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New Champion Speedway
344 East River Drive
Owego, New York 13827

1998 AMA Open Invitational
August 30, 1998 Champion Speedway
From: Ian C. Blair at American Turf Monthly webmaster@winsports.com and Randy A. Johnson

Chris Manchester Wins!

Although Mother Nature had the final say, speedway fans at New Champion Speedway got their money's worth at the AMA Open Final in Owego, New York.

The presence of international talents such as Chris Manchester and Bobby Schwartz clearly elevated the intensity level of every rider who made the cut earlier on Saturday night.

Manchester was the standout rider of the Finals; his international experience manifested itself in a steady progression of heat wins. Schwartz was his usual consistent self, but the rider who clearly showed a willingness to take it to the edge was Bruce "The Mongoose" Nelson. Nelson starred in virtually every heat he rode, regardless of whether or not he won.

The standout heats in the Final were Heat Number Four and Heat Number 14. Heat Four featured Lenny McBride, George Lazor, "Mean" Gene Bonsignore and Bruce Nelson. Lazor won, Nelson took second and McBride finished third, and the crowd sensed that Nelson was ready to rumble. Nelson was joined in Heat 14 by Chris Manchester, local top gun Warren Diem and Howie Oakden. Diem and Manchester went at it side to side, flat out, giving the roaring crowd a textbook example of how short track speedway should be ridden. Manchester eked out the win, keeping his win record perfect throughout the evening.

Unfortunately, tell-tale drops of rain began falling two-thirds of the way through the program. Josh Larsen, Warren Diem, Chris Manchester, Bobby Schwartz, Bruce Nelson George Lazor, Len Dillon and Tom Sephton all qualified for the semis. The rain was becoming a major factor by the time semifinal action was underway. After several wild and woolly attempts at conducting the semis over a rain-compromised track, the riders called an impromptu meeting. It was decided that the talented and clearly deserving Chris Manchester would be the 1998 AMA Open champ at Owego, based on a vote by the qualifying riders.

The rain was a disappointment, but the talent of the competitors and the energy level of the crowd made New Champion Raceway's '98 Open Final an important step along the road to returning major-league speedway action to the East Coast.

From: Randy A. Johnson
I had a totally awesome time at New Champion Speedway in Owego, NY this past weekend for the AMA Open Qualifier and Finals. Saturday night qualifing was run at a very hectic pace with over 14 heats being run in less than one hour's time. On Sunday for the finals, all the riders were again extremely fast and put on quite a show, every race was like a main event! Unfortunately, with only a few races left to run in the program late Sunday evening, it started to rain. Due to a genuine concern for the safety of the riders, it was decided amongst the riders to discontinue the racing action, causing the fans to not get to see a true "main event". I really admire riders like Tom Sephton, who after going down hard several times, get right back on their bikes to finish the race. Many of the East Coast and Canadian regular Champion Speedway riders, were very, very fast creating quite a battle for the riders visiting from California and Calorado.

I would like to personally say "THANK YOU" to all of Jason Bonsignore's crew and supporters for a superb year of speedway motorcycle racing, including Kim Gregory for bringing speedway racing to the Internet, and additionally add that I think "Moon Beam" makes one heck of a speedway announcer! Keep up the great work..., looking forward to a bigger, and better year of speedway motorcycle racing for New Champion Speedway in 1999!!
"See ya sideways"
Randy A. Johnson

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