Saddlemen

USA vs. the World at Fast Fridays!

| 10 October 2017 1:35 pm

Fast Fridays Motorcycle Speedway
Gold Country Fairgrounds

Story and Photos by Michael Kirby
AUBURN, CA, OCT. 7, 2017

Fast Fridays Motorcycle Speedway closed out another successful season with an epic meeting that pitted the USA vs. the World on Saturday night. It was a classic meeting of world-class European riders crossing the pond to race against our boys on our home track. The race is very popular for local fans yearning to see professional world riders in action. Thousands of speedway fans filled the Gold Country Fairgrounds in Auburn, California, to catch the 2017 edition of this international grudge match.

Fast Fridays owner David Joiner (center) stands with the World and the USA teams before the racing began. The World team was comprised of (left, from left to right, standing) Carlos Venegas, Mikkel Michelsen, Rasmus Jensen, Peter Karlsson, (left, from left to right, kneeling) Peter Ljung and Robin Aspegren. The USA team featured (right, from left to right, standing) Billy Janniro, Tommy Hedden, Bryan Yarrow, Bart Bast (right, from left to right, kneeling) Luke Becker and Russell Green.

Fast Fridays owner David Joiner (center) stands with the World and the USA teams before the racing began. The World team was comprised of (left, from left to right, standing) Carlos Venegas, Mikkel Michelsen, Rasmus Jensen, Peter Karlsson, (left, from left to right, kneeling) Peter Ljung and Robin Aspegren. The USA team featured (right, from left to right, standing) Billy Janniro, Tommy Hedden, Bryan Yarrow, Bart Bast (right, from left to right, kneeling) Luke Becker and Russell Green.

The USA again topped the World, 58-53, but the score was close throughout the evening, and the outcome could have gone either way. The win nearly matches last year’s USA 58-55 win. This event was the 17th annual international meeting at Fast Fridays, and the win-loss record now sits at 12 wins for the USA and five wins for the World. The World team had wins in 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2015.

The USA team has a slight edge, with the home-field advantage and racing on a track much smaller than the larger European tracks. Also, the European riders travel thousands of miles and ride on borrowed bikes. The race is strictly for fun and bragging rights, as the riders all have a good time joking with one another – until the tapes go up and the riding becomes very competitive.

Coming out of turn one is (from left to right) the USA’s Russell Green, Sweden’s Robin Aspegren and Peter Ljung Sweden, and the USA’s Bart Bast.

Coming out of turn one is (from left to right) the USA’s Russell Green, Sweden’s Robin Aspegren and Peter Ljung Sweden, and the USA’s Bart Bast.

This year, the USA team was again anchored by eight-time AMA Speedway National Champion Billy Janniro. Along with Janniro, veteran riders Tommy Hedden, Bryan Yarrow and Bart Bast joined the USA ranks. Luke Becker and Russell Green added a youthful edge to the team.

The World team included – for the third year – Peter Karlsson of Sweden. Also representing Sweden were Peter Ljung and Robin Aspegren. Rasmus Jensen and Mikkel Michelsen represented Denmark, and Carlos Venegas joined for the United States. As his brother Mikael Max did last year, Karlsson announced that this would be his last professional race, closing out a world racing career that has spanned 27 years.

“It is always nice to come here and race; it’s a great place, it’s beautiful and a great opportunity for all of us,” Karlsson said. “I have ridden all over the world and now the USA.”

Peter Karlsson of Sweden has ridden for the World team in the last three years of the USA vs. the World competitions. Karlsson announced that this race would be his last, ending a 27-year professional World racing career.

Peter Karlsson of Sweden has ridden for the World team in the last three years of the USA vs. the World competitions. Karlsson announced that this race would be his last, ending a 27-year professional World racing career.

The format is team scoring, riders paired and racing 18 scratch heat races, scoring three points for a first-place finish, two points for a second-place finish, one point for a third-place finish, and no points for fourth place. The team with the most points at the end of the 18 rounds wins.

The scoring was tight through the first three heats, with the USA leading by just two points. It remained tight until the sixth heat, when the team of Bast and Green combined first- and second-place finishes for five points, bringing the score to 21-15 in favor of the USA.

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However, in the eighth heat, the World team of Karlsson and Jensen combined their own first- and second-place finishes for five points over Hedden and Yarrow and tied the score at 24-24. That was the last time the score would be that tight.

Green and Bast again kicked the score back up for the USA with another one-two finish in heat nine, bringing the score to 29-25.

It looked like the USA had it in the bag, leading for another six heats, until the World brought it close again in heat 14, when Michelsen and Venegas finished first and second, respectively, and brought the World to within two points, at 43-41, with the USA still leading.

Riding for the World team, Mikkel Michelsen (left) of Denmark gets a little air coming out of turn two. Michelsen scored 10 points for the World team on Saturday night.

Riding for the World team, Mikkel Michelsen (left) of Denmark gets a little air coming out of turn two. Michelsen scored 10 points for the World team on Saturday night.

With the USA leading, 55-47, after heat 17, the World inserted their Joker for the last heat race. This maneuver allows a team a one-time rider to ride as the Joker and double finish points if one team is six points or more behind. The World used Ljung, and he came through with a win, doubling his score to six and bringing the final score to a 58-53 win for the USA.

Eight-time National Champion Billy Janniro (1) led the USA tam – and all scorers – with 14 points.

Eight-time National Champion Billy Janniro (1) led the USA tam – and all scorers – with 14 points.

For the USA, Billy Janniro was the high scorer, with 14 points, followed by Russell Green, who had a fantastic night, amassing 12 points.

“It was amazing,” said Green. “I have worked all year for this, and it finally came together for me. It was everything I looked forward to. It was a blast racing against some of the best riders in the world, competing at their level.”

Having a fantastic night, Russell Green (321) was very pleased with the 12 points he scored for the USA.

Having a fantastic night, Russell Green (321) was very pleased with the 12 points he scored for the USA.

The World was led by Peter Ljung, with 12 points, followed by Rasmus Jensen and Carlos Venegas, with 10 points each.

It was a great night of racing with an international feel for fans and riders alike, and a fitting way to close out the 2017 speedway season for Fast Fridays.

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A Youth program was run alongside the USA vs. the World program, and it was won by current AMA 250 Youth National Champion Sebastian “Big Daddy” Palmese. He was undefeated, winning all his races, included the Youth Speedway main event. Landon Collins was second, Dylan Wagner was third, and Timmy Dion fourth.

Kyle Cunningham won the Youth Consolation main event. Chase Kangas was second, Anthony Dion was third, and Landon Norton was fourth.

Fast Fridays Motorcycle Speedway at the Gold Country Fairgrounds
Auburn, California
Results: October 7, 2017

USA VS. THE WORLD: 1. USA (58) – Billy Janniro (2, 3, 2, 3, 3, 1 – 14), Russell Green (1, 2, 3, 3, 1, 2 – 12), Bart Bast (2, 3, 2, 1, 2, 1 – 11), Tommy Hedden (2, 3, 1, 1, 1, 2 – 10), Bryan Yarrow (0, 1, 0, 2, 0, 3 – 6), Luke Becker (1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 3 – 5); 2. The World (53) – Peter Ljung (Sweden) (1, 0, 1, 3, 1, 3+3 – 12), Ramus Jensen (Denmark) (3, 1, 2, 1, 3, 0 – 10), Carlos Venegas (USA) (0, 2, 3, 2, 3, 0 – 10), Robin Aspegren (Sweden) (3, 2, 1, 0, 2, 0 – 8), Mikkel Michelsen (Denmark) (3, 0, 0, 0, 2, 2 – 7), Peter Karlsson (Sweden) (0, 0, 3, 2, 0, 1 – 6).

SERIES TOTAL: USA (12 wins)/ The World (5 wins).

YOUTH MAIN: 1. Sebastian Palmese; 2. Landon Collins; 3. Dylan Wagner; 4. Timmy Dion.

YOUTH CONSOLATION: 1. Kyle Cunningham; 2. Chase Kangas; 3. Anthony Dion; 4. Landon Norton.

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