AMA/FIM JUNIORS SILVER CUP CHAMPIONSHIPS @ INDUSTRY – By Tim Kennedy
Industry, CA., Aug. 13 – The fifth annual AMA/FIM Junior Speedway Silver Cup Championships were decided Sunday afternoon at Industry Speedway in the Grand Arena at Industry hills Expo Center. Two champions—Sebastian Palmese in the 250cc class and Slater Lightcap in the 150cc division—rode to decisive victories. Both champions are based in Southern California and call Industry Speedway their home track. Grand Marshal was Tucson, Ariz. resident R. C. Jones, founder of www.speedwaybike.com.
Twenty-five Junior division riders, 13 on 250cc bikes and 12 on 150cc, raced at the modern indoor arena with open sides overlooking the East San Gabriel Valley. In the 250s, ten riders came from Northern California and two from Southern California. The 150s had two from Northern California and ten from Southern California.
Thirty-one races, including 25 heat races, four semi-mains and two features, were run from 12:45 to almost 3:00 pm on a 90 degree day. There were four rounds of heat races in which riders started from all four starting positions and raced against every other competitor. Riders scored points on the usual 3-2-1-0 basis.
Juniors-only racing attracted 90 persons through the front gate with admission free for persons in the grandstand. Families and friends of riders were joined by usual Wednesday night speedway regulars. About 100 persons bought pit passes at the back pit gate. A free to all eight-page printed program contained lineups and two pages of competing juniors recent head-shots in color.
The usual two 150cc divisions, D-1 for veteran 150 riders and D-2 for riders with less experience racing a 150cc bike, were combined for the first time. The first four Silver Cup events from 2013-16 had separate 150cc champions in D-1 and D-2.
When racing concluded the No. 1 plate 250cc National Champion “Big Daddy” Palmese, 14, won his second consecutive 250cc national title. The teenager from Rancho Santa Margarita will be flying to Poland and Czechoslavia soon to race for the Junior 250cc FIM World Championship. Lightcap, 11, from Huntington Beach, won his first 150cc National Championship.
250cc FEATURE: High-point rider Palmese won all four of his heats for the maximum 12 points. He selected pole position and led all four laps. Kyle Cunningham, 13, from Auburn, came from the third lane and ran second all the way. Anthony Dion, 15, from Grass Valley, started next to the wall and ran in third position every lap. Jake Isaac, 15, was second highest in heat race points and selected lane two. He got caught in first turn congestion on the initial lap and ran fourth all four laps.
150cc FEATURE: Lightcap started from the inside lane at the starting gate and led all four laps. Lane three starter “Lightning” Luke Whitcomb, 11, and outside starter Travis Horn, 9, finished second and third and also received huge trophies on the podium.
Impressive Nor Cal rider Enzo Sorani, 11, won three of his four heat races and selected the second starting position. He was in third place on the first lap when his bike turned sideways on the backstretch. He corrected, but suddenly fell to the ground at the inside edge of the track. He rose quickly and pushed his bike into the infield in disgust. He finished fourth.
AWARDS: The top three podium was placed on the track at the start/finish line. An air-gun shot colorful confetti into the air during both the 250 and 150 top three trophy presentations. Industry Racing Director Kelly Inman presented the trophies, which were taller than some riders. Other prizes and awards were presented to all riders. Envelopes containing donated cash (more than $2,500 and counting prior to racing) were distributed to riders.
Hard Charger Award for Showing True Grit & Determination : Sterling Martin, 12, received this award. The racing twin brother from Salinas fell on lap 2 while in second place during the first semi-main. He missed transferring to the feature where he has been a fixture in past Silver Cup events.
The Edge Go Fast or Go Home Award Award: Enzo Sorani, from Grass Valley, was awarded this prize for his strong performance all day until a sudden mishap cost him a likely podium position.
The Grin Award for Dedication and Sportsmanship: Jake Isaac, from nearby Whittier, received this annual award.
Unicorn Award “for when days are not magical”: This ceramic figure award went to twin brother Alex Martin, from Salinas. He had an uncharacteristic Silver Cup afternoon, scoring two points.
The eight highest in points 150 and 250cc riders raced in the twin semi-mains. The top two finishers in each semi advanced to the feature. 150: Lightcap led all four laps in the first semi. He beat 150cc rookie Horn, a frequent winner in the 50cc pee-wee division. Colton Nelson from Nor Cal, and Levi Leutz, from So Cal, finished in P. 3-4.
The second 150 semi was a runaway victory for inside lane starter Sorani. Lane two starter Whitcomb, from Anaheim, placed second and earned the final feature berth. P 3-4 went to So Cal riders Andrew Russell and Jose Navarette.
The eight high-point 250 semi riders had Palmese lead every lap from the inside lane. Third lane starter Kyle Cunningham beat fellow northerners Greg Moore and fallen Sterling Martin. Pole starter Isaac led all four laps in the second semi and outside starter A. Dion followed him into the feature. P. 3-4 went to northerners Cameron Krezman (lane two) and Landon Norton (lane three).
HEAT RACE WINNERS:
150cc – Five riders won the 12 heat races.
4- Lightcap; 3 – Sorani; 2 – Navarette and Whitcomb; 1 – Nelson.
250cc – Six riders won the 13 heat races.
4 – Palmese; 3 – Isaac; 2 – Krezman and S. Martin; 1 – A. Dion and Norton.
POINT SCORING: (all riders) -
150cc – 12 points – Lightcap; 11- Sorani; 8 – Nelson and Whitcomb; 7 – Horn and Navarette; 6 – Leutz; 5 – Russell; 2 – Justin Almon, Gordon Teuber III, and Owen Williams; 1 – Cole Ayers
250cc – 12 points – Palmese; 11 – Isaac; 10 – Krezman; 8 – S. Martin; 7 – A. Dion; 6 – Cunningham and Moore; 5 – Norton, 4 – Timmy Dion; 3 – Dylan Wagner; 3 – Landon Collins, Sara Cords and A. Martin.
History of Juniors Silver Cup Championships—2013 through 2017, P 1-4 in main events.
Year 250cc 150cc D-1 150cc D-2 Riders
2013 Luke Becker Sebastian Palmese Sterling Martin 28
Broc Nicol Courtney Crone Logan Hedden
Kurtis Hamill Maverick Molloy Sam Hagon
Dillon Ruml Dylan Wagner Slater Lightcap
2014 Dillon Ruml Sterling Martin Keelan Venegas 29
Kurtis Hamill Sebastian Palmese Luke Whitcomb
Braydan Galvin Slater Lightcap Dakota Shockley
Luke Becker Alex Martin Cameron Krezman
2015 Colton Hicks Sterling Martin Sam Hagon 32
Sebastian Palmese Slater Lightcap Timmy Dion
Kyle Cunningham Alex Martin Greg Moore
Jake Isaac Landon Collins Dakota Shockley
2016 Sebastian Palmese Sterling Martin Glenn Geist 31
Jake Isaac Enzo Sorani Sammy Waddell
Colton Hicks Alex Martin Travis Horn
Michael Wells Slater Lightcap Jose Navarette
(Combined both D-1 and D-2 into one class)
2017 Sebastian Palmese Slater Lightcap 25
Kyle Cunningham Luke Whitcomb
Anthony Dion Travis Horn
Jake Isaac Enzo Sorani
Track officials for the Junior Silver Cup Championships Sunday were the same as for the 500cc AMA National Championship round three Saturday night. Racing Director Kelly Inman supervised all operations including track preparation. Referee was past speedway champion rider Steve Lucero and starter was Tom Fox.
Inman and the late Carol Perez, IHEC Operations Manager, were the key persons who started the Silver Cup Championships in 2013 to support and grow junior speedway racing. Carol, who died suddenly at home last September, was pictured and remembered fondly in the printed program.
Industry Speedway PA announcer Bruce Flanders was on the mic both Saturday and Sunday. However, Bruce's brother Paul was ill and not present Saturday nor Sunday. Versatile Paul did the post-race tech inspection after the 2016 Silver Cup event.
Charlie Venegas and his son Keelan were in the pits Sunday to support juniors racing. They have not raced so far this season at Industry. Charlie's wife Anna works at the pit gate and also is an official scorer at Industry Speedway races. Lisa Inman, wife of Kelly, also does both jobs at Industry.
The Fast Fridays Motorcycle Speedway in Auburn promoter was present for both Saturday and Sunday races. He knows juniors are the speedway stars of the future.
Sammy Tanner, the Arai Helmets western distributor, and Jack Crone (Courtney's dad) were present to watch juniors race Sunday. Sammy will be the AMA Flat Track National Grand Marshal on Saturday, October 7 at the Perris Auto Speedway half-mile clay season finale for the premier dirt track bike racing series.
Past junior racing stars and current 500cc D-1 riders also attended Sunday junior championship racing. Brothers Max, 20, and Dillon Ruml,18, plus Broc Nicol and Austin Novratil were in the pits and the grandstand eyeing their future 500cc competition. They are serious supporters of junior riders.
Colton Hicks, 15, was missing as a star 250cc rider in the 2017 Silver Cup Championship. The Auburn resident and son of 500cc D-1 rider Bob Hicks fell at Industry during June and broke a wrist. He is still rehabilitating his wrist. Colton expects to be ready to join friendly rival Seb Palmese as they race for the upcoming FIM Junior World Championship in Poland and Czechoslovakia.
Luke Whitcomb had an engine failure during his last Wednesday night race at Industry on August 2. His dad, Wade (a 500cc D-3 rider), said the new $50. part for his $150 engine arrived Thursday, August 11, so Luke was able to race August 13 as planned. Luke's mom and look-alike brother Mark, 10, were present to watch Luke race Sunday.
The final two scheduled speedway bike races of 2017 will be Wednesday, August 16—the 2nd annual Junior Kurtz Memorial Cup event. Saturday, August 26 will be the 42nd AMA California State Speedway Championship