AMA National Speedway Championship Series
Round 4: Industry Speedway at the Industry Hills Expo Center
Story by Tim Kennedy
Photos by Craig Hashey
CITY OF INDUSTRY, CA, AUG. 27, 2014
Four-time AMA U.S. National Speedway Champion Billy Janniro, 34, won his fourth California State Speedway Championship on Wednesday night at Industry Speedway in the Industry Hills Expo Center’s Grand Arena. It was the 39th running of the event, which started in 1968. About 1,500 persons attended the prestigious one-night event to determine the annual California 500cc Speedway Champion. Each year since 2006, the race has been held at Industry Speedway. Janniro, who hails from Napa, California, won the event in 2010, 2011 and 2012 but crashed in the feature last year, when track champion Charlie Venegas won for the fourth time.
There were 39 races run from 7:30 to 10:22 p.m. Riders called the heavy track “grippy,” and the track crew reworked turns three and four after heat six. Later, they dragged and reworked the track four times to recondition the usually slick or smooth surface. That work made the usually rapid program run about 25 minutes longer than usual.
Ten falls, from easy lay-downs and remounts to hard falls and dropouts, occurred. That was a season high for that dubious distinction. All riders walked back to the pits under their own power.
Division One heats 31 and 32 were thrillers. Janniro won the former over a pressing Max Ruml. Then Billy Hamill passed Burmeister on lap two to narrowly edge him for that heat-race win.
Sixteen First Division riders raced five rounds of four-rider heat races to score points on a 3-2-1-0 basis. Janniro fell in his first heat after contacting the back wheel of the leader and scored no points for that ride. He won his next four heats to tally 12 points out of a possible 15. High-point rider Max Ruml, 17, of Huntington Beach, California, continued his impressive season by winning his first four heats and placing a pressing second to Janniro in round five.
Billy Hamill and Tyson Burmeister scored 13 points and finished in a tie for second place in the points. Venegas had 11 points. Buck Blair and Division One rookie Broc Nicol were tied for sixth at nine points apiece. Jason Ramirez, with eight points, completed the eight-rider field for the pair of semifinal races.
Only the first two finishers in each semi would advance to the main event. Lane-two starter Janniro took the lead from pole starter Ruml leaving turn two on the first lap and led all four laps over Ruml, Blair and Nicol.
Pole starter Hamill led every lap in the second semi and defeated outside-lane starter Venegas. Burmeister and Ramirez followed.
Division One Main Event
The D-1 feature staged three speedway legends and a rising superstar, teenage sensation Ruml. Hamill selected the pole, Janniro took lane two, and Ruml took the outside lane next to the plywood wall, leaving Venegas lane three.
A perfect start by Janniro and Hamill had the pair even on the first lap exiting the second turn. Then the outside-running Janniro took command on the back stretch and led lap one, over Hamill, Ruml and Venegas. Ruml went to the outside in the third and fourth turns and took second from Hamill on lap two.
At the checkered flag, Janniro beat Ruml by two bikelengths. Hamill was three lengths in back of Ruml, and Venegas trailed Hamill by five lengths.
Janniro hiked his front wheel and did a wheelie before tossing the checkered flag back to the starter after his victory lap.
Ten invited 500cc Division Two riders raced in two heat races for points scored 4-3-2-1-0. Gabe Price won both Intermediate-level heat races for the maximum eight points.
The top four riders in points raced in the Invitational Final, which was won by Ricky Richards, over Harold Hartke. Lewis Hughes and Price finished third and fourth, respectively, after falls, remounts and finishes half a lap back. It was rookie Richards’ fourth main-event victory at Industry Speedway in 2014, one in Division Three and three in Division Two.
Junior 250cc Division
Six Junior 250cc Division riders also raced in two rounds of heats for points, scored 3-2-1-0. The top four in points advanced to the main event.
Youth 250cc 2014 AMA National Champion Dillon Ruml, 15, won both heats and the feature on his Jawa. He had also won the 2014 Junior 250cc AMA/ FIM Silver Cup Championship at Industry Speedway on August 10.
Second through fourth went to Sammy Ramirez, Gage Geist, and Kurtis Hamill, who fell and did not finish. Courtney Crone, 13, tied Ramirez at one point each but he received the final starting berth based on their head-to-head finishing positions in heat races; he’d finished third to her fourth in round two.
In event 17, Geist, 15, and Braydan Galvin, 16, were involved in the most serious crash of this wild night of numerous falls. While running in first and second, their bikes made contact on the back stretch during lap two and both riders fell hard as their bikes flipped down the track toward turn three. Both riders remained on the ground for several minutes; then they walked away gingerly. Galvin did not race in heat two. Geist restarted and finished second in both of his heat races and placed third with four points to make the main event.
The Mini 150cc First Division main-event victory went to National 150cc Champion Sebastian Palmese, 11, of Rancho Santa Margarita, California. He led every lap on his McDougall 150 and also won both heat races for top-point honors. Alex Martin, 9, from Salinas, California, Slater Lightcap, 8, and Tristan Britt, 11, followed.
Alex tied his fraternal twin brother, Sterling, in 150cc D-1 competition at the August 10 AMA/ FIM Silver Cup Championship at Industry Speedway on August 10, at two points in heat racing. Alex received the fourth and final feature starting spot based on the tie breaker: head-to-head finishes. Alex placed second in event 18 to Sterling’s fourth after both youngsters also had no-point fourth-place rides.
The Mini 150cc Second Division main (for newer 150cc riders, including 50cc Pee Wee Division graduates) eliminated half of the four-rider field at the starting gate. Mechanical failures left double-heat-race winner Keelan Venegas, 10, and Charlie Trana, 7, from Folsom, California, stalled at the gate.
Venegas’ and Trana’s bikes were pushed to the infield before England’s Sam Hagon, 9, and runner-up Luke Whitcomb, 8, ran four laps, in that order. Trana was awarded third place during the podium trophy presentations for the top three riders in all divisions. The presentations were followed by spraying from bottles of bubbly by the top three in all divisions.
The 50/50 cash drawing this week produced a $1,420 collection, with $710 going to the lucky spectator with the winning ticket and $710 to the D-1 feature riders.
Attendees this week included AMA great Sammy Tanner, 75, from Fontana, California. Retired CRA sprint-0car drivers Steve Howard and Mike English also attended and sat in the grandstands near announcer Bruce Flanders’ booth.
Mike Miller performed his inspirational version of the national anthem again this week.
D-1 reserve rider Mike Wiley got into two heat races during round two. He replaced excluded riders Broc Nicol in event eight and Tyson Talkington in event 10 after they started early and broke the starting tapes. Wiley fell in both heats and scored no points.
With all the crashes, the high-def color videotape screen above the third turn was used extensively this week. It even showed in time-lapse photography how the track is built for each weekly race. Bruce Flanders taped interviews with several young riders, including Courtney Crone, and they were well received by the spectators.
Kelly Inman, Industry Speedway’s racing director, is still working on the third Monster Energy World Speedway Invitational to get top riders from European nations. These events produce crowds of 5,000 at Industry on Saturday nights, when it is easier to get around on the Southern California freeways. The annual event, which is usually held on the last Saturday of December, may be delayed by two weeks to a tentative Saturday, January 10, 2015, date.
The tentative 2015 Industry Speedway racing schedule has been announced. February 20 and 21 will be the Gumball Rally and Industry Speedway awards in the IHEC Pavilion. Opening night is Wednesday, May 27, followed by June 3, 10, 17 and 24; July 1, 8, 15, 22, 29; and the Saturday, August 8, AMA National Qualifier round. Then Wednesdays August 12, 19, and 26 (the 40th California State Speedway Championship) will conclude the season.
Industry Speedway at the Industry Hills Expo Center
City of Industry, California
Results: August 27, 2014 (Round 4 of 4)
CA STATE CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL: 1. Billy Janniro; 2. Max Ruml; 3. Billy Hamill; 4. Charlie Venegas.
INDUSTRY INVITATIONAL FINAL: 1. Ricky Richards; 2. Harold Hartke; 3. Lewis Hughes; 4. Gabe Price (fell).
JR 250 DIVISION FINAL: 1. Dillon Ruml; 2. Sam Ramirez; 3. Gage Geist; 4. Kurtis Hamill (fell).
MINI 150 DIVISION 1 FINAL: 1. Sebastian Palmese; 2. Alex Martin; 3. Slater Lightcap; 4. Tristan Britt.
MINI 150 DIVISION 2 FINAL: 1. Sam Hagon; 2. Luke Whitcomb; 3. Keelan Venegas (engine failure); 4. Charlie Trana (engine failure).