Southern California Flat Track Association Series
California Championship Series
Rounds 10 of 11/5 of 7: Perris Raceway Quarter-Mile Oval
Story by Jamey Blunt
Photos by Jamey and Janice Bluntfirstname.lastname@example.org
PERRIS, CA, OCT. 11, 2013
Wow! What a night!
As has become tradition, Perris Raceway held round 10 of the Southern California Flat Track Association Series the Friday night before the last Grand National of the year at the Fairplex in Pomona, California. The front gates were open prior to 11 a.m. to allow the anticipated large turnout of riders more time to get settled in the pits.
The entire night’s program was also moved forward in time to accommodate what turned out to be 177 entries that filled 32 heat races, two semis, a Dash For Cash, and 26 main events. All of this action had to be completed by the mandatory 10 p.m. curfew.
Hence, the riders’ meeting was held at 2:30 p.m., with practice immediately following. Earlier in the day, country music artist Beau Braswell made the trip west to California from Tennessee to shoot some video footage at the racetrack for his new song “Sideways.” Braswell, a longtime dirt-track fan, rider, and friend of the Haydens, was well aware of the time constraints and finished his work without any interference to the schedule. Beau then stayed for the night’s program and sang the national anthem to kick off round 10.
Another added feature to the schedule was the California Championship Series, a new association attempting to build dirt-track racing on the West Coast. The CFTA mixed five of their classes among the existing SCFTA classes throughout the night’s program. And so it was that by 4 p.m., with the pits full, the overflow parking lot packed, practice completed, and the racing surface freshly groomed, it was race time!
The four Pro heat-race winners from a field of 22 made up the Dash for Cash. Rob Pearson burst like Superman out of a phone booth from second off of pole to lead the pack into turn one. Scott Baker slotted in at second, with fast heat-time winner Mikey Rush third and Jared Mees fourth. On the first exit from turn four, Mees dropped Rush to fourth, and on the next run through turn two he was underneath Baker for second. However, Pearson, at the front, had established a bit of a gap, and it was questionable if Mees could make up that much real estate.
With a lap remaining, Rush was past Baker for third, and Mees had closed to within four bikelengths of Pearson at the front. But in a short four-lap race, this was all that was going to happen on this night, and Pearson flew home for the victory and first blood drawn in the Pro ranks, over Mees, Rush and Baker.
Jace Callison led Allison Stacey into turn one in the Youth 250cc class. By the end of the first lap, the front two had gapped the rest of the field, and it was clear this was a two-rider battle for the victory.
Then, suddenly, on lap four, Stacey pulled up against the crash wall in turn four and went off the track, leaving Callison alone at the front with more than a full straightaway lead, which he easily maintained to the finish.
In the 85cc Open main, Clayton Williams nailed the start to lead the field through turns one and two. Williams quickly pulled out a six-bikelength gap within the first lap, over Hunter Goodwin, Travis Petton IV, Grant Holmes and Evan Harich.
Both Petton and Holmes made short work of Goodwin, moving up to second and third, respectively, while Harich was starting to fade. This order would remain unchanged all the way to the checkered flag, with Williams even giving the thumbs-up with his left hand to the infield track personnel.
Round nine’s Youth 50cc overall victor, Travis Horn, had some competition at round 10, as Zach Gross regrouped and came out ready to race. The two swapped the lead several times, not only in their heat race but in the main event. Horn seemed to have the horsepower, while Gross could carry more corner speed. In the end, Gross prevailed over Horn by a mere bikelength to capture the victory and throw down the gauntlet in the 50cc class.
Clayton Williams once again got the start to lead the 85-100cc Two-Stroke Novice class, over Travis Petton IV, Grant Holmes, Tyler Raggio and Hunter Goodwin. Petton started working an inside line on Williams as the front two started leaving the rest of the field in the distance.
Then, with a lap and a half remaining, on the entrance to turn three, Petton made his move past Williams for the lead while turning a 15.80-second lap time. Petton went on to this well-planned victory over Williams. Holmes was third, and Goodwin moved up to fourth, over Raggio in fifth.
On the first start of the Open Unclassified main event, Zach Johnson went down between turns one and two, bringing out the red flag and stopping the race.
On the full restart, Aaron Colton this time led the field, over Davis Fisher and Jimmy Gillen. On the second run through turn four, Gillen hit a rut and stood the bike up, which allowed Johnson to move up to third. At the front, Fisher was trying to find a way around Colton. A lap later, Johnson had caught them both, and it was now a three-way fight for the win.
On the next trip through turn four, Colton went wide, leaving a barn-door- sized opening, which Fisher went through to take over the lead.
Once up front, and with a clear track ahead, Fisher put in the fastest lap of the race, at 15.19 seconds. A lap later, just before the white flag, Johnson put a move on Colton to take over at second position. Meanwhile, Gillen turned the second-fastest lap of the race, at 15.23 seconds, but it was too little, too late, as time had run out. Fisher took a well-earned victory over Johnson, Colton, Gillen and Austin Helmholz.
Thirteen racers made up the Senior Over 50 Novice main event. Steve Pruczinski led from the start, over John Clayton III and Andy Harden. From the beginning, Clayton and Harden were swapping second position, which only allowed Pruczinski to stretch out his lead at the front. Just off the leaders’ pace and running in fourth was Steele Friedrich. Patrick Hayes was fifth. At the checkered flag, Pruczinski took the win, with Harden winning the fight for second, over Clayton. Friedrich finished fourth and Hayes stayed in fifth.
In the Senior Over 50 Expert final, Dana Perri jumped the start and was sent back to the penalty line.
On the next attempt, Jeff “The Jester” Johnson put his Yamaha TT500 up front, followed by Jim Ottele and Jeff Lessley. Perri, doing a tremendous job after coming from the third row, was away in fourth, in front of John Perez, Larry Earhart and Dan Kane, all of whom started in front of him.
After one lap of racing, Perri passed Lessley for third, while Johnson changed ZIP codes with an eight-bikelength gap at the front.
On lap three, Perri got a drive on the exit from turn two and passed Ottele like he was tied to a post to take over at second position. Meanwhile, at the front, Johnson turned a 14.74-second lap time, setting a new track record for a Yamaha TT500cc machine. The best lap for Perri, at 15.18 seconds, was also a blistering time, especially for a vintage Honda single.
In the end, Johnson would take the victory with a three-second cushion over Perri, with Ottele off their pace in third and Lessley well back in fourth.
Johnson would also go on to an easy victory in the Bomber final, giving him a perfect night of racing.
Six riders were on hand for the Premier Senior class, for riders over the age of 70. On this night, Gary Lane from Lucas Oil showed up with his game face on and ready to take names and numbers. On his green Bultaco Astro (yes, green), Lane was never challenged, and his 16.62-second lap time was the fastest of the field. Try as he might, Preston Petty could do nothing to catch up to Lane. Jack Neeley, though, worked long and hard to move forward to finish in the third-place position.
It was great to see six machines in the 750cc Vintage class, as this has been a rather empty field of late, and watching these talented riders throw the heavy 750cc bikes around the Perris quarter-mile is exciting! Gary Beach almost got caught jumping the start.(“Almost” because as he was backing his bike up just a bit, starter Rudy Gil threw the green.) Patrick Hayes led into turn one, over John Clayton, Andy Hardan, Chris Fitzhugh, Beach and Jim Ottele.
Then, on the exit from turn four on lap three, a rider went down, bringing out the red flag and stopping the race. Ottele, who was in last place, had thrown it away all by himself and was lying on the racetrack, waiting for EMT attention. Ottele was helped off the track and did not make the restart. (As of press time, there is no word as to his condition or extent of injury.)
On the restart, Hardan led the field, with Beach and Fitzhugh in tow. Going through turns three and four, Beach appeared to hook his foot, causing him to come close to falling; however, he made the save, though he appeared shaken.
That gave Fitzhugh all he needed, as he moved to second position and dived to the inside on the exit from turn four on the run to the white flag to take the lead away from Hardan. The positions stayed the same for the final lap, giving Fitzhugh a well-earned win over Hardan, Beach and Hayes.
Two-time road-racing World Champion John Kocinski came to Perris with his Knight-framed Honda 250cc two-stroke, but it had a seizure in practice, leaving the machine out of commission. Kocinski then borrowed a 450cc DTX mount from Jim Wood of Southland Racing so he could compete in the Vet Over 35 class.
On the first start, Brad Rudy went down in turn one, stopping the race. Thankfully, he got up and was none the worse for the incident, making the full restart.
This time, Kocinski – on a bike he had never thrown a leg over, and never having even ridden a DTX bike – led into turn one, with Jason Craven right beside him. Exiting turn two, Kocinski had to check up, which gave Craven the lead, while Rudy was just feet behind them both. Down the back straight, Kocinski made a run to carry corner speed and got a drive out of turn four to take over the lead by the time they completed the first lap.
Then, on the entrance to turn two the second time, Craven stalled his ride, taking himself out of the contest; he was visibly upset with himself. That incident gave Kocinski more than a full one-second gap at the front. Jim Rosa, by this time, was on a march forward, and he passed Rudy to move into second.
By the white-flag lap, Craven had gotten his bike restarted and he’d rejoined the race, only two laps down; he would be credited with eighth place. Kocinski had already posted his fastest lap of 15.13 seconds and he went on to win by more than a full straightaway over Rosa and Rudy, keeping his undefeated streak at Perris intact.
Sixteen riders made up the Open Novice field, but only the fastest nine would transfer to the A main event. Jace Callison emerged from the chaos in turn one to lead the field down the back straight. Scott Hanson settled in at second, with Neil Hartman in third.
On lap two, Callison turned the fastest lap of the race, at 15.93 seconds, as he opened up a 10-bikelength gap over Hanson. Dominic Fabiani, meanwhile, was fighting with Brian Harmon over fourth, while Jeremy Templeman, coming from a second-row start, was making his way forward. A lap later, Templeman would displace Fabiani to take over at fifth, and he then attempted to inch his way forward to Harmon.
Lap after lap, Callison was extending his lead at the front, and with two laps remaining he held a 2.8-second gap. On the last lap, Callison could have walked it home for the win, which gave him his second victory of the night. Hanson held on to second by 2 ½ bikelengths over a closing Hartman. Templeman closed slightly on Harmon in fourth but had to settle for fifth. Fabiani was sixth and Monty Watowa seventh.
Aaron Colton had great starts all night, and the Open Amateur main event was just another example, as Colton led the field into turn one. Zach Johnson quickly went past Colton on the first run down the back straight to take over at the front, dropping Colton to second. Rich Hanson was in third and Jimmy Gillen in fourth.
Then, on the exit from turn two on the second lap, Gillen stuffed it under Hanson to advance up to third. By this time, though, Johnson already had a 12-bikelength lead at the front, and with his head down he turned the fastest lap of the main, at 15.24 seconds. Colton had the second-fastest lap time, at 15.35 seconds, to Gillen’s 15.48 seconds.
On lap three, Hanson shot past Gillen to reclaim third. Meanwhile, Brandon Watters was up to fifth.
A lap later, Hanson really picked up his pace, and when Colton went wide entering turn three, that allowed Hanson to advance to second, making this a three-rider battle for the second-place position, as Gillen recovered to join the fight. Colton came right back at Hanson, showing him a wheel in every corner and finally making it stick to reclaim second on the white-flag lap. Gillen, wasting no opportunity, shot past the stunned Hanson and into third, making the final finishing order Johnson, Colton, Gillen, Hanson and Watters.
Twelve riders fought through four heat races and two semis to get a spot in the 20-lap, $5,000 Pro main event. Two-time Daytona short-track winner Mikey Rush sat on pole by virtue of having the fastest heat-race time.
When the light went green, Grand National Champion Jared Mees had the quickest reaction time and left the line first, only to be pushed wide, dropping him to third, as Rob Pearson took over to lead the first lap, in front of Rush. Perris local Nick Armstrong ran in fourth, with Scott Baker fifth and Dylan Morin sixth.
A few laps in, Pearson appeared to be getting away at the front, as Rush was fighting to hold Mees at bay, which was costing them both valuable time and real estate.
By lap six, the front three riders had separated themselves from the rest of the field, and it was clear they would comprise the podium –though not in what order they would finish.
By this point, Conner Anderson had gotten past Baker for fifth, and Doug Fisher, who looked fast all night, was moving forward from a poor start as well.
At the halfway point, it was Pearson, Rush and Mees at the front. However, on the next exit from turn four, Mees had figured out a line that gave him a good drive, and he used it on Rush to take away the second-place position. Armstrong was a full two seconds back in fourth but turning in the race of his life, though he appeared to be tiring.
With eight laps remaining, Pearson held an eight-tenths-of-a-second gap over Mees, who in turn had a six-tenths-of-a-second gap over Rush.
A lap later, Armstrong succumbed to the pressure from Fisher and gave up fourth. Then Anderson went down entering turn three and was on the racetrack. Yellow flags were quickly thrown, and as the situation was being assessed, Anderson – showing great presence of mind – quickly dragged his bike and himself out of harm’s way, which allowed the race to continue.
By this point in the race, Mees was within two bikelengths of Pearson, and Rush had dug deep and closed in as well. It was clear that among these three it was still anyone’s race to the finish.
On the exit from turn four on the run to the white flag, Mees used the same move he had put on Rush to go under Pearson, pushing Pearson wide on the entrance to turn one, and Mees took the lead. The fans jumped to their feet, with not a single person still sitting as the top three shot down the back straightaway.
Pearson had led the first 19 laps, but Mees led the only lap of the race that really counted: the last one. He went on to take the victory over Pearson, with Rush a close third. Further back, Fisher finished a hard-fought fourth, over a solid ride from Armstrong in fifth. Kyle Johnson just edged out Bronson Bauman for sixth.
Some of the fastest lap times belonged to Rush (14.64 seconds), Pearson (14.74 seconds), Bauman (14.77 seconds), Johnson (14.90 seconds), Armstrong (14.99 seconds), and Mees (15.00 seconds flat). Consistent lap times win races, not just the fastest single lap time – not to mention the experience that a Grand National Champion brings to the table. Mees was aboard a Southland Pro Suspension DTX Honda he had never ridden prior to this event, but he still managed to do what needed to be done to capture a victory on his first-ever appearance at Perris. Let’s hope he returns next year to defend this victory; he puts on a great show!
Results: October 11, 2013 (Rounds 10 of 11 and 5 of 7)
50 2-STROKE NOV: 1. Colin Petton.
50 4-STROKE BEG: 1. Zach Gross; 2. Travis Horn; 3. Zach Templeman.
50 4-STROKE NOV: 1. Shana Maguire.
65 2-STROKE BEG: 1. Ava Bush.
65 4-STROKE BEG: 1. Zach Gross; 2. Natalie Gross.
65-70 2-STROKE NOV: 1. Grant Holmes; 2. Travis Petton IV; 3. Tyler Raggio; 4. Joey Kosko.
85-100 2-STROKE BEG: 1. Evan Harich; 2. Joe Kosko; 3. Outlaw Davis.
85-100 2-STROKE NOV: 1. Travis Petton IV; 2. Clayton Williams; 3. Grant Holmes; 4. Hunter Goodwin; 5. Tyler Raggio.
85-100 4-STROKE BEG: 1. Evan Harich.
85-100 4-STROKE: 1. Monica Gil.
85 OPEN: 1. Clayton Williams; 2. Travis Petton IV; 3. Grant Holmes; 4. Hunter Goodwin; 5. Evan Harich.
YOUTH 250: 1. Jace Callison; 2. Clayton Williams; 3. (rider unknown, #9); 4. Parker Fitzhugh; 5. Monica Gil; 6. Jaycee Jones.
MEN’S 4-STROKE: 1. Henry Canon; 2. Pat Neilson; 3. Dee Kilroy; 4. Billy Katkov.
OPEN NOV A MAIN: 1. Jace Callison; 2. Scott Hanson; 3. Neil Hartman; 4. Brian Harmon; 5. Jeremy Templeman; 6. Dominic Fabiani; 7. Monty Watowa; 8. L.J. Gronek; 9. Paul Claybaugh.
OPEN NOV B MAIN: 1. Cameron Brewer; 2. Joseph Hierres; 3. Jaycee Jones; 4. Kevin Neilson; 5. Joe Melton; 6. Eric Cleveland; 7. Alexandra Fabiani.
OPEN AM: 1. Zach Johnson; 2. Aaron Colton; 3. Jimmy Gillen; 4. Rich Hanson; 5. Brandon Watters; 6. Allison Stacey; 7. Kenny Alderden; 8. Parker Fitzhugh; 9. Bryan Rowlett.
OPEN UNCLASSIFIED: 1. Davis Fisher; 2. Zach Johnson; 3. Aaron Colton; 4. Jimmy Gillen; 5. Austin Helmholz; 6. Jace Callison; 7. L.J. Gronek.
PRO DASH FOR CASH: 1. Rob Pearson; 2. Jared Mees; 3. Mike Rush; 4. Scott Baker.
PRO MAIN: 1. Jared Mees; 2. Rob Pearson; 3. Mike Rush; 4. Doug Fisher; 5. Nick Armstrong; 6. Kyle Johnson; 7. Bronson Bauman; 8. Scott Baker; 9. Dylan Morin; 10. Dustin Pruczinski; 11. Kayl Kolkman; 12. Conner Anderson.
BOMBER: 1. Jeff Johnson; 2. Dana Perri; 3. Danny Perkins; 4. Jim Lundgren.
VET 35+: 1. John Kocinski; 2. Jim Rosa; 3. Brad Rudy; 4. Robert Steller; 5. David Crivello; 6. Robert Bacosa; 7. Eric Cleveland; 8. Jason Craven.
SR 50+ NOV DIVISION 1: 1. Steve Pruczinski; 2. Andy Harden; 3. John Clayton; 4. Steele Friedrich; 5. Patrick Hayes; 6. David Crivillo; 7. Robert Stettler.
SR 50+ NOV DIVISION 2: 1. Neal Hartman; 2. Tim Watters; 3. Fred Berger; 4. Joe Baggott; 5. Kelly Surplice; 6. Mike Boal; 7. Paul Claybaugh; 8. Danny Mathis.
SR 50+ AM: 1. Bill Wright.
SR VET 50+ EX: 1. Jeff Johnson; 2. Dana Perri; 3. Jim Ottele; 4. Jeff Lessley; 5. John Perez; 6. Larry Earhart; 7. Dan Kane.
SUPER SR 60+: 1. Vince Graves; 2. Joe Baggott; 3. De Wayne Jones; 4. David Molitor.
PREMIER SR 70+: 1. Gary Lane; 2. Preston Petton; 3. Jack Neeley; 4. Mel Stoner; 5. William Morgan; 6. Allan Girdler.
CLASSIC VINTAGE 250: 1. Fred Berger.
CLASSIC VINTAGE 500: 1. David Bush; 2. Tom Ferguson; 3. James Kohls.
VINTAGE 250 2-STROKE NOV: 1. Harly Legowski; 2. Michael Fritz.
VINTAGE 250 2-STROKE AM: 1. Jim Monaco.
VINTAGE 250 2-STROKE EX: 1. Jeff Lessley.
VINTAGE 360 2-STROKE: 1. Gary Lane
750 VINTAGE: 1. Chris Fitzhugh; 2. Andy Hardan; 3. Gary Beach; 4. Patrick Hayes; 5. John Clayton; 6. Jim Ottele.
California Championship Series Classes
85-150 EX: 1. Clayton Williams; 2. Grant Holmes; 3. Tyler Raggio; 4. Travis Petton IV.
250 OPEN: 1. Jace Callison; 2. Allison Stacey; 3. Clayton Williams.
OPEN NON-PAYING: 1. James Monaco.
VET 35+ EX: 1. Steve Hill; 2. Anthony Mitchell.
VINTAGE: 1. Jim Lundgren.