The Grand Industry Hills Expo Center
City of Industry, California
A Commentary on the SoCal
Motorcycle Speedway Scene
August 25, 2010
Article and Photos By: Dorcey Wingo
It was Harley Night once again at The Grand Arena in the very hot City of Industry. Driving west from Rialto, I saw 114º F on my truck’s digital temp gauge a scant couple of hours ago. My admiration grew by the mile for anyone willing to suit up in leathers and race motorcycles tonight on a dirt oval track for a small but appreciative crowd.
It was a kick to see Central California 1st Division rider Tommy Hedden in town again. No doubt he was here to win tonight’s Scratch Main and scope out the Grand’s infamous horse-crap-and-dirt racetrack. The California State Championship happens on this very track, less than a week away. Hedden plans to make the Main Event both nights; bet on it!
Speedway riders who come to The Grand Arena do so knowing the surface is unlike any Speedway track around. In the grand tradition of Speedway, tracks are laid out with decomposed granite or shale. Due to hundreds of equestrian events The Grand Arena has hosted over the years, a lot of the usual horse (and bovine) by-products were literally pounded into the existing dirt; one rodeo - or dog and pony show - at a time.
Pony-poop-and-dirt [PPnD] makes for a unique [dare I say, crappy?] racing surface, if you water it real good and stir it around awhile with a heavy steel rake; let it dry, etc. Another thing our riders can count on: the track is never watered during the event!
Toss a little water on the PPnD and it soaks the moisture up like a sponge. Very soon it is dry and “grippy,” and the skillful Speedway rider places his/her rear tire on the blue groove and he/she goes very fast. Outside the blue groove, however, are ruts so treacherous that the infield crew highlights them with white chalk, a warning to those who wander over the event horizon and get sucked into deep oblivion. Or the wall.
Without adding water during the meet, The Grand Arena invariably ends up a dry, slick, fairly bumpy surface. Talk to an objective rider or two as I have done, and you’ll get their opinion and what they’d do to fix it. But like they say, “the track’s the same for everyone,” ….[so quit your gripin’ and race?]
The Pee Wees were abundant Wednesday night and the young guys and gals put on a stellar performance. These kids love to race under the Arena’s huge open roof and the crowd, urged along enthusiastically by veteran Speedway announcer Bruce Flanders, cheered their every move. In the Main Events, Matthew Duffy and Logan Scantlin won the trophy in their respective divisions. [Herein lies our Speedway future, America - let’s help keep ‘em racing!]
The Support Division has had to expand and contract in August as rider sign-ups do the same. Several riders are out due to either injury or mechanical issues, so the Support Main Event can end up with riders who two-wheel very quickly around the track. Which is almost as fast as a veteran rider like Eloy Medellin. Eloy don’t two-wheel no more! [Lookin’ good, Eloy, it was great to see you get the win.]
Not all the Harleys racing for “Grand Arena Bragging Rights” Wednesday night were “Harleys,” but that didn’t stop ‘em from racing each other all out, in a couple of spirited heats. Hogs of Steel, Triumphs, vintage Scramblers, and a regular flat-tracker who wore a helmet with long sharp horns on it, and won! [Now, you don’t really want to lock horns with him, do you?]
First Division’s Scratch Main came down to the five dominant riders of the evening and the luck of the draw for gate position: Burmeister drew One, Castro in Two, Hedden in Three [told you!] Venegas in Four and McConnell along the wall.
As the starting tapes zipped upward past their visors, two clutch levers were fully engaged. Of those two, Castro ended up with the drive into a very crowded turn one. Everyone miraculously made it around turn two without any mayhem. But our [Ford Red] suited leader had a hungry pack of tough guys right behind; and one hungry Shawn “Mad Dog” McConnell buzzing away at his nobbies!
Spinning around with my Cannon mid-field [fighting off vertigo @ the forty-second lap times] I could hardly keep my sights on Fast Eddie.
Enough drama for me, as the Little Guy from Ojai finally sprinted unhindered, allowing him to lay down a perfect oval in the PPnD. Mad Dog was given Second; Hedden goes home with Third and some valuable experience; Charlie Venegas had to settle for Fourth and it just wasn’t Tyson’s night; he was awarded Fifth. Amazingly, this was Eddie Castro’s first Scratch Main victory at The Grand, which might explain the fire in his eyes when I took his photo!
Bravo, Jeff Immediato! It’s great to have you back. Another “Grand Performance” by the professional Speedway community under the giant open-aired steel roof with replay screen. Now if you’d only turn the water back on for track maintenance and unlock those wonderful water-misters hanging virtually all over this terrific venue, we could comfortably boast about how special it is to race in southern California on a Wednesday night, heat wave or not. Of course, that’s just my opinion.
Photos By: Dorcey Wingo
[It was Harley Night again [yawn, pick-pick] at the Grand....]
[No. 5150 pilot Dylan Beard and Crystal Laurie make contact with
No.1 pilot Joe Jone's swinger, Jimmy Olsen, in turn two.]