RUML DID IT AGAIN—PERFECTION @ INDUSTRY SPEEDWAY – By Tim Kennedy
Industry, CA., Aug. 3 – Max Ruml, from Huntington Beach, did it again Wednesday night at Industry Speedway in week ten of a 14-week season. The 19-year old AMA speedway star led every lap he raced in front of 1,015 fans at The Grand Arena in the Industry Hills Expo Center. That included three heats, a semi-final and four-lap first division 500cc main event on the eighth-mile dirt track. It was his third consecutive sweep at Industry on his new Jawa and the fourth in a row counting the Orange County Fair Derby event Saturday, July 16.
“Mad” Max started from gate three with his 17-year old brother Dillon alongside at gate two. Fellow semi-final race winner Charlie Venegas, 49, shot from gate four, while Broc Nicol, 18, had pole position. At the start, Max commandeered the point and led lap 1 over Nicol, Venegas and his brother. On lap 2 Dillon took third from outside-running Venegas. On the final lap, Dillon took second from Nicol and trailed Max by three lengths at the finish. The Ruml brothers took several laps side-by-side and did simultaneous wheelies on the front and back straightaways together to celebrate their one-two finish.
Shawn McConnell, 57, won the first division scratch consolation race over pressing Austin Novratil, 21. Gage Geist, 17, placed third. Gino Manzares did not start in his semi-final race or the consy because of a serious engine problem. With 15 D-1 500cc riders racing, it took five points to qualify for one of the two four-rider semi-finals.
SIDECARS: Six 1,000cc sidecars raced in the fifth sidecar appearance at Industry this season. Joe Jones, a 35-year old sidecar leader and past champion, drove his 1,000cc Suzuki GSXR with his new swinger Dana Catone, 24. They led all four laps from the inside lane. It was her first feature victory at Industry, but her second as a sidecar swinger. She also won at Ventura on July 23 with No. 74 Suzuki GSXR driver James Kinne, from Sacramento. Following were: Bryan Motis/Cody Brant, Dillon Osborne/Ashley Gibbons, and three-rig consolation race winner Jeff Medberry/Niki Davis.
D-2-500cc: There were 12 riders present in this intermediate skill level class. Rick Valdez, 40, led laps 2-4 in the feature for his second Industry feature victory of 2016. Chet Kohler was five lengths back and P. 3 Eloy Medellin was eight lengths off the lead. David Lynch led lap 1, got high in turn two on lap 2 and dropped to fourth. He slid to the ground on lap 3 and pushed his bike to the infield.
All six D-3 newer 500cc riders raced in a pair of heats and main event. Steve “Beach Ball” Brown, a 57-year old welder, won a heat and his second Industry feature this season. One-time feature winner George Yates won a heat and took second, four lengths in back of Brown. Dennis Osmer and first time racer Kurt Schnakenberg, father of two speedway bike racing daughters, followed. Third place Brent Smith, downed P. 2 Yates at turn three on the second lap and was excluded from the restart.
JUNIORS: The three rider 250cc feature went to Michael Wells, 15, for the second week in a row. The Huntington Beach teen led every lap over Jake Isaac, 14, and Skylar Schnakenberg, 17. She hit the front straight wall and fell on the first start and for the restart had to come from the penalty line.
150cc: The first division five-lap main had six riders and all six raced within 20-yards all the way, swapping positions each lap. Alex Martin, 11, took the lead exiting turn four with an inside pass of race-long leader Keelan Venegas, 12. Sterling Martin, Alex's twin, took second just before the finish line. Venegas, who won a heat, settled for third. Slater Lightcap, 10, Luke Whitcomb, 10, and Sam Hagon, 11, followed closely.
The Juniors D-2 division for newer 150cc riders went to sensational Travis Horn, 8, who started 40-yards from the starting gate and led laps 4-5. It was his sixth triumph at Industry this year. Cole Ayers, 10, came from the 0-yard line, led three laps and finished second. Andrew Russell, Jose Navarette and non-finisher Glenn Geist rounded out the field.
PEE-WEES: The mighty 50cc pee-wee division had a first-time winner in three year veteran Conner Salazar, 8, from the City of Industry. He rode a Yamaha 50. His father Jose drives the tractor and prepares the Industry Speedway racing surface each week. Owen Williams, Ken Matsudaira and five-year old Dakota Black, in her fourth race, finished in that order. Showing improvement, she was just lapped by the winner at the finish line.
Max Ruml and Venegas won all three of their heat races to score the maximum nine points. Both won their semi-finals over Nicol and D. Ruml. The second semi had P. 2 D. Ruml and P. 3 McConnell fall after McConnell's front wheel contacted Ruml's back wheel. Referee Steve Lucero ruled for a complete restart with all four riders restarting.
PIT NOTES: Industry Racing Director Kelly Inman announced the Wednesday, August 24 Industry main event will be the inaugural Junior Kurtz Trophy Race. The USAC Silver Crown No. 30 Plastic Express Chevy car owner from So Cal was a regular at Industry speedway bike races. He passed away earlier this year from an illness. Troy Lee, the famous racing helmet designer/painter for many stars, owns Troy Lee Designs. He made another of his prestigious helmet trophies to present to the August 24 D-1 feature winner. Troy did so to honor the memory of Junior Kurtz, his step-father.
INJURED RIDERS: Pee-wee newcomer/five-time main event winner Kristian Daniel, Jr., 7, was absent this week. He fell hard last week in a two-rider crash on the backstretch and broke an elbow. He had three pins inserted during surgery. ... D-2 500cc veteran Joe Donaldson spectated this week from the handicapped section in front of the announcer/scoring booth. Last Wednesday Joe rode his No. 37 Jawa through the second turn crash-wall after a two-bike collision. He had eight stitches in his right pinky finger and was wearing a soft cast on his right foot. He planned to see his doctor August 4 for further evaluation.
The Grand Arena will host So Cal Oval Karters Saturday August 6 at 2:30 for the same multi-division afternoon of racing that The Grand hosted on Saturday afternoon July 25, 2015. AMA Speedway D-1 veteran Buck Blair raced a No. 39 speedway sprint in that event last year. Buck took a year off from speedway bikes to race for 2016 points all year in the 500cc pro class. The Grand race on August 6 is race eight of 13. Buck was the point leader until recently. Daniel Bennett (No. 29) took the lead. Bennett now has 57 points to 52 for Blair. Wheel-to-Wheel Raceway leader John Aden is third with 36 points. Speedway sprints have 65 horsepower, 9,000 rpm maximum, use methanol fuel, and single rear disc brakes. Drivers use a five-point harness. There is a 9 HP smaller version that youngsters race.
Industry Speedway will be dark August 10 with no racing. Riders will be preparing for the third round of four in the 500cc D-1 2016 AMA National Championship on Saturday night, August 13. Billy Janniro won the first two rounds in Costa Mesa and Ventura. Round four will be next month in Auburn. The annual AMA Junior Speedway 250cc and 150cc Silver Cup Championships will be contested on Sunday afternoon, August 14 in the Grand starting at 12:30 pm. Spectators admission is free for the fun day of racing action.
On Friday, July 29 at Fast Fridays Speedway in Auburn a regular program for 500cc riders was held. In addition, Junior Division National Championships were run for 250cc and 150cc riders. Both divisions ran 15 heat races for points (3-2-1-0). There were 15 250cc riders and 13 150cc riders. ... Sebastian Palmese, now 13 on August 3, won the 250 title with a perfect score of 15. He won all five of his races. Michael Wells scored 13 points for second place. Auburn resident Colton Hicks, 14, raced with his No. 1 as the 2015 champion, and scored 12 points, as did Jake Isaac. Hicks won the run-off for third place. ... Sterling Martin, 11, from Salinas, won the Junior 150cc championship for the second year in a row. He also won all five of his heats for a perfect score of 15. Slater Lightcap finished second with 14 points after placing third last year. Enzo Sorani was third with 12 points. Sterling's twin Alex was fourth with 11 points (matching his age).
Broc Nicol flew to England Tuesday, July 26 on United Airlines with a stopover in Washington, D.C. He said he enjoyed his first taste of racing in Europe against top international riders. He said Team USA raced on a new type bike made in Europe. The British announcers acknowledged that Team USA was in a difficult position with two teenage rookies (Californians Nicol and Luke Becker) getting their first taste of international competition. Both rooks scored no points. USA treated this year as a rider development year. The Brit announcer mentioned that Bobby Schwartz and Shawn McConnell are still racing competitively at California tracks in their 50s. Broc flew home via Air Canada. ... Final team scores in the Friday “race-in”event at Manchester were: Australia-44, Denmark-41, Russia-32, and USA-9. Only first place advanced into the finale Saturday. The Speedway World Team Championship final score Saturday was: Poland-39, England-32, Sweden-30, and Australia-22.
Absentees at Industry August 3 were travelers Janniro and Becker, who returned from Europe to their Nor Cal homes. When interviewed in the pits Friday and asked if he would like to return to race in Europe, Janniro said, “In one word, NO.” Broc said Becker was back in high school and Janniro rides south in Becker's truck to race at Industry. Both will return to The Grand for the August 13 race.
A new D-3 500cc rider from Anaheim made his debut August 3. Kurt Schnakenberg, father of 250cc No. 8 rider Skylar, 17, and 150cc No. 5 rider Rachel, 11, rode an older No. 152 Jawa. He said he bought it from the father of D-1 rider Austin Novratil. Kurt stayed upright and on the lead lap and should progress nicely.
Attendees this week included Jack Crone and his daughter Courtney, 15, a former Junior speedway rider. She now stays busy racing a midget, a 360 sprint car and a Formula Mazda. I asked her if she missed racing speedway bikes. She answered wistfully, “Yes."