Third Annual Big Time Speedway Grass-Track Weekend
El Dorado County Fairgrounds
Story and Photos by Karen Gould/Checkered Flag Photography
RANCHO CORDOVA, CA, MAR. 7-8, 2015
Big Time Speedway’s European Grass-Track Weekend will not soon be forgotten. Some 134 riders filled the pits on Saturday, along with their families and friends, to enjoy the oval track and the newly constructed scrambles track that went up the hill, around the trees, and over the pallets, presenting the riders with new challenges at every turn.
Big Time Speedway promoters Steve Stasiefski and Steve Elstins and their team spent countless hours orchestrating another outstanding event. In the morning, the weather was a bit chilly, but it warmed up into a beautiful day, with temperatures in the 70s – perfect for racing. By midafternoon, sweatshirts had given way to shorts and short-sleeved shirts. Most of the grass had worn off the track surface, mixing with the dirt below and revealing an awesome cushion oval for the riders to enjoy. Competition included classes for quads, lawnmowers, motorcycles, speedway bikes, Pee Wees, vintage, knobbies, and anything that had wheels and a motor.
The annual Big Time Speedway European grass-track is not meant to be a serious competition but rather was created as a fun day for the community and riders to enjoy. The Billy Janniro Challenge is one of the riders’ favorites. Many show up just to ride this event. Speedway riders and flat-track riders all gather together on bikes of less than 150cc to compete for the 100-dollar bill that Billy hands to the winning rider at the end of the day, during the awards ceremony. The riders all compete aggressively for that $100 in one of the most exciting classes of the day. This race certainly includes more riders than any of the others, and it provides a lot of good, old-time entertainment for those watching.
This year, a new rule was put in place governing the Janniro Challenge: If a rider cut the track during the Challenge and gained a position by doing so, they would lose a lap, encouraging the riders to ride more within the lines of ribbons and tapes that outlined the course on the track.
Another challenge was also added to the Challenge: This year, rather than being run on the oval track, the Challenge was held on the scrambles track, which included two tree turns that were both pretty steep, as well as a steep hillside that was bordered by colored tapes to show the riders where the track was. The tree turns provided the most challenge for the riders, as many of them got partway up and then slid back down backwards, creating a traffic jam for the others behind them. Billy himself was involved in some of the early mayhem at the first tree turn, putting him in the middle of the pack, and he was unable to get to the front before the checkers flew.
Organized the same as a speedway event, each class rode two heat races and one main event.
Sunday’s crowd was a bit smaller than Saturday’s, though many of the riders camped overnight and celebrated the weekend’s excitement after the sun went down.
Sunday morning, the track was prepared for another day of racing, corner workers took their places on the track, and the racing began. In addition to bikes, quads, mowers and Pee Wees, on this day a small group of sidecar teams showed up to enjoy the event.
As is the custom, once again the races were divided into two heats and a main event. The heats were not scored, and the start line was wide enough to accommodate everyone on the front row.
In keeping with the spirit of fun, the quad rider who’d signed up as “Sandy Bagger” took the Quad class to the checkers, followed by Clark Miller and Brad Miller.
Local rider Joe McCoy was the leader in the 450cc class, though not without a challenge from Rick Goldrup. Bryan Bierworth rounded out the podium.
Clark Miller won the 250cc class, in front of Wesley Nelson.
Rick Shafer beat all the younger riders in the 100-150cc class. Robert Curry and Rad Miller followed him across the line.
Justin “J” Heidt, on class-C tires, maneuvered through the deep cushion to take the Vintage-class victory, in front of Pete Silva. Last year, Pete was the monkey on a sidecar.
Brandon Weller showed the other PW85 riders the fast way to the finish. Kyle Cunningham and Chyanne Enos followed. Chyanne is brand new to racing motorcycles.
Weller was back on the track to win the PW65 class.
A very special youngster, Colton Nelson, led Zerek Krezman and Blake Heidt to the PW50 podium. Colton, who is generously sponsored by KTM, has a very rare condition known as Hyper-IgE (HIE), also called Job Syndrome. Colton has no immune system, and until he began receiving four-hour treatments of intravenous Ig injections (IVIG) every three weeks, he was not even able to attend school. The treatment gives Colton antibodies from thousands of donors across the globe. Colton loves to ride motorcycles; he won his first race in 2014, at the beginning of his second year of riding, and he keeps on winning, both on his motorcycles and in his life. His mom and dad have armed him with a lot of information that he needs to have to stay as healthy as he can, and he handles his own care responsibly with the same tenacity that drives him to go faster on the track.
Colton has a lot fans rooting for him as he rides his orange KTM’s to victory after victory. Colton also rides speedway and is coached by Gary Davis. Colton’s family owns a local restaurant, Dingus McGee’s in Auburn, California. Dingus McGee’s and Auburn Extreme Powersports will raffle off a 2014 custom Victory Cross Country motorcycle to help fund a foundation for Colton. The bike is worth approximately $30,000, and tickets can be purchased for $20 at Auburn Extreme Powersports, where the bike is on display. The drawing will take place on March 17, 2015, during Colton’s benefit party at Dingus McGee’s. Tickets for Colton’s benefit party are $10, and an awesome corned-beef-and-cabbage dinner is only $15.95.
Brandon Weller is a flat-track rider who came to enjoy the grass-track on this weekend. While he was there, an offer was made to him to ride a 150cc speedway bike on Sunday, and he did. Brandon tiptoed around the track in heat one, crashed in heat two, and then finished second in his class in the main event. Cameron Krezman won the race, but Weller gave Krezman something to pay attention to, coming alongside him during the final laps. Landon Collins rounded out the podium.
Krezman came back to take the Youth 100-150cc grass-track class to the finish, with him in front. Dylan Wagner was runner-up, and Sammy “The Bullet” Waddill was third.
The lawnmowers bounced around the track and gave everyone a chuckle. Wesley Laster easily finished first.
The Sidecar team of James Kinne & Dave Salke won a heat race, but Andrew Obermark & Kelly Bell won the main. Robert Curry ran out of gas on the start line.
Fourteen riders lined up to take on the Adult 450cc Scramble competition. Bryan Bierworth seemed to have a handle on how to maneuver around the track and led the race from start to finish. Kyle Skinner finished second, and Rad Miller was third.
The course was not easy for the 450cc riders, but it was even more of a challenge for the Billy Janniro Challenge riders, aboard their bikes of 150cc or less. James Dilkey worked his way through the pack of riders to give Janniro a run for his money during the last couple of laps. It was very close at the finish, but Janniro did take the win – and kept his money for himself.
And the final race of the day, the Youth Heads-Up Scramble, was won by Brandon Weller, in front of Aaron Perry and Cameron Krezman.
Both days ended with awards ceremonies, at which the winning riders who made the podiums in each class were awarded with special third-annual commemorative medals. This weekend of racing included more than 200 entered racers, and they all had a great time!
Big Time Speedway will hold a three-race series beginning April 11. More information on the series is available at www.bigtimespeedway.com.
See you at the races!
El Dorado County Fairgrounds
Rancho Cordova, California
Results: March 7-8, 2015
PW50: 1. Colton Nelson; 2. Zerek Krezman; 3. Blake Heidt.
PW65: 1. Brandon Weller; 2. Colton Nelson.
PW85: 1. Brandon Weller; 2. Kyle Cunningham; 3. Aaron Perry; 4. Chyanne Enos.
SPEEDWAY JR 150: 1. Cameron Krezman; 2. Brandon Weller; 3. Landon Collins; 4. Greg Moore.
YOUTH 100-150: 1. Cameron Krezman; 2. Dylan Wagner; 3. Sammy Waddill.
OPEN 250: 1. Clark Miller; 2. Wesley Nelson.
ADULT 100-150: 1. Rick Shafer; 2. Robert Curry; 3. Rad Miller.
ADULT 450: 1. Joe McCoy; 2. Rick Goldrup; 3. Bryan Bierworth.
ADULT HEADS-UP: 1. Rich Collins; 2. Joe McCoy; 3. Joel Thomure; 4. Rad Miller; 5. William McCloskey; 6. Wesley Nelson.
VINTAGE: 1. Justin Heidt; 2. Pete Silva.
SIDECAR: 1. Andrew Obermark/ Kelly Bell; 2. James Kinne/ Dave Salke.
LAWNMOWER: 1. Wesley Laster.
QUAD: 1. “Sandy Bagger”; 2. Clark Miller; 3. Brad Miller.
YOUTH HEADS UP: 1. Brandon Weller; 2. Kyle Cunningham; 3. Cameron Krezman.
ADULT 250: 1. Clark Miller.
ADULT 450: 1. Bryan Bierworth; 2. Kyle Skinner; 3. Rad Miller.
BILLY JANNIRO CHALLENGE: 1. Billy Janniro; 2. James Dilkey; 3. Clark Miller.