Janniro Wins AMA U.S. National Round Three at Industry

| 13 August 2015 2:50 pm

AMA Speedway National Championship Series
Round 3: Industry Racing at Industry Hills Expo Center

Story by Tim Kennedy
Photos by Dorcey Wingo

Reigning U.S. Speedway National Champion Billy Janniro, 35, was perfection personified at Industry Speedway on Saturday during round three of four in the chase for the 2015 AMA U.S. National Speedway Championship. He won all five of his heat races, his semifinal and the main event, and led every lap in each of his seven races.

Austin Novratil (left) and Dillon Ruml (right) skirmish in turn two at the third round of the AMA U.S. National Speedway Championship Series.

Austin Novratil (left) and Dillon Ruml (right) skirmish in turn two at the third round of the AMA U.S. National Speedway Championship Series.

The major 2015 Industry Speedway event, presented by Alarmco Integrated Solutions of Redlands, attracted almost 1,200 persons to the Industry Hills Expo Center premises, inside the covered Grand Arena. As usual, all races were shown live on the Internet at Final tabulations revealed by IHEC manager Carol Perez showed 1,831 views on the Internet of the August 8 races at Industry Speedway.

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Janniro – the 2008, 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014 U.S. National Speedway Champion – won both the Handicap and Scratch main events the night before, Friday, August 7, at Fast Fridays Motorcycle Speedway in Auburn in Northern California. The four-time California State Speedway Champion (2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014) and his family drove south right after his double victory at his home track. He even had time to coach his 5-year-old daughter Gracie Lee in her first 50cc Pee Wee racing weekend at Auburn and Industry.

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Janniro won both prior rounds in the National Series at Costa Mesa Speedway on May 30 and at Ventura Raceway on June 27. He entered round three at Industry with a four-point lead, 36-32, over Max Ruml, 18, and was six points over Broc Nicol, 17. Janniro’s seven victories in seven races at three points per victory gave him 21 points during round three. He now leads Max Ruml by nine points, 57-48, with Nichol third at 40 points. The fourth and final round will be run on Friday, September 18, at Auburn’s Fast Fridays Speedway.


The four-race AMA U.S. National Championship Series uses the “championship format.” The 14 highest riders in points after two rounds were guaranteed to race in the 20 heat races. Each rider raced in five rounds and started from each of the four lanes at least once. Eight riders raced in the two wild-card races that began the evening. The first- and second-place finishers of the first two wild-card races advanced to the third wild-card heat, while the third- and fourth-place riders in those first two wild-card heats had to load up their bikes.

Auburn residents Bob Hicks and Tyler Warren won the first two wild-card heats.

In wild-card action, Bob Hicks (left) and Mike Dalbey (155) would advance.

In wild-card action, Bob Hicks (left) and Mike Dalbey (155) would advance.

Austin Novratil led all the way in the third wild-card heat and edged Hicks; they earned wild-card-one and wild-card-two berths, respectively, in the 16-rider championship format. Third- and fourth-place riders Tyler Warren, 20, and Mike Dalbey became reserves riders number one and two, respectively; both were able to run as subs after other riders had exclusions for touching the starting gate prior to a race start.

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Pee Wees
In addition to the 23 races run by the 500cc Division One racing program, six Pee Wee riders raced 50cc bikes in two heat races and a four-lap main event.

The Pee Wee main event gets under way.

The Pee Wee main event gets under way.

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For the main, five Pee Wees started from the starting gate, but frequent winner Travis Horn, 7, started 40 yards from the gate. Horn won the first heat with a final-lap pass in the second turn.

Coming from way back, Travis Horn (25) finished second in the main, ahead of Levi Leutz (3).

Coming from way back, Travis Horn (25) finished second in the main, ahead of Levi Leutz (3).

Jose Navarette, 6, led all four laps in both heat two and the main event, in which Horn placed second. Levi Leutz, Richard Stephens, Conner Salazar and Gracie Lee Janniro followed.

Jose Navarette (48) won the Pee Wee main.

Jose Navarette (48) won the Pee Wee main.

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Division One
The 500cc riders raced 20 heats, and eight of 16 riders won at least one heat. Janniro won all five of his rides. Max Ruml, Charlie Venegas and Aaron Fox each won three of their five races. Nicol and Bart Bast each won twice. Buck Blair and Russell Green each won one heat.

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The top eight riders in heat-race points (scored 3-2-1-0) after five rounds raced in a pair of semifinal races. The first two finishers in each semifinal advanced to the four-rider, four-lap feature. The semifinals and the feature also awarded points (3-2-1-0) toward the four-race 2015 U.S. National Championship title.

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Janniro beat Venegas in the first semi. Bast and Dillon Ruml finished third and fourth, respectively.

Fox led every lap of the second semifinal and won it, over Max Ruml. The race for second between teenage stars and friends Ruml and Nicol was sizzling for three laps. As they concluded lap three side by side, Ruml and the outside-running Nicol bumped; Nicol’s back tire lost traction and started coming around. As he headed at speed toward the first-turn wall, Nicol laid down his bike and slid along with it into the wall. He remained on the ground for a few minutes before rising and walking back to the pits.

Referee Steve Lucero ruled the race concluded because more than 50 percent of the laps had been completed when the red flag appeared on lap four. The final order was Fox, Max Ruml and Luke Becker, 16.

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Main Event
Lane choice for the main event was determined by accrued points. Janniro tested traction with his heel and selected lane two. Ruml took lane one and Fox took lane four, leaving Venegas lane three.

The Scratch main event launches off the line.

The Scratch main event launches off the line.

At the start, Janniro shot into the lead and maintained a one-bikelength advantage over the pressing Fox all the way to the final lap. Fox trailed by two bikelengths at the end, with Ruml three bikelengths in back of Fox, and fourth-place finisher Venegas five bikelengths back.

Aaron Fox (left) held on to second place, ahead of Max Ruml.

Aaron Fox (left) held on to second place, ahead of Max Ruml.

Billy Janniro celebrates his round-three victory with crew chief Ronnie Scopellite.

Billy Janniro celebrates his round-three victory with crew chief Ronnie Scopellite.

Pit Notes
Shawn McConnell, 56, was at home, recuperating from his bad crash at Perris Raceway on Saturday, August 1, during the Eddie Castro Testimonial Race. At that event, Austin Novratil got into the back of Shawn’s bike and it crashed into the third-turn wall. Shawn received a broken clavicle, seven broken ribs, and a collapsed lung. He needed a breathing tube to assist his breathing, and he spent five days in a hospital before continuing his recovery at home. He tweeted into IHEC and said he was watching the August 8 racing event on the Internet. Shawn’s tweet said he has not retired and that he will be back ASAP.

In the Speedway National Championship points chase, McConnell was in 11th with 10 points after two rounds in the four-race series.

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Other recuperating or absent riders who were in the vital top 14 in points were fifth-placed Billy Hamill (with 18 points), 14th-placed Bryce Starks (with eight), Rocco Scopellite (with seven) and Gage Geist (with six). Geist received torn ligaments and a broken bone in one of his feet in a third-turn crash at Industry a few weeks ago. Venegas (with seven points), Tyson Talkington (with five) and Dan Faria moved into the top 14 ranked riders for round three at Industry.

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The “Fast Eddie” Castro Testimonial Race on August 1 that featured 44 races at Perris Raceway had a large turnout, proving the esteem in which Eddie is held in the speedway racing community. Eddie, 55, has been fighting cancer after a large tumor was discovered on March 9. His lymph nodes, rectum and liver are the affected organs. Eddie has been undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments. A colostomy is planned. Radiation is five days a week, Monday through Friday, with concurrent 5FU chemotherapy infusions. Romie (a.k.a. “Mrs. Fast Eddie”) said that they and the doctors are hopeful that Eddie will beat the invading cancer. His oncologist is taking Eddie’s case to the tumor board. Eddie was present to watch his testimonial evening. Eddie publicly announced his retirement from his 35-year speedway racing career, for health reasons.

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Handicap (with 18 riders) and Scratch racing at Perris Raceway for Division One riders was featured. Division Two and Three, 250cc Junior, 150cc Youth and Pee Wee races and Sidecar competition also entertained all in attendance at the Eddie Castro Testimonial event.

Thirty-yard starter Dillon Ruml won the Handicap main, over 50-yard-line starters Broc Nicol, Max Ruml and Aaron Fox, and 10-yard-line starters Dryden Gayle and Dalton Leedy.

The Scratch main-event winner was Broc Nicol, over Max Ruml, Aaron Fox and Kurtis Hamill.

Mike Faria won the Last Of The Mohicans Last Man Out race, over Buck Blair, Charles “Dukie” Ermolenko and Shaun Harmatiuk.

[For more from the Eddie Castro Testimonial event, please see “American Speedway Celebrates the People’s Champion – Eddie Castro” by Steve Evans, with lots of photos by Dorcey Wingo… Editor]

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Only three Wednesday nights remain on the Industry Speedway 2015 schedule. August 12 will have all divisions, plus sidecars. August 19 will have all divisions of racing and is the annual “Legends Night,” with past speedway stars present and signing autographs in the IHEC’s front courtyard. August 26 will be the 40th annual California State Speedway Championship.

Industry Hills Expo Center’s Grand Arena
City of Industry, California
Results: August 8, 2015

PEE WEE MAIN: 1. Jose Navarette (0); 2. Travis Horn (40); 3. Levi Leutz (0); 4. Richard Stephens (0); 5. Conner Salazar (0); 6. Gracie Lee Janniro (0).

DIVISION 1 SEMI 1: 1. Billy Janniro; 2. Charlie Venegas; 3. Bart Bast; 4. Dillon Ruml.

DIVISION 1 SEMI 2: 1. Aaron Fox; 2. Max Ruml; 3. Luke Becker; 4. Broc Nicol (fell).

DIVISION 1 FINAL: 1. Billy Janniro; 2. Aaron Fox; 3. Max Ruml; 4. Charlie Venegas.

RD 3 POINTS TOTALS: Billy Janniro (21); Aaron Fox (17); Max Ruml (16); Charlie Venegas (13); Bart Bast (11); Broc Nicol (10); Dillon Ruml (9); Luke Becker (8); Tommy Hedden (7); Bob Hicks (6); Russell Green (5); Buck Blair (5); Tyson Talkington (4); Austin Novratil (4); Dan Faria (1); Tyler Warren (1); Jason Ramirez (0); Mike Dalbey (0).

AMA Speedway National Championship Series Points Standings (After 3 of 4 rounds): Billy Janniro (57); Max Ruml (48); Broc Nicol (40); Aaron Fox (35); Bart Bast (31); Dillon Ruml (25); Luke Becker (23); Tommy Hedden (22); Buck Blair (21); Charlie Venegas (20); Billy Hamill (18); Russell Green (13); Shawn McConnell (10); Tyson Talkington (9); Jason Ramirez (8); Bryce Starks (8); Rocco Scopellite (7); Bob Hicks (6); Gage Geist (6); Austin Novratil (4); Dan Faria (1); Tyler Warren (1); Mike Dalbey (0); Dryden Gayle (0); Jamison Dilkey (0).

[For more from this event, please see “Janniro Dominates Round Three!” by Steve Evans, with more photos by Dorcey Wingo… Editor]

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