40th annual Fair Derby - Costa Mesa, CA, USA - July 14
Billy "The Bullet" Hamill won the 40th annual Fair Derby in front of a packed house at the world famous Costa Mesa Speedway and took home the prized bronze hat for the second straight year but any celebration was tempered by a tragedy that occurred in the pits.
Support Division racer Jim "J.C." Masters collapsed from an apparent heart attack in the pit area following his second heat race. Tommy Hedden immediately came to his aid and began performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation with the help of other riders and crew members before the medics and eventually the Costa Mesa Fire Department arrived. Masters was transported via ambulance to Hoag Memorial Hospital in Newport Beach but efforts to revive him were unsuccessful. The tragic news made it back to the pits not long after the main event concluded.
The services for Masters will be at Dilday Funeral Home located at 17911 Beach Blvd. in Huntington Beach. The viewing will be Monday, July 23 from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. and the funeral will be Tuesday, July 24 at 10:00 a.m.
The evening began with Tyson Burmeister beating Shawn "Mad Dog" McConnell in the first heat. "Battling" Buck Blair beat Hamill in the second heat. Former National Champion Charlie "The Edge" Venegas beat "Fast" Eddie Castro in the third heat. Bobby "Boogaloo" Schwartz held off Aaron Fox to win the fourth heat. Gino Manzares made a great inside move on "Flyin" Mike Faria to end the first round with a victory.
Manzares beat McConnell for his second straight victory to open the second round. Hamill defeated Burmeister for his first win. Venegas made it two in a row with a win ahead of Jason Ramirez. Schwartz won his second win over Marquez in event 12. Hedden finished round two with a defeat of Faria.
McConnell started round three by beating Hedden. Hamill defeated Manzares for his second straight win. Venegas beat Burmeister to remain perfect. Tyson Talkington held off Schwartz to win event 20. Fox finished the heats by beating Ramirez.
Marquez beat Talkington in a runoff for the final spot in the semis.
Manzares won the first semi with Burmeister getting second and both riders transferring to the main event. Hamill handed Venegas his first loss in the second semi but Venegas would get a chance at revenge in the main. Schwartz won the Last Chance to complete the main-event field.
Hamill started the main event in gate one and exploded into the lead when the tapes went up. The former World Champion was chased by the 18 year old Manzares on the back straight. Hamill opened a comfortable lead but not large enough to afford a mistake. Manzares remained within striking distance but the leader never afforded him any opportunities. Hamill was first to the checkered flag, Manzares settled for second, Venegas finished third, Burmeister was fourth, and Schwartz finished fifth.
Rudy Laurer comfortably led the first three laps of the Support Main Event and was well on his way to victory when he apparently mistook the white flag for the checkered and slowed down. Eloy Medellin was the benefactor and led the last lap for the win. Mike Wiley finished second, a disappointed Laurer was third, Geoff Herkner finished fourth, and Bruce Marteney was fifth.
The Fair Derby was held on the opening weekend of the annual Orange County Fair, which occurs at the fairgrounds on which Costa Mesa Speedway runs its events. It always attracts a large crowd and is also a showcase for speedway to potentially gain new fans because all fair patrons are admitted free into the speedway venue. The crowd was overflowing at times with the stands packed throughout the evening and many spectators standing behind the VIP boxes and in turn one.
The Orange County Fair continues until August 12. Therefore, the next event at Costa Mesa Speedway will be Mission Motorsports Night on Saturday, August 18. The date will also include the Amateur Afternoon races prior to the races that evening.
First Division Heat Scoring123T
Past Fair Derby Champions
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