2009 Joker Machine Speedway Masters Championship
April 25, 2009 - Perris Raceway
By: Ryan Evans
Charlie “The Edge” Venegas added another title to his lengthy résumé by winning the First Annual Joker Machine Speedway Masters Championship at Perris Raceway.
Venegas had first choice of starting position in the Final and picked gate one. Former National champion Scott Brant chose gate two with the second choice. Shawn “Mad Dog” McConnell selected gate three, which left “Fast” Eddie Castro with gate four.
Venegas jumped into the lead when the tapes went up and led the field into turn one. Brant tried to get to the outside, but found himself pinned to the inside by McConnell and Castro. Venegas led down the back straight followed by McConnell while Brant and Castro battled at the back. Venegas led the first lap with McConnell in tow while Brant was not finding traction on the outside. Castro went underneath Brant for third and set his sights on McConnell, but couldn’t make up ground. Venegas led comfortably all the way to the checkered flag, McConnell was able to hold off Castro for second, and Brant finished fourth.
The Speedway Masters Championship featured seventeen riders all of whom were at least 40 years old. Fifteen riders were seeded into the field with two riders, Kenny Hansen and Mike Reed, battling in a best-of-three match race to determine the sixteenth rider. There were four rounds of heats with the top eight transferring to the Championship Semi-Finals and ninth through sixteenth transferring to the Consolation Semi-Finals. The top two finishers in the Championship Semi-Finals transferred to the Championship Final and the top two in each Consolation Semi-Final transferred to the Consolation Final.
Hansen got the jump on Reed in the elimination match race, but Reed took the lead away. Hansen tried an inside move on Reed entering final corner, but ran his front tire into the infield which caused him to straighten up. Hansen laid his bike down, but still slid through the fence in turn four. Hansen was up immediately and had amazingly kept the bike running. Hansen didn’t suffer any injuries, but elected not to continue, thus giving the final spot in the field to Reed.
First round commenced with Greg Ayers taking the lead only to have McConnell take it away and get the victory. Doug Greyson led the second heat for two laps before “Flyin” Mike Faria went by and ran off with the win. Brant flexed his muscles early with a runaway win in race three. Dukie Ermolenko led the next heat for nearly three laps before he lifted and let Venegas by on the inside. Ermolenko, thinking the race was over, slowed down and also allowed Gary Hicks to take second. Venegas led the rest of the way for a win to end round one.
Brad Sauer stalked Greyson for three laps before taking the lead and the win to begin round two. Venegas took the early lead in the next heat, but Brant used the ample outside to gain ground on the leader with each lap and finally found himself side-by-side with Venegas as they took the white flag. Brant went up along the fence exiting turn two and found enough traction to push himself past Venegas and into the lead. Brant scored his second win and earned a loud ovation from the crowd. Ermolenko made another great start and held the lead to the finish in race seven. Faria led the final race of the second round until Castro used the outside to steal the lead and take the win.
Mike “Spiderman” Bloom opened the third round with a victory. Ermolenko made it two in a row with a win over Greyson. Venegas swept around the outside in turn one and never looked back en route to his second consecutive victory. Brant ended the third round with his third win and was the only rider sitting on a perfect score.
Venegas began the final round of heats with his third win. Faria held off Ayers for his second win. Hicks won race 15 ahead of McConnell with Brant suffering his first defeat by only managing third. Castro scored his second victory in the final heat. Hicks won a runoff to earn the last spot in the Championship Semi-Finals.
Ayers and Bloom ran one-two in the first Consolation Semi-Final to move on to the Consolation Final. In the second Consolation Semi-Final, Bobby “Boogaloo” Schwartz led Robbie Sauer into the Consolation Final. Schwartz dominated the Consolation Final with a wire-to-wire victory. Ayers finished second, Robbie Sauer was third, and Bloom finished fourth.
McConnell led the first Championship Semi-Final for a lap before Brant took the lead away. The positions remained the same all the way to the finish with both riders transferring to the Championship Final. Venegas ran away with the second semi and it looked as if Faria would follow him into the Final. Castro had other ideas, though, and passed Faria on the outside for the second time on the evening and took the second transfer into the Final.
The Speedway Masters Championship was part of the annual Gumball Rally Weekend and was very well-received by the rider, fans, and organizers. Everyone considered it a success and all involved are looking forward to the event being on the 2010 speedway calendar and beyond.
Elimination Match Race
213 – Mike Reed
171 – Kenny Hansen
Heat Scoring 1 2 3 4 T
3 – Gary Hicks 2 1 R 3 6
6 – Shawn McConnell 3 2 2 2 9
9 – Mike Faria 3 2 1 3 9
10 – Scott Brant 3 3 3 1 10
11 – Bobby Schwartz 1 0 2 1 4
14 – Eddie Castro 2 3 R 3 8
15 – Dukie Ermolenko 1 3 3 0 7
17 – Robbie Sauer 1 1 2 2 6
21 – Brad Sauer 2 3 0 2 7
22 – Mike Bloom 2 0 3 1 6
32 – Billy Lyons 0 1 1 0 2
43 – Charlie Venegas 3 2 3 3 11
99 – Greg Ayers 1 1 R 2 4
110 – Jon Stasiefski 0 0 1 1 2
120 – Doug Greyson 0 2 2 0 4
213 – Mike Reed 0 0 1 0 1
1: McConnell, Castro, Ayers, Lyons
2: Faria, Bloom, R.Sauer, Greyson (fell, remounted)
3: Brant, B.Sauer, Schwartz, Stasiefski (fell, remounted)
4: Venegas, Hicks, Ermolenko, Reed
5: B.Sauer, Greyson, Lyons, Reed
6: Brant, Venegas, Ayers, Bloom
7: Ermolenko, McConnell, R.Sauer, Schwartz
8: Castro, Faria, Hicks, Stasiefski (tape penalty)
9: Bloom, Schwartz, Lyons, Hicks (retired)
10: Ermolenko, Greyson, Stasiefski, Ayers (retired)
11: Venegas, McConnell, Faria, B.Sauer
12: Brant, R.Sauer, Reed, Castro (retired)
13: Venegas, R.Sauer, Stasiefski, Lyons
14: Faria, Ayers, Schwartz, Reed (fell, remounted)
15: Hicks, McConnell, Brant, Greyson
16: Castro, B.Sauer, Bloom, Ermolenko (fell, remounted)
Runoff: Hicks, R.Sauer, Bloom
Consolation Semi-Final #1: Ayers, Bloom, Stasiefski, Lyons
Consolation Semi-Final #2: Schwartz, R.Sauer, Greyson, Reed
11 – Bobby Schwartz
99 – Greg Ayers
17 – Robbie Sauer
22 – Mike Bloom
Championship Semi-Final #1: Brant, McConnell, Ermolenko, B.Sauer (retired)
Championship Semi-Final #2: Venegas, Castro, Faria, Hicks
Speedway Masters Championship Final
43 – Charlie Venegas
6 – Shawn McConnell
14 – Eddie Castro
10 – Scott Brant