New Champion Speedway
344 East River Drive
Owego, New York 13827
1998 Season Opener
June 27, 1998 Champion Speedway
From: Larry McBride, Kim Gregory, and Jody Garris
By Larry McBride E-mail: email@example.com
Opening night at New Champion Speedway in Owego, NY gave Warren Diem, and
Lenny McBride their first victory of the Speedway Motorcycle season. Diem
and McBride both won fairly easily their initial race of the night in
handicap heats. Under a new AMA transfer format however the winners
of those heats go head to head in the
semi final handicap rather than going to alternate semi's. This set up
one of the closest race of the event with Diem, McBride, and Joe Sephton
occupying the back lines. Sephton was the
first to get by the short yard liners on lap three with Diem and
McBride closely following. Diem from the outside line, and the Tony B
Tire/Anton's Pizzeria sponsored McBride from the inside challenged
Sephton in side to side action. Sephton held them
off until the final lap when Diem pulled a slight lead out of turn 4, and
as Sephton drifted out McBride stayed inside to take second while Diem
crossed the line for the semi win.
The handicap final was a near carbon copy of the semi. Diem, McBride,
Sephton, George Lazor, Bruce Nelson all on the 40 and 50 yard lines with
Tim Mathewson on the 20. Mathewson held the lead for 2 laps before
Sephton and Diem got by exiting turn 2. Into
turn 3 however Nelson didn't get it sideways, and went down taking
Mathewson with him and bringing out the red flag. On the restart
Mathewson held the lead only momentarily. Sephton again grabbed the lead,
but was quickly challenged by McBride, and Diem
. Sephton held the lead by a mere bike length for 3 laps. Entering turn 1
on lap 4 Diem drove hard on the inside forcing Sephton to drift out to
created the opening he needed to take the lead. Using the same tactic
McBride took the second spot on the same
turn on the final lap.
A strange turn of events took place in scratch racing as 4 top riders,
McBride, Diem, Len Dillon, and Gene Bonsignore, failed to transfer out of
the semi's. However, due to another AMA rule change unfamiliar to the
East Coast a fifth rider is now added
to the scratch main event.
A consolation was set up with these riders that could have been a main
event on any evening with only the winner going to the main. Diem held
the pole with McBride, Dillon and Bonsignore gating from 2, 3, and 4. Off
the start McBride squeezed ahead of Diem,
but out of turn 2 drifted out slightly giving Diem an opening and the
lead down the back straight. On of turn 4 Diem returned the favor to
McBride as he caught traction that took him to the outside lane. McBride
stayed tight to the pipe and for the next
3 laps was never more than a wheels length ahead, but enough to give
him the win and the final transfer spot to the main event.
Lining up for the main was McBride, Sephton, Nelson, Lazor, and Tom
Burge. Into turn 1off the start the riders were so close that Burge had
no place to go but down bringing out the red flag. On the restart McBride
grabbed an early and commanding lead on them
to see the red flag fly again as Burge hit the dirt in turn 4. After 5
laps due to red flags the main event would seem rather long. It got
longer, however as the starter got caught up in the racing and lost track
of the laps before pulling out the checkered flag at the completion of
lap number 6. All the riders endured and
after capturing the victory McBride said "This is the first time I ever
won a 6 lap main event".
After racing short track for a couple of years, 15 year old Cam Rafferty made the transformation to speedway look easy. After winning the Support
A heat, Rafferty took the lead from the start, and was challenged early
by Joe Vninsky, but steadily increased
his lead and the main event win.
In a Race for Cash, sponsored by Race Tools of Rochester, Rafferty had
another challenge that featured himself starting on the 10 yard line.
Back on the distant 50 yard line sat Diem and McBride with Howie Oakden
on the 30. In the lead at the start
was Rafferty, with Diem and McBride closing rapidly. While only being
a 3 lap race Diem made a dash to the rear of Rafferty and was side by
side at the finish line with Rafferty taking the $125.00 prize by only
about three inches.
411 Bevier St.
Binghamton, NY 13904-2628
E-Mail - McBride70@AOL.com
From: Kim Gregory
The opening night's program included handicap racing.
Attendance was down a little from last year's opening night, due to many other
events in town.
The track work done this spring really showed! The track was better than
ever, lasting the entire evening without breaking up, or getting a 'Blue Groove".
However, the heavy rain over the last three days had left deep puddles on
the track the morning of the event, and by race time, the track had a greasy,
slick area in both corners. This really threw off a lot of the riders that
were used to this being a grippy track. Len Dillon, and Chris Hesmer, both on new
Glyn Taylor prepared GM laydowns, were having trouble getting the power to the track.
Jason has added posters, bumper sticker decals, new tee shirts, and programs
to his souvenir booth, and many track signs acknowledging the track sponsors.
This, and the rider's shinny new leathers all added to the professional
appearance of the show.
Tom Sephton surprised many fans by finishing a good third in the handicap.
He was a young rider in the early days of the track, and made his comeback
with a bang! Bruce Nelson, who had been a joy to watch all night with his
flawless control on the multiple track surfaces, came to a sudden stop when his Godden
lost it's bottom end. He had enjoyed many seasons of riding out of it without a rebuild.
Handicap Final Results:
1st Warren Diem #4
2nd Lenny McBride #71 (NY) (60 yards)
3rd Tom Sephton
4th George Lazor #51 (NY)
5th Tim Mathewson
6th Bruce Nelson #17
The final race of the night was restarted three times due to crashes.
These guys were going as hard as they could! Bruce Nelson, was
playing around with his borrowed bike while waiting to be restaged
after a crash. He broke the tapes which had been left down, and was
put back to the ten yard line for the next two restarts. His
battle with Lazor to move up into third from the back of the pack
was a good show.
Scratch Final Results:
1st Lenny McBride #71 (NY)
2nd Tom Sephton
3rd Bruce Nelson #17
4th George Lazor #51 (NY)
Disqualified - Tom Burge #15(NY)
Support A Final Results:
1st Cam Rafferty
2nd Joe Veninsky
3rd 'Mean' Joe Greene
4th Howie Oakden
5th Kim Gregory
Support B Final Results:
1st Kendall Brooks
2nd Jerry Harman Jr.
3rd Russel Hartke
See you all next race for the NORTH EAST QUALIFIER in two weeks!
By Jody Garris
Having been a speedway fan for the past 20 years or so, I am happy to
see that Jason Bonsignore and Gino have taken the initiative and dedicated themselves
to opening and rekindling the speedway fever that was so strong in the
late 70's thru the 80's. Having attended opening night this past
Saturday, it brought back so many memories! This past Saturday night had the usual glitches and mixups. Before I go
any further, let me say that the racing was first rate, and I'm glad
to see so much new talent with the dedication these guys have. This
will only insure that the sport will continue to grow on the east
coast, hopefully to the point that Jack Crawford and Joe Bisecker
attained. Those were the days! Again, hats off to Jason Bonsignore, Gino,
and all others involved, the racing was great, and equally good to see
BR and Pistol Pete and have a chance to chat. Hopefully we'll see more
of these guys for the legends race, which by the way, my wife won't
let me participate in, something about being "too old", but we'll be
there, wouldn't miss if for the world.