Bert's Mega Mall Season Opener - City of Industry, California, USA - May 29
San Gabriel Valley native Billy "The Bullet" Hamill returned from his United States Speedway Team Manager duties in Europe and began Industry Racing's tenth season with a perfect performance at the Bert's Mega Mall Season Opener.
Billy Hamill, who led America's successful Speedway World Cup qualification bid in Miskolc, Hungary nine days earlier, had first choice of starting position in the main event and picked gate one. Charlie "The Edge" Venegas, who recently captured his thirteenth ice racing championship, chose gate two. Under 21 National Champion Gino Manzares, who competed on Hamill's team in Hungary, selected gate four which left former Under 21 National Champion Austin Novratil with gate three.
Billy Hamill and Venegas left the starting line together with Billy Hamill gaining a slight advantage as they entered turn one. Novratil, wisely sensing that the riders starting inside him may push wide in the first corner, made a savvy cutback move. He went under Venegas but couldn't quite squeeze under Billy Hamill as they exited turn two and was carrying so much speed that ran into the back of him and went down. He waited for a red flag that would never arrive as the field sped away. Venegas tried chasing down the leader who was locked on to the inside line. The former World Champion was unmoved by what was behind him and led to the finish. Venegas had to settle for second, Manzares finished third, and Novratil was credited with fourth.
"Battling" Buck Blair led the first heat of the evening before Novratil went around the outside of him for the lead and the victory. Former World Finalist Josh Larsen led the second heat before sixteen year old "Mad" Max Ruml passed him at the end of lap one. Larsen returned the favor on the next lap and held the teenager off the rest of the way. Aaron Fox used the outside in the second bend to take the lead and the win ahead of Venegas in event three. Manzares defeated former National runner-up Tyson Burmeister in event four. Billy Hamill beat "Fast" Eddie Castro to end the first round.
Former Junior National Champion Jason Ramirez began the second round with a win over Novratil. Larsen held off Russell Green for his second straight victory, but it was a costly win as he suffered an engine failure after the race and withdrew from the rest of the meeting. Venegas beat Burmeister for his first win of the evening. Manzares defeated Fox for his second straight win. Billy Hamill finished the round two by trapping from gate four and holding off Max Ruml for his second consecutive win.
Tim Gomez started round three by handing Manzares his first defeat. Venegas made it two wins in a row by beating Novratil. Max Ruml beat Castro in event 27. Fox held off Ramirez for his second win. Billy Hamill finished the heats by beating Tyson Talkington to remain the only unbeaten rider.
Venegas and Manzares finished one-two and booked their place in the main event. Hamill stormed to his fourth straight win in the second semi while Novratil split two foes in turn one and finished second to also transfer to the main.
Fox made a great start from gate four and went on to victory in the Consolation. Ramirez finished second, Max Ruml was third, and Castro finished fourth.
Harold Hartke made the best start in the Second Division Main Event but had veteran Rudy Laurer immediately planted on this back tire. Laurer kept the heat on Hartke for a lap before charging up the inside of the leader on the back straight. Laurer secured the lead in turn three and never looked back on his way to the victory. Hartke held on to second, Bruce Marteney was third, and Dillon Osborne finished fourth.
Steve "Beach Ball" Brown was the initial leader of the Third Division Main Event before Lewis Hughes took over as they entered turn three. Hughes held the lead before succumbing to the pressure of Chris Jones on the third lap. Jones pulled away from the field and led to the finish before dismounting and performing his customary post-race victory cartwheels. Hughes finished second and Brown was third.
Kurtis Hamill didn't want his dad to have bragging rights during the drive home from the track and he led all four laps en route to victory in the Junior 250 Main Event. He also received $50 from dedicated speedway fan Tom Foster for his efforts as well. Junior National Champion Broc Nicol was second, Dillon Ruml finished third, and Hayley Perrault was fourth.
Jake Isaac led the Mini 150 Main Event before Maverick Molloy went by. Molloy was immediately under fire from Sebastian "Big Daddy" Palmese. Molloy withstood Palmese's inside attack for two laps. Palmese then switched his pursuit to the outside and it paid off when he went around Molloy at the close of lap three. Palmese pulled away from everyone and was first to the checkered flag. Molloy settled for second, Courtney Crone was third, Michael Wells finished fourth, and Isaac was fifth.
The event marked the first of sixteen speedway events scheduled at Industry Racing in 2013. The event was sponsored by Bert's Mega Mall in Covina, a staple of motor sports in the San Gabriel Valley for decades. Fans entering the venue were handed programs with the official American SWC team that included the aforementioned Billy Hamill and Manzares along with Ricky Wells, Billy Janniro, and Ryan Fisher. They were also greeted by vehicles from Connor Cutting and Core which is owned by speedway icon Bruce Penhall and named in honor of his son Connor. Penhall was interviewed during a break in the action while the vehicles circled the track and T-shirts autographed by Penhall were launched into the crowd. City of Industry Mayor Jeff Parriott, a third-generation motorcycle racer himself, served as Grand Marshall.
The racing continues on Wednesday, June 5 and will have all the motorcycle divisions and will include the first appearance of the sidecars.
Mini 150cc Main Event
First Division Heat Scoring 1 2 3 T
HAMILL WINS INDUSTRY SPEEDWAY CYCLE OPENER – By Tim Kennedy
Industry, CA., May 29 – Speedway motorcycle racing returned Wednesday to Industry Speedway at the Industry Hills Expo Center, launching the tenth consecutive season of two-wheel racing at the indoor Grand Arena dirt track. Riders ran 39 races between 7:30 and 9:54 p.m.. About 2,500 enthusiastic spectators, up from 2,000 last year, welcomed cycle racers back to the San Gabriel Valley track. Twenty 500cc Division 1 racers, from teenagers to AARP-eligible 50+ riders, competed. Billy "the Bullet" Hamill enjoyed a perfect night by winning all three of his heat races, his semi-final race and the four-rider, four-lap main event.
Hamill, a 43-year old Carlsbad resident, is an eight-time US National Speedway Cycle Champion. He also won the 1996 World Speedway Championship and the 1998 World Team Championship. He started his Hagon Shock-sponsored cycle from the inside lane and shot into the lead immediately when the starting gate lifted. He maintained his lead in the second turn despite a bump that sent Austin Novratil to the ground and out of competition.
Hamill withstood race-long pressure from runner-up Charlie "the Edge" Venegas, 46, and won by four lengths. Gino Manzares, 19, earned third, ten-yards back. Non-finisher Novratil, 18, placed fourth. Additionally, Hamill enjoyed an early Fathers Day present when his 14-year old son Kurtis, who also uses No. 104 on his cycle and leathers, led all four laps of the under age 16 Junior Division 250cc main event in a four rider field.
Aaron Fox captured the Division 1 (experts) consolation race for the third and fourth place finishers in the two semi-final races, won by Venegas and Hamill. Rudy Lauer led the final three laps of the 500cc Division 2 feature for intermediate-level riders. Harold Hartke led the opening lap and finished second. Chris Jones took charge of the Division 3 (newcomers) 500cc riders on the final lap by squeezing between the infield edge and Louis Hughes, leader of the first three laps. Jones took his victory lap with the checkered flag, dismounted at the starting line, and performed his usual cartwheels towards turn one. He made seven cartwheels as fans counted.
Sebastian Palmese passed early leader Maverick Molloy on the third lap and won the 150cc main over Molloy and third place young lady Courtney Crone, 12. The four-lap pee-wee main event on 50cc mini cycles went to fan-favorite Luke Whitcomb, now 7. After starting from a 20-yard handicap line, the jovial youngster made his usual inside charge in the closing laps for his last lap pass in the second turn.
Riders with perfect scores following two heat races were Hamill, Venegas and Josh Larsen, a past California State Championship winner at Industry. He has not raced at Industry Wednesday night races in recent seasons. Larsen blew his engine after the second heat victory, ending his night of racing.
Max Ruml celebrated his 16th birthday on March 15 and graduated to a 500cc cycle. Officials allowed him to bypass Divisions 3 and 2 and moved him into the tough Division 1. He justified their evaluation of his talent by finishing heats second twice and winning his third heat race. Ruml tallied seven points out of a possible nine on the 3-2-1-0 point scale for each race. He finished a close fourth in the first semi-final and third in the four rider Division 1 Consi race that preceded the Division 1 feature.
NOTES: City of Industry Mayor Jeff Parriott served as opening night grand marshal. His family has three generations of service on the Industry city council and as motorcycle racers. As a teen Jeff road raced. His father Sam "Buddy" Parriott raced flat track, TT and road races in the 50s and 60s and finished second in an early 60s Daytona road race. Jeff's grandfather, Sam, raced cycles on dry lakes in 1924 and ran 137 mph on a Crocker Twin cycle at Muroc Dry Lake in 1939. Sam also had a Kurtis 500S sports race car.
Bruce Penhall, a two-time World Speedway Champion, was present for Industry's opening night. Announcer Bruce Flanders interviewed him as two of his Penhall Corp. trucks circled the track with "Connor" on the side of both trucks. Penhall's racer son Connor was struck and killed while working for the family firm on blockaded lanes of the I-10 Freeway just east of the 605 Freeway just over a year ago. Speedway cycles carried a decal that read "Connor (1990-2012) – No. 81 – Ride in Peace". ...
Round 1 of the Monster Energy FIM Speedway World Team Cup was completed on May 19 in Miskolc, Hungary and USA won it. Team members were: team manager Billy Hamill, captain Ryan Fisher, Ricky Wells, Gino Manzares and Billy Janniro. The next round will be run on July 15 at Kings Lynn, UK.
The large opening night crowd 50/50 drawing produced a $441. payout to the lucky fan winner. ... Injured riders missing from action at Industry this week: Braden Galvin, 14, broke a foot two months ago and needed surgery. Rocco Scopellite broke his shoulder in several places while racing in England earlier in May. Veteran riders Shawn McConnell and Bobby Schwartz, in his 40th year of speedway cycle racing, also were absent. Schwartz won all of his races, including the scratch main, last Saturday at Costa Mesa Speedway.
Venegas won his 13th ice racing championship this winter at ice hockey rinks in Iowa. He said he won most of the 16 heats and won a runoff to beat mid-western riders on the "home ice". Charlie said he won $10,000 in front of more than 10,000 fans of the spiked tires sport. ... Division 1 veteran racer Doug Nicol was in the pits helping his son Broc, who finished second in the 250cc Junior main. His brother-in-law John Odom, the father of ex-speedway cycle racer Donny Odom, was one of the severely injured persons at the Boston Marathon terrorist bombing. John was standing near the bomb blast site and lost limbs, required many blood transfusions and 12+ major surgeries to save his life. John, from So Cal, continues to recover from his injuries.
The 14-week cycle racing season at Industry will continue every Wednesday night during June. June 1 will feature all divisions—pee wees through Division 1. Extreme sidecar racers also will compete.
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