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2004 Fast Fridays Speedway
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Fast Fridays Speedway
Gold Country Fairgrounds
Auburn, California

2004 Season Opener
May 7, 2004 - Fast Fridays, Auburn
By Gary Roberts

After what seemed like an extra long winter, Fast Fridays season opened on Friday night with a close to capacity crowd, a perfect track, perfect weather and plenty of good racing.

The new season brings a new referee. Duane Yarrow, former first division rider, father of Coventry’s Bryan Yarrow, has bravely taken on the job. Promoter Dave Joiner requested at the rider’s meeting that riders be kind to Duane, because if we lose him, the alternative is bad referee. He was immediately asked if that meant himself. Dave then pointed out the newly pained crash walls and asked that riders make every effort to keep them in that condition, or they would be invited back mid week and given a paintbrush.

Last night the crowd witnessed something I have never seen in nearly 50 years of following Speedway. Bobby Hedden fell down, going into turn one. His kill switch failed stop the engine and the bike span in circles for a while, scattering flagmen. Meanwhile the rest of the race continued down the back straight. At about this time Hedden’s spinning bike then turned upright and took off into the infield, scattering photographers and track staff. The race meanwhile continued down the back straight and around turns 3 and 4. Hedden’s rider-less bike at this stage completed the entire length of the infield, picking up speed as it went straight across the track and perpendicularly into the wall. Somehow it climbed over the wall and came to rest on the other side, feet away from several brand new display street bikes. From my comfortable safe seat in the back of the grandstand it seemed like a miracle that it didn’t hit an infield staff member. Once it was over the wall, it was only a short distance from a lower chain link fence, behind which were dozens, maybe hundreds, of people standing in line for food and drinks. Visions of what could have happened there are beyond description. I was not the only seasoned Speedway follower who was quite horrified, not by what happened, but by what could have happened.
Back to the racing:

Unofficial results:

Scratch Main
1. Bart Bast
2. Chris Manchester
3. Scott Brant
4. Chris Kerr
Scott Brant and Chris Manchester both looked fast all evening in the qualifying heats, but it was local man Bart Bast who got the gate and kept the lead for four laps. Neither Manchester nor Brant made it easy for him, each taking a turn attempting to get past, while not wanting to lose second place to the other. Chris was trying the outside and Scott the inside. Neither succeeded.

Scratch Consolation
1. Bobby Hedden
2. Charlie Venegas
3. Chad Felicio
4. Mark Carrillo

Handicap Main
1. Charlie Venegas (40)
2. Bart Bast (50)
3. Tommy Hedden (40)
4. Chad Felicio (40)
5. Chris Manchester (50)
6. Devin Defreece (0)
Good to see Charlie back at Auburn. Since his ice racing leg injury a couple of seasons ago, he seemed to have lost his “Edge”, however proved to be a convincing winner in this race.

Handicap Consolation
1. Scott Brant (50)
2. JT Mabry (0)
3. Bobby Hedden (50)
4. Richard Christian (10)
5. Robert Mellor (0)
6. Mark Carrillo (10)
JT Mabry’s transfer from youth class to a 500 has been helped by regular weekly visits to the Chowchilla track, during the winter. He also rode in the two Costa Mesa early season events.

Division 2 Main
1. Steve Lewotsky
2. Mike Achilles
3. Greg Searle
4. Greg Hooten Snr.
5. TJ Fowler
6. Rick Gutzke
Graduate from the youth program TJ Fowler won his qualifying heat with extreme ease and I expected him to win this. I thought he was unlucky not to get a restart when Rick Gutzke fell in front of him, taking him down too. I foresee him very quickly getting into division 1.

Division 2 Consolation
1. Shawn Eldridge
2. Bruce Bast
3. Harlan Bast
4. Greg Howell
5. John O’Neill
6. Vince Bertolucci
First time out Greg Howell fell on turn 3 first lap, bringing down Vince Bertolucci, who was unable to make the restart. Harlan Bast from the 30 yard line failed to catch his grandson Bruce, who started on the 0 yard line.

<Division 3 Main
1. RJ Becerra
2. Derek Sheppard
3. Rider #322
4. Dennis Chandler
5. Johnny Frank
Also qualified John Deatherage, Brian Ballard, Dave Quick.
Former youth rider RJ Becerra had his first race on a 500 and looked totally under control and very fast. I don’t see him staying in Division 3 very long.

Division 3 Consolation
1. Treggan Mullenix
2. Rich Mignano
3. Steve Rowett
Also qualified Clark Caravella, Michelle Searle, Matt Pangburn, Mike Bray.

Youths Division 1
1. Krystal Cramer
2. Jay Ricketts
3. Paul Johnson
4. Alex Marcucci
5. Mitchell Johnson
The benefit that Southern California youth riders have had with all year access to practice tracks and a winter series was demonstrated by Krystal Crammer. A second division rider last year, she rode flawlessly last night to win the first division youth main.

Youths Division 2
1. Tori Hubbert
2. Dillon Petersen
3. Cody Ciciarelli

Youths Division 3
1. Trevor Searle
2. Ben Essary
3. Mike Bray
4. Troy Guisande

It was good to see lots of familiar faces and get back to enjoy the aroma of Speedway again. Fast Fridays program of events runs every Friday night till September 3.

Gary Roberts - gary_rob@ix.netcom.com

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