1996 Fast Fridays
May 18, 1996 - American Final - Fast Fridays Speedway
From: Gary Roberts and Craig Williamson
1. Chris Manchester 16 points
2. Mike Faria 15
3. Charlie Venegas 14
4. Bobby Schwartz 12
5. Bobby Hedden 10
6. Louis Kossuth 8
6. Bob Hicks 8
6. Tommy Hedden 8
6. Bart Bast 8
10. Brent Werner 7
11. Chad Felicio 6
12. Don Odem 4
13. Vance Felicio 3
14. Matt Becker 2
15. Pat Linn 2
16. Doug Nicol 2
Fast Fridays promotion of the American Finals at the Auburn fairgrounds went smoothly considering all of the rain that fell prior to the match. The track was under 2 feet of water on Friday from abnormal spring rains in the Sacramento area. By race time the track was in good shape, with maybe a little too much traction as wheelies were popping up at the most inopportune time for some.
Note from Gary Roberts: I missed some of the action because I was taking pictures and I am relying on notes taking by Craig Williamson of Lancaster University (http://cent1.lancs.ac.uk/~pydcaw/index.htm). Craig was fortunate enough to pass through this race weekend and get to visit the Sacramento area. Of course the announcer found out he was there and did a great interview of him.
Heat 1. 1. Chris Manchester(2), Charlie Venegas(4), Bob Hicks(1), Bobby Schwartz. Any chance for Schwartz went away in this race. Manchester showed his stuff with a pass past Venegas on the last lap in a thrilling race to start off the night.
Heat 2. 1. Chad Felicio(4), Don Odem(2), Doug Nicol(3), Pat Linn(1). With some of the Southern California riders not showing up, the local riders had the chance to show their stuff as ex AMA flat tracker Felicio taking the win.
Heat 3. 1. Tommy Hedden(1), Mike Faria(4), Bobby Hedden(3), Louis Kossuth(2). Tommy Hedden's win brought the crowd to its feet as the local boy kept Faria at bay for the four laps.
Heat 4. 1. Brent Werner(1), Bart Bast(2), Vance Felicio(4), Matt Becker(3). Werner had to battle with Bast for the entire 4 laps before squeaking out the win.
Heat 5. 1. Bobby Hedden(4), Bob Hicks(2), Vance Felicio(1), Pat Linn(3). Hedden and Hicks were side by side most of the 4 laps as the two locals put on a great show.
Heat 6. 1. Bart Bast(1), Chris Manchester(3), Tommy Hedden(2), Doug Nicol(4). Manchester found out that the night was not going to be an easy one as the Northern California Champ Bast was lightning quick on a lay down.
Heat 7. 1. Bobby Schwartz(4), Louis Kossuth(1), Brent Werner(2), Don Odem(3). Schwartz gated and was gone.
Heat 8. 1. Mike Faria(3), Charlie Venegas(1), Chad Felicio(2), Matt Becker(4). Faria was first to the bend and kept Venegas behind him for the 4 laps.
Heat 9. 1. Louis Kossuth(4), Bob Hicks(3), Matt Becker(2), John Grant(1). Reserve rider Grant gets a ride as Doug Nicol took out the gates before they went up. It was a local rider battle.
Heat 10. 1. Mike Faria(1), Chris Manchester(4), Pat Linn(2), Brent Werner. Probably best race of night with Faria and Manchester wheel to wheel, Faria won by a nose.
Heat 11. 1. Bobby Schwartz(3), Bobby Hedden(2), Bart Bast(4), Chad Felicio(1). Another great race for Schwartz as he starts a string of four straight victories.
Heat 12. 1. Charlie Venegas(2), Tommy Hedden(3), Don Odem(4), Vance Felicio(1). First bent crashes caused a restart with Venegas working desperately to keep Hedden behind him.
Heat 13. 1. Mike Faria(2), Bart Bast(3), Bob Hicks(4), Don Odem(1). Faria used is inside of Bast starting position to maximum advantage by pressing Bast to the far outside throughout the first lap before settling down.
Heat 14. 1. Chris Manchester(1), Louis Kossuth(4), Chad Felicio(3), Vance Felicio. An easy win for Manchester.
Heat 15. 1. Bobby Schwartz(2), Tommy Hedden(3), Matt Becker(1), Pat Linn(4). Schwartz gated and was gone.
Heat 16. 1. Charlie Venegas(3), Bobby Hedden(1), Doug Nicol, Brent Werner(4). Venegas and Hedden put on a great show in this heat.
Heat 17. 1. Brent Werner(3), Bob Hicks(1), Chad Felicio(2), Tommy Hedden(4). Werner finally woke up and found that he could compete.
Heat 18. 1. Chris Manchester(2), Bobby Hedden(1), Don Odem (3), Matt Becker(4). Manchester and Hedden dual it out.
Heat 19. 1. Bobby Schwartz(1), Mike Faria(2), Vance Felicio(3), Doug Nicol(4). A pivotal race for Faria. Faria needs a win to win the American Final, but Schwartz runs a great race from the pole causing a three way tie.
Heat 20. 1. Charlie Venegas(4), Louis Kossuth(3), Pat Linn(1), Bart Bast(2). Venegas needs a win to get into a run off, Bast runs up alongside for a lap or two before getting too loose and dropping his bike.
Heat 21. 1. Chris Manchester(2), Mike Faria(1), Charlie Venegas(3). Manchester led with Faria nipping at his heels, close race with 3 wide out of last bend.
MANCHESTER TOPS NORTH AMERICAN SPEEDWAY FINAL
It went into overtime, but when the dust had settled, Cucamonga, California, native Chris Manchester took top honors in the American Motorcyclist Association-sanctioned North American Speedway Final, May 18 in Auburn, California.
Manchester, the 1992 United States National Speedway Champion, needed a sudden-death runoff victory against Mike Faria and Charlie Venegas, who had tied Manchester in points after their five scheduled races. Faria was second and Venegas third in the runoff. All three riders qualified to advance to the next round of 1996 Speedway Grand Prix qualifying, the Overseas Final on June 9 in Coventry, England.
Four spots are open for American riders in the June 9 event, and the top three finishers will be joined in England by Bobby Hedden, who finished fifth in the North American Final. (Bobby Schwartz, a long-time veteran of international speedway racing, finished fourth but declined
the invitation to the Overseas Final.)
The four Americans competing in the Overseas Final will face a tough qualifying process as they begin the long road toward possible berths in the exclusive field for the 1997 Speedway Grand Prix series.
The top eight riders from the 16-rider Overseas Final, where the American hopefuls will face top Speedway riders from Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand, will advance to the Intercontinental Final on July 28 in Holsted, Denmark.
The American riders are an experienced group. Manchester, at 22, is the youngest. While the majority of elite Speedway riders are seasoned veterans, Manchester scored one for the sport's youth movement when he won the U.S. Speedway Championship in 1992 at the age of 19.
Faria is a 39-year-old veteran from Apple Valley, California, and won the U.S. Speedway Championship in 1990 and 1991. Venegas, 29, is from San Bernardino, California, and is an up-and-coming rider on the international scene. Hedden, a 24-year-old rider from Orangevale,
California, will be getting his first chance to qualify for the Grand Prix when he makes the trip to England.
Even as the 1997 qualifying process heats up, the 1996 Speedway Grand Prix season is in full swing. Three Americans -- Billy Hamill, Greg Hancock and former champion Sam Ermolenko -- are taking part in the series that will determine the 1996 Speedway World Champion.