Industry Hills Expo Center
Story by Tim Kennedy
Photos by Dorcey Wingo
CITY OF INDUSTRY, CA, AUG. 12, 2015
Max Ruml, 18, enjoyed the best night of his three-year career as an AMA Speedway Bike 500cc First Division rider at Industry Speedway on Wednesday evening. The rising superstar of the two-wheeled sport won two of his three heat races and led every lap in both his semifinal and the feature. “Mad Max” started from the outside lane in the semi and from the pole in the feature.
The popular teen earned his first Division One feature triumph at the Industry Hills Expo Center’s Grand Arena, in front of about 850 spectators. The winner had scored 14 prior 500cc D-1 victories at three sites: Pirate Speedway, Costa Mesa Speedway and Perris Raceway.
To top off this memorable evening for the Ruml family of Huntington Beach, California, Max’s brother Dillon, 16, finished second in the main, 10 yards in back of his brother for the first-ever Ruml one-two feature finish. Dillon started from lane three and passed lane-four starter Aaron Fox for the second position on lap two.
Fox, the only rider with a perfect score of nine points for three heat-race victories, had first lane choice, as high-point rider. He elected to start next to the crash wall after watching Max use lane four and win over Broc Nicol in the first semifinal. Fox started on the pole in the second semi and led all four laps, over Dillon Ruml.
The feature field consisted of three teenagers – the Ruml brothers and Nicol, 17 – and “senior citizen” Fox, who is 27.
Max, who was the Youth 250cc California State Champion in 2011, has been accumulating titles since then. He won the AMA Under 21 U.S. National Championship in 2013 and 2014. He also won the 2014 U.S. Open Championship. He currently ranks second in AMA U.S. National Championship points after three of four rounds.
In the main event on this evening, Max shot into the lead entering turn one, as Fox tried to make an outside pass exiting the second turn. Fox could not make that pass and continued running the outside groove, while Max held the inside line. Dillon initially took third, over Nicol, and then shot past the high-riding Fox during lap two. The running order then remained unchanged to the checkered flag. Max beat Dillon by five bikelengths, with Fox one bikelength behind Dillon. Nicol trailed Fox by four bikelengths.
All four riders hiked their front wheels on the straights several times to salute the enthusiastic fans. The top three performed doughnuts on the front straight before returning to the pits for the podium presentations near the pit gate.
The Division One consolation race for the third- and fourth-place finishers in the two semifinals went to Charlie Venegas, 48, over Austin Novratil, 20, Russell Green, 23, and Tyson Talkington, 28.
Jawa rider Rudy Laurer, 58, of Gardena, California, made a last-lap inside pass in the second turn to win the 500cc Division Two main, for Intermediate riders. It was his first Industry feature triumph this season. David Lynch led the first three laps and finished as runner-up. Bentley Barrett and stock-car racer Ron Davis followed.
Brent Smith, 45, of Claremont, California, came back to speedway last month after a nine-year absence. He raced 500cc Division Two back then and returned as a Division Three rider, on the same GM bike used to ride and which he took out of storage. He has progressed steadily on the comeback trail, and he won his first D-3 feature of 2015.
Smith led every lap, despite close pressure from two-time 2015 D-3 winner Steve “Beach Ball” Brown. “The Rev” Wade Whitcomb placed third. George Yates was running third on lap two when he fell in the second turn; he remounted quickly and finished half a lap back.
The exciting Sidecar main, which was run clockwise, had a controversial finish. Bryan Motis & Josh Bennett started in lane two and narrowly led the first two laps over the outside-lane team of Joe Jones & Tom Summers.
On lap three, leaving turn four and moving onto the front straight, the leader got a bit out of shape. The pressuring Jones & Summers made contact, and both rigs spun out into the infield. The red number-66 rig of Gerard Jackson & Dave German led the final two laps, over Jeff Medberry & Niki Davis, and those two teams were announced as the first- and second-place finishers, respectively.
Then the officials consulted, and Joe Jones came out to lobby for his cause. An official correction was announced to the spectators: Motis & Bennett were disqualified and excluded from the finish order for having caused the incident, though unintentionally. Jones & Summers were proclaimed the race-winning team. It was their sixth victory at Industry this season.
The number-12 team of Charlie Davis & Ashley Gibbons won a two-rig run-off for the final spot in the feature, in which they finished third, behind Jackson & German.
Medberry & Niki Davis won the Sidecar consolation race, which had four rigs in the lineup.
Four 250cc Junior Division riders ran a four-lap main. Michael Wells, 14, came from the 20-yard line and led laps two through five. He edged out closing 50-yard-line starter Sebastian Palmese by five yards. This was Industry feature victory number three of 2015 for Wells. First-lap leader Jake Isaac placed third, 30 yards back. Skylar Schnakenberg, 16, started at the gate and finished fourth, half a lap back.
The Mini 150cc five-lap feature had six starters. London’s Sam Hagon, 10, started at the starting tapes and led every lap. He duplicated his Industry Speedway victorious ride from Sunday afternoon, when he won the 150cc Division Two main in the annual AMA/ FIM Silver Cup Championship event.
Slater Lightcap, 9, started 50 yards from the gate and raced to second place. Dakota Shockley, who came from the 10-yard line, placed third. Charlie Trana, who also start on the 10, finished fourth. Luke Whitcomb started on the 20 and came in fifth. Glenn Geist started on the gate but fell, finishing sixth.
The Pee Wee brigade had eight riders, ranging in ages from 5 to 9. They rode both 50cc Honda and Yamaha bikes. Six of those riders started at the starting gate.
Cole Ayers, 9, jumped from the gate and led every lap for his second victory this season at Industry.
Levi Leutz, 6, and Richard Stephens finished second and third, respectively.
Travis Horn, 7, started 40 yards from the gate and placed fourth.
Conner Salazar was fifth. Charli LaMere and her stepbrother Gunnar Haggard finished sixth and seventh, respectively.
Six-year-old Jose Navarette, a three-time winner from July 22 to August 8, started from the 10-yard line; he was running third on lap two when he fell, and then pushed his bike into the infield.
Division One veteran Shaun Harmatiuk made his first start at Industry Speedway since 2009. The Garden Grove, California, resident last raced in 2013 at Costa Mesa Speedway in his only ride that season. He raced recently in the August 1 Eddie Castro Testimonial race at Perris Raceway.
Shaun’s father, Phil, and his younger brother Philip, 24, also raced speedway. Shaun, 32, works at Space X (as do some others in speedway racing), and that has kept him busy.
Attendees at Industry this week included USAC Western Midget Series Champion Ronnie Gardner and friends. Jeff Heywood was paged by track announcer Bruce Flanders. Tommy Mason from Irwindale Speedway manned the track’s booth at Industry and awarded prizes to spectators in the grandstands. One fan, Tim Deegan, won a drive in a NASCAR late-model stock car from the track’s driving school. La Mirada, California’s Ryan Vargas, the 2014 Irwindale Bandolero track champion and a current truck racer at Irwindale, also attended with a friend.
Some 500cc Division Two riders were moved up to D-1 status by officials on August 12 to make a 16-rider D-1 field. Those included Joe Donaldson (who garnered one point in the heat races), Mike Dalbey (two points), Eloy Medellin (two points), Rick Richards (two points) and Nathan Siegel (two points). Billy Hamill’s 16-year-old son Kurtis (one point) also rode D-1 again.
Those watching the Industry Speedway races live on the track Internet website this week included Northern California Junior riders who had raced at Industry just three days earlier. Division Two rider Hayley Perrault texted that she was watching from her dorm room at the University of New Mexico, where she is studying aerospace engineering. She graduated from high school in June and won the July 15 D-2 main event at Industry.
Another watcher of Industry racing on the Internet was the recuperating Shawn McConnell from Brea, California. Shawn was pictured on the free printed program given out to spectators this week. The action shot showed Shawn, 58, in a full broad-slide through a turn
Broc Nicol made the outstanding pass of the night on August 12, during the first semifinal. Riding high and wide in third place from laps two through four, Broc made the pass work by sheer skill and will power. He tried to pass inside-groove runner Charlie Venegas, who was in second place, on each of the last three laps. On the final lap, Broc powered past Charlie on the outside from turn four to the finish line and barely beat Venegas to the line. And Charlie’s wife is one of the two official scorers. That exciting finish earned Broc the final ticket to the main event.
The final two speedway races at Industry this season will be on Wednesday, August 19, and Wednesday, August 26. Legends Night, on August 19, will have many past speedway greats on hand to sign autographs in the front courtyard. The season finale on August 26 will be the 40th annual Speedway California State Championship event.
Industry Hills Expo Center’s Grand Arena
City of Industry, California
Results: August 12, 2015
SIDECAR MAIN: 1. Joe Jones/ Tom Summers; 2. Gerard Jackson/ Dave German; 3. Charlie Davis/ Ashley Gibbons; 4. Bryan Motis/ Josh Bennett (excluded).
PEE WEE MAIN: 1. Cole Ayers (0); 2. Levi Leutz (0); 3. Richard Stephens (0); 4. Travis Horn (40); 5. Conner Salazar (0); 6. Charli La Mere (0); 7. Gunner Haggard (0); 8. Jose Navarette (10) (fell).
MINI 150 MAIN: 1. Sam Hagon (0); 2. Slater Lightcap (50); 3. Dakota Shockley (10); 4. Charlie Trana (10); 5. Luke Whitcomb (20); 6. Glenn Geist (0) (fell).
JR 250 MAIN: 1. Michael Wells (20); 2. Sebastian Palmese (50); 3. Jake Isaac (20); 4. Skylar Schnakenberg (0).
DIVISION 3 MAIN: 1. Brent Smith; 2. Steve Brown; 3. Wade Whitcomb; 4. George Yates (fell, remounted).
DIVISION 2 MAIN: 1. Rudy Laurer; 2. David Lynch; 3. Bentley Barrett; 4. Ron Davis.
SCRATCH CONSOLATION: 1. Charlie Venegas; 2. Austin Novratil; 3. Russell Green; 4. Tyson Talkington.
SCRATCH MAIN: 1. Max Ruml; 2. Dillon Ruml; 3. Aaron Fox; 4. Broc Nicol.