Costa Mesa Speedway
Orange County Fairgrounds
Costa Mesa, CA
2002 Spring Classic
Costa Mesa Speedway
April 13, 2002
From Ryan Evans
Defending National Champion began the defense of his title by winning the Scratch Main in front of a sold out crowd at the annual Spring Classic at Costa Mesa.
Manchester, starting from the outside, and Bobby "Boogaloo" Schwartz, starting from the pole, came out of the gate evenly but Manchester used the outside dirt to his advantage and managed to squeeze past Schwartz exiting turn two and took the lead entering turn three. From there, it was all Manchester as he pulled away for the win. Schwartz finished second, Josh Larsen passed Eddie Castro in the last corner to get third, and Shawn McConnell was fifth.
The format for the Spring Classic was three rounds of scratch heats with the top 10 transferring to the two five-man semis. The top two from each semi transferred directly to the Scratch Main while third and fourth transferred to the Last Chance. The winner of the Last Chance rounded out the five-man Scratch Main Event.
Gary Hicks opened up the evening with a runaway victory in race one. Schwartz held off Larsen in the second race for his first four points of the night. Castro, who has recently taken delivery of a brand-new GM, missed the start but went around the outside of Randy DiFrancesco and McConnell for an impressive race three victory. Manchester was first to turn one in race four, but overslid in turn two and Dukie Ermolenko took the lead. Ermolenko fought off Manchester's challenges to close out the first round with four points.
Hicks started round two the same way he started round one, with a victory. Manchester scored his first victory with a win over Northern California's Tommy Hedden. Schwartz kept pace with Hicks by posting a victory in race nine. Castro made it two-for-two with another outside dash around the outside of DiFrancesco to end round two.
The opening race of round three would be a battle of undefeated riders Hicks and Schwartz. It would be two-time National Champion Schwartz who would remain perfect after making a perfect start and holding back Hicks for the win. Larsen took his first win of the night with an easy victory in race 14. Manchester left everyone in his wake in race 15 with another easy victory. Castro missed the start for the third time, and for the third time he went around the outside for the lead and the victory.
The riders who qualified for the semis were: Schwartz and Castro, each with a perfect 12 points; Manchester and Hicks with 11 each; Larsen with 10 points; DiFrancesco and Ermolenko with 8 points apiece; Hedden with 7 points; and Kitt Nay with 6 points. McConnell won a runoff with Bryan Yarrow and Brian Thompson to get the last spot in the semis.
Manchester started from the outside in the first semi and roared around the outside in turn one to take the lead. McConnell and Ermolenko battled behind him for second before Ermolenko went down in turn two. The race continued and Manchester and McConnell took the top two spots and transferred to the main event. DiFrancesco and Castro, who hadn't lost prior to the semi, transferred to the Last Chance.
Larsen got a great start in the second semi and led Schwartz down the back straight on the first lap. Larsen opened up a comfortable lead and took the win and Schwartz finished second to book their places in the Scratch Main. Hedden and Nay finished, third and fourth, respectively to round out the Last Chance, while Hicks was a surprising fifth.
Hedden got the jump on the field in the Last Chance, but Castro immediately applied the pressure on him. Contrary to his outside attacks in the preliminary rounds, Castro pursued Hedden on the inside. Hedden left a gap that was just wide enough for Castro to get through on the third lap and "Fast Eddie" sped away with the last transfer to the Scratch Main.
2001 Support Points Champion David Lynch started from gate five in the Support Main and was first exiting turn two on the first lap, but Doug Benjamin was in hot pursuit behind him. Benjamin stayed close, but couldn't force Lynch into a mistake. On the final lap Benjamin made a move to the outside but couldn't muster enough grip to overtake Lynch. Randy Kreps was third, Rudy Laurer was fourth, and Rick Valdez was fifth.
Michael Novratil took the early lead in the Support B Main Event. Newcomer Brian Hunt immediately began chasing down the leader. At the white flag Hunt was close enough to make his move. Hunt made a bold move on the outside in the last corner and nearly snatched the victory at the finish line. The scorekeepers ruled that Novratil was first to the line. Hunt had to settle for second, Carl Gazafy was third, Craig Collier was fourth, and Steve Dziadus was fifth.
Costa Mesa's first event of 2002 had a standing-room-only crowd which was thoroughly entertained by some great racing and a lot of passing due to extra dirt on the outside line. The packed crowd was also entertained by the freestyle motocross jumpers who have proven to be an attendance success the past several years. The 34th season at the world famous bullring oval in Costa Mesa begins on Saturday, May 3.
Support B Main Event
181 - Michael Novratil
332 - Brian Hunt
176 - Carl Gazafy
133 - Craig Collier
212 - Steve Dziadus
Support Main Event
131 - David Lynch
128 - Doug Benjamin
165 - Randy Kreps
182 - Rudy Laurer
293 - Rick Valdez
First Division Scoring 1 2 3 T
1 - Chris Manchester 3 4 4 11
2 - Josh Larsen 3 3 4 10
3 - Gary Hicks 4 4 3 11
6 - Shawn McConnell 2 3 F 5
8n - Bryan Yarrow 2 1 2 5
11 - Bobby Schwartz 4 4 4 12
12 - Randy DiFrancesco 3 3 2 8
14 - Eddie Castro 4 4 4 12
15 - Dukie Ermolenko 4 2 2 8
23 - Mark Adams 2 2 0 4
40n - Tommy Hedden 3 3 1 7
57 - Brian Thompson 1 1 3 5
89 - Danny Perkins 0 0 1 1
139 - Shaun Harmatiuk 1 2 1 4
173 - Jeff Blaydes 1 0 3 4
216 - Kitt Nay 2 2 2 6
223 - Bobby Krips R 1 F 1
243 - Sean McDougall F 1 2 3
1: Hicks, Hedden, Nay, Harmatiuk, Perkins
2: Schwartz, Larsen, Yarrow, Krips (retired)
3: Castro, DiFrancesco, McConnell, Blaydes
4: Ermolenko, Manchester, Adams, Thompson, McDougall (fell)
7: Hicks, Larsen, Adams, Thompson
8: Manchester, Hedden, Harmatiuk, McDougall
9: Schwartz, McConnell, Nay, Krips, Perkins
10: Castro, DiFrancesco, Ermolenko, Yarrow, Blaydes
13: Schwartz, Hicks, Ermolenko, Harmatiuk
14: Larsen, DiFrancesco, McDougall, Krips (fell)
15: Manchester, Blaydes, Nay, Perkins, Adams
16: Castro, Thompson, Yarrow, Hedden (fell, remounted), McConnell (fell)
Runoff: McConnell, Yarrow, Thompson
Semi #1: Manchester, McConnell, DiFrancesco, Castro, Ermolenko (fell, remounted)
Semi #2: Larsen, Schwartz, Hedden, Nay, Hicks
Last Chance: Castro, Hedden, Nay, DiFrancesco
Scratch Main Event
1 - Chris Manchester
11 - Bobby Schwartz
2 - Josh Larsen
14 - Eddie Castro
6 - Shawn McConnell