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2015 Fast Fridays Speedway
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Fast Fridays Speedway
Gold Country Fairgrounds
Auburn, California

North Vs. South
Fast Friday's Motorcycle Speedway, Gold Country Fairgrounds
South Team wins 24th North-South Challenge
By Michael Kirby (Story & Photos)

YouTube Video - by Anthony Bernardi

With both teams loaded with talent this year the 24th annual North vs. South Challenge at Fast Friday’s Motorcycle Speedway in Auburn was a spectacular display of speedway motorcycle team racing. The North team has been victorious in the challenge since 2011 and led the series 15-8 in overall wins going into Friday night’s contest. Their home team included speedway heavyweights Bart Bast, Tyler Warren, Billy Janniro, Luke Becker, Tommy Hedden and Bob Hicks. The South visiting team hungry to improve their overall record and break their losing streak came to Auburn stacked with one of the best rosters to ever compete in the challenge. Their team lined up Charlie Venegas, Shawn McConnell, Aaron Fox, Broc Nicol, Max Ruml and Dillon Ruml. As the dust settled after a fantastic night of racing the South team pulled off a stunning win over the North 70-65, in one of the closest finishing scores in the history of the North vs. South Challenge.

The premise in the North vs. South Challenge is team racing scoring, the team at the end of the night with the most points wins. Riders are paired and race in 18 four rider scratch heat races scoring points for their finishing places. A win earns three points, second place two points third place one point and fourth place does not score. At the end of 18 heat races the teams each pick two riders for the B main event. Points increase to four, three, two, and one point. Next, two more riders are chosen from each team for the A Main event and the points jump to six points for a win, five points for second, four points for third, three points for a fourth place finish. During the evening if a team is six points or more down they can use a tactical substitution making the evening exciting with many opportunities for lead changes.

The score was never that far apart for the entire evening with the teams both evenly matched with talent. After the first three races the North took the lead and led 11-7 with Bast and Hicks both winning races for the North and Fox winning his race for the South. After the end of six races, the South brought the score to a very respectable 19-17 down just two points. Again Bast and Fox each scored wins and another three points for their teams and Janniro also added three points to the North’s tally with a win in heat four. After nine heat races and outstanding wins from Tommy Hedden and Billy Janniro for the North including a combined five points for Fox and Becker in heat eight for the South, the score was tied 27-27. After 12 races the North managed to bring the tally back in their favor 37-35. The South scored big in heat 13 as Venegas and McConnell scored five with a first and second place finishes and after 15 heats the South moved ahead 47-43. After a great round in heat 18 brothers Dillon and Max Ruml added four points and the South widened their lead to the largest of the evening to 57-51 heading into the main events.

As the teams huddled in the pits discussions centered on who would ride the final two main event races. With the outcome of the meeting on the line, each team pitched ideas to their team managers as to how the final races should be stacked. For the B Main event riders Tommy Hedden and Bob Hicks lined up for the North and Shawn McConnell and Max Ruml wheeled up for the South. Max Ruml won adding four points to the South, Hicks was second and Hedden third adding a combined five points for the North. The score now 61-56 with the South still in the drives seat.

In the A Main event with points doubled the North sent high scorers Billy Janniro and Bart Bast out for a final effort with the possibility of pulling ahead of the South and a win in the 24th annual North-South Challenge. The South sent Broc Nicol and Aaron Fox to hold back the North team and win bragging rights for the year. Fox drew lane one and as the tapes when up he was able to get in front of the pack and hold off Bast and Janniro who would not go down easily. The race was tight but Fox held on ahead of Bast and Janniro for the win and added six points. Bast and Janniro combined to score nine points for the North and Nicol finished fourth grabbing another three for the South making the final score 70-65.

“It was good to win tonight, the south has not won (the challenge) in a while, everyone dug deep and did their parts,” Fox said. “I am very happy, to win that last race over Bart (Bast) and Billy (Janniro) that’s very, very rare,” he said. “I have been looking forward to the challenge, they kept it close, but we came out on top,” Fox said. Shawn McConnell, senior member of the South team, was also was happy to be on the winning team. “There is not too much I can show these younger guys anymore, they’re pretty fast, most of them have been overseas and know what they are doing, I was just thrilled they asked me to be on the team,” he said

Bart Bast led both teams with 20 individual points for the evening. Bast, who has a legendary record in the North vs. South challenges riding in all events except one because of injury has now scored over 320 individual points in 23 challenges. Second for the North Friday evening was Billy Janniro who scored 18 individual points. For the South, Aaron Fox was the high scorer with 19 points followed by Max Ruml who scored 16 points.

It was a great night of racing and the win could of went either way had breaks gone another way. The overall tally in the annual event is now 15 wins for the North and nine win for the South. Each team walked away respecting the other for the efforts they left on the Fast Fridays track. “It was great racing, they had a strong team, they brought their best team up,” said Tommy Hedden after the races. “I would really like to thank Bill Warnock who supplied most of our bikes for the north, he does a great job keeping us riding,” he said.

In the youth program Colton Hicks won the Youth A 250cc main event. Dylan Wagner was second and Kyle Cunningham was third. Jim Lewis won the Run What U Brung main event.

Score Card

North vs. South Challenge Results 7-24-15

South 70
Aaron Fox 3 3 2 1 3 1 6-19
Max Ruml1 1 2 2 3 3 4-16
Shawn McConnell 1 2 2 2 2 2 0-11
Broc Nicol0 1 3 2 0 2 3-11
Charlie Venegas 2 1 0 0 3 1-7
Dillon Ruml 0 2 1 1 1 1-6

North 65
Bart Bast 3 3 1 3 2 3 5-20
Billy Janniro 2 3 3 3 1 2 4-18
Tommy Hedden2 2 3 3 1 3 2-16
Bob Hicks 3 0 1 0 2 0 3-9
Tyler Warren0 0 0 1 0 0 0-1
Luke Becker 1 0 0 0 0 0 0-1

Youth A 250cc
1 - Colton Hicks
2 - Dylan Wagner
3 - Kyle Cunningham

Mini 150 Division 2
1 - Timmy Dion
2 - Greg Moore
3 - Sammy Waddill

Mini 150 Division 1
1 - Alex Martin
2 - Landon Collins
3 - Logan Hedden

Run What U Brung
1-James Lewis

Photos By Michael Kirby

2015 Fast Fridays Speedway

In good sportsmanship the South and North squads greeted each other in the North vs. South Challenge opening ceremony at Fast Fridays in Auburn. The South won ending a four drought 70-65.

South - Charlie Venegas, Aaron Fox, Dillon Ruml, Max Ruml, Broc Nicol, Shawn McConnell

North - Billy Janniro, Luke Becker, Bob Hicks, Tommy Hedden, Tyler Warren and Bart Bast.

2015 Fast Fridays Speedway The South team celebrates their win on the podium with the Fast Fridays trophy girls. (left-right) Charlie Venegas, Dillon Ruml, Broc Nicol, Aaron Fox, Max Ruml and Shawn McConnell.
2015 Fast Fridays Speedway Riders (L-R) Bob Hicks, Max Ruml, Tommy Hedden and Dillon Ruml race in heat race three Friday night. Hicks and Hedden rode for the north and the Ruml brothers rode for the south. Hicks and Hedden scored five points in the heat race.
2015 Fast Fridays Speedway The North’s Bart Bast (center) was the high scorer for both teams with 20 points.
2015 Fast Fridays Speedway Aaron Fox- The South’s Aaron Fox led his team with 19 points. Pictured here he readies for the A main event which he won picking up six points for the South.
2015 Fast Fridays Speedway Billy Janniro had 18 points for the North.
2015 Fast Fridays Speedway Aaron Fox (right) and Billy Janniro (left) come out of turn two.
2015 Fast Fridays Speedway Auburn’s Tommy Hedden had a great night scoring 16 points for the North team. Hedden gets set to start the B Main Event.
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