Fort Mojave Speedway
Mojave Crossings Event Center
Fort Mojave, Arizona
1st Annual Thanksgiving Invitational
November 25, 2006 - Ft Mojave
By: Ryan Evans
Former World Champion Billy "The Bullet" Hamill added another title to his extensive trophy collection by winning the First Annual Thanksgiving Invitational at the Ft Mojave Crossing Event Center in Bullhead City, Arizona.
Hamill, who had to qualify for the main via a runoff, was lined up in the outside starting position. When the tapes went up he trapped the field entering turn one and left little doubt to the outcome from there. Australian star Kevin Doolan gave chase, but couldn't gain any ground. Behind Doolan was Shawn McConnell and Tommy Hedden battling for third. Hamill increased his lead with every lap and cruised to victory. Doolan finished second, McConnell was third, and Hedden finished fourth.
The event was held at the beautiful Mojave Crossing Event Center located just across the Colorado River from the Avi Casino and near Laughlin, Nevada. The event's promoter was Nate Perkins, a resident of Bullhead City who competes in Northern and Southern California. Many top riders jumped at the chance to compete in the event. The top four riders after five rounds of racing would compete in the main event.
Hamill jumped in front in the opening race while Charlie Venegas began a miserable night by breaking a sprocket and coasting to a halt. Hamill led until slowing down when he thought the race had concluded. The race continued one more lap with McConnell taking the win.
Race two saw Mike Faria, Bryan Yarrow, and Ryan Fisher swap the lead several times among themselves before Doolan sneaked by on the inside and took the win. Kerr used the inside gate to his advantage to take the win over Perkins in race three. Billy Janniro, making his first domestic appearance of 2006, scored an easy victory to finish the first round.
The second round began with Hedden getting the win over Faria. Hamill fought off all of Janniro's challenges in race six and was awarded the victory when Kerr and Yarrow came together on the third lap and went down hard. Fisher blazed to his first win in event seven. McConnell made it two in a row by holding off Doolan to finish round two.
Fisher began round three with his second straight win. Faria held off Perkins and Hamill for his first victory in race ten. Janniro gave Doolan all he could handle but couldn't prevent the Aussie from scoring his second win. Hedden scored his second consecutive win by beating McConnell to end the third round.
At intermission Doolan and McConnell were tied at the top with eight points each; Faria, Janniro, and Hedden had seven points apiece; Fisher had six points with Perkins and Hamill tied with five.
Round four began with Yarrow jumping to the front and calmly keeping Janniro at bay. A broken chain on the final lap cost him the lead and gifted the win to Janniro, but Yarrow was able to coast to a second-place finish. Hamill gained ground on the field by defeating Doolan and Hedden in race fourteen. Faria used the outside line to pass Venegas for his second win of the night. Fisher made it three straight victories to end the fourth round.
With one round to go Doolan, McConnell, Faria, and Janniro were all tied with ten points; Fisher was one point back with nine; Hedden and Hamill each had eight points.
Doolan booked his place in the main with a win to start the final round. Hamill won event eighteen and would have to wait to see if he had a chance at the main. Hedden held off Fisher for the win in the penultimate race.
The final race featured Faria, Janniro, and McConnell who were all tied for the overall lead. Janniro exploded from the line and comfortably ahead with the main event in his sights when he hooked up exiting turn four and tumbled over backward. A restart was ordered with Janniro on the penalty line. McConnell got the best start and was leading the field when third-placed Eddie Castro headed toward the outside. The diminutive rider found plenty of traction on the outside and pulled alongside McConnell. Castro was steadfast in his quest for the lead and surged ahead on the final lap. Castro maintained the lead to the checkered flag much to the delight of the crowd who gave him a standing ovation. McConnell's second place finish earned him a spot in the main while Faria would battle Hamill, Hedden, and Fisher in a runoff for the final two spots in the main.
Hamill was on the pole and made no mistakes at the tapes and led easily. Fisher settled into second and was comfortably in the main when he found too much traction in turn four and went over backward in the same spot that Janniro had earlier. Hedden performed a magnificent laydown to prevent a disaster. Hamill was awarded the win and Hedden was credited with second to qualify for the main.
The feedback from riders, fans, and everyone involved was overwhelmingly positive. Perkins is hopeful that there will be future events at the facility.
Scoring 1 2 3 4 5 T
4 - Kevin Doolan 3 2 3 2 3 13
6 - Shawn McConnell 3 3 2 2 2 12
8 - Bryan Yarrow 1 Fx 1 2 2 6
9 - Mike Faria 2 2 3 3 1 11
10 - Scott Brant 2 0 1 1 1 5
13 - Nate Perkins 2 1 2 - - 5
14 - Eddie Castro 0 2 0 0 3 5
14n - Billy Janniro 3 2 2 3 0 10
15 - Dukie Ermolenko 2 0 0 0 0 2
27 - Chris Kerr 3 1 0 1 2 7
30 - Tim Gomez 1 1 1 1 1 5
36 - Ryan Fisher 0 3 3 3 2 11
40 - Tommy Hedden 1 3 3 1 3 11
43 - Charlie Venegas R 1 0 2 R 3
104 - Billy Hamill 1 3 1 3 3 11
139 - Shaun Harmatiuk 0 0 2 0 0 2
201 - Neil Facchini (R) 0 1 1
104 - Billy Hamill
40 - Tommy Hedden
9 - Mike Faria
36 - Ryan Fisher (fell)
Thanksgiving Invitational Main Event
104 - Billy Hamill
4 - Kevin Doolan
6 - Shawn McConnell
40 - Tommy Hedden