Rides, Rallies and Events Recap

Sedalia AMA Half Mile Races and Yeager's Bike Show

Written by  September 30, 2005

For nine days prior to Saturday, August 27, the weather at Sedalia was consistently rainy prompting flashbacks to last year’s rain-delayed races on the ½-mile track at the Missouri State Fairgrounds. Fortunately, race day dawned with scattered clouds that later gave way to clear skies. Many motorcycle enthusiasts stopped by Yeager's Cycle Sales to check out the bike show on their way to the track. A good crowd gathered to enjoy round twelve of the AMA Ford Quality Checked Flat Track Championship. Primary sponsors for the event were Yeager's, R.K. Stratman, and Budweiser. A field of nineteen racers in the Harley-Davidson Sportster Performance class and forty-two in the Grand National class had to deal with a treacherous race track. There were several crashes during the qualifying races resulting in injuries to Jake Johnson (broken arm), A.J. Eslick (concussion, ankle), and Chris Boone (hand, leg) prompting several delays for track maintenance.

In the Sportster class, heat races were won by Ricky Marshall, Merle Scherb, and Scott Stump. The Sportster feature race was won in a close finish by William Seyle of Hanahan, South Carolina. Seyle, sponsored by Low Country Harley-Davidson and Stokes Automotive Group, edged out Bryan Hazel of Albion, New York, and Scherb of Decatur, Texas for the victory.

Heat race winners in the Grand National class were Bryan Bigelow, Joe Kopp, Jared Mees, and Rich King. Semi-final races were won by Henry Wiles, Johnny Murphree , and Charlie Italia.

The 25-lap Grand National feature was punctuated by three restarts. Mees on his Saddlemen/Lancaster Harley-Davidson sponsored bike, grabbed the initial lead followed by Kopp, Bigelow, and Kenny Coolbeth. Mees and Kopp had established a good lead by the time Kopp pulled off a pass on lap nine. Unfortunately for Joe, Shawn Clark crashed on the same lap bringing out the first red flag of the race. Clark and Coolbeth both failed to make it to the line for the restart.

Once again Mees took the lead with Kopp close behind. Then came Jr Schnabel, Bigelow, Chris Carr , Rick King, and Bryan Smith. Carr rapidly moved forward and briefly took the lead, but Mees made a pass and regained the top position. On lap twelve, Kopp slid high and crashed in turn three. Henry Wiles was unable to avoid Kopp’s fallen Harley and took a spectacular fall. The red flag was once again waved. Kopp, though not injured, was unable to make the restart. Wiles’ crew was able to install a new front end on his bike in time for him to continue.

For the third time, Mees was first off the line. Carr, Smith, and Schnabel were in hot pursuit. The third crash occurred on lap seventeen and involved Carr, Bigelow, and Jess Roeder. Points leader Carr was finished for the night, disappointing many in the crowd.

As the race resumed, the consistent Mees led the way. He held the lead until lap twenty-four when Morony’s Harley-Davidson sponsored Bryan Smith was first to the white flag. Mees was determined not to let this one get away after leading nearly every lap, and he regained the lead on the final lap to take the checkered flag ahead of Smith, Schnabel, and Johnny Murphree, last year’s Sedalia winner. It was the second career Grand National victory for the youngster from Honey Brook, Pennsylvania. Although the crashes and track maintenance caused the event to conclude after midnight, it appeared that few had left the stands before the final checkered flag flew.

During the races I met Terry Kelley, publisher of Sedalia Magazine. Terry was attending his first race and taking photos in turns three and four. He got some great shots and was kind enough to share them with us. Thanks, Terry!

Story by Stripe
Photos by Stripe and Terry Kelley