Southern California Flat Track Association
Round 5: Perris Raceway
Story by Jamey Blunt
Photos by Janice Blunt
PERRIS, CA, JUNE 23, 2012
In honor of Paul McCartney’s 70th birthday, and as a tribute to the Beatles’ changing the world, it was Beatles Night at Perris. The music of the Fab Four was piped through the P.A. system to greet the riders as they rolled through the front gate starting at 2 p.m. and continued through the remainder of the fifth round of Southern California Flat Track Association action. This was a late-June race date, but despite the 90-degree temperatures, it never really seemed that hot, as a gentle breeze kept things pleasant.
The entry list for SCFTA events at Perris has topped the 100 mark every race this year, and there were 116 racers in attendance on this night. The program featured 22 heat races and 19 main events on the pool-table-level quarter-oval (measuring around the outside).
A moment of silence at the riders’ meeting marked just how much Bob Foulds meant to the dirt-track community. Sadly, Bob was taken from his son Ian and his family far too soon. Bob and Ian have been competing at flat-track races across California and the country, from local associations to Nationals, for some 12 years. Bob always had a smile and a kind word of encouragement; he was a gentle soul, always ready and eager to help in any way he could. He will be missed within this tight-knit community. Bob “lit a candle in a very dark place that shone a very long way.”
The Youth classes always start off the night’s program. In the 85cc Beginner class, Noah Bush led the field through turns one and two, but Frank Flores took that lead away down the back straight to lead into turn three. James Ott slotted in at third, with Reece Watowa fourth. The running order stayed that way all the way to the white flag, which Flores took first, but Bush had just been biding his time, and he made his move in turn three, squaring up the corner to get a drive out of turn four and beat Flores to the stripe by a wheel for the victory!
Can anyone stop the win streak of Travis Petton IV? That’s the question riders in both the 65cc Two-Stroke Novice and 85cc Two-Stroke Beginners classes have to be asking themselves. In the 65cc class, Petton made things easy for himself by launching from pole to lead through turns one and two by two bikelengths, making it unnecessary for him to come through the field. Ott, attempting to stay with Petton from the start, gave his Honda just a little too much gas off the line and sent his front wheel skyward. Ott managed to bring the wheel back down to earth, but that stunt cost him time; it was a great save, though!
By the end of the first lap, Ott was up to third, with Petton out front and Grant Holmes in second. Lap two saw Petton turn one of the best lap times he’s ever posted on a 65cc mount, at 17.96 seconds (he’s the only rider in the class to go under 18 seconds), and he already had a four-second lead over Holmes.
By the white flag, Ott was all over Holmes for second, but the Kawasaki of Holmes had horsepower over Ott’s Honda, as the two took the checkered flag in the same order.
Frank Flores led the field in the 85cc Two-Stroke Beginner main. Petton, attempting to drive underneath Flores the first time through turn three, caught his left foot on the inside piping and settled back in at second to recover. Jimmy Gillen, who’d almost stalled his bike at the start, was quickly up to third. Grant Holmes was in fourth and Alyssa Flores was fifth.
With two laps down, Frank was still leading Petton, and he dropped his lap time to 17.93 seconds. On the third trip through turn three, Petton went up high to square up Frank, but Gillen was right there and took Petton’s line away. This was becoming a war.
The next time they entered turn one, Petton dropped to the inside and put a wheel under Frank, and the two exited turn two side by side. Petton held a slight advantage at the end of the back straight and entered turn three with the lead.
Once up front, Petton put his head down and put in a 17.15-second lap that Frank or Gillen just couldn’t match. The battle now was for second, as Gillen (whose best lap time was 18.04 seconds) was at Frank’s back door. However, a mistake in turn two cost Gillen three bikelengths, which made the finishing order Petton, Frank Flores, Gillen, and Alyssa Flores, who took fourth from Holmes.
Allison Stacey is fast – very fast – and she is one of only two riders in the 85cc ranks to enter the 15-second lap-time barrier, at 15.77 seconds. In the 85cc Four-Stroke Novice and Two-Stroke Novice class, she squared off against the only other rider to accomplish this task: Sean Heeney, whose best lap time was 15.79 seconds. Stacey led from the line, followed by Justin Hanson and Heeney. Exiting turn four on the first lap, Heeney took second away from Hanson, while Monica Gil sat back in fourth.
At the front, Stacey was getting away with an eight-bikelength gap over Heeney, who in turn himself had gapped Hanson by a full straightaway. This order would remain the same all the way to the finish.
Stacey also bested a field of 10 in the Open Novice main event, earning herself two victories for the night!
Daniel Iha led the Men’s Four-Stroke field into turn one, with Ian Foulds giving chase. Billy Katkov was buried back in the pack, but he fought his way into third by the entrance to turn three. Katkov, running a high line on the track, left the throttle pinned to get up to Foulds by turn one and then pulled alongside down the back straight to move into second. Katkov appeared to be a little more fired up on this night, and he was gaining ground on Iha quickly, although Iha was still the leader at the end of lap two.
Then, starting lap three, Katkov never shut off through turns one and two, left the throttle wide open, and passed Iha around the outside to take over as leader exiting turn two. Once up front, Katkov left the Perris ZIP code with a 16.22-second lap time, while Foulds recovered and caught back up to a stunned Iha.
With a lap and a half remaining, Katkov was into lappers, who also came into play for the battle raging for second. In the end, Foulds couldn’t make the run at Iha that he had planned and came up just short at the stripe, finishing in third, behind Katkov and Iha. Sason Pibovzgar, Sean Stevenson and Brinton Brown rounded out the field.
Allan Girdler and Mel Stoner played a part in the outcome of the Super Senior Over 60 and Premier Senior contest. Vince Graves led from the start, with Ryan Gifford (on a 40-year-old Bultaco) glued to his back wheel. DeWayne Jones, on a 500cc two-stroke, ran in third, and David Molitor (getting his worst start in recent memory) was running fourth. Graves never led by more than two bikelengths and turned a 15.42-second lap time while attempting to shake Gifford.
On lap four, entering turn one, Gifford went up the inside of Graves, as the door was left open, and led out of turn two, while Jones had company now, in the form of Molitor, who wanted his third-place position.
With two laps remaining, the leaders caught Girdler in turn one and put him a lap down, with Gifford squeezing underneath Girdler to get by. But Graves, not wanting to startle Girdler, opted for an outside route, which cost him three bikelengths. Graves then got a drive down the back straight and was close to Gifford entering turn three and carrying more speed, but Stoner was in front of them both. Gifford shot under Stoner, who stood his bike up, causing Graves to change his line, which gave Gifford a six-bikelength advantage.
With a clear track ahead and one lap to go, Graves made up ground, but not enough, as Gifford went on to take the victory, over Graves, while Molitor got around Jones for third.
Larkin Wight led the start of the Senior Over 50 Amateur contest, with Daniel Stinson second and Bill Wright third. By the end of the first lap, John Perez was up to third after starting from the penalty line. The next lap saw Jim Kesler up to fourth after a bad start, as Perez ran up the inside of Stinson in turn three to move into second.
Perez settled in at a high line on the racetrack, running around Wight through turns one and two for the lead on the next run down the back straight. The next lap, Perez put in a 15.90-second lap time, but two riders went down between turns one and two, bringing out the red flag. Hitting the ground were Stinson and Kesler, but both riders getting to their feet, unhurt. Stinson was unable to make the single-file restart, as the handlebars on his mount were totaled.
Perez took the field into turn one off of his cue, with Wight second, Wright third, and Kesler – all fired up now and on the wild side – in fourth. A lap later, Kesler was past Wright and into third, and then he made contact with Wight up the front straight as he made the pass for second, and then lifted his right hand briefly off the throttle to point at Perez. But Perez was long gone, and he cruised home for the victory with a half-straightaway lead over Kesler, Wight and Wright.
Jim Lundgren read starter Rudy Gil perfectly in the Bomber class to lead the pack into turn one, while Travis Petton II almost fell off the back of his Yamaha, which cost him dearly in the form of real estate. Danny Perkins got a light-speed hyper drive exiting turn two and was a mere blur as he went past Lundgren for the lead. By the end of one lap, Petton had collected himself and was up to third, behind Lundgren, with Keith Bradford and Jim Steet giving chase.
On the next go-around, Perkins, with a 12-bikelength lead, turned a 15.42-second lap time – the fastest of the race. Petton, desperate to find a way around Lundgren, caught his left toe in turn two, which lifted him up off the seat of his bike and cost him some ground.
On lap five, Steet was against the crash wall between turns three and four and out of the race, and Perkins was now uncatchable at the front. As they came to the white flag, Perkins had a four-second cushion, while Petton pulled alongside Lundgren on the inside to take over second entering turn one, making the final order Perkins, Petton, Lundgren and Bradford.
Former National number 37, Jeff “The Jester” Johnson, returned to Perris to compete in the Senior Over 50 Expert class. Southland Racing’s Jim Wood led off the line, with Jeff Lessley in tow, just ahead of Johnson. On the second trip through turns one and two, Johnson went under Lessley, took him wide and parked him up high to take over at second, which allowed Travis Petton II to move into third. Jim Ottele was fourth and Dan Kane fifth. Lessley got going again, but in sixth and way off from the leaders, his race basically over.
At the front, Wood turned a 15.26-second lap time, pulling away from Johnson, who in turn had an eight-bikelength gap over Petton. For the remainder of the race, the order remained unchanged, as Wood held his margin for the victory over Johnson, Petton, Ottele and Kane.
A field of 12 made up the Open Amateur main event. Brad Rudy launched from the middle of the front row to lead through turns one and two, followed by Nick Armstrong – only to have his perfect start all be for nothing, as Rich Hanson crashed on this first lap, stopping the race.
On the full restart, Armstrong nailed the start, with Rudy buried midpack going into turn one. David Reinhard now ran in second, with Paul Herman in third and Rudy fighting his way forward to fourth by the end of the first lap. Joel Kath sat in fifth, with Hanson and Eric Ryke giving chase.
By the white flag, Kath had caught Rudy and was scrapping for fourth, while Armstrong – the only rider to enter the 15-second bracket, at 15.93 seconds – held a large lead. At the checkers, with Armstrong being scored for the Open Unclassified class, the Open Amateur win went to Reinhard, moving Herman up to second, Rudy to third, and Kath to fourth.
Six combatants made up the Pro Expert main, with Robert Bush the one leading the field into turn one – only to have Nick Armstrong and Ajay Hateley go down in between turns three and four, bringing out the red flag.
With Armstrong and Hateley (as those who caused the incident) now starting from the third row, Robert Bush once again repeated his perfect start to lead the pack into turn one. Class champion David Bush settled in at second, with Jim Rosa third, Armstrong fourth, Hateley fifth and Nick Gil sixth.
On lap three, Robert Bush turned what could be his best lap time ever at Perris, at 15.20 seconds. Meanwhile, David Bush and Rosa were swapping paint and bits of riding gear while fighting over second, and Hateley was showing Armstrong a wheel at every opportunity, making him work hard to stay in fourth.
By the halfway point of the race, David Bush had left behind Rosa, who looked tired of the fight and was willing to settle for third. David locked crosshairs on his brother Robert Bush at the front. Inching forward, slowly working an inside line, David closed in on Robert as the laps wound down. But Robert did have the overall fastest lap of the race, to David’s 15.26-second lap time, and appeared more than capable of holding off the attack on his lead.
With two laps remaining, the Bushes were two bikelengths apart when Robert went wide entering turn one, leaving an opening for David, allowing him alongside Robert’s back wheel going down the back straight. But Robert rode smart and protected his line to hold on for his first and well-deserved Pro main-event victory, over David, with Rosa lonely in third and Armstrong in fourth after holding off Hateley for the entire race.
Round six at Perris is scheduled for July 14, another Saturday night race, and it promises more of the same action, not to mention the large amount of products handed out from Lucas Oil to each and every class winner.
Results June 23, 2012 (Round 5)
85cc 4-STROKE BEG: 1. Noah Bush; 2. Frank Flores; 3. James Ott; 4. Reece Watowa.
50 2-STROKE BEG: 1. Danny Iha.
50 4-STROKE BEG: 1. Karsyn Kesler; 2. Colin Petton.
65+ 2-STROKE NOV: 1. Travis Petton IV; 2. Grant Holmes.
65+ 4-STROKE NOV: 1. James Ott.
65+ 4-STROKE BEG: 1. Ava Bush; 2. Brady Chikato.
85 2-STROKE BEG: 1. Travis Petton IV; 2. Frank Flores; 3. Jimmy Gillen; 4. Alyssa Flores; 5. Grant Holmes.
85 4-STROKE NOV: 1. Sean Heeney; 2. Justin Hanson; 3. Monica Gil.
85 2-STROKE NOV: 1. Allison Stacey.
YOUTH (16) 4-STROKE: 1. Kody Kesler.
MEN’S 4-STROKE: 1. Billy Katkov; 2. Daniel Iha; 3. Ian Foulds; 4. Sason Pibovzgar; 5. Sean Stevenson; 6. Brinton Brown.
VINTAGE 250 2-STROKE NOV: 1. Shell Borden.
VINTAGE 360 2-STROKE NOV: 1. Rick Logan; 2. Kirk Lessley.
VINTAGE 250 2-STROKE AM: 1. Jim Steet.
SUPER SR 60+: 1. Ryan Gifford; 2. Vince Graves; 3. David Molitor; 4. DeWayne Jones.
PREMIER SR 70+: 1. Mel Stoner; 2. Allan Girdler.
VINTAGE 750: 1. Jim Ottele; 2. Robert Bush; 3. Shannon Adams.
SR 50+ AM: 1. John Perez; 2. Jim Kesler; 3. Larkin Wight; 4. Bill Wright; 5. Daniel Stinson.
SR 50+ NOV: 1. Fred Berger; 2. Paul Claybaugh; 3. Greg Powell; 4. Danny Mathis.
VINTAGE 360 2-STROKE EX: 1. Jeff Lessley; 2. Ryan Gifford; 3. Kyle Lessley.
BOMBER: 1. Danny Perkins; 2. Travis Petton II; 3. Jim Lundgren; 4. Keith Bradford; 5. Jim Steet.
CLASSIC VINTAGE 500-750: 1. Jim Ottele; 2. Tom Ferguson; 3. James Kohls; 4. Lenny Rodriguez; 5. Clay Van Deren; 6. Joe Pape; 7. Sason Pibovzgar; 8. Ron Lessley.
CLASSIC VINTAGE 250: 1. Fred Berger.
VET 35+: 1. Paul Ott; 2. Jason Craven; 3. Jim Lundgren; 4. Paul Herman; 5. Joel Kath; 6. Steve Zoumaras; 7. Eric Cleveland.
OPEN NOV: 1. Allison Stacey; 2. Paul Pitzonka; 3. Sean Heeney; 4. Hadley Melton; 5. Roy Stafford; 6. Monty Watowa; 7. Paul Claybaugh; 8. Monica Gil; 9. Eric Cleveland; 10. Jaycee Jones.
SR VET 50+ EX: 1. Jim Wood; 2. Jeff Johnson; 3. Travis Petton II; 4. Jim Ottele; 5. Dan Kane; 6. Steve Zoumaras; 7. Jeff Lessley.
OPEN UNCLASSIFIED: 1. Nick Armstrong; 2. Sean Heeney.
OPEN AM: 1. David Reinhard; 2. Paul Herman; 3. Brad Rudy; 4. Joel Kath; 5. Eric Ryke; 6. Rich Hanson; 7. Bill Britt; 8. Harley Legowski.
PRO EX: 1. Robert Bush; 2. David Bush; 3. Jim Rosa; 4. Nick Armstrong; 5. Ajay Hateley; 6. Nick Gil.