Fast Fridays Motorcycle Speedway
Gold Country Fairgrounds
Story and Photos by Michael Kirby
AUBURN, CA, AUG. 1, 2014
Friday night, Auburn, California’s Bob Hicks finally broke into the winners’ circle this season at the Fast Fridays Motorcycle Speedway at the Gold Country Fairgrounds. Hicks, a 25-year veteran of speedway racing, had a exceptional night, winning the Division One Handicap main event and finishing third in the Division One Scratch main event. The win was Hicks’ first main-event victory of the season, although he’s a consistent top-three main-event finisher and should never be counted out in any race.
Hicks garnered a third-place finish in his Handicap heat race and a second-place finish in his Handicap semi to transfer to the main. Riding off the 40-yard line, Hicks was able to come through lower-yardage handicap traffic, grab the inside line, and keep ahead of Bart Bast and speedway master Billy Janniro until he took the checkered flag.
“I got off to a slow start, but I put together a new bike two weeks ago and got second in both mains [just after he’d finished the cycle],” said Hicks. “I feel more comfortable on it and just hope to finish out the season strong.”
Bast followed him across the finish line in second and Janniro finished third.
In the Division One Scratch main event, it was Bart Bast who was able to keep Billy Janniro at bay, which he did by grabbing the inside line of the slick track and using everything he had to outmaneuver Janniro in the final race of the night. For Bast, who is considered by many to be one of the most consistent riders at Fast Fridays, it was his second Scratch main-event win of the season. Six times this season, Bast has finished second in the Scratch main event; in four of those, he was following Janniro across the finish line. This week it was Janniro who was second and, following up his outstanding race in the Handicap main, Bob Hicks finished third. Charlie Venegas was fourth.
It should be noted that Venegas, a veteran of more than 27 years of racing, notched his 300th career Division One Scratch main-event win in Southern California on Wednesday night, at the Industry Racing speedway track. Big-time congratulations go out to Venegas!
In what seemed like a night of firsts, Shawn Eldredge also picked up his first Division Two main-event win of the season. After a long dry spell, Eldredge put it all together to pull off the victory. Eldredge, who also races in the Division One Handicap program, was second in his heat race and transferred to the main event and managed to stay ahead of speedster David Mersaroli for the win. Mersaroli was second. Nick Dion, coming off a first-place finish the previous week, was third.
“Yeah, this is my first main-event win of the season; I think the last time I won a main event was eight, nine or 10 years ago – a long time,” Eldredge said with a laugh. “Some nights, everything works: the bike works, the track works, and you win.”
On his first night of racing in his return from a serious injury, Eddie Marsalla won the Division Three main event. Harlan Bast was second and John Peters was third.
Crowd favorite Lars Kotrlik won the popular Run What U Brung main event on his Harley-Davidson.
It was a Southern California invasion in the Youth 250cc division, as Gage Geist, Kurtis Hamill and Dillon Ruml all made the trip north to Fast Fridays. It was Geist who pulled off the win in the main – also his first at Fast Fridays this season. Luke Becker was second and Ruml was third.
Kyle Cunningham was first in the Youth A 150cc division. Sterling Martin was second and Dylan Wagner was third.
In the Youth B 150cc main, crowd favorite “Speedway Charlie” Trana grabbed his second main-event win. Landon Collins was second and Gregory Moore was third.
Always popular at Fast Fridays are the Extreme Sidecars, a wild troupe of speedway daredevils who made their fourth of five appearances in Auburn on Friday night. On 1000cc, three-wheeled superbikes, with two riders and no brakes, five teams of racers – including one women’s team – thrilled the Fast Fridays crowd. The team of Joe Jones & Johnny Glover won the Sidecar main event. Jones & Glover celebrated their win with exciting, dirt-throwing doughnuts on the track as the crowd roared its approval.
Fast Fridays Motorcycle Speedway at the Gold Country Fairgrounds
Results: August 1, 2014
DIVISION 1 SCRATCH MAIN: 1. Bart Bast; 2. Billy Janniro; 3. Bob Hicks; 4. Charlie Venegas.
DIVISION 1 HANDICAP MAIN: 1. Bob Hicks; 2. Bart Bast 3. Billy Janniro.
DIVISION 2 MAIN: 1. Shawn Eldredge; 2. David Mersaroli; 3. Nick Dion.
DIVISION 3 MAIN: 1. Eddie Marsalla; 2. Harlan Bast; 3. John Peters.
YOUTH A 250 MAIN: 1. Gage Geist; 2. Luke Becker 3. Dillon Ruml.
YOUTH A 150 MAIN: 1. Kyle Cunningham; 2. Sterling Martin; 3. Dylan Wagner.
YOUTH B 150 MAIN: 1. Charlie Trana; 2. Landon Collins; 3. Greg Moore.
SIDECAR MAIN: 1. Joe Jones/ Johnny Glover.
RUN WHAT U BRUNG: 1. Lars Kotrlik.