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1998 Cycleland Speedway
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Cycleland Speedway
Chico, California

Season Opener
October 16, 1998 - Cycleland Speedway
By: Gary Roberts

Last Friday evening, Cycleland Speedway in Chico ran Speedway for the first time in around 11 years (1987) on a banked 1/6 mile track, that had previously been used for go-cart racing. The track was basically a clay track, with a thin layer of damp sand on top. The track held up well and there were 18 good speedway races plus around half a dozen class C flat track races. Considering its location, which is basically miles from anywhere, there was a good crowd of an estimated 300 spectators.

There were no starting tapes, so every race was a flag start, which worked OK. The only thing that I didn’t like about the track was an armco barrier round each corner. Apart from that, it was an excellent track with short straights, and the banking on the wide corners enabled the top riders to run faster than at other tracks.

Division 1 and 2 got combined into a single class, with scratch and handicap. Division 3 plus one junior rider provided support racing.

Division 1 Scratch Main Event
1.Billy Janniro
2.Bart Bast
3.Bobby Hedden
4.Tommy Hedden
5.Pat Linn fell
6.Matt Becker qualified but was a non starter.

Division 1 Handicap
1.Billy Janniro
2.Bart Bast
3.Ian Essary
4.Bobby Hedden
5.Ian Ferris
6.Robert Curry
7.Tommy Hedden
8.Matt Becker qualified but was a non starter.

Division 3 Support Main
1.AJ Jones
2.Brian Leventon
3.Dennis Cassidy
4.Dick Vargas
5.Tom Odekirk

Both division 1 mains were hard fought events. Billy Janniro’s double win was quite outstanding, considering that Bart Bast is currently on top form, as was witnessed at the Costa Mesa National. This is a brand new track for the Speedway riders, so nobody had home track advantage. As the last event of the year, here in Northern California, Billy Janniro has certainly left us all inquisitive as to whether next season will be his time to rise right to the top. Still only 18 years old, he is another fine product of California's Junior Speedway program, where he raced for 6 years before transferring to the senior class, since when he has steadily improved each week.

In the scratch main, he led from the tapes, with Bart breathing down his neck all the way. Third place man, Bobby Hedden was a larger distance behind.

In the handicap main, Bobby Hedden, Bart Bast and Billy Janniro started back on the 50 yard line and Janniro was the first to work his way to the front. But it took him 5 laps to get past fast riding zero yard man, Ian Essary. Bart was not as quick off the mark as Billy, but followed him through the pack, and it took him another couple of laps to get around Essary. Bobby Hedden was riding well, but was not able to make up the distance. Tommy Hedden, rode what turned out to be an unnecessarily hard race. He started from the 40 yard line got past Ferris and Curry only to fall down. He remounted, over took them again, only to fall at the last corner.

Matt Becker looked extremely fast in his early heats, but was extremely unlucky to have his cam-chain break just as he was when lining up for the handicap main, causing him to miss both main events. Also unlucky was Mat King, whose frame front down-tube broke before coming out for the semi-final. He came out on a mis-firing borrowed machine, but did not complete a lap.

The support class main was hard-fought between Brian Leventon and junior rider AJ Jones. Leventon lead the first couple of laps with Jones close behind, then a lap side by side, followed by the final lap with Jones in front. Behind them, handicapped second division riders Dennis Cassidy and Dick Vargas fought it out for third and fourth. Local hero Tom Odekirk, who had more supporters than the rest of the field combined easily won his heat, but fell in the main, while working up through the field. He re-mounted but fell again, then again, then again. This really was the last race of the year for California, as far as I know. If anything else springs up from anywhere, it'll be posted on our web page.

Gary Roberts - gary_rob@ix.netcom.com

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