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Venegas Wins California State Speedway Championship at Industry!

| 30 August 2013 6:14 pm

California State Speedway Championship
Industry Speedway at the Industry Hills Expo Center’s Grand Arena

Story by Tim Kennedy
Photos by Jim Thorn/BackItInPhotos.com
CITY OF INDUSTRY, CA, AUG. 28, 2013

Charlie “The Edge” Venegas won the 38th running of the California State Speedway Championship on Wednesday night at Industry Speedway, in the Grand Arena of the Industry Hills Expo Center. More than 2,000 spectators attended the eighth consecutive running of the event at this site. The 25-year speedway veteran from San Bernardino, California, rode his GM bike backed by Borge Development and Red Line Oil. Venegas, 46, won the prestigious event for the fourth time. His other title years were 1997, 2007 and 2008. The event was not run from 1998 to 2005; Industry Speedway revived the event in 2006.

Charlie “The Edge” Venegas won the 38th edition of the California State Speedway Championship.

Charlie “The Edge” Venegas won the 38th edition of the California State Speedway Championship.

Charlie Venegas pops his cork at Industry Speedway.

Charlie Venegas pops his cork at Industry Speedway.

Twenty 500cc Division One riders ran four rounds of heat races and accumulated points on a 3-2-1-0 basis. High-point riders advanced to the championship final, event 43. The busy evening had four breaks for track preparation.

Four other divisions also raced. A 500cc Invitational (Support Division) had seven riders and was the only division that used 4-3-2-1-0 scoring. The Junior 250cc class had seven riders. The Mini 150cc Second Division also had seven riders in action, while the Mini 150cc First Division had four participants. Each of the supporting divisions raced two heats and a main event.

The Division One final figured to be a match-up of Billy Janniro, the California State Champion from 2010 to 2012; seven-time 2013 Industry feature winner Billy Hamill, the 1996 World Speedway Champion; and five-time 2013 Industry feature winner and past Industry track champion Venegas.

Hamill’s GM engine failed terminally during his first heat race while he was leading on the third lap. The rocker arm broke and went through the valve train. That ended Hamill’s night, and his quest for his first California State Championship. He did not have a backup bike in the pits because he has been preparing for a road race in Toole, Utah, that he was planning to attend over the Labor Day Weekend.

Janniro, who hails from Rancho Cordova (near Sacramento), and Venegas each scored three victories in their four heat races. Only Tyson Burmeister beat Janniro, in the first round. In the third round, Venegas was docked 10 yards for touching the starting-gate tapes with his front wheel; he recovered by racing to third place and scoring one point. Aaron Fox and Janniro, 33, tied at 11 points for most points and advanced directly to the final event.

Run-Offs
Three riders – Venegas, Burmeister, and San Bernardino, California’s Shawn McConnell – tied at 10 points and moved to a run-off race, with the winner moving to the final. Venegas, coming from lane four, won the run-off and would move on to the main, while Burmeister and McConnell would go to the last-chance qualifier.

The next run-off race was for three riders who were tied with nine points apiece. Buck Blair, Mike Faria, and 16-year-old Division One rookie Max Ruml raced four laps, with only the first two finishers advancing to the LCQ. From the outside lane, Ruml won it, over Blair. Four-time California State Champion Faria was a close third, but he was done for the night.

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Last Chance Qualifier
The LCQ went to Burmeister, who led all four laps from the inside lane and moved into the final. McConnell, Blair and Ruml followed, but they would be watching the championship final from the sidelines.

Tyson Burmeister went wire to wire in the last-chance qualifier to become the last man on the grid for the final.

Tyson Burmeister went wire to wire in the last-chance qualifier to become the last man on the grid for the final.

Final
First lane choice went to Fox, and he selected the inside lane. Janniro chose lane two, and Venegas then picked lane three, leaving the outside lane to Burmeister.

When the starting gate lifted shortly after 10 p.m., Fox shot into the lead, while Janniro searched for racing room. As he did a week earlier at Industry en route to a spectacular victory over Hamill and Venegas, Janniro went to the outside leaving the second turn on the initial lap. He powered to the outside in the third and fourth turns and appeared capable of taking the lead from Fox.

However, Janniro’s front wheel suddenly rose high in the air, dumping him off the back of the bike and onto the track. His bike flipped end over end several times and slammed into the plywood crash wall protecting those in the grandstands at the exit of turn four. Janniro quickly popped up to his feet, even before his bike came to rest on the track. He walked to the pits without injury. By championship rules, he knew his race was finished for causing the red flag.

A complete restart several minutes later had Fox, Venegas and Burmeister on the starting line. Venegas grabbed the lead before the first turn and led all four laps. Fox, 25, trailed by three bikelengths, with Burmeister, 29, two lengths in back of Fox.

Charlie Venegas (left) leads Aaron Fox (center) and Tyson Burmeister (right) in the main event of the evening.

Charlie Venegas (left) leads Aaron Fox (center) and Tyson Burmeister (right) in the main event of the evening.

Invitational Main Event
The Invitational (or Support) main also had a red-flag incident on the first lap. Danny Baker fell in the first turn and collected Chris Jones. Baker was excluded.

Davey Shaw, a 36-year-old, 18-year U.S. Navy Seabee from Port Hueneme, California, made his Industry debut after having recently returned from Okinawa. He also had tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. The nephew of speedway champions Steve Bast and Mike Bast rode his 500cc Jawa. He won both of his heat races, as did Baker.

In the Invitational final, the win went to Davey Shaw (left). Danny Baker (inside rear) fell and was excluded. Chris Jones (116, outside) ended up third.

In the Invitational final, the win went to Davey Shaw (left). Danny Baker (inside rear) fell and was excluded. Chris Jones (116, outside) ended up third.

Shaw led all four laps in the main. Carl Gazafy finished second, after initial second-place rider Jones fell in turn two on the second lap. Jones remounted and placed third.

Runner-up Carl Gazafy (left), victor Davey Shaw (center) and third-place finisher Chris Jones (right) celebrate on the Invitational podium.

Runner-up Carl Gazafy (left), victor Davey Shaw (center) and third-place finisher Chris Jones (right) celebrate on the Invitational podium.

Youth Division
The Junior 250cc final went to Kurtis Hamill, the 14-year-old son of the Division One veteran. He led all four laps over the only other finisher, Dalton Leedy, 15. Referee-called penalties for jump starts excluded Dillon Ruml, 14, and then Broc Nicol, 15.

Kurtis Hamill (left) leads Dalton Leedy (right) in the Junior 250cc final.

Kurtis Hamill (left) leads Dalton Leedy (right) in the Junior 250cc final.

The Mini 150cc First Division main had three starters after Gino Scopellite scratched. On the initial lap, leader Courtney Crone, 12, fell in the third turn and was excluded for causing a red flag. Sebastian “Big Daddy” Palmese, 10, then led all four laps, over Maverick Molloy, 12. It was Palmese’s 12th feature triumph of 2013 at Industry; Palmese won the inaugural Silver Cup Championship in the Mini 150cc First Division on Saturday, August 17, at Industry.

Sebastian Palmese (18) and Maverick Molloy (34) went one and two in the Mini 150cc First Division main event.

Sebastian Palmese (18) and Maverick Molloy (34) went one and two in the Mini 150cc First Division main event.

The Mini 150cc Second Division final also had an opening-lap red-flag incident. Double heat-race winner Tristan Britt fell in the second corner while leading on lap two. Alex Martin, 8, inherited the lead, but he fell in the third turn. Rules disqualified Britt for causing the red flag initially.

On the complete restart, Sterling Martin led all four laps, over Slater Lightcap and Sterling’s fraternal twin, Alex. Lightcap had won the final starting spot by winning a run-off race with Travis Hamilton, who tied him with three points in their two heat races. Britt won both of his heats and led with six points. The Martin twins, who hail from Salinas, California, each won a heat race and tied for second place with five points. Sterling also won the Mini 150cc Second Division Silver Cup Championship at Industry on August 17. Alex won two Industry features in July.

Sterling Martin (31) topped the Mini 150cc Second Division final.

Sterling Martin (31) topped the Mini 150cc Second Division final.

The tentative 2014 Industry Speedway calendar shows a 16-event racing schedule from Wednesday, May 28, through Wednesday, August 27, which will be the 39th California State Championship. The first week of August will have three events. Friday, August 2 will be a National qualifier round. The next afternoon will be the second annual Youth-only Silver Cup Championships for 250cc and 150cc riders. August 6 will be the regular Wednesday night program and will honor the “Legends of Speedway.”

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The 50/50 collection this week was $1,452, a new track record, and the lucky ticket holder in the grandstands received a track-record $726. The other half went to the riders.

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The inaugural California State Championship was run in 1968, with Sonny Nutter being the first winner. Sixteen different riders have won the 38 CSC titles. Brothers Steve and Mike Bast, who are regulars at the Fast Fridays track in Auburn, California, each won six CSC titles in the first 16 years of the event. Each of the Bast brothers won four CSC titles in a row. Three riders have four CSC first-place trophies: Steve Lucero, Mike Faria, and now Venegas. Janniro was going for his fourth consecutive CSC crown, but he will have to wait a year. Bobby Schwartz has two CSC titles. Winners of single CSC titles in addition to Nutter are: Alan Christian, Bruce Penhall, Lance King, Bobby Ott, Sam Ermolenko, Chris Manchester, Josh Larsen, and Ricky Wells.

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Newcomers to Industry Speedway at the Industry Hills Expo Center rave about the facilities, including the restaurant, the outdoor dining patio, the clean restrooms, the roof-covered arena with open sides, the well-prepared dirt track, and replays on a large color video screen in the third turn. Even vented, large, dark screens to block the sun setting in the west draw favorable remarks. With increasing average weekly attendance (more than 22,000 people attended Industry Speedway bike races in 2013), speedway bike racing is growing in popularity. Year 10 has seen continued growth of the sport. A ladder system, from Pee Wees to 150cc to 250cc to 500cc Divisions Three and Two, is in place. A crop of talented Youth and Junior riders will keep the talent pool growing.

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Industry Hills Expo Center granted viewing of the complete August 28 California State Championship on the Internet, live and free of charge. Speedway fans unable to attend could just go to www.IndustrySpeedway.com and click “watch live.” Track announcer Bruce Flanders announced that news to the largest crowd of 2013 so they could call friends at home. A 12-page program had three color pages and was distributed free of charge to incoming fans. For the first time this season, no programs remained before racing concluded.

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USAC-CRA car owner Dwight Cheney was in attendance. He said he was towing north for the USAC sprint car/midget weekend doubleheader at Calistoga Speedway. On board his trailer will be Matt Mitchell’s sprint car with Dwight’s 410 engine in it, and a midget number seven for a Kiwi driver named Buckley, who also watched Industry Speedway bike racing in person.

Industry Speedway at the Industry Hills Expo Center’s Grand Arena
City of Industry, California
Results: August 28, 2013

MINI 150 DIVISION 2 FINAL: 1. Sterling Martin; 2. Slater Lightcap; 3. Alex Martin.

MINI 150 DIVISION 1 FINAL: 1. Sebastian Palmese; 2. Maverick Molloy.

JR 250 FINAL: 1. Kurtis Hamill; 2. Dalton Leedy.

INDUSTRY INVITATIONAL FINAL: 1. Davey Shaw; 2. Carl Gazafy; 3. Chris Jones.

CA STATE CHAMPIONSHIP LCQ: 1. Tyson Burmeister; 2. Shawn McConnell; 3. Buck Blair; 4. Max Ruml.

CA STATE CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL: 1. Charlie Venegas; 2. Aaron Fox; 3. Tyson Burmeister.

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