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New Champion Speedway
344 East River Drive
Owego, New York 13827

Opening Night
June 19, 1999 Champion Speedway
From: Tim Mathewson

Warren Diem wins the Main Event! A 15 year old pulls upset win in Handicap!

Scores from Randy Johnson follows below.
Comments also by Brian D. White

Fifteen year-old flat tracker turned speedway star, Cam Rafferty, in only his third season of speedway, proved that he could run with the big dogs when he pulled a last lap upset win over multi-time East Coast and NY Champion, Warren Diem at New Champion Speedway's '99 season opener.

Cam Rafferty 1999

The field was set for the first Handicap main event of the season, Howie "The Hammer" Oakden was lined up on the 20 yard line, Mike Robinson Sr. who had been pulled out of retirement and stuffed into an old set of Josh Larsen kevlars to fill an opening in the program on the 30, Rafferty on the 40, Diem, Bruce "the Mongoose" Nelson and Tommy "the Gater" Sephton all at the back yardage marker.

As the tapes went up, Rafferty quickly assumed the lead as both Oakden and Robinson headed for the smooth line on the dirt. As the back yardage riders hit the first turn, things got a bit crowded and Sephton tumbled to the ground. By turn three, Diem was on the move weaving his Kelvin Herrala/ Skylark Dinner/ Southern Tier Insulators sponsored Jawa through openings only he could find and by the start of lap two he was knocking on Rafferty's back door.

By the end of the lap, the pressure of having Diem's front tire rubbing against his left leg seemed to have gotten the best of the youngster as he hooked up out of turn four and wheelied down the front straight, drifting wide and allowing Diem to easily pass underneath. For most in attendance, the only remaining questions were, how far would Diem pull clear in the closing laps and would Rafferty be able to hold off the hard charging Nelson. At the end of lap three, Rafferty once again hooked up out of turn four and wheelied coming down in a tank slapper, but the youngster was able to regain his composure and hold the Nelson at bay.

Diem continued to pull away to what looked like an easy win, but while heading for the cushion in turn three, on the last lap, the dirt gave way sending Diem into a spin and to the ground. Not believing what he had just seen, Rafferty twisted the throttle on his Southern Tier Harley Davidson sponsored Jawa and sped by for the win just as Diem remounted. Nelson, seeing him on the move once again, ran a wide line in an attempt to block and won the ensuing race to the line, coming home in second and relegating Diem to an uncharacteristic third place finish. Oaken, Robinson and Sephton rounded out the six man field.

Warren Diem 1998

In the Scratch main, Diem was out to avenge his earlier miscue, but he would first have to deal with Sephton, who had his own bone to pick after watching the Handicap main from the infield, '87 East Coast Champ, Tommy Burge and promoter/ rider Jason Bonsignore. Bonsignore having recently decided to use his summer hiatus from the NHL to do a bit of conditioning via speedway, was appearing in his first Division -1 main and looking fast.

The draw had placed Sephton on the pole, Bonsignore in two, Burge in three and Diem by the wall in gate four. As the tapes went up, Sephton left first leading the pack in to the turn. Diem was charging hard from the outside, barely edging Burge out of turn two, with Bonsignore tucking underneath to wait for an opening. Coming down the back straight it was Sephton, Diem and Burge but Bonsignore was making a move on the inside. Entering the turn three too hot, Sephton over-pitched, straightened up and drifted wide.

Diem who was working the outside, quickly switched lines and dropped to the pole assuming the lead. Burge who was running just behind Diem had to change his line which opened up the inside for Bonsignore. From there, it was a matter of Diem turning up the wick and checking out, eventually winning by almost a full straight. Bonsignore still had to contend with Burge but rode a smooth inside line and easily came home in second with Burge finishing third. Sephton, once again had to watch the action, but this time it was from fourth place.

First year riders Jeremy Parsons and Jeff Houston won the Support A and Support B main events respectively.

By Randy Johnson (E-mail: johnsora@cyber-quest.com )

Dash for Cash
1st Warren Diem #4 Conklin
2nd Kelvin Herrala #190 Nichols
3rd Joel Monell #4x Owego
4th Jeremy Parsons #16 Vestal

Division 1 Handicap Main
1st Cam Rafferty #427 Binghamton
2nd Bruce Nelson #17 Lisle
3rd Warren Diem #4 Conklin
4th Howie Oakden #50 Rochester
5th Mike Robinson #7 Rochester
6th Tom Sephton #104 Vestal

Support A Handicap Main
1st Jeremy Parsons #16 Vestal
2nd Craig Estelle #57 Binghamton
3rd Joe Greene #30 Chenango Bridge
4th Jerry Harman Jr. #38 Newark Valley
5th Tim Mathewson #677 Nichols
6th Dave Smith #815 Marcellus

Support B Handicap Main
1st Jeff Houston #168 Rochester
2nd Chris Strong #93 Binghamton
3rd Mike Robinson #18 New Zeland
4th Tony McElroy #169 Rochester
5th Jerry Harmon Sr. #138 Newark Valley
6th Jim Fey #00 Vestal

Division 1 Scratch Main
1st Warren Diem #4 Conklin
2nd Jason Bonsignore #64 Rochester
3rd Tom Burge #15 Chenango Bridge
4th Tom Sephton #104 Vestal

"See ya sideways",

Great opening night at Champion! "Old" Warren, slipped a gitch on one his qualifiers and actually lost the bike from under him in turn three. He claimed a leg cramp "locked" him up and he dumped it. I saw it as old age creeping in.
We had a 13 year in the junior division riding a 175 that was very impressive!
Division 1 was really exciting, however it needs that international flavor. Sure do miss that great Canadian National Anthem. Hope we can see some Canadian riders at some of our venues this summer. They are always welcome and do have fans down here.

Brian D. White
Waverly, NY
E-mail: BRNYDWHT@clarityconnect.com

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