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Paso Robles Speedway
Paso Robles, California

May 30, 1997 - US Final Qualifier
Paso Robles Speedway
From: Gary Roberts

The Paso Robles round of the US final qualifier took place on Friday night at the Paso Robles Fairground Rodeo arena, that was converted into a speedway track for the night. The D shaped track looked OK, although the surface was breaking up a bit towards the end, I guess due to the same problem that we have at Santa Maria every week, extreme heat and winds.

Racing was excellent. A few surprises, but it was no surprise that Bobby Schwartz came out the winner. He looked like winning it all night. He dropped only one point to Bob Hicks in the qualifier, and after a good battle with Bart Bast, won the semi, then went on to win the main. None were easy, but 40 year old Bob did it.

After three and a half laps in the lead, John Aden began to look like he would win the main, but Bobby who had been on his heels all the way through, made his move going into turn three and was followed by Bob Bobby Hedden.

Embarrasment of the night was Randy DiFrancesco. As first reserve, he replaced no-show Paul Colston. He won two qualifying heats and took at second in the other, including a win over John Aden. I don't understand why he didn't make the semi-final. Randy has been a consistent winner at Santa Maria, but against division 2 riders, many with 2 months racing experience. It was good to see him succeed among such competition. I have listed the results based on the total scores for both the Paso Robles round, and the 2 week earlier Costa Mesa round.

                   PR    CM   Total
Bobby Schwartz     23    24    47
John Aden          21    23    44
Mike Faria         20    20    40
Bart Bast          16    21    37
Bobby Hedden       22     9    31
Shawn McConnell    15    15    30
Bob Hicks          14    15    29
Brad Oxley          5    16    21
Pat Lynn            8    13    21
Louis Kossuth      10    10    20
Rick Pearce         7    11    18
Jerry Black        10     7    17
Andy Northrup      13     3    16
Robert Curry        8     7    15
Gary Ackroyd        5    10    15
Kelly Bennett       8     7    15
Matt Becker         8     5    13
Eddie Castro        9     4    13
Randy DiFrancesco  12*         12   Reserve 4 rides
Chad Felicio        5     6    11
Vance Felicio       4     5     9
Jason Chism         1     7     8
Jason Daniels       3     5     8
Brian Pappalardo    5     3     8
Paul Colston        0     5     5
Chalie Cooley       1     0     1   Reserve 2 rides

My understanding is that there is another round at Auburn next Friday and from the total of these three, top scorers will be selected for the US final. THere will be a further 2 rounds, one at Dixon, one at Bakersfield (?) and from the total of the 5 rounds top scorers will be selected for the national at Costa Mesa at the end of the season. Sorry if I seem a bit vague. I've not been to Costa Mesa since the season opener because I moved 400 miles north, so have lost track somewhat of what is going on.

The US final at Costa Mesa also strikes me as wrong. I agree wholeheartedly with what the UK based US riders say in the speedway star. The skills to win races at Costa Mesa are not necessarily the same as those needed to win races in the UK. On an upright engined machine, it is quite possible for a local rider to qualify from the US final. They practice there every week. Chris Manchester moved to the UK to further his speedway career. He has not ridden at Costa Mesa for certainly months, probably years. Chris rode well over here, he even won a national at Costa Mesa, he was selected to ride for a UK club, where his UK riding skills have developed. To ask him to go back to Costa Mesa to qualify in a US final is not compatible with the direction that his skill set has been developing. There is a danger that America's best may have their place taken by a Costa Mesa specialist who won't have the resources to take advantage of the next round.

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