SANTA MARIA RACEWAY
1900 Hutton Rd
Nipomo, CA 93444
Santa Maria Speedway
April 23, 2016
By: Steve Evans firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos By: Robert Hargraves Photography
NOVRATIL VICTORIOUS IN SANTA MARIA OPENER!
Any thoughts that Austin Novratil was not a force in American speedway were quickly dispelled as he owned the opening event at the fabulous new track in Santa Maria, California, with 5 perfect rides.
Novratil, a multi time National Champion at Youth, Under 21 and Long Track level, as well as the holder of the second highest points score a UK debut, showed he was back in business at the new venue at the April 23rd race.
Santa Maria, a Central Californian city of just over 100,000, recently put in a purpose built Speedway track of around 300 yards inside its clay 1/3 Sprint Car track. The location, close to the beach cities of Pismo Beach and Morro Bay, has much potential. Not only does it provide a great location for a track, but the circuit itself is shaped with huge sweeping turns, much like Sheffield in England and Bydgoszcz in Poland. The track owners took the event seriously, spending much time over the past three weeks, building, packing and working on the 3 week old track that stood up perfectly to over 50 races in the show that was combined with Flat Track.
Division 1 featured three rounds of three heats, all scratch, The top 8 riders made semi finals with the top 2 in each contesting the Main Event.
Round 1 saw Max Ruml blast away to win heat 1 from Eddie Castro. Next up Gage Geist scored an impressive victory over double National Champion Charlie Venegas. Novratil led home Dillon Ruml in heat 3.
Heat 4 had two first round victors in Max Ruml and Geist go head to head. Team USA World cup star Ruml headed home his young rival. Novratil defeated Venegas by a good margin in heat 5, whilst Dillon Ruml got on the winners board in heat 6, leading home Castro.
The final round of heats saw Max Ruml go perfect by defeating Venegas in heat 7. Heat 8 had Novratil likewise staying perfect, keeping Geist and Castro at bay in one of the closest races, Castro almost pulling of a trademark outside pass. Dillon Ruml won comfortably over Clark and Charles Ermolenko in heat 9.
Semi final one had Novratil gate with Castro leading Geist for second. Geist challenged Castro into turn 3 and the 57 year old veteran fell without contact at speed. Castro was unhurt in the fall and restarted from the penalty line. In the re run, Novratil lead home Geist from Clark. Semi two ended up a two rider affair, Dave Fonts failed the two minutes time allowance and then Venegas broke the tapes. The Ruml brothers put on a tandem show with Dillon edging out Max for his third win.
The final saw a potential showdown between Novratil and Max Ruml, but Max experienced bike trouble at the line and soon after retired. Novratil got the edge out of turn two over Dillon Ruml with Geist third. Dillon kept Novratil close for two laps in another impressive big track showing, but Novratil got clear enough eventually to be secure and take a deserved victory.
In other speedway classes, Robert Curry took two Support heats with Mike Lane and Sean McDougall taking one each. In the Main it was Lane who got away and led from flag to curry from Curry and McDougall. The Vintage division saw Malcolm Roe and Dan Waller take a heat each. Waller won the Main in the popular class mainly filled with local Central Coast riders – Roe made a bad gate and reeled in Waller but couldn't quite secure the photo finish. The 150cc Mini Junior Class was dominated by National Champion Sterling Martin, all four competitors gained valuable experience on the sweeping track.
As expected, Sidecars were very popular! Joe Jones / Tom Summers and James Kinne / Dana Catone took two heats each, with Bryan Motis and Cody Brant taking the other. The Main event went to Jones and Summers after the first staging was red flagged after a spectacular flip of the 33 machine of Rick Garcia and Adam Duckett. Both escaped injury but bike damage precluded restarting.
The event was heavily promoted locally and included TV and Radio commercials. It is the first time in 20 years Speedway has been staged in Santa Maria and given the large and enthusiastic crowd who were quite vocal in their appreciation, speedway not only has gained a new venue but also a new fan base.
The next two events at Santa Maria are on holiday weekends, which give a great racing and tourism combination. July 3rd is next up, likely to involve team racing, with the finale on September 3rd. The track offers on site camping for competitors and fans and there are numerous local hotels.
Division 1 Points (Heats and Semis)
Austin Novratil 12, Dillon Ruml 11, Max Ruml 11, Gage Geist 9, Charlie Venegas 6, Eddie Castro 5, Dave Clark 5 (!), Dave Fonts 3, Charles Ermolenko 2, Jamison Dilkey 1.
7 Austin Novratil
111 Dillon Ruml
10 Gage Geist
5 Max Ruml (ret)
Division 2 Main
141 Mike Lane
31n Robert Curry
243 Sean McDougall
202 Chet Kohler
299 Cameron Beck
215 Greg Willis (20)
240 Dan Waller
180 Malcolm Roe
55 Ron Brankov
413 Brad Rochlitzer
27 Bob Waller
247 Pat Smith (non starter)
1 Sterling Martin
2 Alex Martin
96 Andrew Russell
33 Gavin Geist
1 Joe Jones / Tom Summers
2 Bryan Motis / Cody Brant
74 James Kinne / Dana Catone
33 Rick Garcia / Adam Duckett
Enjoy the view.