Max Ruml Wins Fourth Industry Speedway Feature

| 6 October 2017 12:34 pm

Industry Racing
Industry Hills Expo Center

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

Max Ruml was victorious once again at Industry Speedway!

Max Ruml was victorious once again at Industry Speedway!

Max Ruml, 20, won his fourth AMA 500cc First Division main event this season on Wednesday, August 16, in Industry Speedway’s Grand Arena. About 550 persons attended. The talented speedway star from Huntington Beach, California, has won four of 10 Industry features so far this season. He rode his number-five GM to victory in a flag-to-flag, pace-setting ride from pole position in the final event of a 37-race evening.

The event was the second annual Ray “Junior” Kurtz Memorial Cup, in honor of the late USAC open-wheel car owner, speedway-bike financial backer, and owner of nationwide bulk hauler Plastic Express Trucking, headquartered in the City of Industry. He lost his battle with cancer at age 73 on March 1, 2016. The Kurtz family continues to support speedway racing at Industry. Ray’s widow, Michelle, and stepson Ray Hufnager attended this event and participated in the main-event trophy presentations.

For the second consecutive year, a distinctive and coveted racing helmet, painted by famed racing artist Troy Lee of Troy Lee Designs, was mounted on a stunning base. A colorful replica helmet in a see-through plastic enclosure went to feature winner Ruml. His name will be etched on a metal plaque affixed to the base of the perpetual Junior Kurtz Trophy. Billy Janniro won the inaugural Kurtz trophy last August.

Broc Nicol, winner of the third of four rounds for the 2017 AMA Speedway National Championship the previous Saturday at Industry, finished a close second. He started from the outside lane, next to the wall. The Lomita, California, resident raced the high line for all four laps, trying to overtake Ruml. However, Nicol, 19, fell one bikelength short on his number-four GM.

Impressive high-point rider Gino Manzares won all three of his heat races for the only perfect nine-point score. A day after celebrating his 24th birthday, Manzares started second and finished third, one bikelength in back of Nicol.

Max’s younger brother Dillon Ruml, 18, slid to the ground in the third turn on the first lap. He was excluded from the complete restart and placed fourth.

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Two Scratch semifinals for the eight high-point riders in a field of 13 500cc Division One riders were events 27 and 28.

In the first semi, Nicol led all the way, over runner-up Manzares. Aaron Fox and Shawn McConnell followed.

Max started from the outside lane and led every lap in the second semi, over his younger brother Dillon. Tyson Burmeister and Austin Novratil placed third and fourth, respectively.

Novratil, 22, led all four laps of the consolation race (event 36) from the outside lane. Veteran speedway racer McConnell, from nearby Brea, and recently “unretired” Burmeister, 33, placed second and third, respectively. Fox scratched from the consi.

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Following the 26 heat races and prior to the D1 semi, two of the Wally Pankratz Racing USAC Ford Focus midgets made their annual appearance on the eighth-mile dirt track.

One driver was former winning Junior Division 250cc speedway rider Courtney Crone, 16, who has raced a full midget in USAC Midget and BCRA Midget events this season. She currently ranks fourth in USAC Western Series points prior to her next race, which would be held on August 19 in Santa Maria, California. She drove the light-and-dark green number-98 rig.

Max Ruml drove the dark-blue-and-white number-37 midget that Janniro drove in a “match race” with Crone at Industry last year. Sonny Nutter drove it at Industry in 2015. Max ran 30 to 40 practice laps at Industry a night earlier to prepare for his midget debut in a 10-lap exhibition race with Crone. Max took the green flag half a lap in front of Crone.

Both drivers ran fast, error-free laps. Max took the checkered flag first, but Crone had cut into his advantage by half a straightaway. Last year, she started half a lap behind Janniro and almost caught his midget after 10 laps.

Later, Max said he would love to race a midget against other midgets in a sanctioned event on a larger track. Maybe midget car owners 2000 USAC Western Series Champion Pankratz or 2005-06 USAC Western Midget Champion Jerome Rodela could arrange that for Max. Rodela has three midgets and USAC has upcoming races in Ventura (slated for September 16, October 28 and November 23), plus races in Bakersfield (slated for September 30 and November 18).

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Six 1,000cc sidecars raced in three heats for points. The two highest teams in points went directly to the feature. The other four teams raced a last-chance qualifier that advanced the top two finishing teams to the feature. Paraplegic Bryan Motis & his number-four Suzuki sidecar “swinger” Johnny Bach led all four laps from the outside starting position. It was their second Industry triumph this season.

Bryan Motis & Johnny Bach hefted the checkers after the Sidecar main event.

Bryan Motis & Johnny Bach hefted the checkers after the Sidecar main event.

Joe Jones & Tom Summers, on their sidecar championship number-one Suzuki, finished a close second.

The first two teams avoided the LCQ by finishing first or second in their heats. New Zealand resident Josh Heenan, on his number-17I rig, finished third, along with veteran local sidecar rider Josh Bennett. Fourth place went to the other team that transferred from the LCQ, Jeff Rowe & his sidecar swinger Heather Gledhill.

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Support Divisions
New 500cc rider and veteran 250cc Junior racer Michael Wells, 16, led laps two through four for his first 500cc Division Two main-event victory at Industry. He won his first 500cc D-2 main on his Jawa May 20 in Ridgecrest, California. Lap-one leader Rudy Laurer, a two-time winner in 2017, went high in turn three on his second lap, recovered, and finished second. Chet Kohler and David Lynch finished third and fourth, respectively.

The 500cc Third Division did not race this week.

Two 250cc Juniors raced. Jake Isaac, 15, won both heats and the 250cc main, over Sara Cords, 17. He also won the August 2 feature at Industry.

Jake Isaac (16) won both 250cc Juniors heats and the main event.

Jake Isaac (16) won both 250cc Juniors heats and the main event.

The 150cc Second Division main (for less-experienced 150cc riders) had handicapped starts for five-lap races. Two riders collided and fell on lap two of the main. The six-rider field had a complete restart

Levi Leutz, 8, remounted and led every lap. Owen Williams also remounted, and he finished second. Gordon Teuber III, Jose Navarette, Andrew Russell and Cole Ayers followed in third through sixth, respectively.

Former 50cc Pee Wee star and first-year 150cc racer Travis Horn, 9, led all five laps of the handicapped 150 Division One main and both heats. He started 10 yards from the gate. Luke Whitcomb, 11, started 30 yards from the gate and ran a close second in all three races. Slater Lightcap, 11, started 60 yards back and could not catch his two rivals in the three races. Lightcap won the 150cc Silver Cup Championship at Industry.

All three Pee Wee 50cc riders raced from the starting gate. Dakota Black, 5, led the first lap on her Yamaha 50. Conner Salazar, 9, the son of track preparer Jose Salazar of the City of Industry, led laps two through four and won for the third time this season on his Yamaha 50. Four-time 2017 feature winner Ken Matsudaira, 6, was a close second at the finish line, on a Suzuki.


Pit Notes
The Junior Kurtz Memorial Cup had three silver trophies for the top three 500cc finishers. Max, Broc and Gino gladly accepted the awards and the additional $1,000 in cash for the feature from the Kurtz family. Junior’s widow, Michelle, and his stepson Ray participated in the podium presentations in the pits near the track entrance.

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The number 92 USAC-CRA sprint car raced by Jake Swanson from Anaheim, California, was on display inside the front gate of the Grand Arena. Car owners Tom and Laurie Sertich were present to talk to speedway fans about sprint-car racing. Many sprint-car and midget racing fans are also speedway bike fans.

Hayley Perrault, a college student and a 500cc Division Two rider, had a nasty-looking fall. She was running in second on the first lap and entering turn three when her front wheel hit leader David Lynch’s back wheel. Hayley fell to the track and landed heavily on her right shoulder and right hip. She remained on her back on the ground for five minutes or so, attended by two EMTs. They took her on a gurney to the ambulance to rest, but she did not have to be transported to the hospital. She iced her shoulder, and after the final feature, she entered her family’s sedan and her dad drove her home.

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One of the best heat races of the night was event eight. Shawn McConnell led all four laps over a pressing Aaron Fox and Broc Nicol in a close three-way dogfight. Appreciative fans stood and applauded his strong effort.

“Ageless” Bobby Schwartz (who is actually age 60) raced well all night. He finished third twice and a close second to Dillon Ruml in his three heat races. He scored four points and ranked ninth of 13 riders. He missed a berth in a semi by one point. Fox and Novratil tied at five points for seventh and earned the final spots in the two semis.

Industry Hills Expo Center Grand Arena
City of Industry, California
Results: August 16, 2017

JUNIOR KURTZ MEMORIAL CUP MAIN: 1. Max Ruml; 2. Broc Nicol; 3. Gino Manzares.

SCRATCH CONSOLATION: 1. Austin Novratil; 2. Shawn McConnell; 3. Tyson Burmeister.

DIVISION 2 MAIN: 1. Michael Wells; 2. Rudy Laurer; 3. Chet Kohler; 4. David Lynch.

JR 250 MAIN: 1. Jake Isaac; 2. Sara Cords.

MINI 150 DIVISION 1 MAIN: 1. Travis Horn (10); 2. Luke Whitcomb (30); 3. Slater Lightcap (60).

MINI 150 DIVISION 2 MAIN: 1. Levi Leutz (10); 2. Owen Williams (0); 3. Gordon Teuber III (10); 4. Jose Navarette (30); 5. Andrew Russell (10); 6. Cole Ayers (10).

SIDECAR MAIN: 1. Bryan Motis/ Johnny Bach; 2. Joe Jones/ Tom Summers; 3. Josh Herman/ Josh Bennett; 4. Jeff Rowe/ Heather Gledhill.

PEE WEE MAIN: 1. Conner Salazar; 2. Ken Matsudaira; 3. Dakota Black.

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