Impact Canopy

McConnell and Venegas Win at Industry Speedway!

| 28 June 2015 12:38 pm

Industry Racing
Bert’s Mega Mall Night: Industry Hills Expo Center

Story by Tim Kennedy
Photos by Dorcey Wingo
CITY OF INDUSTRY, CA, JUNE 24, 2015

Shawn “Mad Dog” McConnell and Charlie “The Edge” Venegas, both veteran 500cc speedway bike racers who have been competing since the 1980s, raced to their first feature victories of 2015 on Wednesday night at Industry Speedway.

Shawn McConnell placed first in the Handicap main event at Industry Racing.

Shawn McConnell placed first in the Handicap main event at Industry Racing.

More than 1,500 spectators attended the event held in the Industry Hills Expo Center’s Grand Arena on Bert’s Mega Mall Night, with Coast Fabrication sponsorship. It was the fifth of 15 weeks of two-wheel racing in the track’s 12th season.

Charlie Venegas (43, right) slips past Shawn McConnell in turn four on his way to winning the Division One Scratch main.

Charlie Venegas (43, right) slips past Shawn McConnell in turn four on his way to winning the Division One Scratch main.

Wild competition produced some upsets and several wild crashes, including a hard crash into the plywood crash wall on the front straight near the fourth turn. Champion rider Billy Hamill was fourth in event 14 – the Handicap semifinal – and needed to finish in the top three to transfer to the Handicap feature. He rode high and wide. On lap four of six, his bike shot out from under him and slammed into the wall. The “soft” wall bent back, as designed. Hamill reclined on the ground for several minutes before he rose and limped back to the pits with a sore leg and back. He did not race again that evening.

In Handicap action, Billy Hamill (center) passes Broc Nicol (right) and sets his sights on Russell Green (left).

In Handicap action, Billy Hamill (center) passes Broc Nicol (right) and sets his sights on Russell Green (left).

The fourth consecutive week of Handicap and Scratch heats, semis and main events provided fans with 45 races from 7:30 to 10:24 p.m. Division One, Two and Three 500cc riders were joined by 250cc and 150cc Junior riders and 50cc Pee Wee riders, plus 1000cc sidecar teams in another all-divisions night.

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A track-record-tying 10 sidecar teams races raced, and a backup number-12 rig was in the pits for 2014 National Sidecar Champion and paraplegic driver Bryan Motis and his sidecar swinger Josh Bennett. The growing sidecar contingent had four female sidecar swingers this week, including three rookies.

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Handicap Main Event
The Division One Handicap feature (event 37) had six riders start from the zero-, 20-, 30-, 40- or 50-yard lines.

When the starting gate shot up, Mike Dalbey led the first four laps. Coming from the 40, McConnell, 56, led laps five and six. He edged 16-year-old Division One rookie Dillon Ruml, who’d started from the 30, and his 18-year-old brother Max Ruml, who’d started from the 50.

Dillon Ruml came in second in the Handicap main.

Dillon Ruml came in second in the Handicap main.

Dalbey and Dalton Leedy fell separately in turn four on the final lap, but they rose and finished in that order. Gage Geist, 15, dropped out while running sixth on lap four.

In First Division action, Charlie Venegas (center) leads Russell Green (321, left) and Dalton Leedy (222, right) into turn one.

In First Division action, Charlie Venegas (center) leads Russell Green (321, left) and Dalton Leedy (222, right) into turn one.

Rocco Scopellite (126) battles Dillon Ruml (111) in turn one.

Rocco Scopellite (126) battles Dillon Ruml (111) in turn one.

Braydan Galvin and Max Ruml in turn three.

Braydan Galvin and Max Ruml in turn three.

Scratch Semifinals
Division One Scratch semifinal races set the four-rider field for the Scratch main event, with the first two finishers in each semi advancing.

Dillon Ruml led all four laps in the first semi to edge McConnell. Dillon’s older brother Max was third. Buck Blair finished fourth.

Venegas, coming from lane one, led semi two all the way, over Facchini. Geist and Scopellite followed.

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Scratch Consolation Race
The D-1 Scratch consolation race was event 44. Max Ruml led all four laps, over fellow teen Gage Geist, who trailed by one bikelength at the checkered flag being waved by Tom Fox. Buck Blair and Rocco Scopellite followed.

The Scratch Consolation riders are poised to take off.

The Scratch Consolation riders are poised to take off.

Scratch Main Event
The Division One Scratch main (event 45) had vets McConnell and Venegas, 48, in lanes one and two, respectively, with Neil Facchini, 30, and Dillon Ruml in lanes three and four, respectively.

Launching off the line in the Scratch main event are (from left to right) Dillon Ruml, Neil Facchini, Charlie Venegas and Shawn McConnell.

Launching off the line in the Scratch main event are (from left to right) Dillon Ruml, Neil Facchini, Charlie Venegas and Shawn McConnell.

McConnell led the initial lap, but Venegas and Facchini made contact in turn three. Facchini fell hard and his bike slid into the fourth-turn plywood wall. He rose with a sore left shoulder and foot, but he made the restart a few minutes later. Facchini used the same GM bike after a pit man loaned him a pair of pliers to adjust his throttle cable.

On the restart, the drama continued as McConnell again led the opening lap, over Venegas, Facchini and Ruml. It appeared that McConnell would win his second feature of the night, but then he slowed suddenly with a flat tire while leaving turn two on lap three.

Venegas took the lead on the inside at the third turn, with McConnell still second after three laps.

Dillon Ruml was runner-up in the Scratch main.

Dillon Ruml was runner-up in the Scratch main.

McConnell slowed drastically on the final lap. Facchini went to the outside to avoid hitting McConnell, and Dillon Ruml darted to the inside at turn three and finished second. Facchini placed third, and McConnell limped to the finish line in fourth, half a lap back.

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Sidecars
Ten sidecar teams scored points in five heat races and ran a four-team consolation race.

The Sidecar consi field, gridded and ready to go.

The Sidecar consi field, gridded and ready to go.

The lineup for the Sidecar main event.

The lineup for the Sidecar main event.

The Sidecar main (event 43) at 10:10 p.m. had veteran teams in the inside and outside lanes. They ran one and two for two laps. Then the number-two rig of Motis & Bennett spun out in the inside groove and collected the pressing number-7X machine of Joe Jones & Tom Summers.

Bryan Motis & Josh Bennett (right) stalled in turn two, collecting Joe Jones & Tom Summers (7).

Bryan Motis & Josh Bennett (right) stalled in turn two, collecting Joe Jones & Tom Summers (7).

With more than half the race completed, and with pressing time constraints, referee Steve Lucero ruled the race complete. Jones & Summers received the victory, over Gerard Jackson & Dave German. Robert Curry and new swing man David Dent (former number-007 swinger) placed third, with spinners Motis & Bennett last.

Gerard Jackson & Dave German were awarded second in the Sidecar main.

Gerard Jackson & Dave German were awarded second in the Sidecar main.

Joe Jones & Tom Summers (7) were awarded first place in the Sidecar main.

Joe Jones & Tom Summers (7) were awarded first place in the Sidecar main.

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Rudy Laurer (left) and Mike Wiley (right) in Division Two action.

Rudy Laurer (left) and Mike Wiley (right) in Division Two action.

Joe Donaldson and Ben Barrett battle in turn three.

Joe Donaldson and Ben Barrett battle in turn three.

Division Two Main Event
Five riders raced in the D-2 500cc main. Bakersfield, California, second-generation rider Braden Sauer, 18, led it all the way. He credited a new, tighter chain for improving his performance this week after he fell twice last week, in his first outing of 2015. He also won both of his heats.

The start of the Division Two main event.

The start of the Division Two main event.

Stock-car racer Ron Davis finished second. Joe Donaldson was third, half a lap back, after falling and remounting.

Ron Davis (163) took second in the Second Division main event.

Ron Davis (163) took second in the Second Division main event.

The race was red-flagged on lap two. Race leader Will McCloskey, a 23-year-old racer from Auburn in Northern California and a first-time racer at Industry, was hit by second-place rider Nathan Siegel, and both riders fell. They pushed their bikes to the pits.

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Steve Brown (211) moves the herd around turn one in Division Three action.

Steve Brown (211) moves the herd around turn one in Division Three action.

Division Three Main Event
The 500cc D-3 feature (event 34) for newer 500cc riders was a thriller at the end. Steve “Beach Ball” Brown led the first three laps but, heading to the checkered flag, he drifted wide in turn four. Lewis Hughes, the June 17 feature winner, shot to the inside and narrowly beat Brown to the finish line. George Yates and Rick Howard trailed.

The Third Division main event gets under way.

The Third Division main event gets under way.

Steve Brown (211) was runner-up in the Third Division main.

Steve Brown (211) was runner-up in the Third Division main.

Lewis Hughes topped the Division Three main event.

Lewis Hughes topped the Division Three main event.

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Juniors
The Junior 250cc main was a four-rider go, and Michael Wells, 14, ran his best race of the year. He led every lap and beat Blake Borello, 14, from Georgetown. Rookie James Blair, Buck’s nephew, placed third. Jake Isaac fell hard early in the race and parked in the infield.

The Junior 250cc main-event field, ready to rumble!

The Junior 250cc main-event field, ready to rumble!

Blake Borello (27) took second in the Junior 250cc main.

Blake Borello (27) took second in the Junior 250cc main.

Michael Wells (214) took the checkers in the Junior 250cc main.

Michael Wells (214) took the checkers in the Junior 250cc main.

The Junior 150cc main event had seven riders, and young dynamo “Speedway Charlie” Trana, 8, from Folsom, California, rode a strong race and easily won his first feature at Industry. Slater Lightcap, Andrew Russell, Dakota Shockley, Luke Whitcomb, and 9-year-old Rachel Schnakenberg finished in second through sixth, respectively. Rachel’s sister Skylar, 16, did not start.

Slater Lightcap (28) was runner-up in the 150cc main.

Slater Lightcap (28) was runner-up in the 150cc main.

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Pee Wees
Six Pee Wee riders rode Honda or Yamaha 50cc bikes. They ran their main (event 38) with five riders starting from the gate, and usual winner Travis Horn, 7, started 50 yards back, at turn four.

The Pee Wee racers line up for their main event. There would be a total of six riders in this one.

The Pee Wee racers line up for their main event. There would be a total of six riders in this one.

Initial leader Richard Stephens (706) would end up as runner-up in the Pee Wee main.

Initial leader Richard Stephens (706) would end up as runner-up in the Pee Wee main.

Richard Stephens led the first two laps. Levi Leutz, 6, led the final two laps, over runner-up Stephens.

Levi Leutz (3) took first place in the Pee Wee main event.

Levi Leutz (3) took first place in the Pee Wee main event.

Gunner Haggard, 6, edged fourth-place finisher Horn, who encountered difficultly passing competitors riding two-wide. Charli LaMere, the sister of Haggard, was fifth. Newcomer Gavin Dryfka, 4, was sixth, a lap down.

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Upcoming Events
Speedway bike racing would be returning to Jim Naylor’s Ventura Raceway next Saturday, June 27, in the “Commotion by the Ocean” for promoter Steve Evans. It is the second of four points races for the AMA National Speedway Championship. “Fast Eddie” Castro, who is currently undergoing chemotherapy, will be the grand marshal. He resides in nearby Ojai.

The next Industry Speedway weekly race on July 1 is called the “Salute to Our Military Night.” All racing divisions will compete.

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Pit Notes
Junior 250cc rider Sebastian Palmese, 11, was absent this week because he was on a family vacation at Lake Havasu, California. He called the Industry track and said he was watching the races via the Internet – and was sunburned.

Courtney Crone, 14, was a Junior speedway racer until January of 2015. She and her dad, Jack, attended Industry Speedway this week and watched from the grandstands instead of the pits.

D-2 rider Rick Valdez (number 293) was back racing for the first time since he crashed through the fourth-turn plywood wall on June 3.

“Speedway Charlie” Trana loves to race his number-66 machine in the 150cc Junior division at Industry. This week, he won both of his heats and led every lap of the feature impressively. He will be a future star in the upper divisions.

Blake Borello also came south on I-5 this week to get more racing than his home track in Auburn can provide.

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Robert Curry raced his number-31N 500cc bike in Division Two races, tallying finishes of fourth and second. He also drove his number-31 Suzuki 1000cc sidecar. Laurie, his ex-wife and sidecar swinger, was not available. Veteran swing man David Dent replaced her as the rig counterbalance in the turns. The number-911 1000cc Ducati reportedly “ate its clutch” while racing on Wednesday.

Division Two rider Davey Shaw made his first start of 2015 this week. The U.S. Navy Seabee raced out of Port Hueneme in Ventura County. He spent the last year on duty in Okinawa and returned recently. He retired last Friday after 20 years in the U.S. Navy. The E-6 first-class petty officer now lives in Ventura, California, and will receive his DD-214 honorable discharge soon. Davey looked racy on his first night back on two wheels. He finished second in both of his heat races.

Braden Sauer (217) topped the Second Division main event.

Braden Sauer (217) topped the Second Division main event.

Braydan Sauer graduated this week from Centennial High School in Bakersfield, California, and plans to enroll at Orange Coast Junior College in Costa Mesa, California, to study engineering. He won both of his heats and led his first Industry main for all four laps. His dad, Brad, finished second in the D-1 consolation race. Braydan said his speedway-racing uncle Robbie has been out of competition while recovering from meningitis, valley fever, and a bad case of arthritis. He said Robbie, who last raced in 2012, might return to speedway racing this year.

Will McCloskey, 23, lives in Auburn and races at Fast Fridays in his hometown. He will turn 24 on July 9. He said he has heard a lot of good things about Industry and has always wanted to race at the Grand Arena. On June 24, with no practice, Will impressively rode his number-150N Jawa to victory in his first heat and to second in his second heat. Will was leading the D-2 feature when the front wheel of the second-place rider hit Will’s back wheel, sending both riders sprawling. Unhurt, they pushed their bikes to the pits. Will is known as “The Farmer” because he wears distinctive farmer-like overalls and leathers. He proudly displays that nickname on the back of his racing bib.

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Hayley Perrault, 17, was running in second in her first D-2 heat race on Wednesday when, on lap two, the rider in third ran into her bike in turn two. She fell hard and remained on the ground for several minutes. The crasher was excluded and sent to the pits. Crashee Hayley made the restart and finished second. She also placed second in her next heat. Track announcer Bruce Flanders said that Hayley wants to enroll at the University of New Mexico and study nuclear engineering. Last summer, she raced speedway at six tracks in Europe, where female riders are not as common as in the USA.

Jeff Rowe & Ashley Gibbons (1965) plow through turn one, chased by Jeff Medberry & Niki Davis (44).

Jeff Rowe & Ashley Gibbons (1965) plow through turn one, chased by Jeff Medberry & Niki Davis (44).

Sidecars
The Industry Speedway record-tying field of 10 sidecar teams had four female swingers this week. All four were rookies, including food server Ashley Gibbons, on the number-1965 rig. Here are some facts about the other newest swingers…

Dana Catone (number 101) is a 23-year-old resident of Chino Hills, California, and a Cal Poly Pomona University 2014 graduate with a B.S. degree in Business Management. She works as a project engineer for TRS Construction of Brea, California. She loves her job on a prefabricated building project and is the only female in her job capacity. Her relatively small size is not a problem in her job among men, nor in her sidecar racing with driver Kevin Holman.

Andrea Fraser (number 33) is a 27-year-old Wilmington, California, resident. She works as a sales associate. June 24 was her first race at Industry, after having made her debut just weeks before at Costa Mesa Speedway. She got into sidecar racing because of her boyfriend Adam Duckett, who built the number-33 rig but is currently sidelined because he cracked a rib while racing recently in Auburn. Her current driver is Rick Garcia.

Niki Davis, 35, of Westminster, California, is the wife of racer Charlie Davis. She got into racing because of him. She was the swinger on the number-44 sidecar driven by veteran Jeff Medberry.

Industry Hills Expo Center Grand Arena
City of Industry, California
Results: June 26, 2015

SIDECAR MAIN: 1. Joe Jones/ Tom Summers; 2. Gerard Jackson/ Dave German; 3. Robert Curry/ David Dent; 4. Bryan Motis/ Josh Bennett.

PEE WEE MAIN: 1. Levi Leutz (0); 2. Richard Stephens (0); 3. Gunner Haggard (0); 4. Travis Horn (50); 5. Charli LaMere (0); 6. Gavin Dryfka (0).

MINI 150 MAIN: 1. Charlie Trana (0); 2. Slater Lightcap (30); 3. Andrew Russell (0); 4. Dakota Shockley (10); 5. Luke Whitcomb (10); 6. Rachel Schnakenberg (0).

JR 250 MAIN: 1. Michael Wells; 2. Blake Borello; 3. James Blair; 4. Jake Isaac.

DIVISION 3 MAIN: 1. Lewis Hughes; 2. Steve Brown; 3. George Yates; 4. Rick Howard.

DIVISION 2 MAIN: 1. Braden Sauer; 2. Ron Davis; 3. Joe Donaldson.

HANDICAP MAIN: 1. Shawn McConnell; 2. Dillon Ruml; 3. Max Ruml; 4. Mike Dalbey; 5. Dalton Leedy.

SCRATCH MAIN: 1. Charlie Venegas; 2. Dillon Ruml; 3. Neil Facchini; 4. Shawn McConnell.

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