The first race of the 2012 USA schedule had a distinctly British flavor in the California sunshine! Three team events were held in the 2nd winter race using UK style Speedway format - and whilst good events are some hard to duplicate, the 2nd dose had increased rider and fan support.
The first event of the day featured Division Three riders and was a North Vs South challenge - the North team all traveling over 400 miles to be there, even featuring Fast Fridays promoter Dave Joiner on their roster. Joiner in fact, with a finish line pass of Steve Brown, secured an opening 5-1 for the North team. Honors were split in the next two heats, though it is fair to say the South teams chances suffered a dent when Tony DeAlmeida fell hard at the start of heat 3 and had to withdraw - his rides going to over worked reserves of Kent Shockley and rookie Kayle LeoGrande. The South evened things up after 4 with a 5-1 from Kevin Fife and LeoGrande. The North hit back with a 4-2 in 5 and a 5-1 in 6 to pull out a 6 point lead, though Fife again secured a 5-1 in 7, this time with Kent Shockley in his first race in 32 years! A daring Steve Brown win in heat 8 left the gap at two. However the North team got used to the track and simply demolished the South in the 2nd half by 29 points to 13 - Three 5-1 and three 4-2's were the order of the day. The North was led by Chris Casey with another maximum 15 points. Also unbeaten was Derik Denzin on 14+1 whilst support was given by Nick Dion who scored 9 and team boss Chanse Vaccaro who scored 7+3. The South had comeback rider Shockley scoring 10+2 off his seven rides.
SOUTH 36 - Kent Shockley 10+2 (7), Kayle LeoGrande 8+1 (6), Kevin Fife 7 (5), Steve Brown 5 (4), Stu Egli 3+1 (4), Ryan Gushwa 3 (4), Tony DeAlmeida 0 (1)
After a Pee Wee heat won by Dakota Shockley, the Junior match was held. Some late withdrawals meant that the originally planned 15 heat match had to be reduced to 11, but the youngsters produced perhaps some of the best racing of the day. The 250s and 200s were mixed, and whilst the 250s perhaps had the job of winning the heats, the 200cc riders were there to pick up very valuable points. The highlights of the show were undoubtably heats 10 and 11 which featured the Ruml brother for the Young Vikings, and the Hagon Shocks duo of Broc Nicol and Kurtis Hamill for the Young Aces. Heat 10 was won by Nicol who beat both Rumls and put the Aces 4 up. However in heat 11 the Rumls fought back for a 5-1 to tie the score at 33. In earlier races there was an impressive heat 6 5-1 from Brayden Galvin and Shea Bendykowski in heat 6 to put the Aces 4 up. Hayley Perrault for the Aces gave a solid 6+1 score. A tie seemed a fair result - every single rider and every point counted! The last two heats as described above perhaps was a taste of a British League future to match the past - a future Wolverhampton Vs Cradley all American heat 15 scenario though we'll argue amongst ourselves as to who will race for who.
YOUNG VIKINGS 33 - Max Ruml 17 (6), Dillon Ruml 14+2 (6), Sebastian Palmese 2 (5), Daniel Casey 0 (5)
After another Dakota Pee Wee win, the attention turned to Division One and a rematch between the Vikings and a much strengthened Aces team. The Vikings were hit by a late withdrawal from Gino Manzares and so they operated Rider Replacement at #1, his rides being shared between his team mates. The Aces opened with a 4-2 with Buck Blair meaning business from the off. Heat 2 was a 3-3 won by Brad Moreau, with Tyson Talkington winning heat 3, in fact all heats through 5 were shared. Aaron Fox passed Neil Facchini to win heat 4, Talkington getting his second win in 5. Buck Blair and Ryan Tovatt took the Aces lead to 6 with a 5-1 in heat 6, whilst Fox won again in 7. The Vikings got their only heat advantage and first heat win in 8 when Joey St. Louis headed home Moreau. The Aces held their narrow four point advantage through heat 12 - Facchini won heat 9, Blair and Fox remained perfect winning 10 and 11, whilst Max Ruml passed Dylan Black in heat 12. The top heavy Aces secured their victory with two Blair / Fox 5-1s in heats 13 and 15, with Talkington getting his third win in heat 14. Troy McConnell top scored for the Vikings with an impressive 11 points.
ACES 51 - Buck Blair 15 (5), Aaron Fox 14+1 (5), Tyson Talkington 11 (4), Brad Moreau 7 (4), Ryan Tovatt 3+1 (4), Dylan Black 2+2 (4), Mike Salyer 0 (4)
The Pee Wee Main was won by Sara Cords after the previously unbeaten Shockley stalled at the start. The other podium spots were taken by sons of famous fathers with Keelan Venegas in 2nd and Charlie Larsen in 3rd.
The event was well received by the riders and fans. Many in attendance were pleasantly surprised when former GP rider Leigh Adams showed up with his family to spectate and visit friends. The popularity of team racing has increased as a result of these races and talks are being held between several tracks as regards a Division One California Speedway League this summer, using the World Cup format, as well as more grass roots events and possible a winter 2012/2013 league for riders of all levels.
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