2006 Steve Graham Column
2006 Opening Night…Finally
It’s spring and the smell of methanol is once again in the air…at least for some of us.
There is good news on the American speedway front, particularly in Southern California. Brad Oxley and the Orange County Fair Board gave the birthplace of modern day American speedway a face lift. While not completely done for opening night, the facilities looked great and the track provided some excellent racing. The attendance was excellent which was especially good to see as there was no Freestyle Motocross on the program.
The best news for Southern California though has to be “The Grand Lives!” Just when it looked like the final score would be Homeowners 1 - Speedway Promoters 0, Hugh Randolph, Kelly Inman Shawn McConnell, Lee Crecelius and a host of other dedicated speedway people stepped up to the plate, made a proposal to operate speedway this season and got the enthusiastic blessing of the fine folks at the Industry Hills Expo Center.
There was one small problem with the plan though. The bikes would have to be at an acceptable noise level to appease local residents. Within a matter of a few weeks, Cody Racing Products had a muffler that passed the tests and now Scott Brant also has an approved muffler available. A huge Thank You goes out to all concerned for being able to get The Grand up and running under such a tight deadline. Who knows, maybe the new mufflers will provide opportunities to make other venues more speedway friendly.
Fast Fridays in Auburn just kicked off their season with a good crowd for opening night and a full field of riders. It appears at this time that if you want speedway in Northern California this season, Fast Fridays will be the only place to find it. Hopefully that will not be a permanent condition.
Jason Bonsignore is running a full schedule at Batavia Speedway this year and will be hosting the U.S. Open in late July. For New York racers, this looks to be the only full time track running this season in the area. I will have a first hand report from the U.S. Open in a couple of months.
There is bad news for American speedway fans. This was a very rough off season for a number of tracks. The Southern Tier in New York lost Champion Speedway and Action Park East due to a variety of issues. There is still a glimmer of hope for APE but that is diminishing rapidly. Nevada took one broadside with the loss of Carson City Speedway, which looked to have a promising future, for reasons that now appear moot. Northern California did not escape unscathed when, at the last minute, a homeowner uprising shelved plans for Woodland for the time being. I’m certain a protracted legal battle is not what the promotion had in mind when they started this venture. Hopefully, the outcome will be quick and inexpensive but that is probably wishful thinking. Maybe those new mufflers could help the cause.
There will also be limited racing this season in Indiana at the Indianapolis and Valparaiso tracks. The NSRA has yet to announce their plans for the upcoming season. Victorville will also be running a limited schedule this season with an eye towards a more ambitious schedule next year.
It was a very long off season this year and it sure was great to get that first whiff of methanol at Costa Mesa on opening night. Do speedway a favor this year and if you attend the races, bring along someone who has never been exposed to speedway before. You never know, they might just get hooked like the rest of us.
SPEEDWAY GRAND PRIX NOTE
You can catch all the Grand Prix action live, over the internet, on DK4 out of Denmark. It is a quality stream and only costs around $30 for a one year subscription. They will probably carry the Speedway World Cup in August also. For details, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org