Ken Maely's Ranch
2003 Gumball Rally
February 23, 2003 - Ken Maely's Ranch
By: Ryan Evans
Ricky Wells showed why he has a bright future in speedway by winning the Gumball Rally with a spectacular maximum score at Ken Maely's Ranch in Corona, California.
Wells won all five races in fine style to capture the prestigious trophy. Tim Gomez was second overall after winning a three-rider runoff for second place. J.T. Mabry was third overall, and Danny Easley was fourth overall. Jason Ramirez won the Second Division crown with Dale Facchini taking second place honors after defeating Dusty Phares in a runoff.
The Gumball Rally was the brainchild of 1996 World Champion Billy "The Bullet" Hamill, and was the culmination of a two-day affair which included a school conducted by Hamill on Saturday. Hamill's first speedway race was in the original Gumball Rally held in 1983 at the same location. Several riders traveled from Northern California traveled to the event to join the ever-growing pool of Southern California youth riders for the event.
The meeting featured a championship-style format of 20 races. The riders were divided into two divisions, but the riders of each division competed against each other. The field was reduced by one the day before the event when current Youth National Champion T.J. Fowler suffered an irreparable engine failure on Saturday.
Wells began the event by giving everyone a sign of things to come with a dominant win in race one. Mabry defeated fellow Northern California rider Alex Marcucci to win the second race. Third-generation rider Dario Galvin passed Ronny Woodsford and went on to win race three. Krystal Cramer held the lead in race four before succumbing to the pressure of Gomez on lap three. Gomez went on to his first victory of the day.
Gomez began round two the way he finished round one, with a victory. Easley scored his first win of the day by defeating Mabry in race six. Wells matched Gomez by winning his second race of the day ahead of Marcucci. Dale Facchini held off Cramer to close out round two with a win.
Mabry earned his second win of the day to start round three. Easley made it two in a row with a win in race 10. Wells wasn't deterred after a tape penalty placed him 20 yards behind the field at the start of race 11. He went to the outside and made quick work of the competition to make himself three for three. Gomez kept pace with Wells by winning race 12 which was marred by a crash by Galvin which forced a trip to the hospital with a broken collarbone.
Alex Marcucci was leading race 13 when Jason Ramirez tried to pass him entering turn one. The riders made contact and both went down. Both riders were up and on their feet quickly, but Ramirez was penalized on the restart. Marcucci won the restart and Ramirez fought his way past two riders to finish second. Gomez was the only rider standing after both of the other riders slid off in race 14. Wells won race 15 to match the perfect score of Gomez. Mabry won the final race of round four ahead of Dusty Phares.
After four rounds Wells and Gomez were tied with 12 points each, Mabry had 11 points, and Easley had 10 points. Wells, Gomez, and Mabry had a major showdown ahead of them in race 19. In Second Division, Facchini had seven points and Ramirez and Phares each had six. All three riders would meet to open the final round.
The Second Division title was up for grabs in race 17 and it was Ramirez who pounced into the lead. Facchini was in second and a runoff for the title was looking imminent until Facchini fell. Ramirez won the race and the Second Division trophy, while Facchini and Phares would have to come back to runoff for second. Easley won race 18 to bring his final tally to 13. Race 19 brought the three top scorers to the tapes. Unfortunately for Gomez, he rolled into the tapes and had to start from the penalty line. On the second attempt Wells jumped into the lead and ran away with the Gumball title. Mabry finished ahead of Gomez to force a three-rider runoff for second place overall. Tori Hubbert defeated Tamara Krips in the final regular heat of the meeting.
In the runoff for second place in Second Division, Facchini took the early lead ahead of Phares. Phares kept the pressure on Facchini the entire race, but couldn't take the lead away as Facchini took the victory.
The runoff for second place in First Division came to an abrupt halt on the back straight when Easley went down. He was banished to the penalty line for the restart. Gomez took the lead from gate three ahead of Mabry and rode four perfect laps to win the runoff. Mabry held off Easley to earn third place overall.
There was also a Pee Wee Division and Mitch Joyner, son of Auburn promoter Mark Joiner, took the overall victory. Parker Colston, son of former first division rider Paul Colston, was second overall. Braden Galvin, younger brother of Dario, took third overall. Also participating were Margie and Kurtis Hamill as well as James Phares.
The meeting drew quite a crowd and a number of volunteers. Auburn promoter Dave Joiner served as referee, Shawn McConnell worked as the flagman, John DeFries was the start marshall, and Joe Jones worked the starting gate. The trophies were paid for by the Racer's Pub in Riverside. Among the dignitaries in attendance were two-time World Champion Bruce Penhall, North American Jawa Distributor Bill Cody, Kelcey Gordon of NJK Leathers, and original Gumball Champion Bobby Cody (who also helped present trophies).
Donnie Odom of J.O. Racing also brought two of the newly imported Robin 85cc two-stroke speedway bikes for demonstration and testing. Among those who spun laps on the Robin were Fowler, Wells, Easley, and Dave Joiner.
The Gumball Rally was originally held at Maely's Ranch in 1983 and included many future First Division riders including international stars Hamill, Greg Hancock, and Josh Larsen. Bobby Cody was the winner in 1983 and 1984, but the event has been held sporadically since. Hamill wants to make the event an annual affair and a perpetual trophy was crafted in hopes of making this a traditional and prestigious event.
SCORING 1 2 3 4 5 T
1 - T.J. Fowler (Unable to compete due to engine failure on Saturday)
5 - Ricky Valdez (D-2) 1 1 0 1 0 3
7 - Dusty Phares (D-2) 1 1 2 2 2 8
16 - Alex Marcucci 2 2 2 3 2 11
21 - Ronny Woodsford (D-2) 2 1 1 1 0 5
23 - Danny Easley 2 3 3 2 3 13
27 - Krystal Cramer 2 2 2 2 1 9
36 - Tim Gomez 3 3 3 3 1 13
66 - Jason Ramirez (D-2) 1 2 1 2 3 9
93 - J.T. Mabry 3 2 3 3 2 13
142 - Ricky Wells 3 3 3 3 3 15
145 - Dario Galvin 3 F F N N 3
223 - Tamara Krips 0 0 1 F 2 3
301 - Dale Facchini 1 3 2 1 1 8
00 - Tori Hubbert 0 1 1 F 3 5
1: Wells, Easley, Ramirez, Krips
2: Mabry, Marcucci, Facchini
3: Galvin, Woodsford, Valdez
4: Gomez, Cramer, Phares, Hubbert
5: Gomez, Ramirez, Valdez
6: Easley, Mabry, Hubbert, Galvin (fell)
7: Wells, Marcucci, Phares
8: Facchini, Cramer, Woodsford, Krips
9: Mabry, Cramer, Ramirez
10: Easley, Phares, Woodsford
11: Wells (tape penalty), Facchini, Hubbert, Valdez
12: (restarted) Gomez, Marcucci, Krips, Galvin (fell)
13: (restarted) Marcucci, Ramirez (penalty line), Woodsford, Hubbert (fell)
14: Gomez, Easley (fell), Facchini (fell)
15: Wells, Cramer, Galvin (non starter)
16: Mabry, Phares, Valdez, Krips (fell)
17: Ramirez, Phares, Facchini (fell), Galvin (non starter)
18: Easley, Marcucci, Cramer, Valdez
19: Wells, Mabry, Gomez (tape penalty), Woodsford
20: Hubbert, Krips
Runoff for 2nd Place in Second Division: Facchini, Phares
Runoff for 2nd Place in First Division: (restarted) Gomez, Mabry, Easley (penalty line)