RUML WINS AGAIN @ INDUSTRY SPEEDWAY – By Tim Kennedy
Industry, CA., Jul. 27 – Max Ruml continued his current hot streak with another perfect, undefeated night of AMA speedway bike racing in week nine of 14 at Industry Speedway. The 19-year old from Huntington Beach won all three of his heat races, his semi-final and the main event. He led every lap he rode to make his domination complete in the Grand Arena at Industry Hills Expo Center. More than 830 spectators witnessed his virtuoso performance on a balmy Wednesday evening when 39 races were run during the annual Bruce Flanders Ugly Hawaiian Shirt Night.
Ruml's hot streak started earlier this month when he parked his usual GM bike in favor of a new Jawa 500cc ride. Starting with the July 16 Orange County Fair Derby in Costa Mesa, Max won three features in a row on the Jawa. He led every lap he raced in Costa Mesa and at Industry July 20 and 27. This week at Industry he also wore brand new leathers paid for by one of his numerous sponsors.
D-1 MAIN: Ruml started from the outside gate next to the wall. His brother Dillon, 17, Austin Novratil, 22, and Charlie “the Edge” Venegas, 49, started from lanes one through three respectively. When the starting line tapes lifted, Max shot into the lead on the outside leaving the second turn. He maintained his winning three lengths advantage all four laps. Venegas, on the outside, and inside-running Novratil battled evenly all the way. Venegas lived up to his nickname and was the runner-up by one length over Novratil. D. Ruml trailed by four lengths on his Jawa.
“On the Throttle” Novratil also won all three of his heats and his semi-final before trailing in the main. Current Nor Cal resident Russell Green, 24, made a rare So Cal start and finished third in a semi-final. He led all four laps of the D-1 consolation race to edge Gage Geist, 17, Shawn McConnell, 57, and Ricky Richards, 39. Richards made his career second consecutive start in a semi-final. Sixteen D-1 riders raced. Broc Nicol was entered but was absent. He received a call to fly to England and race Friday for Team USA in the FIM Speedway World Team Championship.
D-2: The second division 500cc had 12 riders present. Their feature produced the wildest crash of the season at Industry. On the initial lap the bikes of Joe Donaldson and Hayley Perrault made contact in turn two. Donaldson's bike veered right at speed and rode completely through the wooden crash-wall. It stopped near a pillar about six feet from the track. His bike was shortened considerably and had to be loaded by hand into the back of his pickup truck.
Donaldson injured his right pinkie finger and his right ankle had to be braced in the pits. He intended to see a doctor later. Track workers rebuilt the crash-wall in about ten minutes. Perrault, 19, led every lap over runner-up Eloy Medellin. Third place Rick Valdez fell in the first turn on lap 1 and pushed his bike to the infield, leaving only two riders on the track.
D-3: The 500cc D-3 class had five riders present and all raced in a pair of heats and a main. Tom Bryant, a 63-year old fabricator from Ramona, led every lap for his first career feature triumph. Past 2016 feature winners Steve Brown, Kevin Fife and George Yates followed. Rookie Dennis Osmer was third on lap 2 when his bike slid to the ground in turn four. He rose quickly and pushed it to the infield.
JUNIORS: The 250cc division had four riders this week. Sebastian Palmese, 12, raced with a cast on his fractured left wrist. He finished third and first in the two heats to get familiar with racing with his cast. He did not come out for the main to save his equipment for the Friday, July 29 Junior Nationals in Auburn. Heat winner Michael Wells, 15, led every lap in the main in his fourth year of racing a 250 bike. The Huntington Beach teen won three 2015 mains at Industry on June 24, July 22 and August 12. Jake Isaac, 14, was a close second, with Skylar Schnakenberg, 17, third.
The 5-lap mini 150cc D-1 main went to Sam Hagon, 11, from London, England, in his first ride at Industry during the 14 race season. He started at the gate on his Hagon bike built by his dad. It was his first Industry feature victory since August 12, 2015. He also won heat two Wednesday. First heat winner Luke Whitcomb, 10, finished second after starting 20-yards from the gate. Slater Lightcap, 10, started 40-yards back and finished third. Gate starter Keelan “Lil' Edge” Venegas, 12, fell in turn two and came back to place fourth.
The mini 150cc D-2 main for newer riders went to former pee-wee champion Travis Horn of LaVerne. The now 8-year old started 30-yards back and led laps 3-5 for his fifth feature triumph at Industry this season. Andrew Russell led the first two laps and placed second. Rachel Schnakenberg, who will turn 11 August 9, started at the 10-yard line and ran third all five laps.
PEE-WEES: The pee-wee main started all six youngsters (ages 5 to 8) and also had a scary-looking crash. On lap 1 Gavin Dryfka, 5, fell leaving turn two. Rookie Kristian Daniel, Jr., 7, a five-time Industry feature winner flipped over his bars and slid into the backstretch wall. He remained on the ground for almost ten minutes as track medical staff treated him for an elbow contusion. He was carried to the pits and his family transported him to a medical facility for evaluation.
The restarted pee-wee main had two leaders. Connor Salazar, 8, paced the first two laps. Yucaipa's Levi Leutz, 7, led laps 3 and 4 for his second 2016 victory at Industry. Salazar was a close second. Two new female pee-wees placed third and fourth in their first and third race nights. Cash Culp, 7, made her debut and finished on the lead lap aboard her Honda 50. Dakota Black, 5, made her third race night on her Yamaha 50 and took fourth, a lap down.
PIT NOTES: During one of two track prep intermissions about 12 finalists selected by IHEC staff stood in front of the scoring/announcing booth for fans selection of the top three by applause in judging for the Bruce Flanders Ugly Hawaiian Shirt contest. The top three received silver cup trophies. Winner was Dave Ruby, a 2014-only 500cc D-3 rider (No. 112 Jawa). The 56-year old said he hopes to return to speedway racing next season. Second was Juliesse Herrera, 12, and third place went to Gregory Giles.
During an intermission Flanders interviewed past speedway rider (No. 20) Ronnie “Rocket” Correy, 49. He was the 1981-82 Junior National Champion. He also raced for decades in Europe. He raced for Wolverhampton in the British League from 1987-93 and to 2006 as well as for other teams at times. He was the 1992 World Pairs Champion and on the 1992 World Team Cup Champion Team USA five-rider team.
Three USAC open-wheel racing veteran drivers attended the July 27 speedway races at Industry. Shane Scully, Jordan Hermansader, the 1994 Turkey Night Midget Grand Prix winner in Bakersfield, and J. J. Ercse sat together in the grandstand near turn one. Ercse said he will undergo shoulder surgery soon.
D-2 500cc riders ran two rounds of heats for points to determine four riders for the feature. A run-off race was necessary to set the fourth rider after David Lynch (No. 131) and Joe Donaldson (No. 37) tied at four points based on their two second place rides. Donaldson led all four laps over Lynch to earn the feature berth. After riding through the turn two wall in the main he probably wished he had not won that run-off race.
Gary Hicks, a 47-year old rider from Temecula, returned to speedway racing July 16 at the OCF Derby in Costa Mesa and scored 3-points. He raced at Industry July 27 for the first time in about three years. He scored a pair of seconds in heats and his four points tied Russell Green for eighth place in points. Green received the final semi-final race berth because he beat Hicks (P.3 to Hicks P. 4) in their round three head-to-head meeting. ... Green is a long-time So Cal resident who rode a 150cc “Rhonda the Honda” donated to him by Industry fans in his first competition. He moved to Camptonville (on Highway 49 north of Grass Valley) where he now works as a landscape gardener. He won a 500cc handicapped main at Fast Fridays Speedway in Auburn earlier this year.
D-2 500cc rider Bruce Marteney (No. 242) raced Wednesday despite receiving eight stitches on his upper nose near his left eye. He received the injury over the weekend in a motocross race near the 60 and 215 freeways. He said another rider rode over him.
New pee-wee rider Cash Culp, 7, from Nuevo (near Perris) looked racy in her speedway racing debut. Her given name is Cash and she chose a dollar sign ($) as her number on a Honda 50. Appropriately, the $ is in green, as is her helmet. ... Five females raced at Industry July 27—two in pee-wees, two in juniors, and one in 500cc D-2. Junior 250 rider Sara Cords, 16, was not present this week.
Max Ruml started racing his new Jawa about three weeks ago. This week he used his sponsor-donated new leathers for the first time. Just prior to the weekly 7:15 pm rider parade/individual introductions over the PA mic, fellow riders threw track dirt on his new leathers to christen the new togs. Max then rolled in the heavy dirt at the top of turn four to finish the job. He later rode to victory, so the tradition worked.
FIM SPEEDWAY WORLD TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP: Team USA raced at Vastervik, Sweden Tuesday, July 26 and finished third in the four nation competition. Final score was Sweden 48, Australia 37, USA 22, and Germany 19. Winner Sweden advanced to the July 30 championship event to join already qualified England and Poland. There were 20 heat races in which all four riders for each nation rode five times. Greg Hancock won three heats and scored 17 of the 22 USA points. Only the top three nations advanced to the next round in at sold out National Speedway Stadium in Manchester, England. Germany was eliminated. Friday, July 29 racing is a “race-off” involving Denmark, Russia, Australia and USA. Only the winning team Friday will advance to the Saturday, July 30 championship night to race against home team England, Poland and Sweden.
Team USA members in Sweden were three-time FIM Speedway World Champion Greg Hancock, Ryan Fisher, Ricky Wells, and Napa's Billy Janniro, 36. Under 21 reserve Luke Becker, 17, did not race. Fisher and Janniro each scored two points with a pair of thirds; Wells had a third for one point. In a late development, Wells tweeted he would not be racing in Manchester. Becker replaced him. Team leader Hancock then decided to stand down and give a second upcoming young USA rider a chance to race against world class riders. That is when Nicol was called in to replace Hancock. Team USA clearly faced a daunting task against tested, experienced riders. New Team USA manager Lance King, a 1980s USA speedway star, knew this was a learning or development year. His two teenage riders would be getting on-the-job experience and facing the toughest competition they will race. Racing Friday-Saturday, July 29-30 will be shown live on the Internet via monsterenergySWC.com/live_stream. Racing each day starts at 7:00 pm (England time), so telecasts air live starting at 11:00 am Pacific time.
LATE ADD: I watched live on the Internet the Friday, July 29 “race-off” from the beautiful new, modern speedway track in residential Manchester. The home of the Bellevue Aces, of the British League, has covered grandstands on the front and back straights and a grass infield. It measures 350 meters compared to 150 meters at Costa Mesa Speedway. The old speedway track and home of the Aces is visible beyond the third and fourth turns and is now used for greyhound dog racing and stock car racing.
It rained earlier Friday so no riders were not able to practice on the new track. The day became sunny and workers had the track smooth and fast by scheduled race time. The two British commentators later said the track was fast but passing was very difficult. Starts off the line became all-important. With positions scored 3-2-1-0, each team had to avoid dreaded fourth place finishes. Team USA did not do so and had 15 P. 4 finishes, including a starting tape foul/DQ by Fisher in heat four.
Team helmet colors were: USA-yellow, Australia-white, Denmark-blue, and Russia-red appropriately. USA did not score a point until heat 5 (of 20) and as expected ranked fourth all the way to the experienced riders. After 19 heats, Australia led Denmark 41-40, with Russia out of contention at 30 points. The “race-off” victory a came down to the 20th and final heat. Aussie star Jason Doyle won the fifth of his five heat victories, while a Danish rider placed third, behind a Russian. The final score was: Australia 44, Denmark 41, Russia 32 and USA 9. USA scoring was done by Fisher (a pair of seconds, including use of the pre-race designation of the joker card in heat 13 for double points) – 6 points, Janniro (three third places) - 3 points. Becker and Nicol went point-less, but gained experience against world class speedway competition. So the 2016 FIM Speedway World Team Championship on July 30 will have England, Poland, Sweden and Australia racing. Catch it live on the Internet, or read about it later.