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New Champion Speedway
344 East River Drive
Owego, New York 13827

Legends Night / Hank Basset Cup
June 26, 1999 Champion Speedway
From: Tim Mathewson

Warren Diem wins Bassett Cup!

For the second year in a row, Warren Diem took home one of New Champion Speedway's highest honors, the Hank Bassett Cup. This event, conceived by promoter Jason Bonsignore in 1998 to coincide with the tracks "Legends Night", pays tribute to one of the East Coast's greatest and most dedicated riders. Bassett, who in his day banged elbows with speedway greats like Woods, Bast, Cook, King and Miller, remains one of the east's winningest riders, winning just about everything except the East Coast Championship. The "Hurricane" as he called is also responsible for helping many of today's riders get their start in the sport.

Warren Diem 1998

The Bassett Cup consist of four rounds of qualifying heats with the top 8 point scorers going to two semi finals. The top two finishers in each semi transferred directly to the main event while the third and fourth place finishers duke it out for the remaining spot of the five man main event in the Last Chance Qualifier.

Semi One
The line up for the first semi looked like a "Bonsignore Sandwich" with Promoter Jason lined up on the outside in four and his father Gene lined up inside in one. The "Meat" of this sandwich was equally as interesting with track prep man Kelvin Herrala, riding a former Warren Diem, Godden in two, and Diem, riding his Herrala owned 888 Jawa in three!

As the tapes went up it was the elder Bonsignore who took the initial lead followed by Diem , who was coming hard from three. Jason was third into the corner but Herrala tucked underneath to wait to see what would open up. Coming out of turn two Gene still held the lead but hit a rut which allowed Diem to make his way around the outside going down the back stretch and assume the lead by turn three. From there Diem checked out and the only excitement would be the battle for second and third between the Bonsignores and Herrala. The start of lap two, Gene still held second place but Herrala was closing fast on the inside. In the mean time, Jason was screaming around the outside and the lap ended with Herrala and the younger Bonsignore side by side. As they crossed the line to start lap three, Jason bumped the wall with his back tire, sending him to an even wider line. This allowed Herrala to concentrate on catching Gene but time was running out. The race would end with Diem winning by almost a full straightaway, Gene would take the last direct transfer with Herrala and Jason heading for the LCQ.

Semi Two
This event would prove to be one of the most exciting of the night. The draw had placed 15 year-old Cam Rafferty on the pole, David Oakden in two, recently un-retired veteran Frank Watson in three and Tommy "the Gater" Sephton in four. When the tapes went up it was Watson who left first barely edging out Sephton and Rafferty. By virtue of his inside starting position, Rafferty had the line on both Watson and Sephton and had a clear lead by the apex of the corner. Coming out of turn two, Watson lost traction which allowed Sephton to move around the outside. Just as Watson parked Oakden, who was running fourth, hooked up in all too familiar turn two rut, and collected Watson's back wheel. Both went down in a horrendous looking crash with Watson's bike cart wheeling over his head and landing against the back stretch wall. The race was red flagged but neither rider was seriously hurt.

Watson did not return for the original restart. As the tapes went up it was Sephton who left first but Rafferty also had an excellent trap AND the inside line. Coming out of turn two and heading down the back stretch it looked as if they were locked together. Neither seemed to have a clear advantage. As they entered turn three, side by side, Sephton seemed to gain a slight lead but drifted a bit, allowing Rafferty to keep the door open. They crossed the line for the start of lap two dead even. Rafferty pulled ahead by half a wheel by the middle of the back stretch but Sephton who was fighting hard, running just off the groove, pulled even and they once again entered turn three side by side! Sephton's speed again carried him wide, but this time Rafferty was able to take advantage. As they crossed the line for the start of lap three, Rafferty led by about a half bike. Sephton tried to cross underneath but the youngster started to pull away. Sephton seemed to decide that the transfer was more important than the win and Rafferty went on to win by five bike lengths with Sephton second and Oakden a distant third.

Last Chance Qualifier
In the LCQ it was Jason Bonsignore in one Oakden in two and Herrala in three. Bonsignore moved first but lifted slightly, allowing Oakden to gain a slight advantage. Bonsignore feathered the clutch and pulled even coming into the turn, forcing Oakden wide. Herrala, coming from the outside, squared off and came up the pipe. Bonsignore had a three bike length lead coming into turn three but caught traction and straightened up allowing Herrala to close the gap. Herrala's inside line was clearly working as he pulled even with Bonsignore through the bend, but the "turn two rut" would claim another victim, upsetting Herrala's concentration just enough to allow Bonsignore to drive past on the outside. Herrala would come back once again to apply pressure but at the start of the third lap, he backed his Godden into turn one too hot, straightened up and drifted wide, almost collecting Oakden who was running in third. From there Bonsignore cruised the last lap and a half to an easy win, picking up the last spot in the main event. Herrala's night would end with a frustrating second place while Oakden finished third.

Main Event
The line up for main looked like this. Rafferty in one, Gene Bonsignore in two, Diem in three, Sephton in four and Jason Bonsignore in five. When the tapes went up Rafferty, Diem and Sephton left at virtually the same moment, entering the first turn three abreast. Rafferty's inside starting position once again gave him the best line out of turn two, which allowed him to gain almost a full bike length over the hard charging Diem. Sephton remained a close third followed by Gene in fourth and Jason at the rear. Rafferty held a narrow lead coming into the turn three, but Diem who had lost to the youngster in the previous week's Handicap Main, was coming up fast on the outside. By the middle of the turn, Diem had put his front wheel ahead of Rafferty but the 15 year-old had no intention of backing down! They crossed the line for the start of the second lap with Diem leading Rafferty by half a length. By the middle of the turn Diem had enough of a lead to pull his line back down on the pipe but Rafferty was not about to let the veteran walk away from him. For the next two and a half laps, everyone watched in awe as the teenager stuck with Diem, never falling more that three bike lengths behind. The race would end with Diem in first, Rafferty a very impressive second, Gene Bonsignore third, Jason in fourth and Sephton finishing last after a fourth lap fall. When asked about Rafferty by announcer Danny "Moonbeam" Fallon, Diem commented "I've been working with the kid and it's not gonna be too long before he's ready for the boys from California".

Scores from Randy Johnson (E-mail: johnsora@cyber-quest.com)

Division 1 Scratch Last Chance
1st Jason Bonsignore #64B
2nd Kelvin Herrala #190
3rd Dave Oakden #327

Legends Main
1st Ted Fey #00
2nd Mike Buman #122

Support A Handicap Main
1st Dave Smith #815
2nd Jerry Harman Jr. #38
3rd Joe Greene #30
4th Les Washbon #90
5th Kendall Brookes #70
6th Joe Veninsky #111

Division 1 Scratch Main
1st Warren Diem #4
2nd Cam Rafferty #427
3rd Gene Bonsignore #64
4th Jason Bonsignore #64B
5th Tom Sephton #104

Dash for Cash
1st Les Washbon #90

Support B handicap Main
1st Anderson #816
2nd Chris Strong #93
3rd Jeff Houston #168
4th Robinson #410
5th Jim Fey #00
6th Andy Yarwood #101

"Bike Show"
Best of Show Jason Bonsignore 1970-80-90 Jawa
Best Restored - Bill Senn 1969 Jawa
Best Unrestored - Jay Stalma 1975 Jawa
Best Rat - Kelvin Herrala 1972 Jawa
Best Street - James Stoeckel 1999 HD Road King

"See ya sideways",

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