Billy Janniro wins the Main Event!
Ian Ferris wins the Handicap!
Speedway racing returned to the National Orange Show in San Bernardino for the first time since 1987 and the riders treated the fans to some entertaining racing and perhaps the rebirth of regular speedway racing at one of Southern California's historic speedway venues.
Billy Janniro almost gave the lead away on two occasions but held on to capture the Scratch Main. Janniro took the lead from the pole and was quickly challenged on the outside by Bobby Hedden. As they came off turn four the first time, Janniro led on the inside line, but Hedden stayed wide and Josh Larsen challenged him for second. Larsen took control of second as they exited turn two and began chasing Janniro. Janniro parked badly in turn three which forced Hedden a little wider than he wanted and out of contention, and it also allowed Larsen and Ryan Fisher to close a lot of ground. Janniro opened up his lead again and was on his way to victory when he hit a hole in turn four and straightened up toward the fence. Larsen and Fisher tried to capitalize on the mistake, but Janniro won the three-man drag race to the finish ahead of Larsen and Fisher.
Mike Mattocks, racing for the first time since a horrific crash at Costa Mesa earlier this year, took the lead from the 10 yard line in the Handicap Main. Mattocks was quickly displaced by Ian Ferris who immediately stretched his lead. The back yardage riders made their way past Mattocks as Janniro, Fisher, and Larsen set out after Ferris. Ferris never relented and maintained a comfortable lead through lap four when the action got wild behind him. Janniro was running second when Fisher lifted in turn four and took him down and forced several riders to take evasive action. Surprisingly, there was no red flag and the race was allowed to continue. Ferris took the victory ahead of Fisher who was able to stay upright despite his contact with Janniro, Hedden finished third, Randy DiFrancesco finished fourth, and Larsen finished fifth. Janniro, expecting a red flag, argued vehemently with the referee when he didn't get one and returned to the pits shaking his head in disbelief.
Brent Smith was alone on the 10 yard line and led the beginning of the Second Division Main Event. Smith established a sizable lead over the field as the riders behind him continuously swapped positions. 17 year old Shaun Harmatiuk emerged from the pack in second place and began chipping away at Smith's lead. As they took the white flag Harmatiuk was on Smith's back tire and made an inside move as they entered turn one. Harmatiuk exited turn two with the lead and led Smith to the checkered flag to take the victory. Billy Lyons finished third, Bill McCarley finished fourth, and Rudy Laurer finished fifth.
The evening also brought the innovation of the Dash for Cash Challenge. This was established for the First Division riders who didn't compete in the scratch heats. It was established to give these riders some valuable laps on the track and scratch experience. It featured two heats with the top two transferring to the Dash for Cash Challenge Main Event. Danny Perkins, who had his usual large entourage of fans, was a very popular winner of the main event with a superbly smooth performance. Charlie "The Edge" Venegas and Dukie Ermolenko joined forces as C & C Promotions to bring speedway racing back to San Bernardino. The track was built inside the stock car track and measured approximately 250 yards around the pole.
Although this was considered a one-night event, the purpose of promoting the event was to establish another speedway venue in Southern California for riders to compete on, to branch the sport into other geographical areas, and to help develop some young riders that could eventually race overseas. Venegas and Ermolenko have high aspirations for the future of speedway in San Bernardino and if all goes well, not only will they promote weekly events in the future, but they have plans for special events as well. As with all ventures, not everything can go absolutely perfectly. The track had some problems staying together and developed some rough spots. However, the riders put on a great show, were very happy with the size and overall design of the track, and they're quite confident that the track will succeed and indicated that they would like to race there on a regular basis. The most important thing was the good fan turnout and the enthusiasm they showed throughout the evening.
The event drew a good crowd that, based on their noise level, was thoroughly entertained. Their noise was no doubt helped by legendary speedway announcer Bruce Flanders who was the announcer at San Bernardino during speedway's prior stint in the city, and although he hadn't announced a speedway race in four years, his skills had not diminished. When he asked the crowd if they would like to see speedway become a regular event on Thursday nights they roared with approval.
Venegas and Ermolenko kept a busy promotion schedule by visiting local motorcycle shops and contacting local media. Family, friends, and riders all helped the two aspiring promoters to get their project off the ground by volunteering help whenever or wherever necessary. California's other promoters helped as well by informing the crowd about the event and also allowing them personal air time to express their purposes behind the event. Brad Oxley competed in the event, Dave Joiner was the referee, and Mark Joiner gave his usual performance as the flagman.
The promoters were encouraged with the show overall, however their evening didn't go very well on the racetrack. Ermolenko failed to transfer from either of his heats, and Venegas had to withdraw from the rest of the meeting after suffering an injury in a crash with Eddie Castro in his Handicap Semi. The crash will force him out of action in Northern California this weekend.
With the future of Costa Mesa beyond 2000 in doubt, Southern California is desperate to establish another venue for the riders to compete on. Should Costa Mesa continue to operate in 2001, then Southern California riders will have multiple venues to compete on for the first time in several years. Operating as Inland Motorcycle Speedway, racing was held on Wednesday nights in San Bernardino from 1975 to 1987 on a track that was built on the parking lot behind the stock car stadium that this event was held in. The facility consistently hosted large crowds and was the site of the California State Championship from 1975 to 1987. The promotion moved out of the city to Glen Helen for the 1988 season but never captured the immense popularity that the original location had. The San Bernardino area should prove to be an excellent place to host weekly speedway events.
RESULTS Second Division Consolation 1st 234 - Frank Pecce 30 2nd 131 - David Lynch 30 3rd 198 - Mike Boyle 10 4th 338 - Dave Delbridge 20 5th 336 - Bill Green 10 6th 197 - Greg Starcevic 20 7th 175 - John VanderMuelen 20 8th 147 - Winston Williams 10 Second Division Main 1st 139 - Shaun Harmatiuk 20 2nd 103 - Brent Smith 10 3rd 321 - Billy Lyons 30 4th 120 - Bill McCarley 30 5th 182 - Rudy Laurer 20 6th 200 - Gerry Duttweiler 30 7th 177 - Mark Hitchcock 30 8th 219 - John O'Neill 20 Dash for Cash Challenge Main Event 1st 189 - Danny Perkins 2nd 122 - Mike Mattocks 3rd 223 - Mark Adams (fell, remounted) 4th 47 - Johnny Walker
Handicap Main 1st 36n - Ian Ferris 20 2nd 36 - Ryan Fisher 40 3rd 63n - Bobby Hedden 50 4th 12 - Randy DiFrancesco 50 5th 4 - Josh Larsen 40 6th 122 - Mike Mattocks 10 7th 14n - Billy Janniro 50 (fell) 8th 3 - Gary Hicks 50 (non-starter) 9th 43 - Charlie Venegas 50 (non-starter, replaced by Mattocks)
Scratch Main 1st 14n - Billy Janniro 2nd 4 - Josh Larsen 3rd 36 - Ryan Fisher 4th 63n - Bobby Hedden
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