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2003 Fast Fridays Speedway
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Fast Fridays Speedway
Gold Country Fairgrounds
Auburn, California

2003 Auburn Track Championship - Junior Nationals
August 29, 2003 - Fast Fridays, Auburn
By Gary Roberts

A nice warm evening, a good crowd, a full field of the 16 highest point scoring Division 1 riders, top 8 division 2, top 8 division 3, and the US’s top 16 Youth riders that we could round up, sounds like all the ingredients for a fine evening of Speedway. What could go wrong?

The first signs that there was a problem was the tractor still circulating, 20 minutes after the event was scheduled to start. The track had been over-generously watered, additional dirt had been added and the track would be best described as wet and heavy. So what do you do at 8:20, with a difficult looking track? You can call the event off, like British Elite League Oxford did a couple of months back, and send everyone home, or you can run 3 heats like they did at Gothenburg Grand Prix last week, then send everyone home, or you get on with the racing. Fast Fridays and their competitors fortunately chose the latter, although it was not without some consequences.

The Auburn Track Championship / Youth National is one of the major events held annually at Fast Fridays track. It is also the fullest (46 races, before re-runs, tie-breakers etc.) program of any event during the year, and it is only with precision organization, that this event usually runs like clockwork. Well last night that did not happen. In an effort to complete the program, things had to be rushed through at the end, and despite continuing 20 minutes after their curfew, set by the host Auburn Fairgrounds, it was not possible to complete the program. A number of fans were not happy but what can a promoter do, if he wants to re-new his lease next year?

Added to the delay in the start, there were a number of accidents, a couple of Youth competitors suffered injuries, which involved hospital trips.

On to the racing. The first few heats were understandably slow, cautious, with even top competitors two wheeling into the turns. It probably took 20 races before the track really dried enough to be the racetrack that we are used to. I don’t think that either the end results of track championship or the youth national was adversely affected by the difficult start. Once the track took shape, some great racing took place. Bobby Hedden had some outstanding races, and finished the evening with a 15 maximum. Bart Bast looked good early on, especially when in his second ride when he took a win over Mike Faria, after a very close race. Tommy Hedden started with 3 wins, but lost a point to Bryan Yarrow in his fourth and a further two in his final heat, to Mike Faria and brother Bobby..

Unofficial results:

2003 Auburn Track Championship

Bobby Hedden       3 3 3 3 3  15
Mike Faria         3 2 3 3 2  13
Bryan Yarrow       2 3 2 3 3  13
Tommy Hedden       3 3 3 2 1  12
Bart Bast          3 3 2 1 3  12
Chris Kerr         1 1 2 3 2  10
Eric Carrillo      2 2 1 2 3  10
Chad Felicio       2 2 1 2 1   8
Mark Carrillo      1 2 0 2 2   7
Bart Bardecki      0 0 3 1 2   6
Ivan Sevart        1 2 0 1 1   5
Matt Browne        1 1 0 0 1   3
Robert Mellor      0 0 2 1 0   3
Richard Christian  2 1 0 0 0   3
Greg Hooten Jnr.   0 0 1 0 1   2
Devin DeFreece     0 0 0 0 0   0
Billy Hiles        0 0 - - -   0

Behind Bobby Hedden Mike Faria and Bryan Yarrow were tied on 13. A run off was cancelled due to lack of time, so the results credit both with tied second place. Bryan Yarrow had a great evening and even in his early heats made the track look easy. He continues to get faster each week and must look like the most serious prospect for a place in a British League team next season. Quiet spoken, polite, technically knowledgeable, Bryan must be the kind of rider a Brit league promoter seeks.

One of the more amusing incidents of the evening was watching lightly built Billy Hiles strapped to a stretcher, fighting with a medical worker, at least twice his weight, in an attempt to avoid being put in the ambulance. Eventually they found a more willing victim, and Billy was released.

2003 Division 2 Track Championship

I missed this race. Ron Woodsford won it, but I missed the other places. Other qualifiers were Mike Achilles, Shawn Eldridge and David Fonts.

2003 Division 3 Track Championship

1. Guy Jessup
2. Danny Poli
3. John Deathrage
4. Kelly McBane

Kelly McBane touched the tape, Dan Poli’s motor died, so took over McBane’s machine. On the first turn John Deathrage went down, but was back up and closing what started as a half lap gap. Meanwhile desert racer Guy Jessup took the lead and pulled away. John was within striking distance of Danny Poli when the checkered flag fell.

Youth National Championship

Since I have been personally involved with Youth Speedway and in particular the preparation for this event, I was disappointed that it had to start on a less than perfect track. Two competitors, Tom Fehrman and Dario Galvin were injured and unable to race further, and division 3 rider Tori Hubbert came in as reserve, taking over both their rides, and ran a total of 8 heats.

The winner was Alex Marcucci. He ran well in all his races, stealing what looked like certain win from Danny Easley in his second ride, in the last 10 yards of the race. He had a good win after this battle with TJ Fowler in his fourth race, swapping places a couple of times. He lost only one point, in his last ride, which was by that stage a 2 man race with Ricky Wells. Alex parked it in turn 4 and Ricky ran into him. Both were up immediately, but the race was awarded in Ricky’s favor. This put Alex and TJ Fowler both on 14 points. With diminishing time, well after the curfew, a run off for the championship took place. This lasted less than a lap before both riders made contact, putting TJ Fowler in the wall. TJ was deemed the cause and Alex Marcucci was given the checkered flag as the 2003 Youth National Champion. Some fans, some competitors as well as some parents left the event feeling less than happy with the result and the apparent rush with which it took place, but it was by this stage 11.20pm, the curfew, long passed.

How about the other competitors? TJ Fowler went in as the favorite. He had won the event for the past 2 years, on a sponsor’s bike. This year he has run his own machine, and has had performance and reliability problems. Danny Easley has provided the toughest competition during the season, but traditionally has not matched that high standard in past Nationals. Alex Marcucci had a good run up to the event, as top scorer in last month’s North vs. South. JT Mabry, third last year has always been in the hunt. Both Johnson brother did better than last year. Paul fell twice, but gave Danny Easley a good run for his money in another heat.

What about the Southern Californians? Tim Gomez started the night with 8 points from three rides, only losing one to TJ and looked like a serious contender. But in his fourth ride he fell in turn one, in his fifth he looped out at the gate. Ricky Wells always goes well at Auburn. He lost points only to Mabry and Fowler, but blew up his engine in what should have been his easiest race. Dario Galvin who has not had an easy time at Auburn in the past, looked great until his fall in his second ride, which ended his evening with a broken collar bone. Jason Ramirez has won third and second division mains at Auburn this year, is always fast and smooth. Somehow last night, although riding well, he just did not accumulate points. Same thing for Dale Facchini.

Dylan Stark had qualified for the event, but machine problems during the week put him out, and first reserve Ronny Woodsford took over his place.

The 2004 Youth National Championship will lose Easley, Mabry, Fowler, Woodsford, Galvin and Facchini. I hope we can find more new riders to fill the void.

Unofficial results:

2003 Youth National Championship

Alex Marcucci     3 3 3 3 2  14
TJ Fowler         3 3 3 2 3  14
Danny Easley      3 2 1 3 3  12
JT Mabry          3 1 2 3 2  11
Ricky Wells       2 0 2 3 3  10
Jay Ricketts      1 0 3 2 3   9
Tim Gomez         2 3 3 0 0   8
Krystal Cramer    2 2 1 1 2   8
Ricky Felicio     1 2 2 1 1   7
Paul Johnson      0 3 0 2 1   6
Mitchell Johnson  0 2 2 2 0   6
Ronny Woodsford   0 0 1 1 2   4
Dario Galvin      2 0 - - -   2
Dale Facchini     1 1 0 0 0   2
Jason Ramirez     1 0 0 0 0   1
Tom Fuhrman       0 - - - -   0
Tori Hubbert -    1 1 1 0 0 1  4

I don’t think that anyone would disagree that last night was a blemish on Fast Fridays outstanding record, for putting on a first class, well-organized show. As always Mike “Roon Dog” Rooney, the announcer, did an outstanding job, diminishing the imperfections. While the tractor was pulling the drag around, furiously trying to try out the track Mike was riding round on the tractor taking the crowd’s attention from the work going on, with his inimitable humor. The only real mistake made last night was over-watering the track, and that understood, every possible thing was done to put on a great show.

Silence now till September 26, then Hamill, Hancock, Janniro and Fisher are back in town for the final round of the National Championship.

Gary Roberts - gary_rob@ix.netcom.com

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