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1999 Sideways Saturdays
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Sideways Saturdays Speedway
Cal Expo
Sacramento, California

Cal Expo Track Championship
Sideways Saturdays Speedway
Cal Expo - Sacramento, CA
Saturday August 7, 1999

The Cal Expo track championship took place last night, with some good races, some interesting "riders helping other riders" situations, but by the end of the event, it seemed, from this spectator's point of view, to go a bit flat. The referee got himself in several difficult situations, there was organizational indecision, visible rider disatisfaction, and the whole thing went downhill from there. Mike Rooney, the announcer did a great job to try to keep things upbeat, but it did not maintain the enthusiastic momentum that a track championship should have done.

The biggest problem at Cal Expo this year has been the track. Since the normal summer daytime temperature in Sacramento is around 100 degrees, it is a challenge to get an optimal result, but a lot of hard work has gone into getting the best result. At the start of the evening, it looked over-watered, and inconsistent. But amazingly, after the first few races and some hand-watering, it took shape and there was some good racing. Then about halfway through the evening the tractor was back out with a large blade, taking what looked like far too much dirt off the surface. Many looks of horror were seen, but what materialised was an even better track and even better racing. Although every rider seems to have his own idea of what a track surface should be like, most of the riders I spoke to seemed quite happy with it.

Unofficial results:

1. Felicio, Orlandi, Martynse, McNeil

2. Bart Bast, Mike Faria, Sisemore, Marcucci
Probably the deciding race of the night. Mike Faria got a terrible gate, while Bart Bast had a great one, followed by Jim Sisemore. Mike managed to get past Jim, but there was no way to catch Bart.

3. Hedden, Hicks, Ferris, Shafer
Ian Ferris completely blew the start. Hedden and Hicks raced from the gate. Ferris managed to take third place from Shafer.

4. Fisher, Dave Faria, Harlan Bast, Curry
Ryan Fisher was first out of the tapes, followed very closely by Robert Curry. On the exit of turn four Curry hit the wall, letting Bast and Faria through. By this time Fisher had an invincible lead.

5. Bart Bast, Harlan Bast, Ferris, MacNeil
The Bast brothers race.

6. Mike Faria, Curry, Felicio, Shafer
Chad Felicio missed the gate altogether and did well to salvage third place from Rick Shafer.

7. Sisemore, Fisher, Hicks, Martynse
Fisher again from the gate, with Sisemore breathing down his neck. After two laps Jim squeezed past.

8. Marcucci, Hedden, Orlandi, Dave Faria
This was a interesting race with three post 40 year olds! Paul Orlandi raced into the lead pursued hard by Dave Faria. Somehow, Dave went down, then a lap later Paul went wide, handing the lead over to Rich Marcucci. The youngster (relatively) Tommy Hedden took second. Bobby Hedden qualified for the event, but was on vacation so missed it.

9. Mike Faria, Dave Faria, Hikcs, McNeil
The Faria brothers race.

10. Bart Bast, Felicio, Fisher, Hedden
Ryan Fisher got a bad start, but managed to get past Tommy Hedden.

11. Ferris, Curry, Martynse, Olney
On the first corner Steve Martynse and Rich Marcucci fell, Marcucci going upright straight into the wall. He collected some sore ribs and declined taking any further races. Scott Olney replaced Rich for the rest of the night. In the rerun Ian Ferris and Robert Curry had a good race for first with the lead changing at least twice.

12. Sisemore, Orlandi, Harlan Bast, Shafer
This was Jim Sisemore's turn for the bad gate. Looking very determined, he worked his way from third to first.

13. Sisemore, Curry, Hedden, McNeil

14. Hicks, Felicio, Olney, Harlan Bast (disq)
This is where the referee's nightmares really started. After several junior races where juniors were not penalized for first touching, then breaking the tapes, Harlan Bast touched the tapes. The referee disqualified him. In the re- run, last year's Track Champion, Bob Hicks was closely followed by Chad Felicio.

15. Dave Faria, Bart Bast, Martynse, Shafer
Dave Faria showed outstanding form to not only get in front of Bart, but stay there for the full four laps. This race result evened the points up, with both Bart and Mike Faria having each dropped a point at this stage.

16. Mike Faria, Fisher, Orlandi, Ferris
It was about this stage where things really started to fall apart. Mike Faria touched the tapes. The referee disqualified him, despite much feedback from the crowd. Mike went back to the pits, then for some reason was allowed back in. From a spectator's viewpoint, what was worse than the inconsistency was the lack of explanation.

17. Fisher, Shafer, McNeil, Olney
An easy one for Ryan Fisher

18. Sisemore, Ferris, Felicio, Dave Faria

19. Hedden, Mike Faria, Harlan Bast, Martynse
More controversy. Steve Martynse fell in the first corner, Mike Faria did not get a good start and he stopped. The race was stopped and there was a complete restart. Mike Faria was in the outside gate with Harlan Bast in slot 3. Harlan forced Mike wide in the first corner. Although Mike was able to recover up to second place, he lost another point.

20. Bart Bast, Curry, Hicks, Orlandi
Since Mike was now 2 points down, Bart had only to win this race, which he did easily, and the Track Championship was his.

Bart Bast 3 3 3 2 3 14
Jim Sisemore 1 3 3 3 3 13
Mike Faria 2 3 3 3 2 13
Ryan Fisher 3 2 1 2 3 11
Tommy Hedden 3 2 0 1 3 9
Chad Felicio 3 1 2 2 1 9
Bob Hicks 2 1 1 3 1 8
Robert Curry 0 2 2 2 2 8
Dave Faria 2 0 2 3 0 7
Ian Ferris 1 1 3 0 2 7
Paul Orlandi 2 1 2 1 0 6
Harlan Bast 1 2 1 0 1 5
Rich Marcucci 0 3 X X X 3
Steve Martynse 1 0 1 1 0 3
Rick Shafer 0 0 0 0 2 2
Scott McNeil 0 0 0 0 1 1
Scott Olney (res) 0 1 0 1

Since Mike and Jim both finished on 13 points, I expected a run-off. In fact, I recall hearing it announced at one stage. But it did not materialize, and Bart and Jim appeared on the rostrum and someone said that Jim was awarded second place. I felt kind of cheated over that too! There again, I suspect I was in the minority of people who were keeping score.

I don't want to sound too critical of the referee. I talked to him last week about one of his decisions with which I personally disagreed and he admitted he got it wrong. I immediately saw him and his decisions in a totally different light! Having been in his shoes myself for a season and a half, I felt sorry for him. He has the worst job there is. Added to which, this referee is not an ex-rider and is learning on the job. Since there have been no volunteers from experienced referees, or ex-riders, or anyone else for that matter, it is essential that this gentleman is treated with reverence.

Another ex-referee in a conversation I had after the races, commented that if the riders are complaining about the referee, it's a good sign. He must be starting to get his job right!

Division 2 Track Championship
1. Shawn Eldridge
2. Terry McCurdy
3. Mike Browne
4. Harlan Bast Senior

Division 3 Track Championship
1. Kevin Fereira
2. Mark Thomas
3. Vince Bertolucci
4. Harry Bradwell

Division 1 Juniors Track Championship
Eric Carrillo 5 5 5 15
Bryan Yarrow 3 4 4 11
JJ Martynse 4 3 2 9
Jon Curry 2 4 2 8

Division 2 Juniors Track Championship
JT Mabry 5 5 5 15
Alex Marcucci 4 3 4 11
Greg Hooten 2 4 2 8
Brenton Bast 3 2 3 8

Division 3 Juniors Track Championship
Chris Olney 6 6 5 17
Danny Easley 5 5 6 16
Mark Carrillo 4 4 4 12
Paul Johnson 1 3 3 7
Amanda English 2 2 2 6
Jeff Butler 3 1 1 5

This is the end of Sideways Saturdays season of Speedway. The promoter has stated that they will reopen next year and start at 8.00 pm.

One very positive aspect about last night was the size of the crowd. It has been getting bigger each week and last night it looked quite respectable. I would estimate it at around 600, which must be at least 50% more than at any other time this season. So it looks like there is hope for the people of Sacramento.

I could have become quite impressed with the crowd size had it not bee for hearing news on the radio that the Los Angeles Huntington Library had a rare exotic plant which was flowering last week and it issued a foul smell that it could be smelt 2 miles away. In two weeks, for some reason, they attracted 65,000 visitors. Is this what we need at Cal Expo for next season?

Gary Roberts - gary_rob@ix.netcom.com

Cal Expo turns 1 and 2 Cal Expo turns 3 and 4

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