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1998 Fast Fridays Speedway
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Fast Fridays Speedway
Gold Country Fairgrounds
Auburn, California

1998 American Final
Friday June 5, 1998 - Fast Fridays Speedway
By: Gary Roberts and RC Jones

From Gary Roberts

Sam Ermolenko won the 1998 American Final with a 15 point maximum. His score says it all, he made no mistakes. Second was Mike Faria, followed by Chris Manchester and Charlie Venegas. For the first time this season, the weather conditions were very comfortable, This attracted a near capacity crowd, who all went home fully entertained. The track was smooth and racing was very fast.

Final points:

Sam Ermolenko 15
Mike Faria 13
Chris Manchester 12
Charlie Venegas 12
Bart Bast 10
Brent Werner 9
Louis Kossuth 9
Bobby Hedden 9
Eddie Castro 7
Dukie Ermolenko 6
Billy Janniro 5
Bobby Schwartz 3
Matt Becker 3
Pat Linn 3
Tommy Hedden 2
Randy DiFrancesco 2
Ian Ferris 0 reserve 4 rides
Kelly Bennett 0 reserve 1 ride

Heat 1 Manchester, Bast Werner, Linn
Heat 2 Venegas, Castro, DiFrancesco, Schwartz
Heat 3 B. Hedden, Kossuth, T. Hedden D. Ermolenko
Heat 4 S. Ermolenko, Becker, Faria, Janniro
Heat 5 Venegas, Bast Janniro, Ferris (D. Ermolenko disq, tapes)
Heat 6 Werner, Castro, Becker, T. Hedden
Heat 7 S. Ermolenko, Manchester, B. Hedden Schwartz
Heat 8 Faria, Kossuth. Linn, DiFrancesco
Heat 9 Faria, Bast, B. Hedden. Castro
Heat 10 S. Ermolenko, Venegas, Kossuth, Werner
Heat 11 C. Ermolenko, Manchester, DiFrancesco, Becker
Heat 12 Janniro, Schwartz, Linn, T. Hedden
Heat 13 Kossuth, Bast, Schwartz, Bennett (Becker, Ferris disq)
Heat 14 Werner, B. Hedden, Janniro, DiFrancesco
Heat 15 Faria, Manchester, Venegas, Ferris (T. Hedden disq tapes)
Heat 16 S. Ermolenko, D. Ermolenko, Castro, Linn
Heat 17 S. Ermolenko, Bast, T. Hedden, DiFrancesco
Heat 18 Faria, Werner, D. Ermolenko, Ferris (Schwartz disq, tapes)
Heat 19 Manchester, Castro, Kossuth, Janniro
Heat 20 Venegas, B. Hedden, Linn, Becker

Chris beat Charlie in the run off for third place.

Generally speaking the overall result was not unexpected. Some riders did slightly better than expected. Bobby Schwartz did much worse than expected. Matt Becker surprised even himself by beating Faria in his first ride, but his campaign fizzled out after that. Local favorite, Bart Bast has been riding competitively against Mike Faria in the earlier events this year was expected by many to be a qualifier. He seemed a bit down on power in a couple of races, but given the competition, he put on a credible performance.

So Sam Ermolenko, Mike Faria, Chris Manchester and Charlie Venegas go to Poole next Sunday. All have ridden there before and understand exactly, the level of competition to expect.

There were also Division 1 Junior Speedway races:
Main event:
1. Ryan Fisher
2. Eric Carillo
3. Bryan Yarrow
4. JJ Martynse

I ran into a couple of injured warriors in the crowd. Don Chipman , who hit the wall in the third division main and bravely hobbled off the track was sporting a cast round a broken foot. Junior rider Chris Kerr had a cast on his broken arm. Chris was not clear when he broke it. It was either when he hit the wall in the season opener, or playing baseball the same week. He had ridden in two events since then!

I sat down on the back straight with fellow internet distribution contributor RC Jones. After half a dozen races I looked at the bloke sitting next to me, on the other side, and there was Bill Mathieson. He is, no doubt, remembered by many UK Speedway people, as the promoter at Rye House, for many years. Bill had helped me last year with my California Speedway 97 book. What are the chances of that in a crowd of 3000 people?

So next week it is back to Auburn's regular program on the Friday, and the opening night at Cal Expo on the Saturday. It will be the first Speedway there since 1993.

Gary Roberts - gary_rob@ix.netcom.com
New photos taken: Sam, Kelsey, Dukie, Tommy, Brent. See their pages.

From: RC Jones

Some comments for those who were unable to attend.

Rider of the night to me was Chris Manchester...He wooed the crowd with daring outside passes. Best race of the night was the run off between Chris and Charlie Venegas..Chris followed Charlie for two laps and on lap 3 put on a brilliant display of riding to get around Charlie for the win.

Most of the action took place between turn 1 and 2.It did not matter who got the gate, it was who could fight through the traffic and hook up out of two to lead the first lap and normally win.

Biggest disappointment for me was to see Dukie Ermolenko get goose eggs in the first two heats.

Most confusing was to see Tommy Hedden in a run off with Louis Kossuth and Brent Werner.

And yes, Sam was a cut above all of the others, for sure...

A great night of racing... Glad I was there. And Roone Dog kept us going...The new Star Spangled Banner Singer is a keeper... Ban the others...

RC Jones

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