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1999 Costa Mesa Speedway
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Costa Mesa Speedway
Orange County Fairgrounds
Costa Mesa, California

1999 Annual Harley Night
Costa Mesa Speedway
June 5, 1999
From Ryan Evans


A packed crowd witnessed a crash-marred evening at Costa Mesa's Annual Harley Night. The track became rutted early in the night which led to lots of crashing throughout the night. Despite the unhappiness of the riders, the crowd, that had to be near 7,000, was thoroughly entertained by the wild action taking place on the track. The crashing reached a head when Ryan Fisher hooked up coming out of turn four and did a wheelie the length of the front straight and when he turned his bike loose it hit Andy "the Enforcer" Northrup in the head and took him off his bike in turn one. When announcer Larry Huffman asked Northrup what happened, an irate Northrup blasted Fisher over the air. "He's not ready for 1st Division, he shouldn't even be out here", Northrup said. He continued by saying, "He's too dangerous, this is not the first time he's done this and he's riding way over his head." When Northrup began discussing age, the microphone mysteriously stopped working. (My guess - Huffman turned it off) Needless to say, the crowd became irate and booed quite loudly at Northrup for berating the 15 year old over the P.A.

Anyway, this is far out of the element for the normally quiet and mild-mannered Northrup so for him to sound off, he must've been PISSED OFF!!!! There were several riders approaching Northrup in the pits and shaking his hand and giving him "high-fives" so evidently there are a lot of riders who share the same sentiments as Northrup.

In case you were wondering there actually was racing with the riders trying to cope with a couple of major holes in turn two. The pole was pushed out twice throughout the night, but neither time seemed to solve the problem. The holes were both at the apex of the turn so riders were lifting and drifting into the wide line all night. Gary Hicks and Shawn McConnell tangled badly in a scratch semi and both were down for over five minutes. They both got up and Hicks actually won the restart!!!!!

Brad Oxley passed Scott Brant on the third lap and motored away with his second scratch main win of the season. Brant finished second, followed by Charlie Venegas and Gary Hicks. Bobby Schwartz pulled off after turn one because his right foot peg fell off at the starting line.

McConnell recovered from the earlier crash and moved Charlie Cooley off the pole halfway through the Handicap Main then survived a last lap challenge from Oxley to beat "Rad" Brad at the line. Brant was third, Venegas fourth, and Schwartz fifth. Fisher was a non-starter as he was still sore from his earlier crash with Northrup.

Tom Winchell looked impressive and held off last week's winner "Smokin'" Joe Winston to take the checkered flag in the Support Main Event.

49 year old Mike Boyle scored a rare double last night. He gained the victory in the legendary Harley race, which features people riding their street-legal Harley's against each other. (Boyle was racing a flat-track bike, though.) He then came back in the very next race and claimed the victory in the Support B Main.


Support B Main
198 - Mike Boyle 10
103 - Brent Smith 20
210 - Ron Cochard 20
331 - Peter Curtis 20
319 - Brad Rudy 20
161 - Hector Quevado 10

Support Main
233 - Tom Winchell 20
314 - Joe Winston 30
302 - Kevin Rubio 30
383 - Randy Skinner 40
388 - Donnie Robinson 10
175 - John VanderMuelen 10

Handicap Main
6 - Shawn McConnell 50
5 - Brad Oxley 60
10 - Scott Brant 50
43 - Charlie Venegas 60
11 - Bobby Schwartz 60
16 - Charlie Cooley 30
14 - Eddie Castro 50
361 - Ryan Fisher 30 (ns)

Scratch Main
5 - Brad Oxley
10 - Scott Brant
43 - Charlie Venegas
3 - Gary Hicks
11 - Bobby Schwartz (ret.)

Please note that I have a new e-mail address, I've put it below: Ryan Evans - Sideways31@aol.com

From: Frank Crane - toyracing@adweb.net

This is a typical case of the hot dogs feeling threatened and not wanting to share. They treated Billy Janniro the same way. These kids come from a different league. They've been racing with little competition. They are too good for Division 2. They have to fit somewhere! Division 1 is it. They will learn. Ryan is EXTREMELY talented and capable. All the guys that are whining' were once young and made mistakes too.

- Frank Crane - toyracing@adweb.net

From Ryan Evans - Sideways31@aol.com

Frank, your first post is well taken. I was with Mike Kelly last night, and he has worked with Chris Manchester from almost day one on a 500. He and I agreed last night that this does happen with the younger riders and that the older riders have short memories, but Andy Schwarm does have a point. Personally, I'm on the fence on this issue because you, I, and everyone else can bring up plenty of points to support either side of the argument. Andy Northrup did show restraint because he damn near had his head taken clean off his shoulders by Ryan's front wheel. When you're leading someone by 20 yards, the last thing you expect is to set up for turn one and have that person's bike take you clean of your own. Andy Northrup has been racing for almost 20 years and he has always proved to be an absolute class act. He never says anything, never complains (remember, there are quite a few who feel he was completely SCREWED at the 25 lapper and he never said a word). So, as I pointed out in the report, he had to be pretty pissed!!!!! It's not like were talking about a very extroverted and opinionated person here. I was trying to point out that because it's someone like Andy Northrup that is actually complaining, maybe there should be some investigating into the situation. There were riders young and old approaching him in support, so its not just the "old guard". Years ago, the guys were only mad because somebody else was potentially taking there money away. Now, there being taken out and they're not racing for very much money. One thing I failed to point out was that they were running third and fourth and were at least 30 yards behind second in a Last Chance race. I'm sure this will open a can of worms about "always giving 100%". Part of the blame, I feel, lies with Huffman approaching Andy Northrup right after. He sought out Andy, not the other way around. He should've interviewed him later or even next week. I know that I've been irate and wanted to "kick ass" after getting knocked down, but when given a chance to cool off, was able to realize that its just racing. They were pitted only 10 yards from each other and there were no other incidents.

Also, in his heat, after coming from the pole, Ryan just went straight and took everybody to the wall in turn two. In Ryan's defense, he was well aware of what he did when I talked to he and Troy (his dad) after the races. Troy is very realistic when comes to these things and openly admitted that Ryan probably shouldn't be riding a laydown. His direct quote, "He's not ready for a bike that's this strong." Sounds like he was quoting Mr. Northrup directly. When Ryan returns to Costa Mesa, he'll be on an upright GM. Troy also said that Andy Northrup had reason to be upset. Personally, I feel Ryan is definitely fast enough for 1st Division, but I did state on this page the week before he was put in 1st Division that he needed a couple more weeks in 2nd Division. He never proved that he could ride in traffic and he still hasn't. Call it youthful enthusiasm. He won the Handicap Main from the front line and besides Sauer, there was nobody closer than the 40 yard line.

I like Ryan a lot, and he will no doubt, be a superstar, I think that he's just very eager right now and he'll settle down. He's a very good kid and he has the support of a knowledgable father who knows how this sport works. Ryan should definitely NOT be sent back to 2nd division, I think he's smart enough to realize that while creating a positive stir among fans, he's rubbing a lot of guys the wrong way in the pits. He is being counseled by Scott Brant and Scott is certainly not afraid to tell him what he thinks!!!!!! Listening to Scott will prove to be a wise decision by Ryan. Well, for those who were complaining about the lack of messages, you've certainly got your wish!!!!!!!

- Ryan Evans - Sideways31@aol.com

From: Gary Roberts - garyrob@ix.netcom.com

I think you have presented an intelligent point of view. It is easy to criticise Ryan when this kind of thing happens. (I wasn't there last night). But there are a few points to be taken into consideration:

1. For the last 3 years, Ryan has had effectively no competition. Eric Carrillo is very good, but he has less than half the years of riding experience of Ryan. Riding with guys that are better than he is (at the moment) is new for Ryan, it will take a while for him to adjust. Carillo is very good, but he has less than half the years of riding experience of Ryan. Riding with guys that are better than he is (at the moment) is new for Ryan, it will take a while for him to adjust.

2. Few people have any concept of how hard Ryan has worked to get as far as he is today. He has ridden at Maely's every weekend that I have been there for at least the last 6 years. Top riders all spent time helping him over the years. His wealth of experience is unmatched for someone of his years. He has shown nothing but real dedication to our sport. at least the last 6 years. Top riders all spent time helping him over the years. His wealth of experience is unmatched for someone of his years. He has shown nothing but real dedication to our sport.

3. Few people recognise the dedication his family has put into his Speedway career. They made the 500 miles each way trip up to Fast Fridays and Cal Expo at least once every 3 weeks for the last two seasons that I know of. Before that he was off up to Visalia and before that Victorville Speedway and Glen Helen Speedway . When one adds up just the hotels and the gas bills, without counting their time, their investment in Ryan's future is enormous. So what? So Ryan's family is as dedicated as he is to his future success in the sport.

4. When Billy Hamill was Ryan's age, he had difficulty in completing 4 laps without crashing. Suddenly, out on a 500 he became a different rider and had a meteoric rise to fame. But also when he started racing a 500 (unlike Ryan, he was 16) he suffered the same unpopularity from the other riders because he rode beyond his capabilities. Referee Moon banned him from racing for 2 weeks after he put his bike over the wall at Victorville. This is covered in detail in my book, Hamill and Hancock - World Speedway Champions.

My point from all this is that Ryan is the most promising Speedway rider to come out of this country for many years. He is going to make mistakes. But he is dedicated to the sport, and let's not do anything to endanger that. Let's face it with his talent he could be out earning more money racing flat track or road racing. Let's not let us, his Speedway fans, do anything to drive him away.

- Gary Roberts - garyrob@ix.netcom.com

From: Andy Monstro96@aol.com

Last night at Costa Mesa was my third race of the year, as I have been working a lot of Saturday nights. I gotta tell you who really stood out for me, Shawn McConnell. He has mastered the inside line of the blue groove, just like Brad, and they go hammer and tong fighting for it. Last night Shawn got there first ahead of Rad Brad and Brad could do no better than first loser in the handicap main. Shawn looked like he was pulling a trailer with a big 5 on it. Way to go Shawn!

Also, the crash between Gary Hicks and Shawn McConnell was horrendous. It very much looked as if both would be transported. McConnell was all tangled up in his bike like a rag doll and Hicks was heavily body slammed into the DG. Neither moved at first. I love it when guys get pounded into the dirt then comes back to win big. Hicks did it last night, you could hear the fans bellowing in Huntington Beach. Gene Woods used to do this on a weekly basis at San Bernardino many years ago. Anyone remember that? Gene came back from unconsciousness so well he resorted to hitting himself over the head with a ball peen hammer before each main event. Kidding.

- Andy Schwarm Monstro96@aol.com

From Ryan Evans - Sideways31@aol.com

In my earlier post I mentioned that I was with Mike Kelly, who has worked with Chris Manchester since he began riding the 500's. Chris went through the same thing that Ryan is going through at this moment. Mike's opinions were pretty much the same as Gary Roberts in regards to Ryan. Chris had quite a roll call of detractors in 1990 and was physically threatened several times. But, all in all, he hung in there and he became one of our top riders. As for Billy, since I rode juniors with him, I'm definitely qualified to say that he was definitely wild!!!! The parents tried to have him banned as a JUNIOR!!!! Once again, he outgrew his original shortcomings and learned that the throttle turns both ways and became the superstar that he is today. Ryan will overcome this because until this year he has shown absolutely no propensity for riding out of control. As I stated before, chalk it up to youthful enthusiasm. We better enjoy him while we can because he'll be suiting up in Europe within a few years.

On a side note, Troy said that Ryan will be riding at Auburn this coming Friday, but not at the Saturday event (I don't know if it's Chico or Sacramento).

- Ryan Evans - Sideways31@aol.com

From: Frank Crane - toyracing@adweb.net

I'd imagine that the biggest problem is the guys who haven't been watching Ryan ride the last few years. They can get very defensive about "their" territory. I've stood shoulder to shoulder with "the big boys" and listened to them(myself included) speak of how awesome the kid is and how good he will be. One night at Dixon on a terrible track.... we were making suggestions that we wanted to see a match race between Louis Kossuth and Ryan Fisher. They were clearly the only two who could navigate the track that night in full Speedway fashion. I just can't believe that the same guys who were in awe of this kid... could not want him racing with them. And I seriously doubt if many Nor-Cal riders really would berate his ability as have some fans. It probably will take him awhile to learn the throttle turns both ways. From what I've been told by Juniors.... your only chance of speedwaying a 250 is to hold it wide open all the time. It takes awhile to learn that a 500 has the power to break the wheel loose or keep it loose at throttle settings other than wide open(unlike a 250). And probably the biggest difficulty for Ryan is learning to navigate with 3-5 other riders his caliber or better. He's been racing his own line on tracks for years... wide open. He'll learn. It's all stuff that becomes ingrained in your subconscious after awhile... you just need a chance. If any of this was a matter of just "thinking and doing", you wouldn't have to learn. It's easy to think what the rider should be doing. But to get on Speedway bike and do it every time is the challenge. You guys who have rode Speedway know.... the rest I'll tell... I've raced short track, 1/2 mile, mile, road race, sidecars, go-karts, and now cars. Nothing takes your attention, amazement, senses, like a Speedway bike! I believe they are the only race bike faster than the human brain!

- Frank Crane - toyracing@adweb.net

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