Jared Mees and Sammy Halbert, a pair of three-time Barbara Fritchie Classic champions, are set to return to the annual Fourth of July event in Frederick after missing it last year.
Both are among the pre-entries for Monday’s motorcycle races at the Frederick Fairgrounds, as is 2015 Fritchie Classic main event champion Jeremy Higgins.
Higgins will try to become the first racer to win two consecutive Barbara Fritchie Classics main events since Halbert accomplished the feat in 2011.
But to do so, Higgins will have to contend with Halbert and Mees, which is no small task.
Mees finished No. 1 in the 2015 Grand National Championship standings, he’s No. 2 in this year’s GNC standings, and he won the Harley-Davidson Flat-Track Racing gold medal at the X Games Austin in June.
Halbert finished No. 3 in the 2015 GNC standings and is No. 3 again this year.
Last year, Halbert and Mees skipped the Barbara Fritchie Classic to compete in a Grand National Race in Du Quoin, Illinois, robbing the Frederick race of two its most successful racers.
Mees won Fritchie Classic main events in 2005, 2008 and 2014. Halbert won here in 2010, 2011 and 2013.
Last year, Higgins cruised to a comfortable win in the Expert Twins 750/1000cc main event. He also finished second in the Expert Singles final behind winner Chad Cose, whose engine blew up in the Dash for Cash that was won by Higgins.
Higgins has fared well over the years at the Fritchie Classic, which is part of the Steve Nace All-Star National Flat Track Series.
“I feel unbelievably comfortable here every time I come,” Higgins said after his win in Frederick last year. “One of my favorite tracks. I can’t get enough of it.”
Cose is also pre-entered in Monday’s race.
“It looks like we might have up to 85 racers this year,” Riley said.
Riley thought the Pro Singles and Pro Twins classes were strong.
“These are the young kids that are up-and-coming,” he said.
Pre-entries in that class include Dalton Gauthier, Tristan Avery and Ryan Varnes. All have shown promise.
In a GNC2 race on Lima, Ohio’s half-mile track on June 25, Varnes and Gauthier both earned spots on the podium behind winner Ryan Wells.
Varnes’ father Kevin won the main event at the 1999 Barbara Fritchie Classic.
As is often the case, there is talk of rain for the Fourth of July. It rained early on last year’s race day, but the weather cleared up as the day progressed.
Aside from Expert Singles, Expert Twins, Pro Singles and Pro Twins, there will be races Monday for Super Singles, 250 Amateur, 450 Amateur, Open Singles Amateur, Senior 40+ and Open Vintage (1980 and older). There will also be a $1,000 Dash for Cash.
The purse is $10,000, and an additional $1,000 has been donated by local businesses. Gates open at 10 a.m., and heats begin at noon.