What made it so great? - 53 RACES. 53 races and it was all over in 3 hours! How did they manage that? But not wasting time between each race. As the riders from one race would be finishing and leaving the track through one gate, the riders for the next would be coming in through the other, and the riders for the one after that would be lined up waiting. That's the way to run Speedway. Enough said on that subject.
As well as the Auburn track championship, which conformed to a regular 20 heat championship format, there was the US Junior National Championship, a 21 heat event, plus the division 2 and 3 riders championships, 3 heats each, and to top up the numbers, 6 quad races. Helped by the rain, the track remained absolutely perfect all evening. The track championship had plenty of great races, and a worthy winner in Charlie Venegas.
Qualification for the event was from points scored during the season. Highest point scorer was Bart Bast, with Mike Faria a close second. One of these two was really expected to win, but a very determined Charlie Venegas stole it from them. Charlie rode four perfect wins, and took a second behind the extremely fast Bobby Hedden. Bart lost his points to fast Mr. Hedden and Charlie.
Mike lost points to Bart, Bobby Hedden and a last place in his first ride. Mike was having bike problems before the event even started. He missed the riders parade trying to fix it, and came out for his first ride on Billy Janniro's spare bike. For anyone who remembers Billy last year, yes, that was the bike! Mike tried for a lap or so and recognized it was more than his life was worth! He was able to fix a loose ignition wire on his laydown, which held up for the rest of the night.
Bobby Hedden also had a first race he would prefer to forget, finishing behind Ian Ferris and brother Tommy.
There were a number of surprises. Billy Janniro has been showing great form the last few weeks only scored 6 points. It would have been 9, had he not found traction, in his last race, coming out of turn 2 and done one of his now familiar events of sliding most of the back straight on his behind. Matt Becker, another youngster who has been showing excellent form recently started well, but fizzled out after being brought down in a 3 man tumble, in his fourth ride. Jim Sisemore scored less than expected. He just had an off night, taking a couple of falls in the process.
Another youngster, Ian Ferris ended up with 9 points, a good result on the highest placed upright engined machine. Janniro, Becker and Ferris are all names to watch next year.
Division 2 Track Championship
1. Dave Booth
Division 3 Track Championship
Now there's 2 quiet Fridays till Auburn's September 25, AMA National Championship.
1998 Junior Track Championship
Dispersed into Friday evening's marathon affair at Auburn was the US Junior National Championship.
In 5 or 10 years time, this may well make interesting reading. Looking through the Junior National program (a great document, in itself) it was interesting to observe the impressive list of former winners of this title. The names included winner from 81 and 82, Ronnie Correy; 85 Greg Hancock; 86 and 87, Josh Larsen; 88 and 89, Brent Werner; and 96 and 97 Ryan Fisher. Four names won it twice, nobody had won it three times.
On Friday night Ryan Fisher made history by clocking his third US Junior National Championship. Since Ryan wont qualify for full senior Speedway until after September 1999, there's a good chance that next year he will push the record up to four. California is not short of junior talent. Finishing behind Ryan, and sadly in Ryan's shadow was Eric Carillo. Local rider, Eric is the Northern California junior points champion for this year, having competed nearly every week, where Ryan (with a 450 miles journey each way to come and race) missed more meetings than he was able to attend. Eric started 2 years ago and has made meteoric progress. Ryan and Eric are the names to watch in the forthcoming years.
These results are not official, its just what I scribbled down. Donnie Robinson, also making the 450 mile journey up from Los Angeles got recognition at last being the first division's third place man. In past years things just seemed to fall apart for Donnie at the National. He will be riding a full sized machine next year. Son of second division rider Mike Browne, Matt Browne, in his first year of racing, put on an impressive display to win the second division. His move early in the season from third to second division was indicative of his talent. Next year he'll also be riding full sized machines. Worthy third Division champion, Ray Linn, son of first division rider Pat Linn, has another year as a Junior Speedway rider.
Like the rest of Friday's program, the Junior National was full of action packed close racing. Going back to the list of past champions, to my knowledge, only one Northern California rider (Matt Becker, winner in 1992) is on the list. Although unfortunately now limited geographically to Northern California, there is still a lot of enthusiasm for Junior Speedway here. I would predict that from year 2000 onwards, future champions will be from the north.
From: Steve & Eric "COYOTE" Carrillo
From RC Jones
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