneath me,” said Smith. “I saw Kenny (Coolbeth) coming up, but I was able to gas it up and hold him off.
“I couldn’t ask for a better day,” said Smith following his victory. “It’s been one heck of an effort by my team getting this motorcycle ready for this race and I can’t thank them enough. There are a lot of the same features on my bike this year but it’s also very different than last year’s at the same time. I’m very excited about this win and I’m excited for what the future holds for the rest of the season.”
The race was red flagged twice for two separate crashes by Steve Bonsey and once when Mickey Martin fell. On one of the restarts the starting light failed and half the field took off, while half stood idle at the line. That brought out yet another red.
Smith controlled most of the main, leading 20 of the 25 laps. Jake Johnson led four laps on the Ramspur Winery/Lloyd Brothers Ducati Hypermotard 1100 and Coolbeth led a single lap on his Zanotti Racing Harley.
Coolbeth, who was riding with a broken thumb from a training accident, leaves Springfield in the series. lead. He’s up by two points over Johnson (53-51). Sammy Halbert, who dropped out of Springfield early with bike problems, and Brandon Robinson, who was seventh today, are now tied for third in the standings with 43 points.
Jarod Vanderkooi, 16, from Mt. Gilead, Ohio, ran away to a six-second victory in the Pro Twins final on a Johnny Vintage Motorcycle Kawasaki. It was Vanderkooi’s pro debut.
The series next will head to Knoxville, Iowa for the Knoxville Half Mile at Knoxville Raceway on June 15, 2014.
Springfield Mile Result, May 25, 2014
1 42 Bryan Smith Kawasaki EX650 25 Laps
2 2 Kenny Coolbeth, Jr…. Harley-Davidson 0.041 0
3 9 Jared Mees Harley-Davidson 0.153
4 5 Jake Johnson Ducati Hypermotard 0.709
5 1 Brad Baker Harley-Davidson 1.091
6 17 Henry Wiles Kawasaki EX650 3.144
7 44 Brandon Robinson Kawasaki EX650 3.873
8 15 Nichole Mees Harley-Davidson 4.517
9 14 Briar Bauman Kawasaki EX650 5.286
10 32 Shawn Baer KTM LC8 950 5.994