Costa Mesa Speedway
Harley Night: Orange County Fairgrounds
Story by Elaine Jones
Photos by Dorcey Wingo
COSTA MESA, CA, AUG. 22, 2015
The weather was perfect, the grandstands were packed. It was Harley Night at Costa Mesa Speedway. Along with the always-entertaining Harley riders, add in the sidecars and the skinny bikes and you have a trifecta!
Instead of a riders’ parade, there was a bit of “rolling thunder” with all the Harleys. After the national anthem, they let the Harley Dudes do some practice on the bullring. It proved to be the comic relief of the evening. The track was very wet, and the riders hadn’t gotten the memo that you don’t get on the gas on a slippery track. Those who did found themselves swapping ends and getting very up close and personal with the mud.
Now, let the racing begin!
This would be three rounds of heads-up Scratch racing.
The first heat race was all Aaron Fox’s, as he went wire to wire. He has been on fire this season, and he was letting everyone know he would be in the hunt on this night. Jason Ramirez held off Braydon Galvin and veteran “Flyin’ Mike” Faria for the second spot.
The second heat saw the younger Ruml, Dillon, also lead from start to finish. Broc Nicol locked in behind him but couldn’t find any way through and had to settle for second. “Dukie” Ermolenko came out of retirement and was getting his speedway legs back, and although he was running third on the first lap, he fell victim to Kurtis Hamill and had to settle for fourth.
The third heat belonged to Dillon’s big brother “Mad Max” Ruml, who left no doubt he would be in the mix on this evening. “Battlin’ Buck” Blair was not going to make it easy, though, as he challenged Max all the way to the checkered flag. Mike Dalbey, who has moved up from the Support ranks, gave a good accounting of himself with the third-place spot. Rounding out the field was River McDougall.
The final heat of the first round was all Billy “The Bullet” Hamill’s. He held a Speedway 101 class on his way to the win. Russell Green looked real good as he kept Bobby “Boogaloo” Schwartz at bay for second. Dillon Leedy was fourth.
Fox started the second round as he had the first: with another wire-to-wire ride. Schwartz stepped up his game to get some much needed points, finishing second. Kurtis Hamill was third. Dalbey was out early and had to watch the race from the infield.
Nicol garnered the win in the shortened second heat. Jason “Mr. Consistent” Ramirez was second. On back, it was McDougall and Green.
Max Ruml padded his points with another win in the third heat of round two, but the excitement was taking place behind him, between Faria and Max’s little brother Dillon. Faria held Dillon off for three laps, and it came down to a photo finish, with the nod going to Dillon by the width of a tire. The crowd loved it!
Next, Billy Hamill did a repeat of his first heat: gate, lead, win. Blair was again a bridesmaid, with Galvan and Ermolenko third and fourth, respectively.
The second round was now complete, and three riders were on track with perfect scores: Max Ruml, Fox and Hamill. One point back, it was Nicol and Dillon Ruml. Things were heating up!
In the third round of heats, Fox led things off again, and once again he would not be denied: He ended up with another win and a perfect score on the night. Blair was also “perfect,” with three second-place finishes. Both would be moving on to the semifinals. Unfortunately for Faria and McDougall, their night was over.
Nicol got the ride he was looking for in his final heat ride. He outgated the rest of the field and held off Dalton Leedy for the win. Schwartz and Ermolenko rounded out the field. Nicol should have had enough points to move on, but everyone else was waiting to see how the final two heats would shake out.
Max Ruml would finish out his heats with another perfect ride. Dalbey got out second, but that was short-lived, as Galvin got through on the second lap and never looked back. Ramirez found the wrong time to have a bad race, as he finished fourth, and now he and Galvan would have to wait and see if they would have enough to move up the ladder.
It was a hat trick for Billy Hamill, as he finished off the prelims with another win and ensured himself a spot in the semis. Dillon Ruml was second and he, too, would be heading for a semi. Green was on the bubble, and Billy’s son Kurtis Hamill would be rooting for Dad from the sidelines.
The points were tight, and it came down to a run-off for the final two spots. In the fight, it was Schwartz, Ramirez, Galvin and Green. Two spots up for grabs, and when the dust had settled, it was Ramirez and Galvan who were moving on.
The first semi saw the pole go to Fox, with Hamill in lace two; on out, it was Blair and Ramirez.
The first try at a go saw Blair get into the tapes, and he was put back on the penalty line. With this field, that’s the kiss of death.
They loaded in again, and when the tapes came up, it was Fox getting out on top, with Hamill running second. It looked like Hamill was content to follow Fox home; it was like he was checking out Fox’s line and just how he was riding the Costa Mesa bullring. They were both headed to the main, and Ramirez and Blair were headed to their trailers.
The second semi had Max Ruml on the pole, with Nicol in two, Galvin in three and Dillon Ruml in four. Max got the gate and was gone, with Nicol right behind him. Dillon was third and Galvin was fourth. They would finish in that order. Max and Nicol were moving on. Dillon came close with his third, but it would not be enough on this night; he and Galvin were done.
They rolled to the line for the richest race of the night, the Scratch main. The pole went to Ruml, with Fox in two, Nicol in three and, on the outside, against the wall, was Hamill. This was going to be a superb main, with a million dollars’ worth of talent. It was going to come down to who could cut the best gate, because with this bunch, it wasn’t a matter of speed because – they all have that, and once out in front, they would be hard to catch.
They loaded in and revved the engines, and the tapes came up.
Hamill read the gate to perfection, and he was gone. Ruml was out second, with Fox and Nicol third and fourth, respectively. This was a race many wished was 10 laps long, but unfortunately it was only four, and you need more than that to catch Hamill. They would finish in that order.
The Sidecars were on hand, and they are always put on a good show. They had two rounds of Scratch racing.
The consi had the teams of Gerald Jackson & Dave German, Robert Curry & Laurie Curry, Kevin Holman & Dana Catone, and Dan Rapaport & Matt Fishman. The gate went to Jackson & German, and they all managed to get through turn two, so the race was on. Curry & Curry locked into second, with Rapaport & Fishman in third. Hartman & Catone had the fourth spot. They all held their lines and the running positions never changed.
The main event wasn’t as calm. Bryan Motis & Josh Bennett were on the pole, with Joe Jones & Tom Summers in two. Jeff Rowe & Heather Gledhill were in three, with Stuart Glass & Jack Straw in four.
The first try at a go saw all four teams trying to meld together in turn two. As the saying goes, you can’t put four where there’s only room for two. The penalty was charged to Rowe & Gledhill.
They lined up again, and this time it was all good. Jones & Summers were out on top, with Motis & Bennett running second. Glass & Straw were holding off Rowe & Gledhill until the second lap, when Rowe & Gledhill overcorrected and ended up in the infield. The running order remained the same.
Support main-event honors went to Ricky Richards, who held off Samuel Ramirez, David Lynch, Rohn Zellner and Robert Curry for the win.
The winner of the Support B contest was Jeremiah Allen, who topped Wade Whitcomb, Pam Bennett and Steve Brown.
Next Saturday is the John Matherson Cup, which will highlight the Sidecars and also pay homage to a man who did so much to bring Sidecars to California, and who was taken from us much too soon.
Costa Mesa Speedway at the Orange County Fairgrounds
Costa Mesa, California
Results: August 22, 2015
SCRATCH MAIN: 1. Billy Hamill (Jaw); 2. Max Ruml (Jaw); 3. Aaron Fox (Jaw); 4. Broc Nicol (Jaw).
SIDECAR MAIN: 1. Joe Jones/ Tom Summers (Suz); 2. Bryan Motis/ Josh Bennett (Yam); 3. Stuart Glass/ Jack Straw (Duc); 4. Jeff Rowe/ Heather Gledhill (Yam).
SUPPORT MAIN: 1. Ricky Richards (Jaw); 2. Samuel Ramirez (Jaw); 3. David Lynch (Jaw); 4. Rohn Zellner (Jaw); 5. Robert Curry (Jaw).
SUPPORT B MAIN: 1. Jeremiah Allen; 2. Wade Whitcomb; 3. Pam Bennett; 4. Steve Brown.