2013 News and Views
News & Views - A Great Event - The Monster Energy World Speedway Invitational
Rain, Oh No not on race day I yelled while wiping the sleep from my eyes. Why today, why on our biggest ever Industry Racing promotion. The Monster Energy World Speedway Invitational.
Sick twisted minds had worked out all aspects of the event. Sixteen riders featuring the worlds best. Half American and half overseas Grand Prix aces from Denmark, Poland, Sweden and England. All would meet in a one night slugfest at the Industry Hills Expo Center. Twenty heat races, two semi finals and a winner take all main event. A real Speedway war. No Team racing it would be every man for himself.
No need for panic I assured myself. The promotion is perfect and the Grand Arena is a covered stadium so track and spectators will stay perfectly dry. Still what if nobody comes? There is like a gazillion dollars wrapped up in this event. A quick cup of coffee and I hear the track calling my name. Hold on yes it's saying "Howie get your sorry butt over here we have a race to run."
Battling the 210 freeway my thoughts return to the Speedway practice held just the night before. Although a previous booking had the arena rented till 5pm that Friday it all went perfectly. The full field participated although some had not previously seen the 1/8 mile decomposed granite track nor raced on anything that small. "We ride much longer tracks across the pond" the foreign contention told me. "Well California tracks may be smaller in length when compared to our European counterparts but we make up for it with closer racing that often includes pushing, leaning and crashing" I replied gleefully. There were some crashes and missteps but by nights end all were a contender that could win the Monster Energy World Speedway Invitational title. The evening concluded with riders, press and promoters eating sandwiches, Monster drinks and talking of the next days big event. When I left around midnight machinery was busy tearing into the track soil. A whole new race surface would be in place at the following days big event.
A joy to work with Monster Energy is the perfect sponsor. Large on dollars their influence helped shape the world class field along with the stadium they were to compete in. On the north side of the track a tractor trailer opened into a huge Monster Energy VIP section that included a non alcoholic bar, food, a DJ and three large HD TV screens that would play the live feed from the event television production. On the east side of the track Monster had another large elevated lounge area with a non alcoholic bar plush seating and tables. Monster was well placed throughout the arena. Thank you Bruce Stjernstrom and Monster Energy, you are professional grade though and though.
The Grand Arena sparkled. Freshly painted crash walls covered with banners. A giant 9x16 foot HD monitor in turn three. A redesigned patio area allowing for more sponsor booths and walking/socializing space. The Dirt Bar was trackside in turn two but the Tiki Bar had been moved next to the arena entrance so that it was covered in case of rain. Food venders space was increased. Even the upper patio table area and Mexican food restaurant sported banners and had a HD monitor to cover the live action.
The pit area was also redesigned with Monster Energy pop-ups for each rider that included banners with their name, race number and home country. Lots of space and lighting for the mechanics to work in it was also a great shelter for rain in case any of those British guys brought some of their cold and wet weather with them. A totally reconfigured spectator walkway designed to keep spectators dry would allow fans to interact with the riders and crew.
The rain had stopped as I cleared back gate security. A quick stop at the office for last minute instructions from Operations Manager Carol Perez and I'd head up to the arena. Carol, Madelyn, Rosa, Cory and staff had been on this project for months. I was sure all would be in it's normal high caliber state of readiness and mental tranquility.
"Things are crazy" CP told me as she worked the computer and talked on the phone. So and so needs this and what's his name needs that. Managed chaos I call it. Taking care of business is probably a more accurate description. I left the office realizing the rest of the overworked Industry staff was just as dam nervous as I was.
Making the turn into the riders parking area my heart sank. "The Pavilion" a large building next to the arena was rented. Home of our famous Speedway BBQ it holds 550 plus people. Paved parking on the pits side was filled by that rented Pavilion party. Riders and mechanics could drive up to the arena and unload but unfortunately they would have to park in the muddy field. Still a small price to pay, hey we play in dirt, get over it. Well at least the paying spectators would have a nice paved lot to park in I reasoned.
Unlike the parking lot the arena was in great shape and the track looked perfect. Jose Salazar and his crew had worked all night and it showed. The hard and somewhat dusty track of yesterday had been replaced with a fluffy, moist, groomed racing surface. Riders walked the totally new track layout trying to get a read. Motorcycle setup needed to be altered and each wanted that mechanical edge.
Tail gate parties filled the parking lot and spectators crowed the stadium entrance. Almost all the vendors had decided to set up. Questionable with the lousy weather but most had correctly predicted that it would clear and the event would be well attended. Good call you all. Haddicks Towing & Auto Body, CNC Engineering, Connor Concrete Cutting & Coring, Joker Machine, Hagon Shocks, Law Tigers, Pacific Palms Resort, Topping Events - So-Cal Cycle, Rapid Transit Harley Dynamometer Center Tuning and of course Monster Energy. You guys rock. Thank You so much. You to KROQ and KLOS.
At 4pm the gate opened to a large and steady flow of spectators. Each received a free 20 page full color program compliments of Monster that featured pictures and stats on all eighteen riders.
By 6pm Temple Ave saw cars stretched a mile long to the main Industry Hills Expo Center entrance. As the main parking lot filled to capacity cars parked on the hill leading to the arena then anywhere else they could on the large property. Overflow even extended to several of the dirt lots including the rider pit area.
Once inside all were happy. Lots to see and do. Crowds lined the rider walkway talking and getting autographs from their favorite gladiator. Food, beer, mixed drinks, music, T-shirt venders and souvenir stuff in abundance. Radio giant 95.5 KLOS doing a live/remote broadcast. The place was rockin and people were smiling. The 5000 seat arena was packed. All seats filled and people standing everywhere. Electricity filled the air.
Media was all over the place. Writers and camera people from every corner of the globe getting that story or shot. Horacio Colmenares headed a six camera production to air live on internet pay per view and future cable release. "The voice of Speedway" Bruce Flanders handled the announcing and "Roondog" Mike Rooney the pits interviews. http://www.industryracing.com/live.html
So where was Industry Race Director Kelly Inman? For the past months he was the go man on this project. Always carrying two or three phones with him, always on the deal. Well respected and liked he talked the talk and walked the walk. This night was no different. There he was on the track checking this and now the pits doing that. Energy in motion to keep it all moving and make the night a complete success.
The show started promptly at 7:15 to a sellout audience. First a specially edited video played on the numerous big screens followed by Grand Marshall Bruce Penhall and then a rider parade. Lots of introductions, interviews, pictures, speeches, the fans were going crazy.
Five of Americas best 250cc Junior and five of our best 150cc Mini riders had been added and each class would receive two 4-lap heats and a main event. Well received the Junior program has been flourishing in California and is extremely popular with the fans.
An eighteen thousand dollar purse, four rounds with five heat races in each of them. At 8pm it got serious. Numerous outlets give the complete lowdown on every heat and crash. I only say this about that. [SpeedwayBikes.Com Report is Here]
The foreign invaders fought gallantly. There wasn't a weak hit in any of them. Crowd favorite Sweden's flamboyant Antonio Lindback was one of several riders involved in hard crashes. England's Edward Kennett and Scott Nicholls made it all the way to the semi heats but in the end the American powerhouse of 2-time World & 8-time AMA National Champion Greg Hancock along with 1996 World, 5-time AMA & 3-time SRA U.S. National Champion Billy Hamill joined 2-time Under 21 & 2009 SRA U.S. National Champion Ricky Wells and 3-time AMA & 3-time SRA U.S. National Champion Billy Janniro on the main event lineup.
The crowd screamed, the announcer yelled and the music played. I consider myself fortunate to have been in this place at that time to witness this caliber of Speedway competition and promotion. It was outstanding.
In the end it was the one I call "Superman" Billy "The Kid" Janniro with Hancock second, Wells third and last Hamill. "I like this track, every time I'm here I win the money" Billy boasted in reference to his last visit two months previous when Janniro won the 2012 California State Championship title here at The Grand Arena.
The kids? Well they were spectacular. In the main it was Max Ruml with a perfect score in what will likely be his last ever 250cc ride as he's joining "the big boys" on a 500cc machine next season and the always smiling and very popular 11 year old Courtney Crone with her first ever Industry 150cc main event win.
Motors dead, trophy presentation completed a bar was set up in the pit area. Bench racing swung into high gear as rides, fans, sponsors and promoters sat and told their tale of whom and when. It went on and on. Each story larger and better. All were fascinated and none wanted to leave.
Listening I thought of the event, the terrible bad weather, the work and team that had brought it all together and what problems needed to be addressed. I was proud. Industry Racing had done good.
The 2012 Monster Energy World Speedway Invitational was a incredible night of racing that will go down in the history books. The 2013 version will be even better. Make your plans now. It's just around the corner.
Wednesday night Speedway racing here at The Grand Arena starts again on May 29th. Please join us for our "Lucky 13" season that ends with the 2013 California State Championship on August 28th, Industry Schedule.
Howie Zechner firstname.lastname@example.org (January 11, 2013)