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1997 Fast Fridays Speedway
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1997 Race Results

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Fast Fridays Speedway
Gold Country Fairgrounds
Auburn, CA

June 6, 1997 - Qualifying Round 3, American Final - Fast Fridays, Auburn
From: Gary Roberts

This was the third of three qualifying rounds for the American final, which will be held next Saturday in Costa Mesa. The Auburn track was well prepared, although it did appear to turn to a single bike width racing line towards the end, which proved catastrophic for a couple of top riders. Both John Aden and Louis Kossuth had safe second places in their individual semi finals, which meant a place in the consolation main. Both chose to challenge the leader, Mike Faria and Bobby Schwartz respectively by trying the outside and both dropped from second to fourth, almost immediately. Overtaking looked impossible, until Eddie Castro proved it could be done in the consolation main. He managed to get around Chad Felicio, to go from fourth to third. Eddie who has been famous for many years, for good results from tired machinery, has found a sponsor who has bought him a new laydown. He rode it for the first time at Paso Robles the previous week, having never tried one before. His performance at Auburn put him within distance of qualifying.

Rick Pearce fell heavily in his semi-final. I heard on Saturday that he had broken 2 ribs and a wrist, but later heard that he and Eddie, both tied on 26 points had a run-off at Costa Mesa on Saturday. Eddie won, but Rick seemed to think he would be in the American final too.

The Auburn final race was between Schwartz, Faria, Bast and Hedden. Schwartz won this race in both the previous rounds, but Bast's familiarity with the track paid off for him. This track has longer straights than Costa Mesa and very tight turns. Auburn is another track which is nothing at all like a European track on which the successful qualifiers out of the American final will next compete. Bast's win further proved the point I made last week how unfair the Costa Mesa American final is on the UK based Americans, in that enough practice on one track can make invincible a rider with less obviously outstanding skills elsewhere.

Results in order of accumulated total from the three rounds:
                   Total from  Auburn  Grand Total
                   first two
Bobby Schwartz       47          21         68
Mike Faria           40          44         62
Bart Bast            37          24         61
John Aden            44           9         53
Bobby Hedden         31          20         51
Bob Hicks            30           9         39
Brad Oxley           21          16         37
Shawn McConnell      30           4         34
Andy Northrup        16          15         31
Louis Kossuth        20          11         31
Eddie Castro         13          13         26
Rick Pearce          18           8         26
John Curry           15          10         25
Matt Becker          13          12         25
Pat Linn             21           4         25
Chad Felicio         11          12         23
Gary Ackroyd         15           6         21
Gerry Black          17           3         20
Kelly Bennett        15           5         20
Vance Felicio         9           8         17
Randy DiFrancesco    12           3         15
Jason Daniels         8           4         12
Jason Chism           8           4         12
Brian Papalardo       8                      8
David Faria, reserve, 3 rides     5          5
Billy Janniro, reserve, 2 rides   5          5

How many of these riders qualify for the American final, I dont know. I read somewhere that two Ermolenkos, Charlie Venegas and Chris Manchester were coming from the UK and that Steve Lucero, the current US National Champion would also compete. That leaves 11 slots open. If the list goes down to Rick Pearce, then someone else has other plans. I guess I'll find out next Saturday!

Going on from my comment last week about the wrong track, why isn't the American final held in the UK? There are plenty of Americans there with current skills on UK tracks. It would filter out the US based Americans who are so-so about the opportunity of contending the GP qualification process and give me an excuse to get over there and drink some decent beer.

The Auburn commentator kindly gave me the opportunity to explain where on the net to find Kim Gregory's US speedway www pages. I also took the liberty of appealing for riders to come and ride at Santa Maria. Afterwards a number of people came up, shook my hand and thanked me for my reports. Thank you all, that was very nice, I didn't realize anyone read them.

Gary Roberts - gary_rob@ix.netcom.com

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