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

AMA US Nationals - Round 1
August 6, 2004 - Fast Fridays, Auburn
By Gary Roberts

After several weeks of very hot weather today was quite cool, in the mid 80s, at Auburn. This brought the usual challenges in track preparation. Despite soaking it for the past few days, then churning up a loose cushion, the top surface of the track quickly dried out. So every 4 heats, the track was watered and dragged. This lead to more dirt on the track than the European based Americans are used to, patchiness, a fairly slick surface, at least for the first heat after watering and a couple of minor holes in the track.

Less than 100 miles up the hill in the town of Reno, Nevada is a gathering of collector cars, known as "Hot August Nights". This was the main competition for Speedway fans, but an estimated 3000 wisely chose the Speedway. This was the right decision because with the top line up of riders, the races lived up to expectations.

Winner on the night was no surprise, last year's AMA National Champion, a very on-form, Greg Hancock. Greg dominated every race he was in, with one exception, when Chris Manchester sneaked out of the gate ahead of him, but otherwise, Greg made it look incredibly easy.

The night started off with the announcement that last year's second place finisher, Ryan Fisher, was a non-starter. His place was taken by Eric Carrillo. Does anyone know the real reason why Ryan was not here? It was especially disappointing after his performance in the series last year.

Unofficial results:

Elimination races:
Race 1
Shawn Harmatiuk, Bobby Schwartz, Bobby Krips, Justin Boyle
This race started no less than 3 times. First time out Justin Boyle fell in turn 3. Second time Bobby Schwartz fell in turn four. Third time, a number of riders came together on the exit of turn 2 and Justin Boyle was forced into the infield, but the race continued. In each attempt to run the race, the leader was Shawn Harmatiuk. Same thing third time, followed by Bobby Schwartz. Krips took third.

Race 2
Chris Kerr, JJ Martynse, Matt Browne, Bartek Bardecki
Chris got the gate followed by Bardecki, who hit the wall at the exit to turn 4 on the first lap, third man Matt Browne was right behind him and slowed, allowing JJ Martynse into second. Browne took third.

Race 3
Bobby Schwartz, JJ Martynse, Matt Browne, Bobby Krips
Schwartz took the gate, Browne took second, fell at the exit to turn 4, allowing JJ Martynse into second. Krips took avoiding action and ended up in the infield, ending his race.

Race 4
Shawn Harmatiuk, Bobby Schwartz, Chris Kerr, JJ Martynse.
Harmatiuk gated followed by Schwartz. Chris Kerr tried to get past Bobby, without success. Shawn Harmatiuk's weekly visits to Auburn have paid off for him.

On to the main part of the event:

Heat 1
Greg Hancock, Scott Brant, Bobby Schwartz, Bobby Hedden
Greg got a fantastic gate, with Bobby Hedden in pursuit. Somewhere around the third lap Bobby found slick patch in turn 4 and down he went, letting Brant and Schwartz past.

Heat 2
Billy Janniro, Eddie Castro, Shawn Harmatiuk, Eric Carrillo
Billy Janniro got the gate, then parked it in turn two. Shawn Harmatiuk ran into him and high sided. In the re-run Janniro again got the gate, followed by Eddie Castro. Eric Carrillo ran into the wall on the exit of turn 2

Heat 3
Billy Hamill, Mike Faria, Bart Bast, Charlie Venegas
Billy Hamill made the gate. Charlie Venegas stopped in turn 2, first lap.

Heat 4
Bryan Yarrow, Chris Manchester, Tommy Hedden, Tom Sephton
A good gate by Bryan Yarrow, followed by Manny. Tom Sephton was third but relinquished it to Tommy Hedden.

Heat 5
Greg Hancock, Billy Janniro, Charlie Venegas, Bryan Yarrow
Greg from the gate.

Heat 6
Billy Hamill, Tom Sephton, Bobby Schwartz, Shawn Harmatiuk
Shawn Harmatiuk did a bike swap on the track after the first one started making unpleasant noises. Tom Sephton did well to hang on to second for 4 laps, and twice nearly lost it coming out of turn 4.

Heat 7
Mike Faria, Scott Brant, Tommy Hedden, Chris Kerr
Eddie Castro was disqualified for touching the tapes and was replaced by Chris Kerr. Scott Brant got the gate, but Mike Faria got around the outside of him. Chris Kerr looped it big time coming out of 4 falling by the start gate, but his kill switch failed. Referee Steve Lucero tossed it onto the infield and Chris tried to pull the plug wire off, but while holding the frame. Meanwhile fuel started pouring out and caught fire. A fire extinguisher did its job.

Heat 8
Chris Manchester, Bobby Hedden, Bart Bast, Eric Carrillo
Manny got the gate, with Bobby Hedden all over him, but finding no way past.

Heat 9
Chris Manchester, Greg Hancock, Mike Faria, Shawn Harmatiuk
Manny again got the gate. Greg missed it big time and came out of turn 2 in fourth place, but rode between Mike and Shawn to take second.

Heat 10
Billy Janniro, Tommy Hedden, Bart Bast, Bobby Schwartz
From the gate.

Heat 11
Charlie Venegas, Eric Carrillo, Scott Brant, Tom Sephton
Full marks for effort for Charlie, who spent 4 laps muscling past Eric Carrillo.

Heat 12
Billy Hamill, Bobby Hedden, Bryan Yarrow, Eddie Castro
Bryan Yarrow got the gate and was first out of turn two but by turn three both Hamill and Hedden had passed him.

Heat 13
Greg Hancock, Eddie Castro, Bart Bast, Tom Sephton
Greg rode around everyone from the outside pole position to take the lead. Eddie and Bart put on a great race for second. Tom Sephton did a 360 in turn two, but stayed on.

Heat 14
Bryan Yarrow, Mike Faria, Bobby Schwartz, Eric Carrillo
Bobby Schwartz made a great gate, but Bryan got past on the first lap and Mike on the third.

Heat 15
Billy Hamill, Billy Janniro, Scott Brant, JJ Martynse
Chris Manchester got the gate but was overtaken by Billy Hamill on the back straight. He fell going into turn 3 and was disqualified. In the rerun Billy Hamill got the gate and was chased for 4 laps by a very persistent Billy Janniro.

Heat 16
Bobby Hedden, Tommy Hedden, Charlie Venegas, Shawn Harmatiuk
Charlie got the gate, but Bobby Hedden got past. Charlie tried to get around him on the outside, but ended up losing second to Tommy.

Heat 17
Greg Hancock, Billy Hamill, Tommy Hedden, Eric Carrillo
Greg and Billy gated together but Greg was the victor by the back straight. They were still fairly close 4 laps later, then a big gap before Tommy and a bigger gap before Eric.

Heat 18
Chris Manchester, Charlie Venegas, Eddie Castro, Bobby Schwartz
Charlie Venegas got the gate, followed by Bobby Schwartz, Chris and Eddie. Bobby and Chris touched and went down on turn 3, Eddie layed it down to avoid them. Full restart. This time Manny got the gate, followed by Bobby, who by this stage had already ridden 7 races and was beginning to look disinterested.

Heat 19
Scott Brant, Bart Bast, Bryan Yarrow, Shawn Harmatiuk
Shawn Harmatiuk gated but got overtaken by Brant, then Bast, then he fell.

Heat 20
Billy Janniro, Bobby Hedden, Mike Faria, Tom Sephton
Billy Janniro gated, Bobby and Mike had a good race for second, with Mike on the outside.

Qualifying points:
Greg Hancock      3 3 2 3 3  14
Billy Hamill      3 3 3 3 2  14
Billy Janniro     3 2 3 2 3  13
Chris Manchester  2 3 3 0 3  11
Bobby Hedden      0 2 2 3 2   9
Mike Faria        2 3 1 2 1   9
Scott Brant       2 2 1 1 3   9
Bryan Yarrow      3 0 1 3 1   8
Charlie Venegas   0 1 3 1 2   7
Tommy Hedden      1 1 2 2 1   7
Bart Bast         1 1 1 1 2   6
Eddie Castro      2 0 0 2 1   5
Bobby Schwartz    1 1 0 1 0   3
Eric Carrillo     0 0 2 0 0   2
Tom Sephton       0 2 0 0 0   2
Shawn Harmatiuk   1 0 0 0 0   1

The ABCD finals then followed:

D Final
Eric Carrillo, Shawn Harmatiuk, Tom Sephton, Bobby Schwartz
The first two from this heat go into the main program at Victorville, the other two have to go through the eliminator series. Bobby Schwartz was in second, where he needed to be to avoid the eliminator series but fell on the final turn.

C Final
Tommy Hedden, Bart Bast, Charlie Venegas, Eddie Castro
Tommy got the gate followed by Charlie. Charlie started going wide and let Bart through.

B Final
Bobby Hedden, Mike Faria, Scott Brant, Bryan Yarrow
A good start by all 4 riders, but Bryan fell down in turn 2. Bobby did well to keep Mike in second place.

A Final
Greg Hancock, Billy Janniro, Billy Hamill, Chris Manchester
Greg picked the pole, Billy picked the outside, Janniro in two and Manny in three. Greg got the gate and Hamill came out of turn two about level with Janniro and Manny, but hit the wall, which slowed, (but did not stop) him. Greg established a lead, but with Janniro all over him. Billy Hamill got past Manny.

Overall, a great night of racing. Greg was the undisputed best rider on the night so deserved the win. Billy Janniro showed that he is now riding at a much higher level than the riders he left behind in Northern California. A couple of times Charlie Venegas showed his old form, but other times he struggled. Chris Manchester was the only US based rider who was able to compete at the Hamill Hancock Janniro level.

At the other end of the scale, Shawn Harmatiuk has a worse night than he deserved. From a great beginning in the eliminator races, Shawn's evening started falling apart when he crashed in heat 2. The one plus is that he wont have to do the eliminator races at Victorville.

Gary Roberts - gary_rob@ix.netcom.com

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