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Costa Mesa Speedway
Orange County Fairgrounds - Costa Mesa, CA

2000 Olympique of Speedway
Costa Mesa Speedway
May 20, 2000
From Ryan Evans

Charlie  Venegas 1997

Charlie "The Edge" Venegas made a beautiful trap from gate five and took the victory in the 2000 Olympique of Speedway at Costa Mesa. Venegas was first out of the gate and used his momentum from the outside to slam the door on the rest of the field. Pole-sitter "Rad" Brad Oxley also made a good start, but Venegas was first to turn one and led at the completion of lap one. Oxley tried in vain to catch Venegas, but "The Edge" was too strong and stretched his lead all the way to the checkered flag. Oxley finished second, Randy DiFrancesco was third, Andy Northrup was fourth, and Chris Manchester was fifth.

The format used was similar to that of the Olympique at Wolverhampton. Twenty riders competing in three rounds of five-man heats. First place earned three points, second place earned two points, third place earned one point, and fourth and fifth place each earned zero points. The first round was strictly scratch racing. First and second round winners were then handicapped 30 yards in the following round, second place finishers were handicapped 20 yards, third place finishers were handicapped 10 yards, and fourth and fifth place finishers started at the tapes. The top eight point scorers from the qualifying rounds were then placed in one of two four-man scratch semis. The format from that point reverted to the regular format of scratch racing at Costa Mesa with the top two from each semi transferring to the main event and third and fourth transferring to the Last Chance Qualifier. The format provided some very interesting and exciting races with some surprise winners in the qualifying rounds.

At the conclusion of the qualifying rounds a three-man runoff between Venegas, Dukie Ermolenko, and 16 year old Ryan Fisher to determine the last two spots in the semis. Venegas gave the crowd a preview of things to come with a great start and an easy victory to book his place in the semis. Fisher and Ermolenko battled with Fisher coming out ahead of the former British League rider to earn the last spot in the semis.

The first semi took three attempts to complete as on the first attempt DiFrancesco took Fisher down and forced the first restart with DiFrancesco being penalized 20 yards. On the second attempt, Fisher went down forcing DiFrancesco to lay his bike down. Fisher was also penalized 20 yards. Oxley and Manchester, both all but guaranteed spots in the main, finished first and second, respectively, sending Fisher and DiFrancesco to the Last Chance Qualifier, but not after a great battle. Manchester got the gate and led for two laps with Oxley on his back tire. Oxley's constant pressure forced Manchester wide and the defending National Champion was able to take the lead and he held it to the finish.

Venegas trapped from the outside in the second semi and ran away from the field as he and Northrup qualified for the main as Shawn McConnell pulled up after a near-collision with Northrup and Bobby Schwartz experienced bike problems.

In the Last Chance Qualifier, Schwartz, borrowing a bike from Johnny Walker, made the start and led for a lap and half. However, the unfamiliarity with his borrowed machinery proved to be costly as he drifted wide and DiFrancesco was able to pass him and take the last spot in the main.

Support racing used a scratch format and veteran rider Bentley Barrett showed off his gating ability by getting a great start and running away with the Support Main. The first attempt didn't get very far as Brad Sauer looped at the line and was down for several minutes. Fortunately, he was unhurt and able to compete in the restart. Barrett covered the field going into the first turn and left the rest to battle for second. Kitt Nay won the battle of minor placing's by finishing second, Sauer was third, and Mark Hitchcock was fourth.

In the Support B Main, Chad Newlee fought his way to the front in quick fashion and looked to be assured of a second straight main event victory. However, Newlee went down in turn three and Brent Smith assumed the lead. Smith held on the rest of the way to take his first main event of the season. Tom Collier finished second and Eloy Medellin finished third. The evening also brought the return of former World Finalist and two-time US Junior National Champion Josh Larsen to action. Larsen suffered through a dismal night as he had trouble readjusting to the tight Costa Mesa oval. Larsen went down in his first heat and was excluded, won his second race, and fell twice during his third race.

                            1   2   3   T
  1 - Brad Oxley            2   2   3   7
  4 - Josh Larsen           Fx  3   F   3
  6 - Shawn McConnell       3   o   3   6
  8 - Gary Ackroyd          1   1   1   3
 11 - Bobby Schwartz        3   E   3   6
 12 - Randy DiFrancesco     2   2   2   6
 14 - Eddie Castro          2   0   2   4
 15 - Dukie Ermolenko       1   1   3   5
 16 - Charlie Cooley        0   3   0   3
 23 - Robbie Sauer          0   R   0   0
 36 - Ryan Fisher           3   1   1   5
 43 - Charlie Venegas       1   2   2   5
 47 - Johnny Walker         N   o   R   0
 56 - Jim Estes             1   2   1   4
 57 - Brian Thompson        0   0   o   0
119 - Brad Sauer (R)        o   -   -   0
130 - Chris Manchester      3   1   2   6
189 - Danny Perkins         o   0   N   0
223 - Mark Adams            0   3   0   3
230 - Doug Greyson          o   0   o   0
Note: 0=4th place finish; o=5th place finish

Qualifying Rounds
Note: Number following name indicates designated handicap for that round.
1: Fisher, DiFrancesco, Venegas, Adams, Greyson
2: Schwartz, Northrup, Estes, Thompson, Walker (Non-Starter)
3: Manchester, Oxley, Ermolenko, Cooley, Perkins
4: (restarted twice) McConnell, Castro, Ackroyd, R.Sauer, B.Sauer, Larsen (Fell, Ex)
9: Larsen-0, Venegas-10, Manchester-30, Castro-20 (penalty line), Walker-0
10: Cooley-0, DiFrancesco-20, Ackroyd-10, Greyson-0, Schwartz-30 (Eng. Failure)
11: Northrup-20, Oxley-20, Fisher-30, Thompson-0, R.Sauer-0 (retired)
12: Adams-0, Estes-10, Ermolenko-10, Perkins-0, McConnell-30
17: Ermolenko-10, Venegas-20, Ackroyd-10, R.Sauer, Greyson
18: Schwartz-0, Castro-0, Fisher-10, Adams-30, Thompson-0
19: Oxley-20, DiFrancesco-20, Estes-20 (penalty line), Walker (retired), Perkins (NS)
20: (restart) McConnell-0, Manchester-10, Northrup-10, Cooley-30, Larsen-30 (fell)
Runoff: Venegas, Fisher, Ermolenko

Semi-Final #1 (restarted twice)         Semi-Final #2
  1 - Brad Oxley                         43 - Charlie Venegas
130 - Chris Manchester                  166 - Andy Northrup
 36 - Ryan Fisher (penalty line)          6 - Shawn McConnell (retired)
 12 - Randy DiFrancesco (penalty line)   11 - Bobby Schwartz (engine failure)

Last Chance Qualifier
 12 - Randy DiFrancesco
  6 - Shawn McConnell
 36 - Ryan Fisher
 11 - Bobby Schwartz

Olympique Main Event
 43 - Charlie Venegas
  1 - Brad Oxley
 12 - Randy DiFrancesco
166 - Andy Northrup
130 - Chris Manchester

Support Consolation (restart)            Support Main (restart)
300 - Bentley Barrett                     19 - Richard Jones
131 - David Lynch                        216 - Kitt Nay
114 - Paul Hitchcock                     119 - Brad Sauer
321 - Billy Lyons                        177 - Mark Hitchcock

Support B Consolation                    Support B Main
125 - Johnny Lupo       20               103 - Brent Smith       20
143n - Kevin Fereira    10               141 - Tom Collier       20
317 - Craig Mumma       20               178 - Eloy Medellin     10
165 - Randy Kreps       20               123 - Chad Newlee       20  
(fell, rem.)
196 - Rod Lenz          10 (fell)        147 - Winston Williams  20  
(fell, rem.)
148 - Chris Metoyer     10 (non-starter) 269 - Ed Martinez       10  
(fell, rem.)
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