Saddlemen

Yarrow Takes U.S. Championship Back to Northern California

| 12 October 2014 2:51 pm

U.S. National Speedway Championship
Costa Mesa Speedway at the Orange County Fairgrounds

Story by Elaine Jones
Photos by Michael Kingston Phipps/MSD Photography
COSTA MESA, CA, SEPT. 27, 2014

This was the U.S. National Speedway Championship – the most important night of the season, and riders had to earn the right just to be on the program. It was the usual big-night atmosphere, with the riders getting their game heads on and the mechanics making sure the bikes are perfect. Brad Oxley and his crew had prepared a perfect track, and Brad’s wife, Jaleen, had taken care to make sure everything else was in place for this most special of nights. They are truly the “dynamic duo.”

Harry Oxley, the patriarch of Speedway in the United States, was on hand for the 46th year of this Championship. The bullring at Costa Mesa Speedway is the only place this race has ever been held. The true fans were on hand and the stands were full. It was going to be a fun night full of exciting racing!

Costa Mesa Speedway founder and Grand Marshal for the night Harry Oxley (left) speaks with announcer Terry Clanton for the kick-off of the 2014 Speedway Nationals.

Costa Mesa Speedway founder and Grand Marshal for the night Harry Oxley (left) speaks with announcer Terry Clanton for the kick-off of the 2014 Speedway Nationals.

There would be five rounds of heads-up racing, but that is where the format changed. No semis – this would be a one-shot deal. The top three in points would go directly to the main event; fourth through seventh would head to the last-chance qualifier, and the winner of the LCQ would be the final rider in the main.

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Round One
The opening heat race was sponsored by Law Tigers. These sponsors stepped up to give the winning rider of each heat a nice chunk of change, so if you need their services, remember to thank them for supporting Speedway!

It was the youngest rider in the field, 16-year-old Broc Nicol, coming from the pole, who read the gate and got the jump on the rest of the field. He never looked back, and those precious points were his. On back, it was Tyson Talkington, Bobby “Boogaloo” Schwartz and Jason Ramirez.

Mike Detlefsen sweetened the pot in the second heat. Billy “The Bullet” Hamill, the defending Champion, let it be known that he had come to play. Game, set and match, and win number one for him was in the books. Tyson Burmeister was right behind him all the way to the white-flag lap, when “Mad Max” Ruml got through on the inside for the second spot. Steve Russell, who be hanging up his helmet at the end of the night, was fourth.

David Gallegos sponsored the third heat, and it was Bryan Yarrow, making the trip down from Citrus Heights in Northern California, who went wire to wire and let the So Cal riders know that Nor Cal riders were in the house. Second place went to Tommy Hedden, who was down from Auburn, California. Charlie “The Edge” Venegas and “Fast” Eddie Castro rounded out the field.

Mark Lane picked up the tab in the final heat of round one, and “Battlin’ Buck” Blair was more than happy to pocket the money with a very strong opening ride. He let everyone know he was in contention. Austin Novratil, Shawn “Mad Dog” McConnell and “Flyin’ Mike” Faria followed him home.

Buck Blair fought hard to make the 2014 Scratch main, placing fourth for the year.

Buck Blair fought hard to make the 2014 Scratch main, placing fourth for the year.

Round one was in the books, and the best of the cast of characters were rising to top. Jitters-time was over; now it was time to see who the main players were going to be.

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Round Two
RF Racing sponsored the opening heat of the second round, and the first try at a go saw Novratil and Nicol get up close and personal in turn one. The red flag came out and a complete restart saw everyone back on the line except Novratil, who had wadded his bike. Reserve rider Russell Green took his place on the line.

The second try saw Ruml explode out of gate three, and he won the drag race to the corner and the lead was his. Nicol was out second, with Green running third. First-round winner Yarrow was bringing up the rear, which has zero points. Green held on, and the roller-coaster evening was about to begin!

Third place for 2014 was locked in by young sensation Max Ruml.

Third place for 2014 was locked in by young sensation Max Ruml.

Hellbound Mike & Shep picked up the tab in the second heat. Blair, from the pole, put another entry in the win column, and things were looking good. Hedden added another second-place finish and was keeping it slow and steady. Schwartz was getting points, but third-place finishes weren’t going to cut it on this night; he needed to step up his game. Russell would zero out in this round.

Mike Boyle Racing sponsored the third heat of the round. McConnell got the gate, but Burmeister won the race to the first corner, and even though he normally runs a higher line than McConnell, he was able to keep closing the door on McConnell’s attempt to get under him. Talkington and Castro were third and fourth, respectively.

Hagon Shocks added the incentive to the fourth heat, and who more fitting to win it than Hamill, who does so much with that company? Hamill did his usual reading of the gate better than anyone else on the line and never looked back. Ramirez did an awesome job of holding veterans Venegas and Faria at bay.

Round two was in the books, and it seemed that consistency was what was going to win things on this night, and a lot of riders were having major trouble with that concept. Two riders were still perfect: Hamill and Blair.

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Round Three
Insiders, the great infield crew, put the money up for the opening heat of the third round. The first try at a go saw Faria get into the tapes, and he got the kiss of death: a trip to the 20-yard line.

They lined up again, and this time it was Russell who read the gate the best. What better way to end his racing career than with a heat win on National night? Nicol, Castro and Faria followed him home.

The Walker family, longtime supporters of Speedway, were on hand again to make the riders’ night special. Venegas got the gate, but Ruml made an awesome pass on the inside and was running in front when they came around on the first lap. Venegas put the pressure on but just couldn’t get the youngster to make a mistake, and he would have to settle for the second. McConnell and Schwartz were third and fourth, respectively, in this one.

The Detlefsen family again stepped forward for the next heat – and so did Hamill, with another wire-to-wire romp. Yarrow was back on track with the second spot. Blair, who had touched the tape on the first try at a go, saw his perfect night go away, as he was sent to the 20-yard line. However, he got a gift when Talkington went down in turn one on the second lap.

Billy Hamill leads Bryan Yarrow in a heat race early in the evening.

Billy Hamill leads Bryan Yarrow in a heat race early in the evening.

Jack & Paula Straw sponsored the final heat of round three, and Burmeister continued his comeback from his less-than-stellar first ride with another win. Novratil came away with the second spot, but would he be able to overcome the second-round DNF? Ramirez and Hedden rounded out the field.

One rider was still perfect – Hamill – and one rider was one point back, and that was Ruml. There were two more rounds to go.

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Round Four
Long Beach Boat Movers added the incentive for the opening heat of the penultimate round, and Burmeister was on fire! He came out swinging and went heads-up with Venegas as they loaded into one and two, respectively. Burmeister got the call and was able to hold Venegas at bay in the quick four-lapper. Nicol got by Blair on the second lap, and he was back in it. Blair was trying to regroup.

The Doug Nicol family sponsored the second heat of this round, and how fitting for Hamill to take the win – and his friend’s money. On back, it was Novratil, Castro and Schwartz.

Connor Concrete Cutting sponsored the third heat. It was all Ruml, and his sights were definitely set on making the main – and he was on track to do just that. Hedden put in a solid ride for second. Faria was third and Talkington fourth.

Justin’s Cycles finished out the fourth round, and Yarrow was more than happy to pocket the money and get that much closer to the main event. McConnell got on track in what had been an up-and-down night, as he picked up the second-place finish. The only battle on the track was the one between Ramirez and Russell; the first two laps went to Russell and the last two went to Ramirez.

Hamill was still perfect and Ruml was one point back. Would Hamill be perfect for all five rounds…?

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Round Five
Boyko Racing sponsored the final round of the heat racing – affectionately referred to as the “do or die” round. It started out rough: When McConnell went down hard on the first lap, something went south on his bike. He was unable to make the restart, and reserve rider Rocco Scopellite lined up in his place.

As he had done on the previous starts, it was all Hamill, from wire to wire. Hedden again put in a great ride for second, but it may have been too little, too late. Nicol pick up the third spot, and Scopellite was fourth.

Advanced Auto Care sweetened the pot for the second heat of the final round. This race was also red-flagged, when Burmeister went down hard on the back straight; that was not good for him, as he would have to restart from the 20-yard line.

They loaded in, and it was Yarrow who got the win when he needed it. Now the waiting game began. Schwartz had his best finish of the night, with a second. Burmeister was able to get by Faria on the white-flag lap for third, and he, too, would be playing the waiting game.

So Cal Fencing sponsored the third heat. Austin Novratil went wire to wire for a much-needed win. Would it be enough to move him up the ladder? On this roller-coaster night, he would have to wait until the flag dropped on the final heat. Venegas and Talkington were second and third, respectively; Venegas would also have to wait. Talkington was done for the evening.

RF Racing sponsored the final heat of the night, and Ruml was more than happy to pocket their money. He was sitting pretty for a direct transfer to the main. Blair, by virtue of his second-place finish, should be able to move forward. Ramirez and Castro were done.

A direct transfer to the main went to Hamill, who was perfect on the night. Ruml and Yarrow were second and third in the points. There would be one more shot for four more riders.

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Last-Chance Qualifier
Conner Concrete Cutting sponsored the do-or-die race of the night. The pole went to Burmeister, with Nicol in two. Novratil and Blair were in three and four, respectively.

The first attempt at a go saw Novratil get into the tapes, and he was headed back to the 20-yard line.

They loaded in again, and this time it was Blair and Burmeister who tangled in turn two. After a body-and-bike inventory, they lined up for the final chance at a go.

The last-chance race would take one final rider to the Scratch main, and that made for some wild racing, with a restart due to this crash between Tyson Burmeister and Buck Blair. Blair ended up winning the race to put himself directly into the Scratch main event.

The last-chance race would take one final rider to the Scratch main, and that made for some wild racing, with a restart due to this crash between Tyson Burmeister and Buck Blair. Blair ended up winning the race to put himself directly into the Scratch main event.

This time was the charm, and it was Blair who held it on the hardest and took the lead. He was not to be denied: He would be the final rider in the main.

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U.S. National Speedway Championship Main Event
Larry’s Lounge helped make this one a substantial paycheck. Mechanics pushed the bikes to the line for choice of start position and interviews. The pole went to Hamill. Ruml was in gate two. On the outside, it was Yarrow and Blair. They loaded in, the light went green, and the tapes came up. It was on!

It looked like Hamill got the gate, but Yarrow didn’t back off, and when they came around on the first lap, he was in the lead.

Bryan Yarrow leads 2013 National winner Billy Hamill on the final lap of the Scratch main.

Bryan Yarrow leads 2013 National winner Billy Hamill on the final lap of the Scratch main.

Hamill tried everything he could to put the pressure on Yarrow, but the Northern California rider would not be denied, and the 2015 U.S. National Speedway Champion is Bryan Yarrow. Hamill claimed second, with Ruml and Blair rounding out the field.

Bryan Yarrow gets bumped by the guys after his huge win for 2014.

Bryan Yarrow gets bumped by the guys after his huge win for 2014.

On the podium, it was (from left to right) runner-up Billy Hamill, winner and new champion Bryan Yarrow, and third-place finisher Max Ruml.

On the podium, it was (from left to right) runner-up Billy Hamill, winner and new champion Bryan Yarrow, and third-place finisher Max Ruml.

The champagne celebration!

The champagne celebration!

Support Classes
www.CostaMesaSpeedway.com sponsored the Support events, and the main-event victory went to John Stunkard, who topped Eloy Medellin, Mike Wiley and Rudy Laurer.

Chism Inc. sponsored the Junior events. Division One honors went to Luke Whitcomb, who topped Andrew Russell and Skylar Schnakenberg. The Division Two winner was Sebastian Palmese, who topped Jack Isaac, Tristan Britt and Slater Lightcap.

Kurtis Hamill, Dillon Ruml, Courtney Crone and Gage Geist battle in the Junior 250cc main event.

Kurtis Hamill, Dillon Ruml, Courtney Crone and Gage Geist battle in the Junior 250cc main event.

Mission Motorsports, of course, sponsored the PW50s. The winner of this invitational race was young Rachel Schnakenberg. Following her home were Jose Navarrete, Racer Honnold, Bobby Schwartz and Dean Matas.

[For more about the PW50 contest at this event, please see “Schnakenberg Snakes PW50cc Championship at CMS!” by Jamey Blunt… Editor]

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Costa Mesa Speedway wishes all their riders, fans, sponsors, crews and media a very happy Holiday Season! They look forward to seeing all of you next year when they kick off another season of the best racing around.

Costa Mesa Speedway at the Orange County Fairgrounds
Costa Mesa, California
Results: September 27, 2014

PW50 MAIN: 1. Rachel Schnakenberg (Yam); 2. Jose Navarrete (Yam); 3. Racer Honnold (Yam); 4. Bobby Schwartz (Yam); 5. Dean Matas (Yam).

JR 150 DIVISION 1 MAIN: 1. Luke Whitcomb (Hgn); 2. Andrew Russell (Hgn); 3. Skylar Schnakenberg (Hgn).

JR 150 DIVISION 2 MAIN: 1. Sebastian Palmese (Hgn); 2. Jake Isaac (Hgn); 3. Tristan Britt (Hgn); 4. Slater Lightcap (Hgn).

JR 250 MAIN: 1. Dillon Ruml (Jaw); 2. Kurtis Hamill (Jaw); 3. Courtney Crone (Jaw).

SUPPORT MAIN: 1. John Stunkard (Jaw); 2. Eloy Medellin (Jaw); 3. Mike Wiley (Jaw); 4. Rudy Laurer (Jaw).

LCQ: 1. Buck Blair (Jaw); 2. Tyson Burmeister (Jaw); 3. Broc Nicol (Jaw); 4. Austin Novratil (Jaw).

CHAMPIONSHIP MAIN: 1. Bryan Yarrow (Jaw); 2. Billy Hamill (Jaw); 3. Max Ruml (Jaw); 4. Buck Blair (Jaw).

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