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Fast Fridays Speedway

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Fast Fridays Speedway

Gold Country Fairgrounds
1273 High Street
Auburn, California

26th annual North vs South Challenge
Fast Friday's Motorcycle Speedway, Gold Country Fairgrounds
North overwhelmed the South
By Michael Kirby (Story & Photos)

YouTube Video - by Anthony Bernardi

For 26 years the best riders from Southern California have journeyed north to Auburn to challenge the best riders from Northern CA. in the annual North vs. South Civil War Challenge. It is one of the longest running speedway traditions in America. The rivalry was renewed Friday night at Fast Friday’s Motorcycle Speedway in the Gold Country Fairgrounds. With the overall record sitting at 16 wins for the North and 9 wins for the South going into Friday night’s contest and with a loss last year, the South team came to town looking for a win. Unfortunately for the Southern team the Northern team had plans of their own winning the 2017 grudge match 84-53.

The format is team racing. Each team has six riders paired together racing in 18 heat races scoring three points for a win, two points for a second place finish, one point for third and zero points for a fourth place finish. Team managers then make a decision and place two sets of riders into two main events where points increase. The use of a Joker and tactical substitutions keep the action lively and leads can change quickly with strategic moves. The South brought up a younger team this year that included Gino Manzares, Broc Nicol, Dillon Ruml with veterans Aaron Fox and Charlie Venegas. The North team was led by current national speedway champion Billy Janniro and included veterans Bart Bast, Bryan Yarrow, Tommy Hedden and younger riders Russell Green and Luke Becker.

The first heat race was a tie, but from then on the die was cast. The North kept on it with the team of Janniro and Hedden just pounding it every time the rolled onto the track. Janniro and Hedden accounted for 40 points, with Janniro being the high scorer of the evening with a near perfect 23 points. Becker was the next overall high scorer with 19 points and with his team mate Green combined for 25 points. Team captain Bast and Yarrow chipped in 19 combined.

Leading the South was Fox with 15 points and combined with his teammate Manzares they scored a total of 23 points. Teammates Ruml and Nicol combined for 15 along with riding partners Venegas and Novratil who also combined for 15 points. The effort was great but fell short of the goal to avenge last year’s defeat and improve on the overall standing. Going into the main events with a score of 68-41 and even with increased scoring the South only had a chance to improve their score and winning this year’s challenge was mathematically out of reach.

The South did show a few flashes of excellent team riding when the teams of Nicol and Ruml and Manzares and Fox turned in first and second finishes totaling five points each in heats 14 and 15 bringing the score to 58-33. A few more of those type of races would of certainly closed the gap. “They were both really good teams this year, we are more used to riding this kind of track, so tonight I think we had the home team advantage,” said Bart Bast, North team captain. “This is probably one of the more lopsided scores, I think they kind of threw in the towel, but this has always been a real great event,” he said. Bast, a veteran of this event, holds the distinction of riding in all North vs. South Challenges except in 2006 when he was unable to because of injuries. Bast has also scored more total North vs. South points than any other rider in the history of the event.

So the South team will have to regroup and wait until next year to come back to the tricky dirt Fast Friday’s oval in Auburn to seek redemption. The score now stands at 17 wins for the North and 9 wins for the South, but with a good long run it’s do-able.

With all the North vs. South action Fast Friday’s still ran a Youth program. Kyle Cunningham continued his run in the Youth Speedway Main event making it three in a row. Anthony Dion was second, Dylan Wagner was third and Enzo Sorani was fourth. Cameron Krezman won the Youth Consolation Main event, Landon Norton was second, Greg Moore was third and Aidan McNutt was fourth.
North vs. South Challenge Results 7-14-17
North 84 South 53

North 84
Billy Janniro 3 3 3 3 3 3 5-23
Luke Becker 3 3 3 3 1 3 3-19
Tommy Hedden 2 2 2 2 2 1 6-17
Bart Bast 0 3 1 2 1 3-10
Bryan Yarrow 3 1 2 3 0 0-9
Russell Green 0 2 2 0 0 0 2-6

South 53
Aaron Fox 2 2 1 1 3 2 4-15
Broc Nicol 1 0 3 1 3 1 1-10
Austin Novratil 1 0 0 1+1 0 1 4-8
Gino Manzares 1 0 0 2 2 0 3-8
Charlie Venegas 2 1 1 0 1 2 -7
Dillon Ruml 0 1 0 0 2 2-5

Youth Main Event
1-Kyle Cunningham, 2-Anthony Dion, 3-Dylan Wagner, 4-Enzo Sorani

Youth Consolation Main
1-Cameron Krezman, 2-Landon Norton, 3-Greg Moore, 4-Aidan McNutt

Pee Wee Main
1-Daniel Tesca, 2-Nick Hohlbein, 3-Colton Arbogast

Photos By Michael Kirby

Fast Fridays Speedway Fast Friday’s owner David Joiner (center) stands with South Team members on his left (left-right) Charlie Venegas, Austin Novratil, Dillon Ruml, Broc Nicol, Aaron Fox and Gino Manzares. On his right is the North Team (left-right) Bryan Yarrow, Bart Bast, Billy Janniro, Luke Becker, Tommy Hedden and Russell Green, before the racing began.
Fast Fridays Speedway Jeff Keith of the rock band Tesla opened the evening by singing a great version of the National Anthem.
Fast Fridays Speedway Teammates Billy Janniro (near) and Tommy Hedden get a little close in a heat race. Janniro was the overall high scorer with a near perfect 23 points.
Fast Fridays Speedway The North team celebrates on the winner’s podium (left-right rear) Billy Janniro, Tommy Hedden, Bryan Yarrow and Bart Bast and (kneeling left-right) Luke Becker and Russell Green.
Fast Fridays Speedway Kyle Cunningham won the Youth Speedway Main event. The win makes three in a row for Cunningham.
Fast Fridays Speedway The start of the A Main Event (left-right) Billy Janniro, Gino Manzares, Tommy Hedden and Austin Novratil. Hedden won the final race and picked up six points for the North.
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