Billy Janniro laid down a marker in his quest to regain the US National title he lost last September to Billy Hamill by winning all seven of his races to clinch victory in Round 1 of the AMA National Series at Ventura in California on June 29th.
The Final consisted of arguably the four top domestic riders based on mid season form. Janniro just got ahead after the first turn but it was USA World Cup team mate Gino Manzares who gave immediate chase with Billy Hamill close by in third. Janniro kept his lead throughout the final but Manzares on more than one occasion was literally inches from taking over with his inside charges. Hamill in turn rode the outside and came close to passing both Janniro and Manzares in what was an epic duel. The finishing order saw Janniro win from Manzares, Hamill and the hugely impressive Aaron Fox. The GP format and scoring system saw Hamill 2nd on points having dropped just one point to Janniro in round 5, whilst Manzares had dropped two points in the heats and was 2nd behind Hamill in his semi final.
For Hamill, the meeting saw the end of a remarkable streak - he had won 56 consecutive races prior to the meeting. He took that figure up to 60 having won his first four races with ease though his heat 18 defeat to Janniro ended a historic run which will be talked about for years. Hamill and Janniro were the class of the field in the heats, winning their first four comfortably before two closely fought and epic races.
Gino Manzares only dropped points in his heats to Janniro and Hamill. Manzares, now a seemingly automatic choice in the USA SWC squad, pulled off a stunning 3rd to 1st move in his final heat. He was also very much on pace with the big two.
Other notable performances include 16 year old Max Ruml who was racing his first ever meeting on a big European sized track. He notched up 2 heat wins and 9 points and made the semi finals. Ruml, after running a last first time out stunned the crowd next time with a comfortable win over former GP rider Josh Larsen and 2012 AMA #2 Charlie Venegas. For good measure he defeated the NorCal trio of Hedden, Yarrow and Hicks next time out.
Aaron Fox showed his big elevation in 2013 also fitted the larger tracks. He put his 2012 European racing experience to good use, notching 10 points in the heats to be 4th qualifier for the semi's. In his semi final he trailed in third coming out of turn 2 of lap one before pulling a stunning move to dive between Larsen and Janniro to take the lead. Janniro retook the lead at the end of lap 3 but Fox's gutsy move got him a deserved spot in the Main. Larsen's fight ended with an engine failure.
54 year old local favorite Eddie Castro brought the big crowd to its feet in his third ride when he blasted around the outside of last years runner up Charlie Venegas. Biggest cheers of the night came for local legends Bobby Schwartz, who originally is from nearby Santa Barbara and former Ventura Sharks team captain Sonny Nutter who was the Grand Marshall.
Heat wins also came in the evening from Josh Larsen and Buck Blair. The NorCal trio of Hedden, Yarrow and Hicks seemed to work very hard for their points. Charlie Venegas, winner of the last two Ventura races had a rare off night not helped with an engine failure in his 4th ride. Bryce Starks and Jason Ramirez scored enough to earn automatic spots for Round 2, whilst Bobby Schwartz had a couple of very impressive rides that deserved a higher points tally, and Tyson Talkington, who qualified in the pre show with Ramirez, also battled hard.
Aside from the Main show there were qualifying heats for the last 2 spots on Division 1. Talkington led home Ramirez in the final run off after both won heats. There were four other classes on display. In 250cc Junior Luke Becker won both heats before being defeated by Broc Nicol in the Main event. Sean McDougall won both the Division 2 heat and Main though he had to pass by Mike Wiley in the final. His protégé Jeramiah Allen impressed winning both Division 3 heat and Main. A 6 rider vintage class saw Dan Waller win the heat with Ken Thiebaud, who had bike failure at the start of the heat taking the Main. A trophy Dash for the non qualifiers of the Division 1 program was won by Kevin Chapman ahead of PJ Byrne.
The event marked a new beginning for the AMA National Series which for the first time is running a three round series all at different venues and is replication of the SGP in format. Round 2 is at Victorville on 22nd September with the final at Auburn 5 days later on the 27th. There is also a one off Long Track National Championship at Perris Auto Speedway on July 27th.
As far as Ventura goes, the event was another huge step for the development and growth of Speedway stateside. The track staged its 4th event in just 26 years and is the only track currently in use that is FIM size, measuring 320 meters. With its high banking those who have been around and to the UK call it 'American Bradford' though the local title of 'Commotion By the Ocean' goes back to the 1970's, given that the track is 100 yards from the beach. The event was promoted and conceived by USA Team Coordinator Steve Evans who teamed up with Chris Ackerman and track promoters Jim Naylor and Noel Dawson. Though the track runs 30+ Sprint Car races per year, Naylor left no expense by bringing in special dirt to ensure it rode like a speedway track. USA team boss Billy Hamill consulted Naylor to ensure the track both surface wise and safety wise met the expected standards. Given the quality of the show, rave reviews from the riders and appreciation from the huge crowd on hand, the event was an utter success. Though speedway won't return as a weekly attraction, Ventura Raceway will stage more events and will be a huge part in the development of young riders.
The show ran very smoothly with a very competent and professional crew consisting of experienced speedway track staff and the regular crew at Ventura Raceway. The 37 race program was completed by 9:35pm and this included a 45 minute break between the pre and Main shows.
Semi 1 - Janniro, Fox, Castro, Larsen
AMA Series Points After Round 1
Steve Evans email@example.com
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