Fast Fridays Speedway
Gold Country Fairgrounds
23rd North Vs South Civil War
Fast Friday's Motorcycle Speedway,
Gold Country Fairgrounds
North wins classic match-up
By Michael Kirby (Story & Photos)
AUBURN, CALIFORNIA, July 18, 2014
YouTube Video By Anthony Bernardi
North and South teams before the first race Friday night at the 23rd Annual Challenge.
(L-R) JT Mabry, Tommy Hedden, Ryan Bast, Bart Bast, Mike Faria, Tyson Talkington, Broc Nicol and Charlie Venegas.
(Kneeling) Bryce Starks, Billy Janniro, Austin Novratil and Max Ruml.
Fast Fridays Motorcycle Speedway hosted one of America's longest running speedway racing grudge matches Friday night at the Gold Country Fairgrounds in Auburn. It's a long running tradition dating back to 1991 and a popular racing event with Fast Friday's fans and riders who look forward to the annual meeting between six of the best riders from Southern California who venture north to square off against six of the best Northern California riders in the North vs. South Challenge.
In the 2014 version of this classic match-up the North squad again defeated the South for the third consecutive year with a score of 73-66 and keeping the North ahead in the overall event tally 15-8. Not since the 2011 challenge has the South team, led by world champion Billy Hamill, pulled off a win. The teams this year consisted of Bart Bast, Billy Janniro, Tommy Hedden, Bryce Starks, JT Mabry and Ryan Bast for the North. The South team was led by veterans Charlie Venegas and Mike Faria and Broc Nicol, Max Ruml Austin Novratil and Tyson Talkington. The riders raced in teams and the 20 races were all four lap scratch format racing. The heat races scored three points for a first place finish, two points for a second, one point for third and nothing for fourth. In the main events the points increased giving either team a chance to pull off a late comeback. Teams six points behind could use a joker inserted rider once to score double points and a tactical substitution could also be made if a team was six points behind to increase scoring chances during the 18 heat races.
After three heats the score was tied at 9-9, and after five heats the score was again tied 15-15 with exciting first and second place finishes by young riders Ruml and Novratil for the South. But after the sixth heat and first and second finishes by Bart and Ryan Bast the score was 20-16 and the North again led. Though the South team consisted of veteran riders Mike Faria and Charlie Venegas with 65 combined racing years, Austin Novratil, Max Ruml and Broc Nicol were all racing in their first North vs. South Challenge and are all under 19 years of age making for a very youthful South team. In heats seven through nine the South held on but in heat nine the team of Janniro and Starks delivered a one-two punch first and second place finishes increasing the score 30-24 for the North. In heat 12 Faria and Talkington executed first and second place finishes for the South over Hedden and Mabry and brought the score to a very respectable 37-35 but with the North still leading.
Down 42-36 after heat 13 because of excellent performances by the North team of Janniro and Starks, the South made a tactical joker maneuver in heat 14 and Ruml came through with a win doubling his points to six for the heat and bringing the South to within one of the North at 44-43 keeping it real close and the racing tension high between the two teams. In heat 18, the final heat before the main events, Janniro slid out on the smooth blue grooved track and was hit by teammate Starks who was unable to avoid a collision. Unable to finish the race, Starks alone faced Talkington and Faria in the restart and the South gained five points with first and second place finishes and pulled ahead 56-55 going into the mains and leading for the first time of the evening.
With scoring increased in the two main events and big time bragging rights on the line, the South sent Ruml and Talkington out and the North sent Mabry and Starks into the B main event. Riding a great race Starks and Mabry pulled off a stunning first and second team finish tallying seven points for the North and Talkington and Ruml picked up three for the South bringing the score to 62-59 with the North barely ahead of the South going into the final main event.
For the main event Bart Bast rolled up to the line along with Janniro for the North and the South sent Venegas and Novratil into the finale and a chance for the win. With 18 points up for grabs in the main event this year's North vs. South Challenge came down to this one race and rested on these riders talents. Bast out of lane one and Janniro out of three grabbed the one-two spot on the inside at turn one with Bast in front. Holding steady on the slick track worn by a nights racing, Bast and Janniro stayed ahead of Venegas and Novratil to the finish to win and added an additional combined 11 points. The South added seven but not enough and the score finished at 73-66 for a third consecutive win for the North.
Bast led the North and all riders with 21 points. "I was really relaxed and making good starts, when the track is grooved like this the starts are key, in the main I came out of one and Billy (Janniro) was in three," said Bart Bast. "Team riding is fun, a nice break from the weekly racing and when it works out. In one race Ryan (Bast) came out and we were able to block the track," Bast said. "It's really a kick." The South was led by seventeen-year old Max Ruml with 17 points in his first North vs. South meeting. Though disappointed with his teams loss Broc Nicol enjoyed the experience of being on the South's team. "It's always fun and for the first year it's really an experience, it didn't go to well for me tonight the track is super slick," Nicol said. "To be on the team is really cool though, the team riding, it's all super cool."
2014 North vs. South Scoring
North 73 South 66
North-Bart Bast 21, Billy Janniro 19, Bryce Starks 13, JT Mabry 9, Tommy Hedden 6, Ryan Bast 5.
South-Max Ruml 17, Charlie Venegas 15, Austin Novratil 12, Tyson Talkington 10, Mike Faria 9, Broc Nicol 3
1-Dillon Ruml, 2-Luke Becker
1-Sterling Martin, 2-Kyle Cunningham, 3-Alex Martin
Run What U Brung
Photos By Michael Kirby