AMA Speedway National Championship Series
Round 2: Ventura Raceway
Courtesy of Steve Evans
Photo by MSD Photography
VENTURA, CA, JUNE 25, 2015
Grand Prix-style speedway will be coming to America this Saturday, June 27, with one of the most hotly anticipated and exciting events of the 2015 season – the AMA National Speedway Championship Series’ round two at Ventura Raceway.
The Ventura event – or, as it is known, “The Commotion by the Ocean” – is an utterly unique event. Aside from the track being located just a hundred yards from the beach in a beautiful oceanside town, it is the only event on the American calendar that truly is on a European-sized grand-prix track. The track measures a fifth of a mile, and it is wide and banked and produces high-speed and multiline racing, making it the closest race experience to a Speedway Grand Prix in North America.
Round one of the series was held at Costa Mesa Speedway on May 31, and it produced an exciting and thrilling show. Billy Hamill won six of his rides, including the big final, to top the event, although he is tied for the series lead with Aaron Fox, who put on a consistent display of four wins and three second-place finishes. Hot on their tails, of course, are defending AMA Speedway Champion Billy Janniro and wonder kids Broc Nicol and Max Ruml, who will be ready for Ventura due to their appearances in England and Denmark this month in the Speedway World Cup, on tracks of a similar size to that at Ventura.
“Ventura is the best speedway track in America,” enthused Janniro, who is gunning for three National titles in a row. “The series is growing and getting better all the time, and I can’t wait to run the big track on Saturday!”
Max Ruml, who was third in 2014 at Ventura and is the current Under 21 National Champion, added: “I can’t wait to see how all the young guns adapt to a bigger track. It should be a great event and I’m just glad to be apart of it.”
“It’s definitely a great opportunity to have a race at Ventura and especially for an AMA National round,” said Nicol, who impressed greatly during his practice outings with Team USA in Europe just two weeks ago. “I love Ventura because it’s on a bigger track, which we don’t get much of here in the States. I favor bigger tracks and am looking forward to the second round of Nationals.”
Of course, series leader and former World Champion Hamill remembers the weekly shows that ran at Ventura on Tuesdays up until 1987.
“Ventura Speedway has a rich tradition in Speedway Motorcycle racing,” Hamill said. “It is cool to see them hold such a prestigious event as the AMA National Championship on one of the fastest speedway tracks in the world.”
Fox, a man who is in top form after winning the last two events at Costa Mesa, is relishing a return to the big track, having spent 2014 racing in the British League for the Edinburgh Monarchs in Europe, where he won three championships.
“The Commotion by the Ocean this weekend is set to be a fantastic event, I believe,” Fox enthused. “Ventura races come once a year, and it makes the event that much more exciting. Being that it’s a much larger track than what riders are used to, we are able to showcase some speed and use different lines on the track to race on. We have a lot of riders that can make starts and hold the inside on the smaller tracks, though Ventura allows plenty of opportunity to wind it on and make passes, both inside and outside.”
In addition to the riders above, the program will also feature former National Champions Charlie Venegas and Bart Bast, multitime U.S. Open winner Shawn McConnell, two-time Youth National Champion Dillon Ruml, “Battlin’ Buck” Blair, Tommy “Mr. Entertainment” Hedden, Bryce Starks, Tyson Talkington and Russell Green. The final two spots will be decided by run-offs before the main event.
The grand marshal for the event is none other than “Fast Eddie” Castro. Eddie, a local rider from Ojai, California, has been forced into retirement due to health issues, as he is currently batting cancer. Despite this, the local hero will be at the event to greet his fans and serve as grand marshal. Also, “Fast Eddie’’ T-shirts will be on sale at the event to held raise funds for his medical bills. For those making a full weekend of the event, there will also be a fundraising barbecue for him at noon on Sunday at Precision Motorcycle Center in Goleta, California.
The event will be an all-day extravaganza, with spectator gates opening at 3 p.m. and practice laps being run between 3:30 and 4: 30 p.mm. At 5:30, there will be “wild-card race-offs,” as well as heat races for Support divisions, 250cc Juniors, vintage bikes and Xtreme Sidecars. The National Championship races will start at 7 p.m.!
Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and military personnel, $10 for juniors and kids from 7 through 12, and children 6 and under will be admitted free.
The racetrack is located at Seaside Park at the Ventura County Fairgrounds, 10 West Harbor Boulevard in Ventura, California. More information can be found at www.venturaraceway.com.