Saddlemen

Nicol Wins 49th USA National Championship at Costa Mesa!

| 2 November 2017 2:18 pm

USA National Speedway Championship
Costa Mesa Speedway at the Orange County Fairgrounds

Story by Elaine Jones
Photos by Sean Lewis Photography
COSTA MESA, CA, SEPT. 30, 2017

Welcome to the 49th U.S.A National Speedway Championship! It was a brisk night that let us know that autumn was on its way. It may have been a little on the cold side, but boy, was the racing hot, hot, hot!

Welcome to the 49th U.S.A National Speedway Championship.

Welcome to the 49th U.S.A National Speedway Championship.

Brad Oxley and crew gave the racers a beautifully prepared track. Brad’s wife, Jaleen, took great care of all the pageantry involved in a race of this importance. The racers, both the new young lions and the older icons, all had their race faces on and their bikes as finely tuned as possible. This was a special night – but no one could foresee just how special it would turn out to be.

This would be five rounds of heads-up racing, with the top three in points after the heat races going directly to the main event and the next four to the last-chance qualifier. The winner of the LCQ would be the final rider in the main. A big “thank you” goes out to the many sponsors who added money to each heat race; the riders truly appreciated the bonus.

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Round One
The opening heat of the night was sponsored by the Walker family. Dillon Ruml, coming from the pole, cut the best gate, and he never looked back. Gage Geist was out second, with “Fast Eddie” Castro and Bobby “Boogaloo” Schwartz third and fourth, respectively. They would finish in that order, but they were all running hard and fast, so it was no cakewalk.

SoCal Fencing sweetened the pot for the second heat. Gino Manzares fired off from the outside and won the drag race to the first corner, taking charge. His teammate, reigning U.S. Champion Aaron Fox, was out second. Broc Nicol was third and Tyson Talkington was fourth. Again, everyone was running hard and close, but no one made a mistake and they would finish in that order.

The extra cash for the third heat was from Topping Events. “Mad Max” Ruml was not to be outdone by his little brother Dillon, and he got the gate. Tyson Burmeister was running second. Austin Novratil did not get off to the best of starts, as he played tag with the first-turn wall and was out. Danny Faria was more than happy to move into the third spot and collect those ever-precious points. However, Novratil is a fighter, and there was a whole lot of racing left to do.

Northern California rider Luke Becker picked up the win and the cash in the final heat of the first round. (Thank you very much, Team Swolen!) His fellow Nor Cal rider Bryan Yarrow was second. Shawn “Mad Dog” McConnell held up So Cal’s honor with the third spot. In fourth was Russell Green, the final Nor Cal rider to make the journey down to Costa Mesa, but he’s a little bit of North and South, as he started in So Cal.

One round was in the books, and there was a whole lot of racing left to do. The fun was just beginning…

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Round Two
Max Ruml opened up the second round with an awesome ride in the first heat, and he collected his cash from sponsor National T-Shirts. Fox was making his presence felt with a solid ride for second. On back, it was Dillon Ruml and Becker.

Max Ruml (5, left) leads Dillon Ruml, Luke Becker and Aaron Fox.

Max Ruml (5, left) leads Dillon Ruml, Luke Becker and Aaron Fox.

Burmeister got his kinks worked out and was on fire as he picked up the win in the second heat of round two, along with the cash put up by the Detlefsen family. Yarrow, another very consistent rider, logged another second; with five rounds of racing, it helps a lot to be steady and get those finishes. Geist was third. Manzares, who slid out, would have some making up to do.

Novratil, with no points yet, came out swinging, as he topped McConnell, Castro and Talkington to win the third heat of this round. He was more than happy to collect the bonus that Vance & Hines put up.

Hello, Broc Nicol, and thank you, Mike Boyle, for the sponsorship of the final heat of the second round. It was gate and win, as Nicol topped Green and Faria. Schwartz ended up fourth in this one; and he very rarely goes down. This just goes to show how hard all these guys were riding.

There were now two rounds in the books, and for those keeping score, Max Ruml was perfect on the night. One back was Burmeister. Two points back, the field got very crowded, with Fox, Dillon Ruml, Nicol and Yarrow. Let the games continue!

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Round Three
Novratil was firing on all cylinders, and he opened up big and bad in the Insiders MC-sponsored opening heat of round three. This guy was on a mission, and that was to not lose any more races! Dillon Ruml was out second and appeared to have that spot locked up, but Manzares found the line coming out of four on the last lap and won the drag race to the checkered flag. It was close, but when the film was developed, it showed Manzares with the second spot. Rounding out the field was Green.

Born-Free Show sponsored the second heat of the third round, and it was all about Fox, who put in a rock-solid ride from gate to checkered flag. Geist, Faria and McConnell followed him home.

Boyko Racing picked up the tab for the third heat of this round. This was a slugfest between Nicol and Max Ruml; throw Yarrow into the mix, and it was anyone’s game with these talented riders. When the dust had settled, Nicol had wrecked Ruml’s perfect score on his was way to putting points in his column. Yarrow and Castro were third and fourth, respectively.

Becker finally hit pay dirt in the Whitcomb family-sponsored final heat of round three. He got the gate, but so did Burmeister, and it was on! Becker got a great line and no one was going to move him off of it, and all Burmeister could do was follow him home. Talkington and Schwartz rounded out the field.

At the end of round three, Max Ruml was not perfect anymore, but he was still in the points lead. One back it was Fox, Nicol and Burmeister. Novratil was coming up fast with six.

With two more rounds to go, it was crunch time.

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Round Four
The Rumls were on fire. The “Dynamic Duo” can never be taken for granted. Case in point: The nerves were coming out in the first heat of round four – and it would be the first restart of the night, as Faria went down in the first turn. They lined up again, and it was Dillon Ruml leading the way. Yarrow was riding double with him and looking hard to find the chink in his armor. There wasn’t any, and Dillon was very happy to pick up the cash that Long Beach Boat Movers had put up. On back, it was Talkington and Faria.

Larry’s Building Materials sweetened the pot in the second heat of round four, and Novratil made up for his bad ride in the first round by notching another win in his belt. Nicol gave chase, but he would have to settle for second. Becker and Geist were third and fourth, respectively.

The third heat of this round was beefed up by AHM Factory Services, and Burmeister was more than happy to pocket the money, as he went wire to wire. Green had his best ride of the night, holding off Fox for second. Castro rounded out the field.

The final heat of the fourth round had the Bill Whitley family put up the bonus. The red flag came out when Manzares and McConnell went down. They lined up again, with Manzares on the 20-yard line. Max Ruml was off on top, with a very tough McConnell in second. McConnell rode with muscle memory, as was evident when the race was over and he had come home second with bells that had been severely rung. Manzares got by Schwartz for the third spot.

With one round left to go, it was still Max Ruml in the points lead, with Burmeister one back and Nicol and Novratil two back. Main objective: Get to the Main. The cream was rising to the top.

Round Five
Toolander Engineering Inc. provided the extra incentive in the first heat of the fifth round. This would be the final ride for points, so it had to count. It was a strong field, but Nicol was up for it and outgated Dillon Ruml and Burmeister, and the win was his; he had his golden ticket to the main. Dillon and Burmeister would have to wait and see what happened in the other heats. The night was over for McConnell.

Tear Drip Juice Company sponsored the second heat of round five. Max Ruml wanted his golden ticket, and he got it with a wire-to-wire go. Unfortunately for Green, Geist and Talkington, they would be watching from behind the wall.

Becker got the ride he needed in the Detlefsen family-sponsored third heat of round five. He outgated Manzares and was away! He would have to wait and see if it would be enough to move into the LCQ. Manzares’ up-and-down night was over, as was Faria’s and Castro’s.

The final heat of the night saw Wet Okole put up the bonus. Novratil had more than turned his night around: no points in the first round, followed by four wins. It doesn’t get much better than that, and he, too, had a golden ticket to the main. Even though Yarrow was second, it would not be enough for him to move forward. Fox would squeak into the LCQ, where he would go heads up with Burmeister, Becker and Dillon Ruml. That would be a main event anywhere, anytime.

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Last-Chance Qualifier
Law Tigers put up the money for the do-or-die race of the night. Burmeister was on the pole, with Dillon Ruml in two, and on the outside it was Fox in three and Becker in four.

When the tapes came up, it was Becker who took direct aim at turn one, and he came out running on top and went into defense mode. Ruml locked into second and held off Fox and Burmeister. Only one would be moving forward, and that would be Becker. Fox’s chance at a trifecta was over.

Main Events
It’s often said that the best is saved for last, and boy, was that the truth! Without a doubt, this would go down as one of the best main events ever.

They rolled to the line for the Walker family-sponsored Championship main. Novratil was on the pole. Max Ruml was in lane two. Becker loaded into three, and Nicol was against the wall, in four. The loaded in, the engines came to life, the light went green, and the tapes came up!

Novratil exploded into the lead, with Max Ruml in second and Becker in third. Nicol was fourth but on the move!

When they came around on lap two, Nicol was running third and still hanging it out there. Max had taken the lead away from Novratil.

Max Ruml (5) leads Austin Novratil (7) in the main event.

Max Ruml (5) leads Austin Novratil (7) in the main event.

When the white flag came out, Nicol had gotten by Novratil and was running second. There was one lap to go, and as they hit the first turn, Nicol had it wide open and was running the high line, and he never shut down as he took it to Max Ruml. The crowd was on its feet as these two gladiators went at each other down the back straightaway. Nicol pulled it out, and hello, new United States National Champion! Max Ruml was second, with Novratil and Becker rounding out the field.

On the podium, it was (from left to right) runner-up Max Ruml, winner Broc Nicol and third-place finisher Austin Novratil.

On the podium, it was (from left to right) runner-up Max Ruml, winner Broc Nicol and third-place finisher Austin Novratil.

Costa Mesa Speedway sponsored the Support main. Sammy Ramirez topped Mike Bloom, Michael Wells and Chet Kohler for the win.

“Uncle Doug” Nicol didn’t forget where Broc got his start, as he anted up for the 250cc Juniors. Sebastian Palmese took the win, over Jake Isaac and Sara Cords.

OX Motorsports gave the Juniors some extra dough, and it was Slater Lightcap who would be buying the pizza, as he topped Luke Whitcomb, Jose Navarette, Andrew Russell and Justin Alman.

Many thanks to Lifestyle Cycles and IMS for the Support and 150cc Junior races that ran earlier in the evening.

Costa Mesa Speedway at the Orange County Fairgrounds
Costa Mesa, California
Results: September 30, 2017

CHAMPIONSHIP MAIN: 1. Broc Nicol (Jaw); 2. Max Ruml (Jaw); 3. Austin Novratil (Jaw); 4. Luke Becker (Jaw).

SUPPORT MAIN: 1. Sammy Ramirez (Jaw); 2. Mike Bloom (Jaw); 3. Michael Wells (Jaw); 4. Chet Kohler (Jaw).

250 JR MAIN: 1. Sebastian Palmese (Jaw); 2. Jake Isaac (Jaw); 3. Sara Cords (Jaw).

150 JR MAIN: 1. Slater Lightcap (Hgn); 2. Luke Whitcomb (Hgn):3. Jose Navarette (Hgn); 4. Andrew Russell (Hgn); 5. Justin Alman (Hgn).

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