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2002 Costa Mesa Speedway Race Results

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Costa Mesa Speedway
Orange County Fairgrounds
Costa Mesa, CA

2002 Opening Night
Costa Mesa Speedway
May 4, 2002
From Ryan Evans

2002 Josh Larson

Josh Larsen's superb Scratch Main Event victory capped a wild night of racing as the 34th season of speedway at the world famous Costa Mesa oval began on Saturday night.

Defending National Champion Chris Manchester, winner of last month's Spring Classic, drew the pole for the Scratch Main after having to qualify via the Last Chance. Randy DiFrancesco, who was certainly happy to have shaken the mechanical gremlins that have plagued his bikes recently, drew gate two. Shawn McConnell drew gate three. Larsen, who was undefeated at this point of the evening, drew gate four. Former National Champion Bart Bast lined up on the outside.

Manchester and Larsen left the line together and as they entered turn one Manchester's inside position appeared to work in his favor. However, Larsen made a big run around the outside and his momentum carried him around Manchester on the back straight before dropping to the pole, and into the lead, in turn three. Larsen could not afford the slightest of errors as Manchester applied the pressure. The battle remained close for two laps before Larsen steadily pulled away from Manchester to earn the victory. DiFrancesco finished third, Bast was fourth, and McConnell finished fifth.

Eighteen year old Shaun Harmatiuk lined up on the 10 yard line and some fierce competition behind him in the Handicap Main. DiFrancesco, Bast, McConnell, and Eddie Castro were lined up on the 40, while Larsen, looking for a sweep of the program, and Mike Faria were on the 50. Gary Hicks was unable to start after a fall earlier in the evening.

At the start the pack closed quickly on Harmatiuk as Bast went for the lead in the first corner. There was contact which left bikes and riders on the ground or taking evasive action. The referee ordered a complete restart.

On the restart Bast again caught Harmatiuk quickly and began to turn up the heat. The battle became physical and Bast tried to force his way past Harmatiuk. With Bast frozen behind Harmatiuk, Castro went to the outside line and took the lead at the end of the second lap. As they entered turn one the riders bumped and Harmatiuk slid off. Despite a very animated protest, there was no red flag. The race was over for all practical purposes, though, as Castro was long gone and cruised to the victory. Bast held on to second, McConnell finished third, Larsen was fourth, and DiFrancesco finished fifth.

In the Denim Doctor Challenge, the 5-man field was whittled down to Faria and Castro. Castro jumped into the lead in turn one, but Faria didn't give up easily. Faria went to the outside and pulled alongside Castro at the end of the first lap. Castro had the advantage on the back straight, but the three-time National Champion made one last move on the outside. As they came off turn four Faria just squeezed past Castro to win by inches. The tremendous effort was rewarded with a rousing ovation from the crowd.

Rudy Laurer took the lead out of gate four at the start of the Support Main Event. Laurer opened a comfortable lead and appeared to have the race won when he went down on the third lap. John Stunkard assumed the lead from that point and went on to record the victory. Philip Williams was second, Rick Valdez finished third, Paul Hitchcock was third, and a disappointed Laurer was fifth.

Dan Wensloff took the early lead in the Support B Main Event. Wensloff was pursued for two laps before Michael Novratil took the lead. Novratil, who won the main at the Spring Classic, made it two in a row as he went on to victory. Mike Boyle finished second, Brian Hunt was third, Wensloff finished fourth, Carl Gazafy was fifth, and Tom Hamilton was sixth.

The evening was filled with great racing and an unusually high number of crashes, especially in the early stages of the program. Many riders were finding traction where they didn't expect to and got acquainted with the turn two wall. All riders were able to walk away from their respective incidents, but several bikes weren't so lucky. Next week will be Costa Mesa's Mother's Day Skirt Night, and EVERY fan who wears a skirt will be admitted free.

Support B Consolation
133 - Craig Collier             10
163 - Rohn Zellner              20
112 - Bryan Baichtal            20
155 - Kevin Templeton           10
102 - Jim Lavender              20  (fell)
167 - James Herr                10  (non starter)

Support B Main Event
181 - Michael Novratil          20
198 - Mike Boyle                20
332 - Brian Hunt                10
169 - Dan Wensloff              10
176 - Carl Gazafy               10  (fell)
144 - Tom Hamilton              10  (fell)

Support Consolation
338 - Dave Delbridge            20
100 - Phil Harmatiuk            10
196 - Rod Lenz                  20
180 - Malcolm Roe               10
125 - Johnny Lupo               10
103 - Brent Smith               10
178 - Eloy Medellin             20  (fell)
128 - Doug Benjamin             20  (non starter)

Support Last Chance
182 - Rudy Laurer
106 - Robert Fiesler
296 - Tom Rossano
269 - Ed Martinez           (fell, remounted)

Support Main Event
249 - John Stunkard
239 - Philip Williams
293 - Rick Valdez           (fell, remounted)
114 - Paul Hitchcock        (fell, remounted)
182 - Rudy Laurer           (fell)

Denim Doctor Challenge
  9 - Mike Faria
 14 - Eddie Castro
 11 - Bobby Schwartz
  1 - Chris Manchester
 87n - Bart Bast

Handicap Main Event
 14 - Eddie Castro              40
 87n - Bart Bast                40
  6 - Shawn McConnell           40
  2 - Josh Larsen               50
 12 - Randy DiFrancesco         40
  9 - Mike Faria                50  (retired)
139 - Shaun Harmatiuk           10  (fell)
  3 - Gary Hicks                50  (non starter)

Last Chance
  1 - Chris Manchester
  9 - Mike Faria
 57 - Brian Thompson
 14 - Eddie Castro          (fell)

Scratch Main Event
  2 - Josh Larsen
  1 - Chris Manchester
 12 - Randy DiFrancesco
 87n - Bart Bast
  6 - Shawn McConnell
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