41st Orange County Fair Derby - Costa Mesa, CA, USA - July 13
Billy "The Kid" Janniro added another prized possession to his burgeoning trophy case by winning the 41st Orange County Fair Derby after a wild main event that required three starts in front of a large crowd at the world famous Costa Mesa Speedway.
"Battling" Buck Blair and Janniro started side-by-side in gates one and two, respectively, and entered the first corner together. Janniro found enough traction on the outside to take the lead on the back straight while former World Finalist Josh Larsen got underneath Blair to take second. Janniro was well on his way to victory on the second lap when Blair spun around and collected Tyson Burmeister in the process. The red flag came out and Blair would be penalized for the restart. It took several minutes to separate Blair's and Burmeister's bikes which were intertwined with each other. Burmeister's right peg was a casualty and he replaced it with one from a backup machine just before the two-minute clock expired.
Larsen held a slight advantage entering turn one but Burmeister and Tommy Hedden tangled and both were sent sliding hard into the wall in turn one. Both riders were down for several minutes. Burmeister walked away on his own but Hedden had to be helped back to the pits and both of their bikes were bent. Hedden was definitely not taking part in the restart and it looked as though Burmeister would join him on the sideline, but people frantically swapping the peg Burmeister borrowed back on its original machine so that he could ride. He emerged from the pits to an appreciative ovation from the fans and took his place at the tapes.
Larsen made the best start again but not enough to get completely across Janniro. The former National Champion muscled Larsen off the inside line and led exiting turn two. Burmeister came up the inside on the back straight but Janniro dropped in front of him as they entered turn three. Larsen went around the outside of Burmeister on the second lap but the leader was gone. Janniro was first to the checkered flag and collected the prestigious bronze hat trophy, Larsen held on to second, Burmeister finished third, Blair was fourth, and Hedden was credited with fifth.
Former National Champion "Flyin" Mike Faria kicked off the evening with a win over former Under 21 National Champion Austin Novratil. Russell Green scored an impressive victory over Larsen in event two. Janniro defeated Burmeister in event three. Blair ended round one by beating Tyson Talkington.
Blair began round two by getting his second straight victory. Hedden held off Larsen to win the next heat. Janniro made it two straight wins by defeating Shawn "Mad Dog" McConnell. Burmeister beat Green for his first win of the night.
Burmeister started the final round of heats by defeating Faria for his second win in a row. Larsen beat Blair in the next event. Aaron Fox ran away with the win in event 17 and handed Janniro his only defeat of the evening. McConnell finished off the heats by beating Hedden.
Blair led the first semi from the start and Hedden put the outside to good use and snagged second place to transfer to the main. Janniro and Larsen finished one-two in the second semi and moved on to the main.
Burmeister led the Last Chance from start to finish and booked the final spot in the main event field. Faria finished second, McConnell was third, and Talkington finished fourth.
The Support Main Event had excitement before the riders ever approached the tapes. Rohn Zellner was idling his bike on the peg when he suddenly jumped off because his bike had caught fire. The track staff reacted quickly to extinguish the blaze. Nobody was harmed and Zellner even managed to borrow a bike for the race. Once the race actually began Rudy Laurer held off a very persistent Shawn Eldredge the entire distance and was victorious. Harold Hartke finished third and Rohn Zellner was fourth. Laurer and Eldredge both collected new helmets courtesy of Piston Bones which is owned by former speedway racer Brian Pappalardo.
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 attracted its typically large crowd and is also serves as 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 11. Therefore, the next event at Costa Mesa Speedway will be Harley Night on Saturday, August 17 and will include the ever-popular street-legal Harley races.
First Division Heat Scoring 1 2 3 T
Past Fair Derby Champions
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