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Fast Fridays Speedway

Gold Country Fairgrounds - Auburn, CA

2001  USA vs. The World
Fast Fridays Speedway
November 2, 2001
From Gary Roberts

Fast Fridays hosted a USA vs. The World on Friday night, in what is believed to be the first ever Speedway event to be held in Northern California in November.  It is also believed to be the first USA vs. The World to be held in the US since August 25 & 27, 1988 at Baylands. 

After a very wet beginning to the week, the weather was actually quite dry but cold.   I got dressed up in my warm clothes and expected a very small crowd.   Californians are not known for standing around in the cold, but I was pleasantly amazed to see an enormous crowd, among the biggest of the season.  Friday also marked the return of referee John Grant, after his serious flat track injuries this past summer.   John has earned the number 50 plate in the US National Dirt Track Series and will be back in the series, displaying his plate, next season, in addition to celebrating his 50th birthday.  Andy Smith and Scott Nicholls were earlier billed to appear in the World side, but were replaced by Berwick's David Meldrum and local lad, Eric Carrillo.   The racing was good.  Plenty of close racing, overtaking, and excellent sportsmanship, with congratulatory handshakes on the cool down lap. Just the way Speedway should be. Scores after 18 heats were as follows:

Bart Bast 1 3 1 2 3 3          13
John Cook 2 2 2 1 2 1          10
Bobby Schwartz 3 1 1 2 1 3     11
Dukie Ermolenko 2 2 0 3 0 1     8
Bobby Hedden 3 3 2 3 3 2       16
Tommy Hedden 1 0 1 2 1 1        6

The World
Armando Castagna 0 0 3 3 3 3 2 14
Bartek Bardecki 3 3 0 0 2 0     8
Robert Nagy 0 2 3 0 0 2         7
Joachim Kugelmann 1 1 0 1 2 0   5
Eric Carrillo 2 1 3 0 1 2       9
David Meldrum 0 0 - 1 0 0       1

This put the score at 64 to 44.  As is traditional at Fast Fridays for team racing, a B and A main events then took place with heavily weighted point scores.   The rider selection did not seem to follow any pattern and I learned later that the US team members selected main events riders using a scissors, rock, paper formula. 

B Main - 1. Dukie Ermolenko 6 points  2. Eric Carrillo 4 points  3. Tommy Hedden 2 points  4. Bartek Bardecki 1 point

A Main - 1. Bart Bast 12 points  2. Robert Nagy 8 points  3. Bobby Hedden 4 points  4. Armando Castagna 2 points. 

This made the final score 88 to the US and 59 to the World team.  As a stand in, Eric Carrillo did a great job, riding for the World team.  Before every British League promoter rushes to immediately sign up Eric, it should be pointed out that the Auburn track is significantly smaller than the tracks that the World riders are used to.   Eric has been riding at pretty much every Speedway event at Auburn for the past 7 years.  But unlike previous US vs. The World events held in Southern California, the World team members did get a chance to practice on the track the night before.  I recall one event during the 80s when the World team got off the plane at LAX at 4pm and at 7.30 they were dressed up in their leathers on parade at Ascot Speedway. What made matters worse was that most of them had never seen such a small track before.  David Meldrum, who actually missed the Thursday practice, told me he did not get to grips with the track at all.  It rather surprised me, he did well last year at San Bernardino.   Again, as is normal with these events, the World team riders took a couple of races to get the feel of the track.  It enabled the US to build an early lead from which the World team did not recover.  Even top World scorer Armando "The Godfather" Castagna fell down in each of his first two rides, but rode very well after that, even getting most of the crowd on their feet by beating Bobby Hedden in one race, after 4 side by side laps.  The US side included riders with a lot of international experience.  With the exception of Tommy Hedden, all had ridden in the British League at one time, and were therefore very familiar with the concept of team racing.  The large crowd enjoyed the show, the event was a big success.

Fast Fridays hopes to repeat this event next November.

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