Costa Mesa Speedway
2003 Fall Classic
Orange County Fairgrounds
Costa Mesa, California
Costa Mesa Speedway
November 1 2003
From Ryan Evans
Ryan Fisher made a triumphant return to Costa Mesa by winning the Fall Classic to close the 2003 season at the world famous bullring oval Saturday night.
The first attempt to run the Scratch Main ended in turn one when Josh Larsen lifted badly leaving the starting line and took down Fisher, Chris Manchester, and himself in turn one. After a several minutes all riders were back on their feet. Larsen received a huge reprieve when the referee ordered a complete restart. When the competitors lined up again Manchester went into the tapes and was penalized 20 yards.
The third time they came to the tapes it was Fisher who exploded from gate four and into the lead in turn one. Newly-crowned National Champion Scott Brant was hot on Fisher's trail on the back straight. Despite Brant's best effort, the Under 21 World Finalist rode a flawless four laps to win the main event in his first appearance at Costa Mesa since the 2001 Fall Classic. Brant settled for second, Larsen was third, Manchester finished fourth, and Ermolenko was fifth.
The first of three qualifying rounds began with Brant showing why he won the championship three weeks ago by winning handily. Race two was an awesome four lap battle between two-time National Champions Bobby Schwartz and Manchester with Schwartz getting the victory. In race three Fisher acclimated himself to the small track quickly by fighting off Larsen for four laps to get a hard-earned victory. Ermolenko closed out round one with a win ahead of Brad Oxley. Oxley showed that he was in a post-Halloween festive mood by competing in a costume and the name The Grim Reaper.
Eddie Castro began round two by defeating Brant, his Kelly Dunagan Racing teammate. Manchester earned his first win of the night ahead of Shawn McConnell in race 10. Larsen ran away with his first win in race 11. Fisher defeated Oxley to finish the second round and stood as the only undefeated rider.
Brant held off Larsen for his second win to begin the final round. Schwartz won race 16 to win his second race of the night. Manchester matched the 11 point total of Brant and Schwartz by defeating Ermolenko in race 17. In the final qualifying race, McConnell threatened Fisher's perfect score when he went underneath him in turn two, but one lap later Fisher executed a beautiful move by cutting back up the inside exiting turn four to retake the lead. McConnell fell when they entered turn four and brought out the red flag. Fisher was awarded his third consecutive victory.
A four-rider runoff was used to determine the final two spots in the five-man semi finals. McConnell was an easy winner with Alan Christian finishing second to earn the last spots in the semis.
In the first semi Dukie Ermolenko emerged from turn two with the lead and Brant in second. The places remained the same and both riders transfered to the main event. Fisher made the start from the pole in the second semi but Larsen went up the inside on the back straight and nudged Fisher aside entering turn three for the lead and allowing Manchester to also take second. Larsen and Manchester remained in that order to transfer to the main. Fisher remained on the outside and found himself toiling in last which would've ended his evening, but McConnell pulled up on the last lap and Fisher managed to transfer to the Last Chance. Fisher took advantage of his fortune by winning the Last Chance and book his place in the main.
After three restarts and three riders banished to the penalty line, Bryan Thompson dominated the Support Main Event and earned the victory. Doug Benjamin, the only other rider starting at the tapes on the fourth attempt, finished second, Steve Murray was third, Nate Perkins finished fourth, and Rick Valdez was fifth.
Jeff Scott was the initial leader of the Support B Main Event, but his lead only lasted until the end of the second lap when Mike McCarthy passed him. McCarthy, who returned to speedway this summer after more than a decade away, held on the rest of the way for the victory. Scott held on to second, Bryan Baichtal was third, Monte McKeon finished fourth, Mike Boyle was fifth, and Tony Bracy finished sixth.
The third Fall Classic brought a close to the 2003 Costa Mesa season, the 35th at the Orange County Fairgrounds. The first event of the 2004 Costa Mesa season will be the Spring Classic on April 15.
Support B Consolation
176 - Carl Gazafy 20
244 - DeWayne Stark 10
212 - Steve Dziadus 20
136 - Kim Stevens 10
100 - Phil Harmatiuk 20
146 - Michelle Searle 10 (fell)
Support B Main Event (restarted)
113 - Mike McCarthy 20
217 - Jeff Scott 10
112 - Bryan Baichtal 20 (penalty line)
107 - Monte McKeon 20
198 - Mike Boyle 20
194 - Tony Bracy 20 (fell, remounted)
200 - Gerry Duttweiler
228 - Shane Kump
163 - Rohn Zellner
148 - Chris Metoyer
Support Main Event (restarted three times)
57 - Bryan Thompson
128 - Doug Benjamin
214 - Steve Murray (penalty line)
389 - Nate Perkins (penalty line) (fell, remounted)
293 - Rick Valdez (penalty line) (fell)
First Division Scoring 1 2 3 T
1 - Scott Brant 4 3 4 11
2 - Josh Larsen 3 4 3 10
2n - Alan Christian 2 2 2 6
5 - Brad Oxley 3 3 2 8
6 - Shawn McConnell 2 3 1 6
11 - Bobby Schwartz 4 3 4 11
14 - Eddie Castro 2 4 2 8
15 - Dukie Ermolenko 4 2 3 9
18 - Justin Boyle 1 1 3 5
24 - Bobby Krips 3 2 1 6
36 - Ryan Fisher 4 4 4 12
64 - Paul Colston 1 N N 1
89 - Danny Perkins F 1 1 2
130 - Chris Manchester 3 4 4 11
189 - Greg Searle 1 0 1 2
230 - Doug Greyson 1 2 2 5
1: Brant, Krips, McConnell, Searle
2: Schwartz, Manchester, Harmatiuk, Boyle
3: Fisher, Larsen, Castro, Greyson, Perkins (fell)
4: Ermolenko, Oxley, Christian, Colston
9: Castro, Brant, Christian, Boyle, Searle
10: Manchester, McConnell, Ermolenko, Perkins
11: Larsen, Schwartz, Greyson, Colston (non starter)
12: Fisher, Oxley, Krips, Harmatiuk
15: Brant, Larsen, Oxley, Perkins
16: Schwartz, Harmatiuk, Christian, Searle, Colston (non starter)
17: Manchester, Ermolenko, Castro, Krips (fell, remounted)
18: Fisher, Boyle, Greyson, McConnell
Semi #1: Ermolenko, Brant, Christian, Schwartz, Oxley (tape penalty)
Semi #2: Larsen, Manchester, Castro, Fisher, McConnell (retired)
Last Chance: Fisher, Christian, Castro, Schwartz (retired)
Scratch Main Event (restarted)
36 - Ryan Fisher
1 - Scott Brant
2 - Josh Larsen
130 - Chris Manchester (tape penalty)
15 - Dukie Ermolenko