Fast Fridays Speedway
Gold Country Fairgrounds - Auburn, CA
2001 North American World Championship Qualifier
Fast Fridays Speedway
June 1, 2001
From Gary Roberts
After weeks of baking hot sun, on the day of the
North American World Championship Qualifier the temperature dropped, clouds appeared and
for a while the threat of rain intimidated the event. But fortunately the rain didn't
happen. The track had more dirt on it than many expected, certainly more than was there
the night before for the official event practice session. For the first few heats the
track was patchy, people were finding unexpected traction in odd places, but it soon
turned into a really good race surface.
A couple of names were missing before the event even
started. Mike Faria was banned, by the FIM, from the event because of his non-appearance
at the Overseas Final last year. Sam Ermolenko was taken ill, earlier in the week and had
to cancel. The East Coast qualifier, Tom Sephton, also cancelled. This let in reserves Jim
Estes and Paul Orlandi.
The results were dominated by 3 names. One older one
and two young ones. To me, the emergence of the 2 youngsters is encouraging. For too long
American Speedway has been dominated by riders between the ages of late 20s and late 40s.
At last the products of the California Junior Speedway program are breaking through and
getting recognized as America's top riders. Janniro and Fisher are just the start. If
the current future candidates stick with the program, there will be at least 3 new riders
coming off this very efficient production line every year for the foreseeable
Josh Larsen won the event, scoring a 15 point
maximum, but the "kids" Coventry's Billy Janniro and runner up of last
weekend's German Under 21 quarter final Ryan Fisher, took second and third places.
There were some excellent races. Josh Larsen dominated all his races except his third
race, which was lead until the final turn by Ryan Fisher. Josh noticed that Ryan left a
gap coming out of turn four and waited till the last lap to leap through it. He made it by
such a fine margin that even he was asking who had won. Billy Janniro's British
League experience has certainly improved his gating. Rather than having to win races from
behind, Billy won his four races pretty much from the tapes. He only lost 2 points, both
on his forth ride to Josh Larsen and Bobby Hedden, but as always with Billy, it was not
for lack of trying, making this probably the best race of the night. Ryan Fisher lost
points to Bobby Schwartz, Josh Larsen and Billy Janniro.
Former Speedway retiree, Louis Kossuth, made a one
night exception. He showed that he accumulated no rust in retirement, with two wins a
second and two falls. Gary Hicks who always impresses me at Auburn, had a good night in
that he had none of his usual mechanical gremlins, but was not on his best form. John Cook
was running well until his third ride, when his ignition went away on the line and that
ended his evening. Eric Carrillo made his debut into top National racing and scored a
respectable 4 points, including a win over Bobby Schwartz. Bobby, in turn, started the
evening beating a persistent Ryan Fisher but then faded.
Josh Larsen 3 3 3 3 3 15
Billy Janniro 3 3 3 1 3 13
Ryan Fisher 2 3 2 3 2 12
Bobby Hedden 3 1 1 2 3 10
Bart Bast 1 3 2 2 2 10
Dukie Ermolenko 1 2 3 3 0 9
Gary Hicks 2 2 2 2 1 9
Louis Kossuth 2 0 0 3 3 8
Bobby Schwartz 3 1 1 0 2 7
John Cook 2 1 3 0 n/s 6
Chad Felicio 1 1 2 1 1 6
Tommy Hedden 0 2 0 1 2 5
Eric Carrillo 0 2 1 0 1 4
Chris Manchester 1 0 1 2 0 4
Jim Estes 0 0 0 1 1 2
Paul Orlandi 0 0 0 0 0 0
Scott McNeil - 1 ride 0
Chris Kerr - 1 ride 0
So who goes forward to the Overseas Final?
Earlier in the week the plan was that at least two of
the four places would be taken by European based Americans. Without Sam, this would have
given qualification by virtue of attendance to Janniro and Cook.
Josh Larsen, Billy Janniro and Ryan Fisher told me
they would be taking their places at the Overseas Final. The fourth place will be
announced next week, by the AMA.
A great evening of racing, and to me, encouraging
signs for the future of American Speedway.
1. These results are unofficial.
2. The contents of this message may be used, without my permission, freely, for
distribution over the internet, either by e-mail or publication on web sites, by
anybody and everybody, to bring visibility to American Speedway or generally promote the
sport of Speedway. It may not be used without my permission for printed publication
resulting in subsequent sale.