Jared Mees secures American Flat Track championship, Davis Fisher wins finale

Mees American Flat Track
American Flat Track

Jared Mees finished second in the American Flat Track (AFT) Mission SuperTwins season finale on the Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway and secured his sixth championship in dramatic fashion. Mees has now been victorious at the top level in 2012, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018 and now 2021, but he needed to hold off a determined charge by the two-time defending champ (2019, 2020) Briar Bauman in the final race.

Entering the American Flat Track season finale, it seemed the most likely path to winning the championship would be by winning the race.

At the start of the race, Bauman was doing his part to make the race a dramatic finale that fell his way.

Bauman emerged from a fierce battle with Mees in the opening laps, but after setting the race’s fastest lap, he hit a wet patch halfway through the 10-minute plus two lap event. That caused his bike to stand up. He managed to keep from high-siding initially, but the maneuver took him wide into a hay bale, where he was pitched over the handlebars.

A stunned Bauman walked away from the crash, but his title hopes were over.

Seemingly on his way to a podium finish, Sammy Halbert ran over the bike and was launched into the air. Halbert was transported to a local hospital for evaluation.

With Mees in the lead and guaranteed to finish ahead of Bauman, the title was decided, but there was still a race to finish.

JD Beach hounded Mees, but their battle allowed Davis Fisher and Jarod Vanderkooi to join the fray and turn it into a four-rider scrum.

In the final turn of the season, Fisher slipped under the leaders and beat Mees to the checkers by 0.114 seconds to claim his first win in the class.

“Oh man, it was a fight,” Fisher said in a release. “All season long was a grind, just to stay fit and keep working on the bikes all week long. It feels so good. I even had thoughts to not even come to Charlotte this year. We loaded up the van and left the trailer at home and made the trip. This morning my sponsor said he was glad we came and asked me if I was glad too. I said, ‘I don’t know – I’ll tell you tonight!’ It feels so good. I’ve got 41 hours to think about it on the way home.”

Mees’ second-place finish was more than enough to secure the championship, while Beach rounded out the podium.

“I hand it to Briar,” Mees said afterward. “He’s definitely one of the toughest competitors – if not the toughest competitor – I’ve ever dealt with.

“The famous saying is ‘you win ‘em any way you can’. I don’t know, the hype isn’t there at this very second, but to win these things you have to cross the finish line. Man, he made me step up my game these past few years. There’s no doubt about that. He’s one tough competitor.

“We had a little ‘bro-out’ moment (after the race), and I told him, ‘Hey, you’re gonna heal up and the battle will resume next year.’ ”

NEOM McLaren Formula E announces Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast for 2023 season

McLaren Formula E Hughes
McLaren Racing

Doubling down on their commitment to electric auto sports, McLaren Racing announced Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast to compete in the 2023 Formula E Series (FE), which completes their driver lineup.

The NEOM McLaren FE team was formed by the acquisition of the Mercedes-EQ Formula E team that won the 2021 and 2022 championships with Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries behind the wheel.

“Today’s announcement feels like a long time coming,” said Ian James, managing director of NEOM McLaren Electric Racing in a release. “Since May this year, when we first announced McLaren Racing’s entry into Formula E, we have been working tirelessly to get in place the best possible team and structure for sustainable success.

“On the one hand, we have been working on the retention of the amazing talent that already was in place before going into the transitional phase. I’m proud to say I think we’ve done a great job on that front.

“On the other hand, we have been focusing on putting in place new processes and new talent – and the latter includes the drivers.”

The driver lineup clasps the two hands together.

Hughes brings 10 years racing experience in single seater cars, including a role with the acquired Mercedes-EQ team as a reserve and development driver for the past two seasons. He is the 2013 BRDC Formula 4 champion and has multiple wins in Formula 2, including two in 2020.

Announced in August, Rast joins the team after earning two podium finishes and six top-fives in 22 career Formula E starts for Audi Sport ABT before returning to the DTM Series last year. Rast’s best finish in Formula E came in the Puebla E Prix when he finished second to teammate Lucas di Grassi by less than a half second.

McLaren’s commitment to Formula E comes one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour in the driver lineup. After a modest start to the season, the McLaren XE drivers crossed the finish line first in Round 4 in Chile, but were assessed a time penalty that dropped them to fifth. Last week in the season finale in Uruguay, they held onto a hard-earned second place finish.