Costa Mesa Speedway
25 Lap Classic
Orange County Fairgrounds
Costa Mesa, California
Costa Mesa Speedway
June 28, 2003
From Ryan Evans
2003 season points leader Scott Brant made a dramatic pass to capture the 25 Lap Classic at Costa Mesa Saturday night.
The longest race of the season also featured the largest field of the season as 11 of the 12 riders who qualified lined up for the 25 lap marathon race which is three times the distance of a typical Handicap Main. Danny Perkins was at the head of the field and led at the end of lap one. Northern California's Chris Kerr took the lead coming off turn two on the second lap and his fast pace helped him put a full straight on the field. After a couple laps Kerr began struggling to stay on the pole and Shaun Harmatiuk gained a lot of ground. Harmatiuk trailed Kerr closely for several laps before going underneath entering turn one on the ninth lap. After Harmatiuk completed the ninth lap with the lead, Kerr slid off in turn two forcing Mark Adams and Brant to lay their machines down which brought out the red flag. Kerr was excluded and the field would line up in the order that they finished lap nine and have 16 laps to complete.
Harmatiuk and Randy DiFrancesco lined up at the tapes for the restart and it was Harmatiuk who was first to turn one and who quickly established a large lead. Brant used a great jump on the restart and some slick passes to get to DiFrancesco. After two laps of pressure, Brant's patience paid off as DiFrancesco left a slight opening on the inside at the end of lap 20 and Brant took advantage to assume second. Harmatiuk's lead seemed relatively safe until that point, but Brant closed ground quickly. Brant was on the 20 year old's back tire on the 22nd lap and it seemed a matter of time before Harmatiuk became Brant's final victim. Brant's presence seemed to rejuvenate Harmatiuk, though, and he actually had a little breathing room as he took the white flag. Brant found traction exiting turn two the final time and went wide into the final corner, which seemed to closed the door on his chances. Harmatiuk, however, began to slide off the groove coming off the final corner and left a gap along the inside line. Brant's wide entry into the corner meant he had the perfect angle to shoot through the narrow opening along the pole. Harmatiuk tried to pull back to the inside, but Brant was already there, causing the riders to collide about thirty yards from the finish. Both remained upright and were even for a split-second, but Brant's momentum helped him complete the pass and carried him across the finish line first for a dramatic victory. Harmatiuk lost his chain in the process and coasted to a heartbreaking second place. Shawn McConnell finished third, DiFrancesco was fourth, Bryan Yarrow finished fifth, Andy Northrup was sixth, Adams finished seventh, and Bobby Schwartz came home eighth.
Although the main event of the 25 Lap Classic was a handicap race, it was scratch racing that determined the field for the final race. 20 riders competed in three rounds of five-man scratch races with the top 12 point scorers qualifying for the main.
The first round featured three restarts, all of which shared an eerie coincidence. Each was restarted because a rider flipped over backward while coming out of gate one. The first event had the best race of the qualifying rounds as Schwartz and Brant left the tapes side-by-side and remained that way for all four laps. Schwartz hugged the inside line while Brant used the dirt on the outside with neither able to gain an advantage. The battle continued all the way to the checkered flag with Schwartz winning by a narrow margin. Dukie Ermolenko jumped into the lead in race two, but began to coast on the back straight when he realized his fuel wasn't turned on. Paul Colston took advantage and was in front on the last lap when DiFrancesco lifted on the back straight and took down Matt Browne. Colston was declared the winner and DiFrancesco was credited with last. Yarrow used a great start to beat McConnell in the third race and Gary Hicks closed out the first round with an easy victory.
Brant began round two with his first victory of the night. Kerr held the lead in the next race when a crash brought out the red flag. Schwartz made the most of the second chance by taking the victory, but Kerr ran a solid second place behind the legend. McConnell was the victor in the next race and Hicks finished the second round the same way he finished off the first, with an easy win.
Brant cruised to his second win of the evening to begin the final round. Schwartz remained perfect with a win in the next race. Yarrow brought his total to 11 points with his second win in race 20. DiFrancesco finished off the qualifying rounds with a much-needed victory over Northrup.
After the three qualifying rounds 11 of the 12 slots in the main event were filled. A three-rider runoff would determine the final spot as Harmatiuk, Ermolenko, and Justin Boyle were tied with five points. Harmatiuk got a great start from the outside and was leading in turn two when Boyle and Ermolenko came together. Boyle hit the ground, but Ermolenko became entangled in his machine as he tried to dismount and hit the turn two fence at a high rate of speed. Ermolenko was down for several minutes, but eased everyone's concern when he rose to his feet. Ermolenko was assisted off the track and stated after the meeting that he would probably have his fibula examined. Harmatiuk easily won the restart to book his spot in the main.
The 12 Lap Support Main featured a 10-rider field. Robert Fiesler beat fellow 10 yard rider Paul Hitchcock to turn one and he took the early lead. Rudy Laurer started from the 30 yard line but went through traffic rapidly and was in second place on the third lap. Laurer hunted down Fiesler and took the lead entering turn three on the fourth lap. Laurer established a big lead and then strategically paced himself for several laps. 2002 Support Points Champion John Stunkard moved into second on the ninth lap and went after the leader. Laurer's lead dwindled with each lap and Stunkard had a chance as they took the white flag. Laurer maintained his composure, though, and held on for the win. Stunkard had to settle for second, Fiesler was third, Chris Metoyer finished fourth, Hector Quevedo was fifth, Dave Delbridge finished sixth, and Billy Braden was seventh.
In the Support B Main Event, Keith Mullally was first to turn one, but newcomer Mike Sullivan and veteran Phil Harmatiuk went down in turn two and brought out the red flag. On the restart, Carl Gazafy led from start to finish to claim his second Costa Mesa Support B Main victory of 2003. Tony Bracy was second, Harmatiuk finished third, Mullally was fourth, Jim Lavender finished fifth, and Sullivan was sixth.
Skyler Greyson got a great start and took the lead in the Youth Main Event. Dario Galvin emerged from turn two with second place and went after Greyson. Galvin got close to the leader, but couldn't force a mistake and Greyson was first to the checkered flag. Jason Ramirez was third and Tamara Krips finished fourth.
There will be no racing at Costa Mesa on July 5, but the action will return on Friday, July 11 for the annual Fair Derby. The Fair Derby has been held since 1970 and coincides with the Orange County Fair. Mike Faria is the defending champion and his competition will be significantly stiffer as 1996 World Champion and defending National Champion Billy "The Bullet" Hamill will return from Europe to compete. Hamill's illustrious career does not include a Fair Derby victory and he is determined to add the trophy to his collection.
Youth Main Event
2 - Skyler Greyson
145 - Dario Galvin
66 - Jason Ramirez
223 - Tamara Krips
Support B Main Event (restarted)
176 - Carl Gazafy 10
194 - Tony Bracy 20
100 - Phil Harmatiuk 20
185 - Keith Mullally 10
102 - Jim Lavender 20
250 - Mike Sullivan 10 (penalty line)
Support 12 Lap Main Event
182 - Rudy Laurer 30
249 - John Stunkard 20
106 - Robert Fiesler 10
148 - Chris Metoyer 20
161 - Hector Quevedo 20
338 - Dave Delbridge 20
117 - Billy Braden 30
114 - Paul Hitchcock 10
214 - Steve Murray 30 (retired)
389 - Nate Perkins 30 (fell)
First Division Heat Scoring 1 2 3 T
3 - Gary Hicks 4 4 2 10
6 - Shawn McConnell 3 4 3 10
8n - Bryan Yarrow 4 3 4 11
10 - Scott Brant 3 4 4 11
11 - Bobby Schwartz 4 4 4 12
12 - Randy DiFrancesco Fx 2 4 6
15 - Dukie Ermolenko 1 1 3 5
23 - Mark Adams 3 2 2 7
24 - Bobby Krips 1 0 1 2
27n - Chris Kerr 1 3 3 7
29 - George Fox F 0 1 1
29n - Matt Browne 2 1 1 4
31n - Jonathan Curry 0 1 0 1
64 - Paul Colston 4 2 2 8
89 - Danny Perkins 3 2 1 6
139 - Shaun Harmatiuk 2 3 0 5
166 - Andy Northrup 2 3 3 8
197 - Justin Boyle 2 1 2 5
230 - Doug Greyson 1 0 0 1
293 - Rick Valdez 0 0 0 0
1:(restarted) Schwartz, Brant, Harmatiuk, Kerr, Curry (penalty line)
2: Colston, Adams, Browne, Ermolenko, DiFrancesco (fell, excluded)
3:(restarted) Yarrow, McConnell, Northrup, Krips, Valdez (penalty line)
4:(restarted) Hicks, Perkins, Boyle, Greyson, Fox (penalty line, fell)
9:(restarted) Brant, Yarrow, Colston, Boyle, Greyson
10:(restarted) Schwartz, Kerr, Perkins, Ermolenko, Krips
11: McConnell, Harmatiuk, DiFrancesco, Browne, Fox
12: Hicks, Northrup, Adams, Curry, Valdez
18:(restarted twice) Brant, Ermolenko, Boyle, Krips (penalty line), Harmatiuk
19: Schwartz, Kerr, Adams, Fox, Greyson
20: Yarrow, McConnell, Hicks, Browne, Curry
21: DiFrancesco, Northrup, Colston, Perkins, Valdez
Runoff:(restarted) Harmatiuk, Boyle, Ermolenko (non starter)
25 Lap Classic Main Event (restarted)
10 - Scott Brant 60
139 - Shaun Harmatiuk 30
6 - Shawn McConnell 60
12 - Randy DiFrancesco 40
8n - Bryan Yarrow 30
166 - Andy Northrup 40
23 - Mark Adams 20
11 - Bobby Schwartz 50
64 - Paul Colston 10
89 - Danny Perkins 0
27n - Chris Kerr 10 (fell, excluded)
3 - Gary Hicks 50 (non starter)
PAST 25 LAP CLASSIC WINNERS
1990 - Bobby Schwartz (16 laps @ Glen Helen) 1997 - Brad Oxley
1991 - Chris Manchester (20 laps) 1998 - Shawn McConnell
1992 - Chris Manchester 1999 - Brad Oxley
1993 - Lance King 2000 - Charlie Venegas
1994 - Gary Hicks 2001 - Josh Larsen
1995 - Brad Oxley 2002 - Josh Larsen
1996 - Brad Oxley