Costa Mesa Speedway
Orange County Fairgrounds
Story by Elaine Jones
Photos by Jim Thorn/BackItInPhotos.com
COSTA MESA, CA, MAY 12, 2012
It was opening night for the 43rd year of speedway racing at Costa Mesa Speedway. The usual stars were on hand, and the new gladiators hoping to dethrone them were getting ready to do battle. It would be three rounds of Scratch racing, with the top 10 in points advancing to the two semifinals. Two from each semi would transfer directly to the main event, while the third and fourth rider from each semi would get one more shot in the last-chance qualifier.
Round one saw youngster Tyson Burmeister get the drop on the field and go wire to wire in the opening heat. Not to be outdone, veteran racer Jimmy “Li’l Animal” Fishback read the tapes to perfection and never looked back en route to winning the second heat. Shawn “Mad Dog” McConnell had to work for his win, as Steve Russell got out first, and it took McConnell a good lap to get by the initial leader and bring home the win. Michael Raines, another one of the youngsters making a splash in the First Division, showed everyone he was going to be a player with a very in-charge ride for the win in heat four. Finishing out the first round of heats was Charlie “The Edge” Venegas, who outgated Billy “The Bullet” Hamill and held him at bay in the quick four-lapper for the win.
Raines started off round two and showed everyone that his win in his first ride of the night had been no fluke, as he again went wire to wire. Hamill was on his game in the next heat, and though Fishback tried every trick in the book, his shot at a perfect night was gone and he settled for second. It took two tries to get the third heat going, and youngster Gino Manzares pulled off an upset when he passed McConnell on the second lap and brought it home for the win – and what a kick that had to be for this rider from the Junior ranks! Aaron Fox, moving up from Support this year, showed he’d been doing his homework during the off season, as he put in a great ride to pick up those precious points. The final heat of round two was all Venegas’, and after two rounds, only Raines and Venegas were on track for the hat trick.
“Battlin’ Buck” Blair put it all together in the first heat of the final round. He had been in the hunt, and hopefully this would give him what he needed to secure a spot in one of the semis. Fishback knew he would be there, as he closed out his final heat-race ride with a last-lap pass to rain on Tyson Talkington’s parade.
Hamill also didn’t need to worry about a semi, as his final heat-race ride was another wire-to-wire romp. McConnell was second and also secure that he had enough points for a spot.
Burmeister finished like he started – with a win. And Venegas kept his perfect score alive and ruined the night for Raines, who had the unfortunate luck of having to go up against him.
The first Scratch semi saw the pole go to Hamill, with Fishback in two and Burmeister in three. On the outside, it was Manzares and Talkington. They loaded in and got off clean. Unfortunately, they didn’t get one lap in the books, as Talkington got very up close and personal with the wall between turns three and four.
They lined up again, this time with Talkington on the 20-yard line. Fishback got the gate and led the first lap, and then Hamill took over and led for one lap, and then Fishback came roaring back and took over the front spot on the white-flag lap. He would not be denied, and he brought it home. He and Hamill were headed for the main, while Burmeister and Manzares got ready for the last-chance. The night was over for Talkington.
The second semi had Venegas, from the pole, out on top, with McConnell riding double with him. Raines was being pushed by Blair for the third spot. When the dust settled, it was Hamill and McConnell moving on to the main, and Raines and Blair headed to the LCQ.
Burmeister got the pole for the LCQ, with Raines in two. Blair and Manzares were in three and four, respectively. Raines got off on top, with Burmeister in second. One lap in, Burmeister made an error, and that allowed Blair to get through and put the pressure on Raines. He tried but could not find the running room he needed for the pass, and it was Raines who would be the final rider in the richest race of the night.
They rolled to the line for choice of start positions for the final race of the evening. Venegas – the only rider still perfect on the night – got the first pick, and it would be the pole. Fishback opted for gate two. Hamill was in three, McConnell in four and Raines in five. They loaded in, the engines revved to max, the light went green, and the tapes came up!
They hit the first turn, and Hamill hooked up and his bike literally spun around and came down on Raines. The red flag came out, and after the body and bike inventories were taken, they lined up for a complete restart.
This time it was a drag race to the first turn between Hamill and Venegas, and the nod went to Hamill. Once in front, it’s hard to catch The Bullet, and though Venegas gave it everything he had, he had to settle for second. Fishback was in the wings, waiting for a mistake that never came, and he came away with third. McConnell and Raines rounded out the field.
The Support main had Steve Bowen on the pole, with Harold Hartke in two and Geoff Herkner in three. On the outside, it was Eloy Medellin and Joe Donaldson. Hartke got out on top, and Medellin was chasing. They got to the white-flag lap and all whatever broke loose, as it turned into a demolition derby. The red flag came out, and since half the race was in the books, the race was called. They reverted back one lap and charged the red flag to Herkner. When all was said and done, the win went to Hartke, with Medellin second. On back, it was Donaldson, Bowen and Herkner.
The Support B contest also saw the red flag come out after two laps. They lined up again for a complete restart. Bruce Marteney was the man of the night, as he led from start to finish. Craig Specher locked in for second, with Danny Baker third. The only pass came on the last lap, when Phil Santolucito got by Kip McCain for fourth.
There’s quite a crop of Junior riders this year, and they all look like they’ve been to Billy Hamill’s school, as they are fast! The 250cc Junior Division win went to Max Ruml. He put enough distance between himself and the rest of the field to never be seriously challenged. It was a family thing, as his brother Dillon was second. Our young lady in residence, Hayley Perrault, has moved up to the bigger bikes, and she did a good job, coming away with the third spot and more than holding her own with the guys. Kurtis Hamill was fourth.
Braydan Galvin was on fire all night long, and it ended with his win in the 200cc Junior main. Maverick Malloy, Michael Wells and Courtney Crone followed him home.
Costa Mesa Speedway at the Orange County Fairgrounds
Costa Mesa, California
Results: May 12, 2012
SCRATCH MAIN: 1. Billy Hamill (Jaw); 2. Charlie Venegas (Jaw); 3. Jimmy Fishback (Jaw); 4. Shawn McConnell (GM); 5. Michael Raines (Jaw).
SUPPORT MAIN: 1. Harold Hartke (Jaw); 2. Eloy Medellin (Jaw); 3. Joe Donaldson (Jaw); 4. Steve Bowen (Jaw); 5. Geoff Herkner (Jaw).
SUPPORT B MAIN: 1. Bruce Marteney (Jaw); 2. Craig Sprecher (Jaw); 3. Danny Baker (Jaw); 4. Phil Santolucito (Jaw); 5. Kip McCain.
250 JR: 1. Max Ruml (Jaw); 2. Dillon Ruml (Jaw); 3. Hayley Perrault (Jaw); 4. Kurtis Hamill (Jaw).
200 JR: 1. Braydan Galvin (Jaw); 2. Maverick Malloy (Hon); 3. Michael Wells (Hon); 4. Courtney Crone (Hon).