Janniro Wins the 2017 California State Speedway Championship!

| 19 October 2017 12:22 pm

California State Speedway Championship
Industry Racing at the Industry Hills Expo Center

Story by Tim Kennedy
File Photos by Michael Kirby and Clark Oden

Northern California invader Billy Janniro, 37, drove south to Industry Speedway with his father as co-driver and pit man, and with his two Jawa 500cc bikes in the back of his pickup truck. He conquered his Southern California rivals on their home turf. The multitime National and California State Champion raced in seven races and led 26 of the 28 laps he rode. He won all five of his heat races, his semifinal, and the 42nd annual California State Speedway Championship.

Billy Janniro is once again the California State Speedway Champion. File photo by Michael Kirby

Billy Janniro (shown here in action at Fast Fridays) is once again the California State Speedway Champion. File photo by Michael Kirby

More than 1,200 persons watched the final scheduled race this year at the modern Grand Arena of the Industry Hills Expo Center. As usual, all events were telecast live on the Internet. Industry racing director Kelly Inman said that more than 11,000 hits were recorded on the Internet feed this week for the championship event. He said Industry’s weekly speedway racing telecasts usually draw 2,000 to 6,000 viewers.

Janniro did not race in the 41st California State Speedway Championship. His impressive performance at this year’s event earned him his fifth California State Championship. His other championship years were 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014. The muscular rider from Napa has also won seven AMA U.S. National Speedway Championships from 2008 to 16, and four U.S. National Speedway titles from 2004 to 2011.

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Main Event
The four feature riders from a field of 16 speedway racing Pros lined up at the starting gate from the inside to outside lane as follows: Aaron Fox, Max Ruml, Broc Nicol, and high-point man Janniro, who selected his starting spot first. Janniro broke free of the tight pack on the outside leaving the second turn on the first lap and proceeded to lead all four circuits.

The four riders remained in a tight pack for all four laps, with Fox pressing Janniro.

On the final lap, Nicol took second from Fox via an outside power-pass in the third and fourth turns. Ruml then shot under Fox leaving the fourth corner and beat him to the finish line for third place. Fox went from a close second to fourth position in the final third of that last lap.

Janniro won by one bikelength over Nicol in a two-wide finish. California State 2016 Champion Ruml trailed 2016 California State Championship runner-up Nicol by three bikelengths and finished a bikelength ahead of the surprised Fox. Ruml is the 2016 and 2017 Industry Speedway track champion.

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Heat Races
After five rounds of heats, with the usual 3-2-1-0 scoring system, Janniro was alone atop the points with a perfect 15 points. Next was Nicol, with 14. Only Nicol (in event four) and veteran Shawn McConnell (in event 10) led a lap over Janniro in the heat races.

Nicol started alongside Janniro in the two middle lanes of event four during the first round and led lap one. On lap two, Janniro made a breathtaking inside dive-bomb pass entering the third turn to take the lead for good. He defeated hard-charger Nicol by a bikelength.

Nine of the 16 riders plus one reserve rider (Division Two track champion Rudy Laurer) scored heat-race victories in their five heat-race rides. The 20 total race winners were Janniro, with five wins; Nicol, with four wins; Fox, with three wins; Gino Manzares and Max Ruml, with two wins apiece; and Tyson Burmeister, Austin Novratil, Tyson Talkington and Charlie Venegas, with one victory each.

After five rounds, Max Ruml, Manzares and Fox were tied at 11 points. Austin Novratil and the recently “unretired” Tyson Burmeister were deadlocked at nine points. Charlie Venegas and Dillon Ruml were tied at eight points for the eighth and final semifinal starting berth. Venegas, making his first start of the season at Industry Speedway following an injury, won the tie breaker by finishing higher than Dillon Ruml in their heat race (event three, in which Venegas placed second and Dillon Ruml placed third).

Other riders and their points totals were: Shawn McConnell, Bobby Schwartz and Tyson Talkington (with five points); Samuel Ramirez (with four points); Shaun Harmatiuk (with three points); Brad Sauer (with two points); and, zero points, Mike Bloom and reserve rider Rudy Laurer (who put in one ride in round four after McConnell’s gate-foul exclusion).

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After the fifth and final track-maintenance break for the IHEC tractor to regrade the dirt surface, high-point rider Janniro selected the outside lane for the first semi. He led all four laps, over inside-lane starter Max Ruml, in event 28. Middle-lane starters Novratil and Burmeister followed closely. There was no consolation race for the third- and fourth-place semifinal finishers.

For the second semi, Nicol, the second-highest rider in heat-race points, also picked the outside lane, next to the wall. He duplicated Janniro’s flag-to-flag ride out front in event 29. Fox, starting from pole position, placed second. Manzares was third. Venegas anticipated the start, trying to gain an edge; he broke through the starting-gate tapes and by rule was excluded. During the riders’ pit meeting, the riders had been told how many seconds would elapse between the green light going on and the starting gate rising.

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The four Division One 500cc riders had 10 minutes to prepare their bikes for the feature (event 32). The two other California State Junior Championships – for 150cc and 250cc riders – were run as events 30 and 31. There were nine 150cc competitors who raced in four heats for points that advanced the top four riders to their main event. All four 250cc riders present raced in two heats, but all four youngsters ran in their feature.

250cc Main Event
The 250cc feature followed two heats, which were won, respectively, by Jake Isaac, 15, and Sterling Martin, 12.

In the feature, Isaac led all the way over Newcastle, California’s Cameron Krezman, 14, who trailed by four bikelengths. Sterling Martin trailed the runner-up by two bikelengths, with his twin brother, Alex Martin, finishing fourth, three bikelengths back.

Jake Isaac (16) is the 2017 250cc California State Champion. File photo by Clark Oden/Race Day Images

Jake Isaac (16) is the 2017 250cc California State Champion. File photo by Clark Oden/Race Day Images

Isaac finished fourth in the Junior 250cc Silver Cup feature on August 13 and just missed receiving a top-three trophy. On this Saturday, the Whittier, California, teenager earned the largest of three 250cc trophies and the top step on the podium. He became the 2017 California State 250cc Champion.

Second- and third-place riders also received their trophies at the finish-line podium presentations at 10 p.m. Confetti shot from a cannon rained down on the podium riders after all three trophy presentations.

150cc Main Event
Slater Lightcap celebrated his 12th birthday by leading all the way in the feature and winning his third race of the night on his Shupa. He also won the 150cc Silver Cup Championship on August 13 during the fifth annual Silver Cup Championships for Junior Division riders. The Huntington Beach, California, resident added the 2017 150cc California State Championship to his growing list of accomplishments.

Slater Lightcap (2) is the 2017 150cc California State Champion. File photo by Clark Oden/Race Day Images

Slater Lightcap (2) is the 2017 150cc California State Champion. File photo by Clark Oden/Race Day Images

Luke Whitcomb, 11, won both of his heats in the four-heat-race format for the 150cc riders. The youngster from Anaheim, California, finished three bikelengths in back of Lightcap.

Former 50cc Pee Wee racer Travis Horn, 8, who has multiple feature races, placed third and also received a trophy on the podium at the finish line.

Owen Williams, 10, finished fourth. Other 150cc riders who raced in the heats were Justin Almond, Levi Leutz, Jose Navarette, Andrew Russell and Gordon Teuber III.


Pit Notes
The 12-page Industry Speedway color program, distributed free to spectators and racers, had two pages containing recent head-shot photos of all the riders, plus two pages of action photos at The Grand. It also included two pages of preprinted race lineups for all three divisions in action.

Racing director Kelly Inman also remembered the late Carol Perez, IHEC operations executive, who died unexpectedly last September. She was a strong supporter of racing at Industry and especially of the Junior divisions racing. Gina Horn, mother of 150cc Junior rider Travis Horn, has printed the Industry program (about 500 to 750 copies) each week and deserves the thanks of everyone.

Division Two 500cc rider Hayley Perrault fell hard in the third turn on Wednesday, August 16. She received a broken clavicle and a bruised hip. It was a clean break and did not require surgery. She and her parents were in the Industry Speedway grandstands on this Saturday, watching the California State Championship event. Her right arm was in a sling. Hayley, 20, said she is attending Orange Coast Junior College in Costa Mesa and is taking EMT courses.

Billy Janniro raced at Fast Fridays Motorcycle Speedway in Auburn, California, on Friday night, August 25. He won the Handicap main and finished second, behind Bart Bast, in the Scratch main. He also won the Challenge Elimination Championship. He and his dad drove to Southern California the next morning, from about 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. After the Industry 10 p.m. trophy presentation, Billy loaded up his equipment and two Jawa bikes in the back of his ratty-looking 1969 GMC pickup truck; he explained that the truck has a new engine and transmission and is actually very reliable.

Janniro, who looks a lot like muscular AMA Flat Track Champion and 2017 points leader Jared Mees, said that his wife, Cristina, and 7-year-old daughter Gracie were not present at Industry. Gracie raced a 50cc Pee Wee bike at Industry once in 2015 and once this year in the February Gumball Tally event “because Daddy does it.” Billy said he just found out that Gracie will have a sibling in 2018.

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Despite the reported heat wave in So Cal over the weekend, it was pleasant in the covered Grand Arena for both riders and spectators. It was 108 degrees in the Inland Empire counties but only 88 degrees in the tree-shaded pits in Industry at 6:30 p.m. It was 79 during racing at 8 and still 72 following the races at 10 p.m. during the well-attended trophy presentations on the front straight.

Attendance for the 42nd annual California State Speedway Championship was about the same as last year for the event on the final Wednesday of August. Industry Speedway had to go up against the well-publicized Las Vegas match between boxer Floyd Mayweather and MMA’s Conor McGregor. Additionally, the NFL’s L.A. Rams were hosting the L.A. Chargers at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum; the first-place and dominant L.A. Dodgers were hosting Milwaukee, and the L.A. Angels (close to the second wild-card playoff berth) were in action only 20 miles south on the 57 Freeway. All of these games were live on TV, opposite Industry racing. Couple those events with USAC-CRA sprint cars racing in Perris (just 50 miles east), and it was a busy Saturday night!

The 2017 Industry Speedway season from May 31 to August 26 is now complete.

Industry Hills Expo Center Grand Arena
City of Industry, California
Results: August 26, 2017

2017 Industry Speedway 500cc Final Points Standings

DIVISION 1: 1. Max Ruml (346.5); 2. Aaron Fox (312); 3. Dillon Ruml (211); 4. Broc Nicol (173); 5. Gino Manzares (157); 6. Gage Geist (145.5); 7. Austin Novratil (136.5); 8. Shawn McConnell (101); 9. Bob Hicks (84.5); 10. Luke Becker (84).

DIVISION 2: 1. Rudy Laurer (65.5); 2. David Lynch (49); 3. Ron Davis (44.5).

DIVISION 3: 1. Kevin Fife (62); 2. George Yates (54.5); 3. Brent Smith (53).

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