AMA/FIM JUNIOR SPEEDWAY SILVER CUP CHAMPIONSHIPS @ INDUSTRY – By Tim Kennedy
Industry, CA., Aug. 14 – The fourth annual AMA/FIM Junior Speedway Silver Cup Championships were decided Sunday afternoon on a hot, 90+ day at Industry Speedway. Action took place on the eighth-mile dirt track under the roofed, open-sided Grand Arena at the Industry Hills Expo Center. The Internet telecast racing live as usual. Thirty-one riders raced 36 heats and three features for a $7,200 donated cash purse and huge, six-feet trophies for the top three riders in the 150cc first division and second divisions plus the 250cc division.
Thirty-one riders competed with 17 from Nor Cal, 13 from So Cal and one from England. Sixteen 250cc riders raced in five rounds of heat races. Eight mini 150cc first division riders and seven mini 150cc second division riders raced in four heat race rounds. All heats awarded points on the usual 3-2-1-0 basis. The top four in points after heat racing advanced to the three respective main events. About 150 persons (primarily family and friends of riders) watched from the grandstand. Parking and grandstand admission were free as usual for the event. More than 100 persons spectated from the pits.
250cc: From pole position to the crash-wall the main event starting four was 2015 AMA/FIM champion Colton Hicks, who scored a perfect 15 by winning all five of his heat races. To his right were: Jake Isaac (11 points), Michael Wells (13 points) and Sebastian Palmese, (11 points). “Big Daddy” Palmese, a 13-year old Rancho Santa Margarita resident, won the 250cc championship after a hard-fought battle early with northern star Hicks, a 14-year old Auburn resident and son of 500cc rider Bob Hicks.
Hicks led the opening lap after Palmese got high in turn two. Wells, 15, fell at turn three and was excluded from the restart. On the second start, Palmese used an outside pass through the third and fourth turns to lead Hicks narrowly. Their intense duel had side-by-side racing between the two junior champions all around the track. At the start of lap 2, Hicks contacted the wall at the start/finish line. He fell next to the wall without injury. He was excluded from the race. Palmese then led all four laps of the restarted race and beat runner-up Isaac,14, by a straight-away. Hicks and Wells placed third and fourth.
150cc-D-1: The lineup from pole to crash-wall had reigning D-1 AMA/FIM Champion Sterling Martin 11, Enzo Sorani, a 10-year old from Grass Valley, 11-year old twin-brother Alex Martin, from Salinas, and Slater Lightcap, 10, from Huntington Beach, at the wall. Top point riders were Sorani and Lightcap with 11 points. Sterling out-pointed his one-minute older fraternal twin Alex by a point--nine to eight.
Sterling Martin, son of former 500cc speedway racer Steve Martin, led all four laps for his third consecutive Silver Cup D-1 championship. He defeated Sorani, brother Alex, and Lightcap. The four riders earned 2017 numbers one through four at the AMA Junior National Championship event at Fast Fridays Speedway in Auburn on July 29. Current champion Sterling (No.1 for 2017), Lightcap (No. 2), Sorani (No. 3) and Alex (No. 4) showed Sunday at Industry that they deserved the digits.
150CC D-2: The first main event run Sunday at 1:09 pm had newer 150cc riders in action. From inside to outside the four riders were: Temecula's Glenn Geist, 10, Vallejo's Sammy Waddill, 9, LaVerne resident Travis Horn, 8, and Fontana's Jose Navarette, 7. Geist, whose 17-year old brother Gage is a fast-improving 500cc D-1 rider, led all four laps and edged Waddill, Horn and Navarette.
The first three finishers in each division stood on the podium in the pits during the 3:45 to 4:30 pm presentations of huge trophies for all nine podium finishers. They also received envelopes containing cash from Track Director Kelly Inman, who got the Juniors Silver Cup Championship started in 2013. It has been held at Industry each year and has grown in prestige and cash payouts. Palmese received $850, while runner-up Isaac took home $700 and third-place Hicks received $650.
Other awards presented included the zilch award to 150cc D-1 rider Keelan Venegas for scoring no points. The hard luck plaque presentation from Doug Nicol went to 150cc rider Dakota Shockley, who was in the pits. He had to miss racing in the Silver Cup because he broke a wrist at Industry this summer. GRIN award from World Cup Champion Greg Hancock, a wastebasket award and a thumbs up awards went to northern riders Cameron Krezman, Colton Nelson and Landon Collins.
All 31 riders who competed received envelopes containing cash and product or merchandise awards. FIM-like technical inspection of the top three bikes in each division followed racing. The Junior riders made a surprise gift to Industry Track Director Inman in appreciation for all his hard work on their behalf over the years. A ;young lady came forward with a bag and lifted out a helmet signed by every junior rider present. Inman was surprised and said he will treasure the gift.
Part of the $7,200 cash donated came from a coveted item from So Cal-based world land speed record owner/driver Danny Thompson, a fan of speedway racing. He placed pistons from the engine of his own and late father Mickey Thompson's land speed record cars in a see-through wooden-base container. The open-bidding winning bid was $2,000 and that amount went into the total purse for the junior riders.
The 31 Junior Division riders residence breakdown was:
> 250cc – 16 riders—11 from Nor Cal, five from So Cal.
> 150cc, D-1 – Eight riders—four from Nor Cal, three from So Cal, and one from England.
> 150cc, D-2 – Seven riders—two from Nor Cal, and five from So Cal.
Heat race Victories:
> 250cc – Nine of 16 riders won the 20 heats as follows: 5 – Hicks; 3 – Palmese and Wells; 2 – Sara Cords, Isaac and Cameron Krezman; 1 – Dylan Wagner, Anthony Dion and Kyle Cunningham.
> 150cc – D-1-- Four of eight riders won the eight heats as follows: 3 – Sorani; 2 – S. Martin and Lightcap; 1 – A. Martin.
> 150cc – D-2—Four of seven riders won the eight heats as follows: 4 – Geist; 2 – Waddill; 1 – Horn and Colton Nelson.
Heat race points:
> 250cc – Perfect 15 - Hicks, 13 - Wells, 11 each Palmese and Isaac, 9 - Dylan Wagner, Anthony Dion, Cameron Krezman, and Kyle Cunningham, 7 - Sara Cords, 5 – Landon Norton, 4 – Greg Moore, Skylar Schnakenberg and Sammy Tetrault, 3 – Logan Hedden (son of rider Bob Hedden) and Landon Collins, and 2 – Timmy Dion.
> 150cc D-1 – 11 – Enzo Sorani, 10 – Slater Lightcap, 9 – Sterling Martin, 8 – Alex Martin, 4 – Luke Whitcomb and Charlie Trana, 2 – Sam Hagon, and 0 – Keelan Venegas.
> 150cc D-2 – Perfect 12 – Glenn Geist, 10 – Sammy Waddill, 8 – Travis Horn and Jose Navarette, 6 – Colton Nelson, 3 – Andrew Russell, and 1 – Cole Ayers.
PIT NOTES: 500cc D-1 riders present to watch the Junior Division racing the day after they raced on the same track were: Max and Dillon Ruml, Billy Janniro, Broc Nicol, Tommy Hedden, Luke Becker, Charlie Venegas, plus sidecar champion driver Joe Jones, and AMA flat track star Sammy Tanner, 77, who now owns an Arai helmet dealership. ... The free 12-page Silver Cup printed program contained four color pages with photos of every junior rider entered Sunday.
Bruce Flanders announced at Industry both Saturday night and Sunday afternoon for the Juniors Silver Cup event. All Industry Racing track officials worked both Saturday and Sunday events. ... 250cc rider Skylar Schnakenberg, 17, sang the National Anthem from the infield Saturday and Sunday to appreciative applause. Her sister Rachel, 11, was entered in the 150cc D-2 class but was not present because she had something to do out of town.
History of Juniors Silver Cup Championships—2013 through 2016: P 1-4 in main events.
Year 250cc 150cc D-1 150cc D-2 Riders
2013 – 12n Luke Becker 18 Sebastian Palmese 31 Sterling Martin 28
1 Broc Nicol 4 Courtney Crone 63n Logan :Hedden
104 Kurtis Hamill 34 Maverick Molloy 350 Sam Hagon
111 Dillon Ruml 199n Dylan Wagner 28 Slater Lightcap
2014 - 1 Dillon Ruml 31 Sterling Martin 43 Keelan Venegas 29
104 Kurtis Hamill 1 Sebastian Palmese 27 Luke Whitcomb
45 Braydan Galvin 28 Slater Lightcap 419 Dakota Shockley
12 Luke Becker 30 Alex Martin 26 Cameron Krezman
2015 - 24 Colton Hicks 31 Sterling Martin 350 Sam Hagon 32
18 Sebastian Palmese 28 Slater Lightcap 17 Timmy Dion
35 Kyle Cunningham 30 Alex Martin 51 Greg Moore
16 Jake Isaac 91 Landon Collins 419 Dakota Shockley
2016 - 18 Sebastian Palmese 1 Sterling Martin 33 Glenn Geist 31
16 Jake Isaac 22 Enzo Sorani 52 Sammy Waddill
1 Colton Hicks 2 Alex Martin 25 Travis Horn
214 Michael Wells 3 Slater Lightcap 48 Jose Navarette
ADDITIONAL INDUSTRY SPEEDWAY INFO:
The Grand Arena hosted the third annual afternoon of four-wheel racing Saturday August 6 from 3:00-7:40 pm. Racing started with the temp in the mid-80s and ended with the temp at 73 degrees. There were about 80 persons in the grandstand and double that total in the pits. Scott Daloisio, the Perris Auto Speedway track announcer, handled the microphone at The Grand as he did last year. There were several flips last year in this event, but none this year.
It was the second consecutive year the So Cal Oval Karters and the Speedway Sprints group from the eighth-mile Wheel-to-Wheel Raceway in Victorville used the indoor Industry eighth-mile dirt track. They were joined by seven Norco Mower Racers who raced several heats. There were 38 races run, including two rounds of eight-lap heats for each class. SCOK leader Mike Nigh called the annual event at the beautiful Grand Arena “our Daytona 500”.
The Industry Hills Expo Center was established in 1981 in the City of Industry as a world-class diverse facility. The $10. million Grand Arena has a roof, but is open-sided all around. That keeps people cool via breezes at the tree-shaded hillside building overlooking the East San Gabriel Valley in Los Angeles County. The site boasts a take-out restaurant, outdoor dining area, and clean restrooms. Speedway bike racing started in 2003 on Wednesday nights for a 14-week season during June, July and August. Industry Racing is now in its 14th consecutive year of speedway bike racing and has a loyal fan base.
The Grand Arena features a 45,000 square feet dirt floor, metal grandstand that seats up to 5,000 spectators, a 10,000 watt fully-equipped JBL/QSC sound system, and a jumbo-tron color video screen above the third turn. The jumbo-tron shows racing action replays, interviews and sponsor messages. Speedway races are shown live on the Internet each week and have a loyal following according to texts received from viewers around the USA and in foreign countries.
Speedway Sprints leader John Aden builds the cars and drives the 500cc Jawa-powered No. 7 car. AMA D-1 speedway bike No. 39 rider and main event winner Buck Blair races the No 39 speedway sprint full-time this year. He raced it part-time last year and took a year off from bike racing to go for the 500cc speedway sprint car championship. He was the point leader until the race before The Grand race, which was number eight on the 13-scheduled race season.
Personable Blair finished fifth in the 16-lap 500 Pro Class main event at the Grand on August 6. His title-rival Daniel Bennett (No. 29) finished third at The Grand so he increased his point lead by two points. Points are scored only in main events according to Aden. Winners score eight points, with one point drop-offs per position, and at least one point for all starters.
By the way, Aden dated former No. 13 speedway bike Junior 250cc winner/blonde Crystal Kramer, who is now 27, for about five years. He said he married Krystal Pollard some years ago. Aden's teenage step-daughter--Kayla Pollard (No. 21)-- finished second in a nine-car restrictor-plate class 16-lap feature. Austin Brundage (No. 3A) won.
Other 500cc Jawa speedway sprint winners were: John Alonso (in the 11-car 500cc Pro Class) and Stevie Rogers, a 13-year old girl who started second in an 11-car intermediate class field and led all 16 laps. Five female teenagers raced in that main, along with recent speedway bike 50cc pee-wee rookie Cash Culp, 7. He started and finished fourth in his No. $$ car (for his first name).
Junior dirt kart feature winners included Isabel (No. 52) and A. J. Thornell, (No. 2T)-- a sister,13, and brother, 9, team. Other dirt kart main event winners were No. 89 and M-1 Bill Martin. The KT100 kart class started 11 karts in each race. The kart open class started four cars.
The most amazing driver in the pits was Chris Blais, a 35-year old paraplegic speedway sprint owner/driver of the blue No. 9 car. He got around the pits in a wheel-chair and drove a car equipped with hand controls for accelerating and braking instead of pedals. Chris was a desert/off-road motorcycle racer and made the highly desired Red Bull KTM Off-Road Racing team. In 2007 he became only the third Americans to make the podium in the Dakar Rally. In the summer of 2007 he was on a pre-run near Las Vegas when a crash at almost 80 mph left him paralyzed from the waist down. He was unable to feel his legs or get up and it took three hours before a medical team reached him. Chris considers himself lucky that he didn't have a major internal injury or internal bleeding that would have caused his demise while waiting for help.
With his off-road racing career ended, Chris tried radio-controlled racing and a Polaris RZR. He started his own home business, Blais Racing Services, which rebuilds engines and other does racing services for racers. In 2015 Chris met John Aden at his track in Victorville and was introduced to oval racing on four-wheels in a car with a cage. John helped Chris modify a car by removing the pedals and installing hand controls. They set up the car like a Honda Odyssey with brake and accelerator controls on the steering wheel. Chris had top five finishes by the end of 2015.
Chris has enjoyed circle-track racing and close competition on dirt. His wife drives in California desert races on Quads so Chris is still involved in off-road desert racing. He even sponsors upcoming off-road racers and feels he is still living his racing dream. At The Grand on August 6, Chris dropped out of his six-car first heat race (event 6) and finished fourth in his next heat (event 19). In the 16-lap main event (event 30) Chris started eighth in a 12-car field and finished seventh on the lead lap. He is moving on with his life and is truly inspirational to others.