MAX RUML WINS THIRD INDUSTRY MAIN – By Tim Kennedy
Industry, CA., Jul. 19 – Speedway bike superstar Max Ruml, from Huntington Beach, won his third 500cc first division scratch main event Wednesday during week seven of the 14 week season at Industry Speedway in the Grand Arena. The evening was the annual Bruce Flanders Ugly Hawaiian Shirt Contest. Employees from Laidlaw Harley-Davidson, of Baldwin Park, also raced on 90 to 150cc mini bikes for a first place trophy.
With all that action on track and at the main grandstand, plus the return of all four D-1 riders who raced for Team USA in the recent FIM World Team Cup Championship in Europe, it figured attendance would increase. It did. The attendance clicker at the front gate showed 984 admissions. About 200 more persons entered through the pit gate so the crowd of almost 1,200 spectators this week was second only to opening night on May 31.
The D1 500cc feature (event 38) lined up with Max Ruml, Aaron Fox, Austin Novratil and Luke Becker from pole to the crash-wall. When the starting gate lifted an Oklahoma land rush stampede ensued. Becker broke on top and led early. High-riding Ruml, 20, worked his way past Becker at mid-race and won by several lengths on his No. 5 GM bike. Becker, Fox and Novratil followed closely. The top three riders took celebratory laps together on their back wheels on the front straight.
Ruml had an uphill task to make the feature. He scored no points in the first of his three heats after his chain broke leaving the starting gate. He pushed his bike to the infield. Max won his round two heat and finished second to Becker in the third round. His five points tied for seventh place. Only the first eight in a 14 rider D-1 field advanced to the two semi-final races. Ruml's brother Dillon scored a pair of seconds in heat races and with four points he just missed a semi-final transfer.
Broc Nicol led all four laps after starting on the outside in the consolation race for third and fourth place finishers in the two semis. Gino Manzares, his World Team Cup teammate, finished a close second. Tyson Talkington and Gage Geist trailed.
First semi-final winner Becker started on the outside and lunched into an immediate lead in the second turn. Novratil beat Nicol for the second transfer to the feature. Talkington was fourth. The second semi was a thriller. Fox led the first three laps from pole position. Ruml, from the third lane, ran high and wide-open all four laps. He took the lead on lap 4 in the third and fourth turns and beat Fox to the finish line. Manzares and Geist earned third and fourth.
The 500cc D-2 main was an eye-opener and showcased not one but two rising future D1 stars. Both 250cc Junior Division veterans were on new 500cc rides. The two 16-year old recent graduates from the 250cc ranks demonstrated their racing skills on more powerful bikes. Winner Blake Borello, from Greencastle rode 500cc D-3 briefly last month and advanced to D-2 (intermediate 500cc level) on the same night at his home track in Auburn. He was making his Industry Speedway 500cc debut after racing at the track in the past on his 250.
Borello started on the pole on a Jawa and led every lap for his first 500cc main event victory. He did so despite pressure from Michael Wells, of Huntington Beach. Wells, who skipped the D-3 level for beginning 500cc riders, won both of his heats and finished third in the D-2 main July 12 in his first Industry racing on a 500. Both Wells and Borello won four-rider heat races and finished second in their other heat Wednesday. The D-2 feature finishing order was: Borello, Wells, July 12 D-2 winner Chet Kohler, and veteran Ron Davis, from Norwalk.
The 500cc D-3 was a wild one. Brent Smith, 47, shot from the third gate and led the first two laps. On lap 3 gate two starter/rookie Kevin Fiore made an inside pass in the fourth turn and led lap 3. At turn two on the final lap, Fiore fell, remounted and continued in P. 4. Smith, on his No. 103 GM, led lap 4 and won his second D-3 feature at IS this season. Kevin Fife and George Yates placed second and third, with Fiore fourth.
There were no 250cc Junior races this week because this class was preparing for the 250cc National Championship Friday night at the Fast Fridays track in Auburn. That left seven 150cc Junior riders to battle in two divisions—D-2 for newer 150 riders and D-1 for more experienced 150 riders. Cole Ayers, 11, led all four laps in the D-2 150 main event. Newcomer Justin “The Jet” Almon, 11, from Phelan, made his first Industry start and finished second. Levi Leutz and Andrew Russell followed.
The first division 150cc handicapped start 5-lap main was another last lap shocker. Travis Horn, 9, started from the 10-yard line and led the first four laps. As he exited the fourth turn on lap 5 with the checkered flag waving, he inexplicably fell. Second place “Lightning” Luke Whitcomb, 11, who started from the 20-yard line, inherited the lead and his first triumph at Industry this season.
Three-time 2017 Industry winner Slater Lightcap, 11, started 60-yards from the starting gate and finished second. Disappointed, but unhurt, showman Horn, the July 12 main event winner, rose quickly from under his bike. He left it on the ground and ran the final 30-yards across the finish line to earn third. Spectators gave him an appreciative round of applause.
Six pee-wee riders, ages four to eight and including two female riders, raced 50cc Yamahas and Hondas. All riders started at the starting gate. There were three leaders, Gavin “Go Go” Geist, 6, who led a lap and fell while leading lap 2. Three-time main event winner Ken Matsudaira, 6, led laps 2-3. Then Connor Salazar, 9, led the final lap.
Dakota Black, 5, finished second for her best result during her rookie season. Strydrr Uebersetzig, Matsudaira, Geist and Penny Hall, 4, finished third through sixth with all six riders racing at the finish. Improving Hall was not lapped by the winner until a few feet before the checkered flag.
Laidlaw's Harley-Davidson, a long-time supporter of speedway, had two members from four departments race mini bikes. Brands included Yamaha, Honda and even a few importer Taiwanese lightweight bikes. Riders all wore orange jerseys with black numbers (1 through 8) for scoring. Departments represented were: sales, service, parts and motor-clothes. Mr. Laidlaw watched in the Laidlaw pits just outside the third turn.
A Laidlaw heat race was event 22. As in some earlier 500cc heats, there was a final lap fall by an apparent winner. Doug Maddox (parts) passed lap 1 leader Jaime Myers (motor-clothing) and led laps 2-3. As he looked back at Myers in turn four, Maddox fell. Myers passed him for the victory before Maddox remounted and finished second. Ty McPherson (sales), Keith Hurt (service), Robin Walker (parts) and Arturo Alejo (service) followed. Two riders did not start.
The final Laidlaw's employee mini bike challenge main event (event 36 of 38) had five starters. This time Maddox (No. 4) took no chances and led all four laps for the parts team. Myers (No. 1) was a close second. McPherson, Hurt and Walker followed in the field of five.
Two of the 14 D-1 500cc riders present scored a perfect nine points by winning all three of their heats. Fox, coming off two consecutive Industry feature victories, and Becker won all three of their rides. Becker also won his semi-final race and Fox placed second in his semi.
Bobby Schwartz had his daughter and granddaughter, 7, visiting from Nor Cal. They watched the past multi-time champion score three points with third places in his three heats. ... Nor Cal D-1 rider Bob Hicks (No. 808n) raced and scored two points. His 250cc Junior Division star rider/son Colton, 15, was interviewed by track announcer Bruce Flanders on the PA system about his recovery from a broken wrist. He hopes to return soon.
Flanders Ugly Hawaiian Shirt Contest: Persons who wore contending shirts and entered the track either from the front or pit gate, were issued tickets by judge Paul Flanders and stood on the main walkway in front of the announcing/scoring booth for judging. Spectators applause helped cull contenders to the final three. Rider Ricky Wells mom, who sells pit passes at the pit window, won third place. A man in his 50s in a dark blue shirt and a pre-teen girl were judged co-winners and both received a trophy.
NEW RIDERS: Kevin Fiore, from Chino Hills, is a 30-year old rookie who started racing in June 2017 in the 500cc D-3 class. The self-employed concrete cutter rides a Jawa 894 short stroke. He uses number 159 as his number because his girl friend Kayleigh Walker's father used 159. ... ... New 500cc D-2 comer No. 27n Blake Borello, 16, said he got his Jawa 500cc bike from now retired Rachalle Kerr, 35, from Rocklin. She last raced her No. 113Jawa in 2012. Her brother Chris Kerr, 32, of Auburn, also raced speedway on his No. 27 Jawa lay-down until early 2015.
New Junior 150cc bespectacled rider No. 7 Justin Almon, 11, lives in Phelan. He raced at Industry for the first time July 19 after racing earlier this season at Perris Raceway and Ridgecrest.. His dad Dave raced motocross. Justin, a 7th grader, uses a Stuha full-size frame modified to a 150cc mini frame by Charlie Venegas.
Chet Kohler, of Anaheim, started racing speedway in 2016 and won his first D-2 main at Industry on July 12. He received a $60. IHEC paycheck for that win on his Jawa frame with a GM motor. His No. 202 bike is the ex-Joker Machine owned No. 104 bike raced by Billy Hamill, who last raced in 2015. Kohler, 29, works as superintendent for electric motor charging stations. The tall, friendly rider wears tattoos proudly. His elaborate chest tattoo was done by a tattoo artist friend free on a slow day. It would normally cost about $700.
Late News: the 250cc and 150cc Junior Speedway National Championships Friday night at Fast Fridays Motorcycle Speedway in Auburn went to a pair of So Cal riders. Sebastian “Big Daddy” Palmese won the 250cc No. 1 plate. Slater Lightcap, 11, won the 150cc No. 1 plate.
The Grand Arena at IHEC will host the fourth annual Wheel to Wheel Racing afternoon of racing on Saturday afternoon, August 5. John Aden's racing group races from March through November at the San Bernardino County Fairgrounds short track in Victorville. Speedway sprints (non-wing cars powered by motorcycle engines) and dirt karts will race for double points.
Speedway bike D-1 veteran Buck Blair drives the No. 39 speedway sprint; point leader Will Browne, 13, of Glendora, drives the No. 84. He is the son of Todd Browne, a Jet Blue Airline A320 pilot, who has won three skid plate car features in an enduro car at Irwindale Speedway between 2013-16. Pits open at noon with the drivers meeting at 2:15 and practice at 2:30. Racing begins at 3:00 pm.
There is no racing at Industry Speedway July 26 because a Peruvian festival is scheduled for the Grand Arena and Industry Hills Expo Center. The next Industry race on Wednesday, August 2 will be Haddick's Towing (City of Industry) Classic Car Night. Classic cars will be parked inside the front gate for scoring by spectators. It also is the annual Speedway Legends & Heroes Night with speedway legendary riders seated at tables to sign autographs and talk to fans prior to the first race at 7:30 pm.