Billy Hamill, Dillon Ruml Rumble to Industry Wins!

| 9 June 2015 1:11 pm

Industry Racing
Industry Hills Expo Center

Story by Tim Kennedy
Photos by Dorcey Wingo

Round two of the 15-event 2015 Industry Speedway season was held on Wednesday, June 3, and it was an all-racing-divisions event. It featured those wild and crazy sidecars and double-dipping Expert riders racing both Handicap and Scratch races. About a thousand spectators watched 44 races from 7:30 to 10:20 p.m. at the indoor Grand Arena of the Industry Hills Expo Center, overlooking the eastern San Gabriel Valley.

The racers launch off the line in the Scratch main event at Industry Racing.

The racers launch off the line in the Scratch main event at Industry Racing.

Division One 500cc Experts raced both Handicap and Scratch heat races, semifinals and main events.

Dillon Ruml, 16, of Huntington Beach, California, was the winner of a six-lap Handicap main (event 37). The rookie Expert was one of three riders who started from the 20-yard line. Russell Green started from the 30, and two riders – Aaron Fox and Billy “The Bullet” Hamill – launched from 50 yards away from the starting-gate tapes.

Gage Geist (inside) battles Billy Hamill (right).

Gage Geist (inside) battles Billy Hamill (right).

Veteran coach Hamill reached second position by lap two and pressed his pupil Dillon Ruml closely. As they raced out of turn four to receive the white flag waved by starter Tom Fox on lap five, the outside-running Hamill’s back tire flattened suddenly. He barely remained upright next to the plywood front-straight crash wall. All the other riders passed safely to his left before he pulled into the infield – and tallied a DNF.

Tyson Talkington (48) and Dillon Ruml (111) in turn three.

Tyson Talkington (48) and Dillon Ruml (111) in turn three.

Dillon Ruml took the victory, followed by 500cc rookie Gage Geist, 15; Fox; Rocco Scopellite; and Green.

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Hamill, 45, won the first Scratch semifinal (event 32), over Scopellite, to earn a spot in the Scratch main.

Buck Blair, 37, won the other Scratch semi (event 33), over Charlie Venegas, and they earned the other two berths in the Scratch main (event 44).

Riders drew balls numbered one through four to determine their positions in the Scratch main-event starting lanes. The draw gave Scopellite lane one, with Venegas and Blair in lanes two and three, respectively. Hamill drew the outside lane four, next to the crash wall.

When the gate lifted, Hamill shot across the track from outside to inside and had the lead exiting turn one. He led the first lap, over Blair, Scopellite and Venegas, who took third on lap two. Scopellite recaptured third on lap three, and that’s how they finished. Hamill won by 10 yards over runner-up Blair, who had 20 yards over Scopellite.

Billy Hamill won the Scratch main.

Billy Hamill won the Scratch main.

Buck Blair took second.

Buck Blair took second.

Rocco Scopellite took third in the Scratch main.

Rocco Scopellite took third in the Scratch main.


Venegas was fourth, five yards back, on a bike he borrowed from Division Two rider Mike Wiley. Venegas’ number-43 GM experienced recurring loss of his chain at Costa Mesa Saturday the previous Saturday and again at Industry; his chain came off at the start of his first heat.

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Ten 1,000cc sidecar teams – that’s an all-time Industry track record! – raced for points during five heat races (events 11, 12, 23, 24 and 31) to determine the four teams that would race in the consolation race (event 41) and the sidecar feature (event 42).

Gerard Jackson & Dave German won the consi.

The top four sidecar teams of the night launch off the line in the Sidecar main.

The top four sidecar teams of the night launch off the line in the Sidecar main.

The 2014 Sidecar Championship team of paraplegic driver Bryan Motis & swing-man Josh Bennett started from the inside lane and led all four laps of the main. Joe Jones & his new swing-man Tom Summers ran a pressing second. Dual Anderson & Vinny Madagan placed third.

In the Sidecar main event, the Jones & Summers team (7) chases the number-two rig of eventual winners Motis & Bennett into turn one.

In the Sidecar main event, the Jones & Summers team (7) chases the number-two rig of eventual winners Motis & Bennett into turn one.

The new number-74 Suzuki GSX team of driver James Kinne, 67, & swinger Johnny Glover placed second and first in their heats. However, they dropped out to the infield while running third in the main.

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Division Two
The 500cc Intermediate-skill-level Division Two support division had a solid field of 14 veterans in attendance. They raced two rounds of heats for points to set the D-2 feature field. Rudy Lauer led all four laps, over Joe Donaldson, Nathan Siegel and Bentley Barrett.

In Second Division action, Dryden Gayle (inside) backs it in and collects Rick Valdez (293) in a real train wreck.

In Second Division action, Dryden Gayle (inside) backs it in and collects Rick Valdez (293) in a real train wreck.

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Division Three
Ten newer Division Three riders turned out and ran two heat-race rounds and a feature. Lawrence McNutt, a 52-year-old technology-firm CEO now in his third speedway season, journeyed south from his home in Auburn, California, to race at Industry for the first time. He led every lap he ran in his heat, the semifinal (event 16) and the D-3 main (event 34). He rode his number-275N Jawa to a convincing triumph over Steve Brown, Kevin Fife, and George Willis, who fell and tallied a DNF.

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Sebastian Palmese, 11, led laps four and five en route to his Junior 250cc victory over Jake Isaac, the leader of laps one through three. Third went to the only other rider, James Blair, the 14-year-old nephew of Buck Blair.

James came from his home in Grand Junction, Colorado, to stay with his uncle Buck in Huntington Beach and learn to race speedway. Buck put him on one of his number-39 Jawa bikes and borrowed a 250cc engine from Michael Wells.

Two 250cc riders were sidelined by a serious-looking three-rider heat-race crash on lap two in turn two. Leader Sara Cords, 14, went down, and Michael Wells also fell at the wall. Both walked away but did not return to race.

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A six-rider 150cc field raced heats and a six-lap main with a handicapped start. Slater Lightcap, 9, led the final five laps over lap-one leader “Lightning Luke” Whitcomb, also 9. High school sophomore Skylar Schnakenberg, 16, finished third; she said that next season she will skip the 250cc Juniors and race a 500cc in Division Three. Keelan Venegas,11, Dakota Shockley, 9, and second-year rider Rachel Schnakenberg, also 9, finished on the lead lap, in that order.

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The Pee Wee class had a strong field of six pint-sized riders on bikes such as 50cc Hondas. They all started at the gate and raced a pair of four-lap heats and a six-rider main. La Verne, California, resident Travis Horn, 7, led every lap, over Levi Leutz, 6, and Glenn Geist, 7. Fourth through sixth were Connor Salazar, 5, Gavin Gryfka and Jose Navarette, who fell while leading the first lap.

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The nastiest crash of the evening occurred in event 21, ironically called a Division One “elimination heat.” Leader Dryden Gayle, 17, from Yucaipa, California, was leading lap one when his bike bobbled at turn three and almost threw him. Second-place runner Rick Valdez brushed the struggling lead bike, and his number-293 mount shot at speed into and through the plywood crash wall near the fourth-turn tech/media building. A loud bang accompanied his rapid exit from sight. The impact left Valdez stunned and ripped off two of his fingernails. He was able to walk from the scene 10 minutes later. It took track workers another 10 minutes to rebuild the broken crash-wall section before racing could resume.


Pit Notes
Missing in action were two of the Division One 500cc young guns – Max Ruml, 18, and Broc Nicol, 17. They had flown to England on Tuesday, June 2, to race for Team USA in the FIM World Team Cup. Their first race would be on June 8 at Kings Lynn, Great Britain. People may follow their results at

The World Team Cup captain is Billy Hamill, who flew from Los Angeles to England on Friday, June 5. He said the number of races the U.S. team will run will depend upon race results. Billy said they would fly home on Sunday, June 14, so Max and Broc will miss two Wednesday races at Industry.

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Also MIA on June 3 was popular Division One 500cc rider Jason Ramirez, who was injured after a hard crash on the back stretch at Industry’s season-opening race on May 27. His bike sustained major damage, and he also missed the Costa Mesa race on May 30.

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The Industry Speedway 50/50 ticket drawing on June 3 had a total collection of $870, so $435 each went to the riders and the fan holding the winning ticket.

Junior rider Courtney Crone, 14, was absent for the second week. Her friend, past motorcycle-racing speedway and flat-track legend Sammy Tanner, now 76, said she is concentrating this year on racing midgets and sprint cars. Her last speedway race was in January. Her dad, Jack, sold her two speedway bikes.

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Industry Speedway received the American Motorcyclist Association 2014 Track Racing Organizer of the Year Award at the annual AMA awards banquet in Ohio. Industry Hills Expo Center management, Industry Speedway racing officials led by racing director Kelly Inman, racers and fans all deserve credit for this prestigious honor and the continuing growth of speedway racing at the Grand Arena.

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The wild New Zealand sidecars’ strong turnout of 10 sidecars teams included five up-top rigs built by local sidecar driver and leader Joe Jones. Ten teams competed on June 3 at Industry, and there was a back-up number-81 Honda 1000 in the pits. The ten competing rigs at Industry, by number, were: number two – Yamaha R1; number 007 – Kawasaki KZ; number seven –Yamaha R1; number 33 – Suzuki GSRX; number 44 – Honda VTR; number 66 – Suzuki GSRX; number 74 – Suzuki GSRX, number 101 – Suzuki GSRX; number 911 – Ducati 1000; and number 1965 – Suzuki GSRX.

Rick Richards (345) and Rocco Scopellite (126) in turn three.

Rick Richards (345) and Rocco Scopellite (126) in turn three.

Sidecars were part of the Costa Mesa Speedway season opener on May 16. During the sidecar consi, the number-21 machine of Heather Rowe & her rider Heather Gledhill collided with another sidecar and flipped on the back stretch. Tall Heather Rowe (she of the purple-and-pink-dyed hair) seemed to be okay, but she later sought medical attention. She had sustained a sprained right shoulder. Her right arm was in a sling in the Industry pits on June 3. Heather’s husband, Jeff Rowe, drives the number-1965 (named for his birth year) 1,000cc Suzuki with new sidecar rider Ashley Gibbons. Heather Rowe started as a sidecar rider for her husband but wanted to drive her own rig. She did so and is now a sidecar veteran and half of the only all-female sidecar team.

Jeff Rowe & Ashley Gibbons (1965 – “Git Sum”) and Dual Anderson & Vinny Madagan (007, right) skirmish in Sidecar action.

Jeff Rowe & Ashley Gibbons (1965 – “Git Sum”) and Dual Anderson & Vinny Madagan (007, right) skirmish in Sidecar action.

The traveling sidecar group has 30 to 35 races booked in 2015. Industry has six of them, Costa Mesa has five, with Auburn, Ventura, Victorville, and the Perris flat track sharing the balance of their busy schedule.

The Sidecar National last year at Costa Mesa had 14 rigs in competition. This year, that event will be held on Saturday, September 12, on the third of three Harley Nights at Costa Mesa Speedway, now in its 47th consecutive season.

Industry Racing at the Industry Hills Expo Center
City of Industry, California
Results: June 3, 2015 (Round 2 of 15)

SIDECAR MAIN: 1. Bryan Motis/ Josh Bennett; 2. Joe Jones/ Tom Summers; 3. Dual Anderson/ Vinny Madagan; 4. James Kinne/ Johnny Glover.

PEE WEE MAIN: 1. Travis Horn; 2. Levi Leutz; 3. Glenn Geist; 4. Conner Salazar; 5. Gavin Dryfka; 6. Jose Navarette (fell).

MINI 150 MAIN: 1. Slater Lightcap; 2. Luke Whitcomb; 3. Skylar Schnakenberg; 4. Keelan Venegas; 5. Dakota Shockley; 6. Rachel Schnakenberg.

JR 250 MAIN: 1. Sebastian Palmese; 2. Jake Isaac; 3. James Blair.

DIVISION 3 MAIN: 1. Lawrence McNutt; 2. Steve Brown; 3. Kevin Fife; 4. Greg Willis (fell).

DIVISION 2 MAIN: 1. Rudy Laurer; 2. Joe Donaldson; 3. Nathan Siegel; 4. Bentley Barrett.

DIVISION 1 HANDICAP MAIN: 1. Dillon Ruml; 2. Gage Geist; 3. Aaron Fox; 4. Rocco Scopellite; 5. Russell Green; 6. Billy Hamill (retired).

DIVISION 1 SCRATCH MAIN: 1. Billy Hamill; 2. Buck Blair; 3. Rocco Scopellite; 4. Charlie Venegas.

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