Janniro Tops Ventura Opener!

| 8 March 2016 2:10 pm

Ventura Speedway Series
Round 1: Ventura Raceway

Story by Chris Ackerman
Photo by
VENTURA, CA, MAR. 5, 2016

The Ventura Speedway season opener last night was the season opener at Ventura Raceway, featuring classes for Division One, Support, Vintage, 150cc and Sidecars. Flat-track and quad racing were also featured on the program.

Billy “The Kid” Janniro at speed in Ventura.

Billy “The Kid” Janniro at speed in Ventura.

It was a touch-and-go situation due to the fact that an incoming storm was threatening the event the whole day. Even on the morning of the race, there was talk of a cancellation, but after much discussion and phone calls back and forth, Ventura Raceway forged ahead. As storm clouds were looming overhead, dropping mist and even light rain, the racers headed out onto the track.

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Round One
In round one, the Support racers started the show. Mitch “The Machine” Pierson took the checkered flag, with “Rowdy Ron” Davis and Cameron “The Captain” Beck finishing second and third, respectively. Also featured in the Support class were Chet Kohler, Don Nemarnik and Pam “Pinky” Bennett.

Next up was the Vintage class. Dan Waller, the owner of Precision Motorcycle Service, won the heat race. Ron Brankov, riding a 1978 Twin Cam, took second, and “Old Man” Pat Smith, riding a 1970 two-valve, took third. Also scheduled to ride in this heat was Malcolm Roe, on a 1973 two-valve, but he had bike issues immediately and was then out for the night. Paul Herman, on a 1995 Jawa, was also on the card, but he failed to make it to the track on time. (We will hear more about Paul later.)

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Pro Speedway was up next, with six-time AMA USA National Champion, five-time U.S. National Champion and four-time California State Champion Billy “The Kid” Janniro wowing the crowd in Ventura. Also in the mix were 2014 Long Track National champ Austin “On the Throttle” Novratil, and Robbie Sauer, who was coming back to Ventura with a great attitude.

Also, this marked the return to racing of the legendary “Fast Eddie” Castro! As you may know, Eddie was forced into retirement last year due to cancer, but he was recently given a clean bill of health, as the cancer is now in remission. He made a triumphant return at Ventura on Saturday night.

The fans were blown away by the speed of these riders, and the finishing order of this first D1 heat was Janniro, Novratil, Castro and Sauer.

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The next D1 heat featured 2015 U.S. National Champion Aaron Fox, Kurtis Hamill, Gage Geist and David Clark. In this heat, Fox took the checkered flag, with Geist finishing second and Hamill taking third – although he did a classic “baseball slide” on his bike, due to the weather and its effect on the track.

Next up, the action moved onto the inner track for 150cc riders “Gorgeous Glenn” Geist and Dakota “The Shocker” Shockley. In round one, Team Motorsport Junkies’ Shockley took the win.

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In the first heat for the Extreme Sidecars, the team of James “Smiley” Kinne & Dana Catone took the win. Second went to Charlie Davis & Ashley Gibbons, and third went to the team of Rick Garcia & Adam Duckett. The SuperBeast rig of Jeff Rowe & Matt Davis was also on the track, but the team had bike issues and could not finish the race.

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Round Two
In round two, the Vintage riders came out first, and we finally got to see Paul Herman come out and blow away the competition!

Next up were the Sidecars. The SuperBeast was back, and Rowe & Davis took the win.

In the Support heat, Pierson went two for two and got another victory under his belt.

Next up was another D1 heat, and the fans got their first view of Dryden Gayle – but Janniro took the win again.

In the next heat, Aaron Fox took the checkered flag. In a bit on controversy, Austin Novratil touched the tapes, but instead it being a penalty-line infraction, Novratil was excluded.

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The inner track was set up once again for the 150cc battle between Glenn Geist and Dakota Shockley. In this heat, it was the “Gorgeous” one, Glenn Geist, who took the win.

To finish off round two, it was the return of the Vintage class. Ron Brankov took the win, and we got our first glimpse of Bradley Rochlitzer, riding a 1976 890 two-valve to a second-place finish. Paul Herman rounded out the heat.

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Round Three
By this time the weather had started to get a bit dicey, so pit steward Kevin Fife, with input from other riders and parents, made the decision to make round three the main-event round. Safety is always number one, so any riders who wanted to finish then were excused, and those who wanted to continue got ready. Some riders were having a lot of trouble seeing out of their goggles, and there were a lot of “baseball slides” going on, but luckily there were no injuries.

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Due to safety considerations, it was decided to not have the 150s go out, and since each young man had won a heat, a coin was flipped – and the first first place of the night was awarded to “Gorgeous Glenn” Geist, and second went to Dakota “The Shocker” Shockley.

The Vintage main’s finishing order was Paul Herman, Dan Waller and Ron Brankov.

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Hopes were high to see Mitch Pierson have a perfect night in Support racing, but due to the track getting worse, he took a slide, along with Beck, which gave the win to “The Rowdy One,” Ron Davis, who had done did a great job of fast and hard racing the whole night. It was a well-deserved win!

The Sidecar contest was a nonfinisher. Four teams rocketed out of the gate, but right out of turn one there was a three-way collision, with only the team of Kinne & Catone coming out unscathed.


Finally it was time for the Division One main, which was shaping up to be a battle of the perfect scorers of the evening, Janniro and Fox. Unfortunately, Fox had bike issues, and he was out as quickly as the race started. Janniro took the main-event victory, followed the incredible fast Austin Novratil, Gage Geist and “Fast Eddie” Castro.

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A special thank-you goes out to pit steward Kevin “Rip” Fife for working diligently before and during showtime to make sure that all the riders were informed and in their places, Jackie Stewart for her scorekeeping duties, Danny Hull for another night in the striped shirt, and Roger Herrara for handling safety duties and working with the Ventura staff out on the track. Thank you as well to all of the riders and parents in the pit area for working together and having great attitudes and keeping safety number one in the face of rain and cold.

The next Speedway event at Ventura will be on Saturday, June 18, on a night when Costa Mesa will be dark, and the next weekend, June 25 and 26, will be the AMA National Series’ second round 2, the Commotion by the Ocean 2016!

Ventura Raceway
Ventura, California
Results: March 5, 2016 (Round 1)

DIVISION 1 MAIN: 1. Billy Janniro; 2. Austin Novratil; 3. Gage Geist; 4. Eddie Castro; 5. Aaron Fox (DNS).

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Category: Regional, Speedway, Vintage, Vintage Speedway

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