Monster Energy Interview | Reigning Progressive AMA Flat Track Champion Jared Mees

Published On: 4/16/2024

This past AFT season Monster Energy’s Jared Mees (Indian Motorcycles) was victorious in the premier SuperTwins class, and tied the legendary Scotty Parker with nine AFT Grand National Championship career titles.

There’s a long-running traveling roadshow that nails many points in the States. From the Heartland it rolls through the Rust Belt and Midwest, hits hangouts in Cali & Fla., and from the Badlands down to Tejas. Since anyone can remember they’ve – bikers, bikers at heart, motorsports enthusiasts and the few crash-thirsty ghouls - have turned out to see the best of the best, the bravest, race their high-power motorcycles ‘round a hard packed dirt oval at speeds where every day auto commuters begin to feel unsafe.

American Motorcyclist Association (AMA)-backed dirt track racing, or, more specifically, the 2024 Progressive AMA Flat Track series (AFT) as it’s now called, is said to be the oldest, longest/consistent running form of motorcycle competition in the States. It’s following is unbelievable loyal, with events’ parking lots often turning into impromptu swap meets featuring old rusty Harley and Indian parts. V-twin City.

Amongst all the dust, T-shirts from race’s past, denim, leather and throaty pitch exhaust notes, one racer stands out amongst the rest. He’s kind of like the Last of the Samuri’s in the sport of dirt track, chasing – and having already caught – an all-time championship wins record that very well might not be caught again.

This past AFT season Monster Energy’s Jared Mees (Indian Motorcycles) was victorious in the premier SuperTwins class, and tied the legendary Scotty Parker with nine AFT Grand National Championship career titles.

At he sets sail this year from championship No. 10, Mees, 38, actually began his run at the Grand National Championship way, way back in 2003. The following season he won the AMA’s Rookie of the Year in the sport in ’04, snaring 1st placing in his first Grand National race (Lima, Ohio) in ’05 and scoring his first Grand National Championship overall season title in ’09. Mees would quickly establishing himself as a Half-Mile expert and continuing to win for the Harley-Davidson marque through 2016.

The following season, 2017, Mees would switch to the equally legendary American brand, Indian Motorcycles, and began a tear that’d see him win an unbelievable 52 races and five Grand National Championships from ’17 to this past season.

And this summer it’s an all-out attempt to win an unprecedented 10th Grand National Championship… something Mees certainly has front-of-mind, though he plays it cool when discussing.

“Yeah, I’m aware of what I could possibly do. But I try not to think of it much in advance,” said Mees. “Hopefully, I can get things into my favor, but it’s a long season. And anything can happen.”

All great fighters have a brilliant cornerman. Ali had Angelo Dundee. Tyson had Cus D’Amato. Tommy Hearns had Emanuel Stewart. And Mees has Kenny Tolbert.

Arguably the greatest tuner in the history of the sport, Tolbert, an AMA Hall of Famer in his own right, broke the all-time wins record for tuners and will continue to add to his more than 100 victories this summer with Mees. Part of seven of Mees’ nine Grand National Championships, Tolbert and Mees team to be nearly unbeatable in AFT – especially since Mees switched to Indian Motorcycles.

“Kenny’s just really good at communicating with me,” notes Mees. “He knows the right setups, which gets the right power to the ground. And that’s tough to do – and do consistently. It’s not always about max horsepower every time, everywhere.”

Part of the Monster Energy Army since 2015, Mees, as you’d imagine, packs a great deal of toughness into his 5’-5” frame. A wrestler as a kid, he’s maintained a grinder training regiment though the years, which has only become more concentrated now that he’s looking 40 straight in the eye.

“Looking back, when I first started out – the very first season – you really don’t know what to do (in terms of training),” explained Mees. “But now I approach every kind of race (Mile, Half-Mile, TT) the same way. Good, bad or ugly.

“With my training, it’s been pretty consistent over the years. I would say that, the older I get, the more focus I have to put into recovery. I listen to my body more, as you can do more damage that good sometimes. But other than that, my training is pretty much the same as it’s always been.”

And if Mees’ training and race schedule wasn’t enough, over the past several years he’s tacked on another interesting duty – race producer and promoter – for the Lima and Springfield (Ill.) rounds.

“In the beginning it was a little tough to juggle both (racer and promoter), but I’ve got such a good crew now that it’s made it a lot easier,” said Mees, who’s produced and promoted the Lima AFT round since 2016 and Springfield since 2021. “The week of does tend to be pretty tough. You’re there (at the track) all week long, working pretty hard. Lots of hours. But I got used to it, honestly.”

And “used to it” is a bit of an understatement as he’s won Lima (twice) and Springfield (once) while also producing and promoting the event. Not many racers can attest to that.

Besides Lima and Springfield, when asked of his favorite events on the AFT calendar, Mees pointed to Black Hills, S.D., and the big motorcycle rally that runs alongside the Black Hills Half-Mile.

‘You hang much with the Harley guys at the rally,’ Mees was asked?

“A little bit,” he said. “But when I get to the track I usually keep to myself. They do their thing and I do mine.”

As this season begins to ramp up and fire into the summer stretch, beginning with the Progressive AMA Flat Track series’ first Half-Mile of the season, the Mission Texas Half-Mile set for Saturday, April 27th, at Fort Worth’s Texas Motor Speedway, Mees discussed last year’s championship run and the turning point that got him into the overall lead – and through to the season-ending ninth Grand National Championships.

“A little over halfway through last year, we started clicking off some wins and we had some good momentum,” recalled Mees. “I knew there was a couple tracks at the end of the season that we're going to be a little bit tougher on me and I felt like Dallas (Daniels, Monster Energy/Estenson/Yamaha) probably had the advantage. But we did very well at those races and actually managed to capitalize on a mishap on his part.”

One thing that Mees has been fortunate with over the years, as are all racers/athletes that set all-time win marks, is that he’s remained quite healthy in spite of the sport’s inherit danger when you throw a motorcycle sideways at nearly 100 mph – a blown out knee in 2021, surgically repaired, notwithstanding.

“And we’re all good there,” said Mees of his rebuilt knee.

“I think we’re relatively fortunate that, during my time, the sport has improved a great deal, technology and safety-wise,” added Mees. “Air bags (against the outside race wall) and other safety-related technology. Better tires. Better track preparation. So when we hit the ground I had a lot more in place for protection.”

The last AFT event before the pre-summer break, the Senoia Short Track in Senoia, Ga., was won by Mees, which moved him up to 3rd place in the overall AFT standings after three rounds, ten points back of series points leader Daniels (64-54). Considering his stance on discussing a possible record-setting 10th Grand National Championship, we felt best to leave Mees with this question: ‘If you could star in any other sports outside AFT, which sport would you pick?’

Said Mees: “It would probably be supercross. I enjoy watching and I'm a big fan. (Mees paused). MotoGP, too. That’d be a hard one not to choose as well, but the traveling would probably get to me.”

With that, the best case scenario in 2025? Monster Energy is introducing the new all-time AFT Grand National Championship winner at Monster Energy AMA Supercross’ Anaheim 1.

Up next… Progressive AMA Flat Track wicks back up on Saturday, April 27th, with the annual running of the Mission Texas Half-Mile at Fort Worth’s Texas Motor Speedway. 

In This Article