Nicol Wins Third Speedway National Round at Industry

| 12 September 2017 2:58 pm

AMA Speedway National Championship Series
Round 3: Industry Racing

Story by Tim Kennedy
File Photos by Clark Oden/Race Day Images

Round three of the four-round 2017 AMA Speedway National Championship Series, held at four speedways in California, took place on Saturday night, August 12. Industry Speedway, an eighth-mile dirt track in the Grand Arena of the Industry Hills Expo Center, hosted the event, in front of about 950 spectators in the modern, impressive facility, which is now in its 15th season of speedway-bike racing.

Broc Nicol was victorious at the penultimate round of the 2017 AMA Speedway National Championship Series.

Broc Nicol was victorious at the penultimate round of the 2017 AMA Speedway National Championship Series.

Sixteen 500cc First Division riders raced five rounds of heat races, with four riders in each race. They scored points on a 3, 2, 1, 0 basis. Each rider started at least once from all four grid positions and against every other rider. The top eight points scorers after the 20th heat race advanced to the pair of semifinal races. The first two finishers in each semi transferred to the main event. Track maintenance with a tractor took place after each round.

Following the 20 heats, Industry Speedway 2016 track champion Max Ruml, 20, had tallied the only perfect score of 15 points. He led every lap and won all five of his heat races. Lomita, California, resident Broc Nicol, 19, the winner of round two of the 2017 National Championship Series on July 29 at Santa Maria Speedway, scored 14 points. Seven-time and reigning Speedway National Champion Billy Janniro, 37, and Gino Manzares tied at 12 points apiece for third place.

In heat-race action, Max Ruml led every lap en route to winning every heat race.

In heat-race action, Max Ruml (5) led every lap en route to winning every heat race.

Other transfers to semis were Dillon Ruml, Austin Novratil and Aaron Fox (with 10 points apiece) and Tommy Hedden (with seven points). Russell Green also scored seven points, but Auburn, California’s Hedden received the final transfer berth via the tie-breaking procedure.

High points scorer Max Ruml chose the inside starting position and won the first semi, over lane-two starter Manzares. Fox, who started from the outside, placed third. Novratil, coming from lane three, finished fourth.

As high-points man in the second semi, Nicol also selected the inside position. He led every lap and defeated lane-two starter Janniro. Third-lane starter Dillon Ruml ran third for all four laps. Outside starter Hedden was in fourth on lap two when he fell in the third turn; he remounted and continued half a lap back.

Prior to the feature at 9:36 p.m., the IHEC tractor again dragged the track and gave the main-event riders the best track surface possible.

Based upon total points scored so far, Max Ruml had first lane choice; he picked the outside lane, next to the wall. Nicol, the next highest in points, selected the inside lane. Janniro took lane two, leaving Manzares lane three.

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When the light turned green and the starting gate rose, Nicol shot into the lead before the first corner. Ruml was second, on the outside. Trying to pass Nicol for the lead on lap two, Ruml lost positions to Janniro and Manzares.

For the final three laps, the racers ran in that order.

At the checkered flag, Manzares looked back to check Ruml’s position. His back tire dug in, depositing Manzares on the ground in a prone position. His bike flipped wildly several times to the first turn. The stunned rider soon rose and participated in the podium trophy presentation for the top three finishers.

Third-place finisher Gino Manzares had a bit of a get-off in the main event.

Third-place finisher Gino Manzares had a bit of a get-off in the main event.

Nicol received three points and runner-up Janniro garnered two points. Manzares scored one point and Ruml had zero.

Nicol ran the traditional slow victory lap with the checkered flag and handed it to starter Tom Fox. He then stopped in the fourth turn, where friends and fellow riders tossed him into the air several times to celebrate his impressive second 2017 National Championship round victory.

Nicol, on his number-four GM, earned the most points – 20 – on Saturday. Max Ruml scored 18, Janniro 16, and Manzares 15. Semi riders Dillon Ruml and Fox were next with 11 points each. Novratil scored 10.

National series points after three rounds showed Janniro still leading with 52 points. The next-highest riders are Max Ruml (with 48), Nicol (44), Manzares (39), Dillon Ruml and Luke Becker (who are tied at 32 points), Novratil (30), Eddie Castro (21), and Fox and Gage Geist (who are tied at 20 points). In 11th through 13th are Russell Green (with 18), Daniel Faria (15) and Hedden (11).

Billy Janniro ended up as runner-up at this round, but he still leads the championship points chase. File photo from Fast Fridays by Michael Kirby

Billy Janniro ended up as runner-up at this round, but he still leads the championship points chase. File photo from Fast Fridays by Michael Kirby

The fourth and final round will be at Fast Fridays Motorcycle Speedway in Auburn, California, on Saturday, September 16. That is the home track of points leader Janniro. However, young guns Max Ruml and Nicol are within striking distance of winning their first AMA Speedway National title. Winning the National Championship is a goal of riders so they can secure a spot on Team USA for racing next year in Great Britain.

The National Championship field is comprised of 14 permanent racers and two “wild card” riders. The permanent racers are the top eight riders from the 2016 National Championship standings. The six “earned” positions came from a qualifier race earlier this year at Perris Raceway. The final two positions are wild cards that can be either “promoter’s choice” or races for two positions on a regular night of racing prior to the third round.

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Heat Races
Three heat races brought the fans to their feet, cheering.

In event 13, Max Ruml went to the outside in the final two corners. Max made his decisive outside move exiting turn four to the finish line and squeezed past race-long leader Manzares “by half a wheel” (in his words). It was a classic photo finish that had the spectators applauding.

Bobby “Boogaloo” Schwartz, at age 60, started from the inside lane and easily won his round-four ride (event 16). Appreciative spectators again cheered his victory.

The other outstanding heat race was event 20, in which Nicol led the final two laps after passing the leader of the first two laps Manzares, on the outside.

Eight different riders won the 20 heat races: Max Ruml scored five wins; Nicol scored four wins; Janniro scored three wins; Manzares, Novratil and Dillon Ruml each scored a pair of wins; and Fox and Schwartz garnered one win apiece.

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Two veteran 500cc riders made their first racing starts this season at Industry.

Robbie Sauer from Bakersfield, California, has been absent from Industry since July of 2016. He had the debilitating “valley fever” that is common in the San Joaquin Valley and did not race from 2012 to 2016. The now-51-year-old returned to racing in 2016 at Ventura Raceway and other tracks.

Eddie Castro last raced at Industry in August of 2014. He had cancer and was recovering from chemotherapy until 2016. The 58-year-old resident of Ojai, California, also returned to racing in Ventura, Santa Maria and Costa Mesa. He won a Division One main event in Ventura on July 22, 2017.


Pit Notes
Industry Speedway racing director Kelly Inman was joined by referee Steve Lucero and starter Tom Fox in their usual on-track roles. They spoke at the riders’ meeting in the pits prior to the traditional riders’ parade at 7:15 p.m. Track PA announcer Bruce Flanders introduced riders individually as they walked from the pits to the infield.

The round-one winner at Ventura on June 17 was Northern California’s Luke Becker, 18. It was his first triumph in the series. He fell in the fourth turn during the feature in round two at Santa Maria Speedway on July 29 and suffered a broken ankle. He was second in 2017 National Championship points (only four points behind Janniro) prior to round three at Industry, but he was not present at Industry, as he was still recuperating. He slipped to a tie for fifth place in the points standings.

No rider has made it to all three rounds during the 2017 National Championship Series. Nicol, Becker, Max Ruml, Manzares and Janniro have each made it to two of the three finals.

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The always free Industry Speedway printed program increased to 12 pages this week. It contained race line-ups and recent color head-shot photos of 17 competing Division One riders, including reserve rider Hayley Perrault. She is a 20-year-old college student. Tyson Talkington was the other designated reserve rider present and ready to race in a heat race if needed. None of the 16 entered competitors scratched or had an engine failure.

The temperature readings at Industry Speedway were 82 degrees at 6:30 p.m. and still 70 following the main event.

The all-500cc Division One racing night had 23 races and was shown live on the Internet.

The 50/50 drawing this week added $576 to the purse for feature riders and an equal amount for the spectator with the winning ticket. The winner was a speedway fan who’d driven from Houston, Texas, to see the event in person.

Industry Hills Expo Center Grand Arena
City of Industry, California
Results: August 12, 2017 (Round 3 of 4)

SEMI 1: 1. Max Ruml; 2. Gino Manzares; 3. Aaron Fox; 4. Austin Novratil.

SEMI 2: 1. Broc Nicol; 2. Billy Janniro; 3. Dillon Ruml; 4. Tommy Hedden.

FINAL: 1. Broc Nicol; 2. Billy Janniro; 3. Gino Manzares; 4. Max Ruml.

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