344 East River Drive
Owego, New York 13827
1997 Grand Reopening
July 19, 1997 Champion Speedway
Bobby Schwartz ( multiple world titles and USA Champion titles) and current
USA Champion Steve Lucero came from California to ride match
races against each other as a half time show.
They also put on a school on the 20th. Kelcey Gordon (NJK Leathers), also came from California,
and finished 4th in the Division One Final.
Ivan Mauger flew in from New Zealand to join the list of speedway celebrities for the event! (6 times World
Finals Champion and 3 LT Finals)
Four members of the speedway e-mail fan club attended.
Ryan Morris (Oxford),
Gary Roberts (California),
Roger Stevens and
Kim Gregory (Canadian) added to
the international impact of this event by attending!
Their photos and views of the racing are added below.
Larry McBride has a video for sale of the entire reunion event for $20 US. Including shipping.
"From the opening ceremonies, interviews
with several riders, the introductions of the riders, past and present,
all the celebrates, and most importantly each and every race of the
event." E-mail: email@example.com Phone: 1 (607) 723-2387
1st Warren Diem (NY)
2nd Lenny McBride (NY)
3rd Tom Burge (NY)
4th Kelcey Gordon ( California - NJK Leathers )
Pts Rider Heat 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
12 Warren Diem # 4 3 3 3 3
12 Lenny McBride # 71 3 3 3 3
10 Kelcey Gordon #64g 1 3 3 3
9 Marco Morrello # 82 3 3 0 3
9 Tom Burge # 15 2 2 2 3
9 Len Dillon # 83 1 3 3 2
8 Kelvin Herrala #191 2 3 2 1
8 George Lazor # 51 3 2 1 2
6 Joel Monell # 4x 2 2 2 0
5 Gene Bonsignore# 64 0 2 1 2
5 Fred LeGault # 68 2 1 2 0
5 Jeff Orosz # 31 1 2 1 1
4 Biff Waczynski # 48 1 1 1 1
4 Guy Fafard # 23 1 1 1 1
4 Dale Wakefield # 76 0 0 2 2
3 Bruce Nelson # 17 0 1 0 2
3 Sobec Muszynski #15x 2 0 0 1
3 Bobby Muszynski #18 0 0 3 0
1 Gary Hesmer # 37 1 0 0 DNS
0 Andy Harris # 19 0 0 DNS DNS
0 Chris Hesmer (R) 0 0
Rider Semi (1) Semi (2) Consolation Final
18 Warren Diem # 4 3 3
17 Lenny McBride # 71 3 2
12 Tom Burge # 15 2 1
12 Len Dillon # 83 1 2
11 Marco Morrello # 82 1 1
11 George Lazor # 51 0 3
9 Kelcey Gordon #64g 2 0
8 Kelvin Herrala #191 0 0
Photo from Champion Speedway 1997 Opener:
Left back: Ryan Morris firstname.lastname@example.org,
Right back: Gary Roberts,
Foreground, Left to right: Pam, Doug, Jessica, Kim.
From: Kim Gregory
Overall, an unbelievably great night. The enthusiasm of the fans (1500), the
fantastic riding, the celebrities!
On the downside, the track was terribly rough, and little done through the
night to improve it. Gary Hesmer, and Gaetan Carrignon both refused
to ride during the evening. Ryan Morris said a British team would have refused to ride it.
Even Bobby Schwartz nearly hit the wall after
the main hole in turn one launched him. I did the same on the second lap of
my Division Two Final, (while in second) but was unable to recover as nicely as Schwartz!
Boy, are my ribs sore!
The local New York riders were very fast on the rough track, perhaps because that
is the conditions they have had to practice on. The track expects to get a proper
grader to get the track smoother for the next event.
The fans were introduced to a fireworks show after the first heat was completed,
and a (long) introduction to all the 'legends' that rode there.
Perhaps this could have been split up into several shorter segments through the
evening, but the fans sat through it and cheered loudly for all their old stars.
Chris Hesmer filled in as a reserve rider. His first time on a bike after his knee injury
just a couple of weeks earlier.
From: Roger Stevens
Went to the reopening of Speedway at
Owego in New York State this past
weekend.....great match, lots of action
and passing on the "Costa Mesa" style
Photo, left to right: Roger, Joannie and Jeff Orosz.
From: Ryan Morris email@example.com
It was a great night of entertaining speedway at Owego. Compared to British
speedway the riders were wild, hitting all the bumps. But this just added to
the entertainment value.
The meeting was much cheaper than British speedway, and the racing went on for
well over 3 hours!! The crowd was large and very enthusiastic, looking forward
to the reopening of the track. They were not disappointed!!
The track seemed to be in poor condition however, with large bumps on the
inside of the track which made the inside line rather dangerous! The first few
races went through with amazingly little incidents. However as the track
loosened up and the riders gained a little more confidence with the track there
was some great entertainment and aggressive riding. After a while few races
finished without a little controversial incident!
Warren Deim and Lenny McBride seemed to ride the track with ease. These two
riders were involved in the thrilling final with a brilliant pass by Deim on
the 2nd lap to win the meeting!
Bobby Schwartz and Steve Lucero showed their class with some short exhibition
races, managing to ride the middle of the track avoiding some of the bumps.
Accident of the night went to Kim Gregory himself...hitting one of the inside
bumps and spectacularly hitting the fence on the 2nd bend! However even with
the bad riding conditions there were no injuries and most incidents involved
riders spinning or laying down.
Overall there was good entertainment. The meeting was different to British
riding (for those who haven't seen US racing). The track was much smaller, but
the crowd was noticeably more enthusiastic.
From: Andy Harris
Kim, your comment about me being unwilling (to ride due to the track conditions) is completely wrong and could you
please amend it. (done - editor) I was hit from behind while leading heat 1 by Biff and
it hyper-extended my left thigh muscle. I tried to ride in my next heat
but could not put any weight on it, and this made my decision to withdraw
an obvious one. I consider myself as professional as anyone on the circuit
and I went to support Jason's event and I would have ridden with NO
reservations and to the best of my ability.
Bobby Schwartz and Steve Lucero came
from California for the event as well as an
appearance by Ivan Mauger, who may
just be sticking around for our Canadian
National next Saturday at Welland.
Photo: Bobby Schwartz helping a new rider on a 250cc speedway bike.
Grand Reunion of Champion Speedway - $2,000 Purse!
It was '20 years ago today' that Californian Bobby Schwartz ("I never thought I could beat these guys.") won
the 1977 U.S. Open at Champion Speedway ), and now,
40 riders are to race on opening night from New York, California and Canada.
The Grand Reunion race featured retired stars such as 'Stormin' Norman and Mike Robinson,
'Rowdy' Rick Stone, 'Hurricane' Hank Bassett, 'Jumpin' John Leale, 'Pistol' Pete Atwater, Lenny McBride,
'Fast' Frank Watson, 'Rocket' Rodney Payne and Howie 'The Hammer' Oakden.
There was also old J.A.P. and 2 valve
speedway bikes on display.
1979 USA East Points Champion "Mean Gene" Bonsignore,
1988 USA National ICE Champion George Lazor,
1991 Canadian National Champion Lenny McBride,
1988, 1990 World ICE Champion Warren Diem,
Tom Burge, Marco Morello, Dave Wakefield, Damien Cornwall, Joel Monell, Kelvin Herrala,
Randy Stauff, Matt Otto.
Russ Cornell, Tom Sephton, Nick Ciardi, Tim Mathewson.
1985 AMA East Coast Champion Bruce Nelson.
Steve Watson, Ricky Close.
The Canadian riders tried thier best, but none made it to the Division 1 Final
Current Canadian 1/2 Mile Champion, Jeff Orosz
13 times Canadian National Champion, Len Dillon
Chris Hesmer ( 2nd in Canada 1996 )
Sobec Muszynski (3rd - 1996)
Bogden Muszynski (4th - 1996)
Andy Harris ( 4th - 1996, former British League rider )
Gary Hesmer ( 6th - 1996, 1996 ICE Rookie of the Year )
Kim Gregory ( 6th in 1996 USA ICE Championship )
Fred Legault ( 13th, made it to the North American Final )
Guy Fafard (10th in 1996)
Nick Fafard (16th in 1996)
Ghetan Carigan (16th in 1996)