2021 Potential Milestones
Progressive American Flat Track’s long and storied history as the “guardian of the Grand National Championship” is one of its greatest strengths. And that’s a history that continues to be actively written and rewritten.
A number of milestones within reach as early as this upcoming season. Here’s a look at some of those:
- Reigning Grand National Champion Briar Bauman is poised to become just the sixth rider to win three consecutive GNCs dating back to its formal origins in 1954.
- Jared Mees already ranks third in premier-class victories at 53. Chris Carr’s 78 puts second place quite a ways off yet, while Scott Parker’s all-time mark of 94 seems all but untouchable. However, Mees could potentially pass Parker’s record for most Half-Mile wins as early as 2021. Mees trails by five (35 to 30) with seven HMs on the slate.
- Bauman’s seven HM wins may seem relatively sparse by comparison, but it still puts him in position to etch out a place in the record books. He won four Half-Miles last season en route to his successful title defense. Should he repeat that number again this season, he’ll pass Ricky Graham and move into the all-time HM top ten.
- Bryan Smith is currently tied with Bubba Shobert for third all-time in Mile wins at 25. While Smith hasn’t won a race since the 2018 season, he’s shown evidence of that trademark Mile speed in each of the last two seasons, indicating he very well could have multiple Mile wins left in him. That’s particularly the case when one takes into consideration the prospect of an Indian powered-Crosley/Howerton Motorsports machine underneath him in ‘21. Carr isn’t too distant in second at 29, although Parker certainly feels unassailable at 55.
- Meanwhile, Mees has been charging up the Mile wins list himself in recent seasons; he’s now sixth all-time with 17. He’d have to rip off six out of seven Mile wins this year to move into a tie with Graham for fifth. That sounds like an nearly impossible task until you remember that Mees went six-for-six at Mile in 2019.
- Mees and Brandon Robinson split last year’s four Short Track Mains two to two, and, as a result, are tied at four apiece for their respective careers. That number is actually historically significant due to the relative rarity of ST stops, putting them as two parts of an eight-way tie for sixth all-time. Two more and either rider would pass Kenny Roberts and Steve Eklund and take sole possession of fourth all-time. However, the best that either could do this season is a tie for that position with just one ST on the schedule.
- JD Beach earned his first and second career premier-class victories in 2019, both coming at TTs. With TTs returning to the schedule in 2021, it’s not difficult to imagine Beach and Estenson Yamaha returning to the top of the podium following a sometimes trying 2020 campaign. If he were to sweep this year’s TT and replicate his double-win season of ‘19, he’d jump all the way up to a tie for 12th at four.
- Despite going winless a year ago, Shayna Texter-Bauman remains far-and-away the winningest rider in AFT Singles history. Her 17 career class wins nearly doubles up the three-way tie holding down second at nine wins apiece. However, it’s important to note that one
of those riders sitting at nine is defending class champion Dallas Daniels. If Daniels were to somehow match his eight-win season of a year ago -- and Texter-Bauman were to again go without a victory -- Daniels would join her atop the all-time order already in 2021.
- The AFT Production Twins presented by Vance & Hines class is still very young with just two seasons (plus a pair of races in 2018) to make up its short history. It only makes sense that 2019 class champ Cory Texter and 2020 class champ James Rispoli are tied for the all-time lead with seven wins apiece. Texter is a strong favorite to claim sole possession of that mark in the not-too-distant future as he looks to reclaim his crown and Rispoli off to Mission SuperTwins duty. Title contender Ryan Varnes is third with four wins to his name.