Billy "The Bullet" Hamill and Billy "The Kid" Janniro both took home main event victories against a stellar field that included current World Speedway Champion Greg Hancock at the Big Kid Gumball Rally at Inland Motorcycle Speedway in San Bernardino.
The draw for the Scratch Main Event placed Hamill in gate one; Northern California native and British League competitor Kenny Ingalls, making his IMS debut, was gate two; Upset-minded 18 year old Gino Manzares drew gate three; Janniro would start from gate four; Hancock drew gate five, the same gate he was victorious from last year.
In a repeat of last year, Hamill and Hancock exploded off the starting line simultaneously with Hamill hugging the inside line through turns one and two while Hancock immediately went to the outside. They exited turn two side-by-side and remained in the same formation as they entered turn three. Hancock appeared to find more traction coming out of turn four but he could only get even with Hamill at the end of lap one. They navigated through turns one along the same paths as lap one but this time Hamill surged ahead on the back straight and held the lead through lap two. Hancock went deeper into turn one in search of traction but only lost ground and switched his attack to the inside in turn three. Hamill had the race under control at the start of the final lap and Hancock's race ended when he snapped a drive chain in turn two. Hamill was first to the checkered flag, Janniro finished second, Manzares was third, Ingalls finished fourth, and Hancock was fifth.
Fifteen year old Rocco Scopellite led the Handicap Main Event field but many eyes were on the back of the field where Ingalls was starting 40 yards back and Hancock and Hamill were handicapped 60 yards. Scopellite led through lap one while Hancock got ahead of Janniro in the battle of the back-yardage riders and when Ingalls coasted to the infield which their task became far less difficult. Janniro made a pivotal pass of Hancock as they caught the tail end of the field. Scopellite maintained a comfortable lead while Janniro and Hancock carved through the field. Janniro was able to get to the leader's back tire and patiently waited for an opening. Scopellite was equal to the task until leaving a narrow opening up the inside that Janniro charged through as they took the white flag. Hancock also went by but couldn't catch the leader. Janniro crossed the finish line first, Hancock was second, Scopellite scored an impressive third, Manzares was fourth, Steve Russell finished fifth, and Ingalls was sixth.
Ryan Bast, who had never raced at IMS before, made the best of his trip from Northern California by leading from start to finish en route to a very impressive victory in the Second Division Main Event. Geoff Herkner was second, Mitch Pierson finished third, Rudy Laurer was fourth, Gabe Price finished fifth, and C.J. Sanborn was credited with sixth.
Ryan Bast's victory provided fans with flashbacks of the many main event victories that his father, legendary seven-time National Champion Mike Bast, had achieved at the original IMS and also inspired Gordon Hamill to present Ryan Bast with his special annual award that he gives to a racer at each Gumball Rally.
Stephen Simrak led the Third Division Main Event for a lap before Kurt Kornchuk went by. Kornchuck's turn at the front only last for a lap as Ron Davis took over on lap three. Kayle LeoGrande caught up to Davis on the final lap but couldn't force a mistake. Davis held on for the victory, LeoGrande settled for second, Chris Popanz was third, J.C. Masters finished fourth, Kornchuck was fifth, and Simrak finished sixth.
This marked the second consecutive year that the Big Kids Gumball Rally has been staged on the eve of the Gumball Rally and capped a Saturday that included a Billy Hamill Adult Speedway Academy and an open practice. With 56 competitors, this event has proven to be popular with racers as well as fans and has added to the Gumball Rally Weekend experience.
The event also marked the first time since Hancock in 1998 that the reigning World Champion competed in Southern California. Motor sports dignitaries who were in attendance included former World Speedway Champion Bruce Penhall and 2011 National Hot Rod Association Top Fuel Champion Del Worsham. During intermission Hamill, Hancock, and Penhall signed one of Hancock's 2011 helmets that will be auctioned off to raise money for American youth speedway soon after fellow World Champion "Sudden" Sam Ermolenko adds his signature.
Second Division Main Event (restarted)
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