The final two races carry extra points, so the final score was 86 to 49. This score does not do justice to the fine racing by many of the South's team members.
In my humble opinion, the South could have scored many more points. At the start of race 5, they were 8 points down and could have made a tactical substitution. They did not. In fact, they could have made tactical substitutions in each of the following 12 races, and they made none. While the riders all put on a good show with their riding, I remain curious as to the commitment to the overall effort. The North on the other hand, rode with team spirit and deserved the win.
It was good to see Scott Brant back in the sport this year, since his retirement in 1993. In those days he was practically untouchable at Glen Helen and Victorville. He is no stranger to Auburn, since starting off here as a junior Speedway rider. He put on a couple of great rides and looked like a real threat, but in his third ride while in second place and putting a lot of pressure on front runner Mike Faria he damaged his "good" knee. In his fourth ride he was fighting for the lead with Bart Bast till 30 yards before the gate when he found instant traction and looped it, resulting in a horrendous looking crash. Another South casualty was Andy Northrup who damaged an ankle in an early ride, but soldiered on for the remainder of the evening.
Bobby Schwartz was first out of the gate in nearly every one of his races. He is always a strong competitor, but in every case failed to maintain first place when pressured by an Auburn track specialist. Dukie Ermolenko put on a good show, particularly in his last race when he and Gary Hicks rode as a team to take the first and second places from the Hedden's, the only 1-5 of the night. Apart from this race, Gary Hicks did not match up to the kind of performance he delivers at Costa Mesa. Chris Manchester had a definite off-night.
Charlie Venegas, who had ridden practically every week at Auburn and who always goes well here lived up to my expectation to be the South's top scorer. The other frequent visitor, Randy DiFrancesco scored less points than expected.
Three Northern riders scored maximums in the heats. Mike Faria and Bart Bast, as always rode well. Billy Janniro had an outstanding night. Always entertaining, with plenty of celebration wheelies, he did not make a mistake all night. He gated well, and was super fast. He would get my vote for rider of the night.
Bobby Hedden started very strongly, but tailed off towards the end. His brother who is sometimes hot, sometimes cold, was more cold than hot. Ian Ferris's score of 3 points may look low, but this represents beating 3 of the 8 South riders that he raced. Jim Sisemore for once got overshadowed by team mate Janniro, but beat all but two of his opposite team.
Ryan Fisher's score of 4 would have probably been more if he hadn't looped at the gate of his second race. Otherwise a good performance.
How much team riding was there? Compared with British League events, very little. In many instances, the rider in front pulled away and left his team mate to fend for himself. The most notable exception came from Billy Janniro, who lead coming from the final turn of the B Main to trap no less than Bobby Schwartz on the inside, while team mate Bobby Hedden went round the outside. A great piece of riding.
I was really impressed with the sportsmanly behavior of both teams on the track and the very pleasant and helpful atmosphere in the pits. It was more like an old friends get-together than a competition.
There were some interesting facts in the Civil War's programme: This was the ninth Civil War The South have won the first five As of this event, the North have now won the last four Bart Bast and Bobby Hedden have been in every one of them. The last time the South won, Billy Hamill scored 12 points for them.
Surveying the big picture, what happened on Friday confirms what has been debated on the Internet's various Speedway distribution groups. Today, Northern California is stronger than it was, at any time in the past. The fact that there is racing two nights a week, on tracks of different size, shape and surface, helps keep the riders from getting too focused only on just one track.
Have the North taken over as the best Speedway riders in the country? Without a return match at Costa Mesa, we can only speculate. Nobody can deny that Bart Bast, Bobby Hedden, Mike Faria and Jim Sisemore put on great performances at the Costa Mesa National last year. On Friday, Bobby Schwartz, Charlie Venegas, Dukie Ermolenko and Scott Brant were competitive at Auburn.
I would like to see the North verses the South become a two night annual event, using the same format, the same team members, one night at Auburn, one night at Costa Mesa. I am sure there are thousands of fans at both ends of California who agree with me. So how about it, for next year? Here is a challenge out to Dave Joiner and Brad Oxley to give the fans what we want!!! I am sure you will both fill your stadiums.
Along with the Civil War, there was a program of Junior races!
Division 1 Juniors
Division 2 Juniors
Division 3 Juniors
Gary Roberts - email@example.com
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