Billy Janniro Wins Industry Speedway Bike Feature

Words: Tim Kennedy


Industry, CA., Jun. 4 – Billy Janniro flew south from his San Francisco Bay Area home for week two of AMA speedway bike feature at Industry Speedway in the Grand Arena of the Industry Hills Expo Center. He made the trip worthwhile by winning his second 500cc Division 1 scratch four-lap main event in a row and did so spectacularly. Sixteen D-1 riders competed again this week.

Janniro won all three of his four rider heat races, including a round two heat that included fellow speedway bike multi-champion Billy Hamill. Billy “the Kid” was the only rider able to score the maximum nine points, giving him lane choice for the feature. He picked lane one. Hamill, with eight points, next picked lane two. Charlie Venegass, the all-time leading feature winner at Industry, selected lane four, leaving lane three for “Battling” Buck Blair.

When starting tapes lifted, Hamill grabbed the lead entering turn one and held it despite “a bump from Janniro” as they jostled for position in close quarters. Hamill led the first lap narrowly over Janniro, Blair and Venegas. On lap 2, Janniro used a sudden diamond-like move between the third and fourth turns to dart under Hamill in the fourth turn and take the lead. On the third lap Venegas also passed Hamill, who seldom loses a position as main event race leader. Janniro beat runner-up Venegas by three lengths; P. 3 Hamill trailed Venegas by two lengths at the finish. Blair, unable to advance, slowed in the final corner and trailed by ten lengths. It was a classic contest among four seasoned veterans that had 500+ spectators on their feet at the checkered flag of event 47 of the racy evening.

Tyson Burmeister led all four laps of the scratch consolation race over Tyson Talkington, Jason Ramirez and Travis Henderson. Joe Jones, of Costa Mesa, and his sidecar rider Johnny Glover, of San Clemente, led laps 2-4 on their 175 HP 1,000cc Suzuki. They passed first lap lead duo and runner-up Dual Anderson and 18-year old rookie “swing-man” David Dent, from Calimesa. Their No. 007 is a 1,00cc Kawasaki. The 1,000cc Yamaha of paraplegic driver Bryan Motis, of Garden Grove, and his rider Josh Bennett, of Anaheim Hills finished third. The 1,000cc Honda team of driver Jeff Medberry and his sidecar rider Heather Bennett dropped out on lap 2.
“Daring” Dillon Ruml, 15, captured the Junior Division 250cc main after cutting to the inside on the final lap in turn two to pass Gage Geist, leader of the the first three laps and the Industry feature last week. Kurtis Hamill, from Carlsbad, took second also on the final lap. Geist drifted high leaving turn four, bumped the crash-wall just before the finish line and barely held off Sammy Ramirez.

Michael Wells led every lap of the Junior 250cc consy after the other two riders—Courtney Crone, 13, and Braydan Galvin-- fell on the first lap in the second corner. By AMA rules, the first cause of a red flag is disqualified and excluded from a restart. Galvin restarted, but he spun 360 degrees in turn one and continued well behind the leader. He gained ground but could not catch Wells.

The 500cc Division 2 had eight intermediate level pro riders in action. Dalton Leedy, a 16-year old 250cc Junior class rider last year and new 500cc rookie, won his second consecutive D-2 main at Industry. Eloy Medellin, Chris Jones and Bruce Marteney followed closely.
The 500cc D-3 for newer or novice pro riders also had a field of eight. After two rounds of heat races, a four-rider field produced a flag-to-flag victory for Steve “Beach-ball” Brown, of Fontana. He said he received his nickname from former racer Gene Wood years ago. “I weighed 360 pounds then, but I lost 150 pounds and now weigh 210,” the three-time D-3 Industry 2013 feature winner added. Lewis Hughes, Rick Howard and “the Reverend” Wade Whitcomb finished second through fourth.

The Junior Division mini 150cc first division main went to Slater Lightcap after he took the lead from first lap leader Jake Issac on lap 2. Tristan Britt almost caught Issac at the finish. Sebastian Palmese, 10, won the first two heats, but fell on the initial lap at turn three while racing in close quarters. By AMA rules, he was a DQ and excluded from the restart after winning the Industry opening main last week.

The Junior mini 150cc second division main resulted in the first 150cc feature triumph for Keelan Venegas, 10-year old son of D-1 track champion Charlie “the Edge”. Keelan rode his new Kawasaki with a side-mounted engine. He grabbed the lead at the start from fellow 2013 pee-wee division rider Luke Whitcomb, 9, who won both heat races over Keelan. “Lightning Luke”, the son of an Orange County Baptist minister and 500cc D-3 rider, fell while running second on lap 3 in the second turn. He remained on the ground initially, but then walked to the pits with his dad while his concerned mom pushed his bike to the pits. With the race called complete at that point, Dakota Shockley finished second and Whitcomb third.

The all-rookie four rider field of pee-wee riders on 50cc mini bikes stayed on two wheels all night. Smooth-running Travis Horn, a 6-year old LaVerne resident, rode his yellow/red No. 25 Honda XR-50 four-stroke beginners bike to his second victory in a row at Industry. In fact, the talented youngster has won both of his four lap heat races and the four-lap main two weeks in a row. Jason Palmese, Rachel Schnakenberg, 8, and Conner Salazar, 5, followed. Rachel chased Travis home and was second in both heats.

Horn's dad Jeremy and mom Gina and five-month old brother were present. They said Travis was a grandstand spectator who wanted to try motorcycle racing. His professional “hero card” produced by his mom's Print & Mail Concepts firm, listed Travis' 2014 racing schedule at four tracks, his many sponsors, and his 2014 finishes. So far he has won eight features in 13 outings. He signs the cards for fans after races. Last year Travis raced four times from September 21 to November 10 and scored three victories and a second in his first taste of competition. This motivated, impressive pee-wee bears watching as he climbs the racing ladder, eventually to 150, 250 and 500cc ranks, as so many other riders in the youth pipeline have done recently.

PIT NOTES: The 50/50 raffle produced a $796 pot this week, with a fan holding the winning ticket collecting $398...Grandstand attendance in week two was down more than 50% from opening night last week. Probable causes were high school graduations and the LA Kings NHL hockey team first playoff game on live TV at the same time.

Open-wheel drivers Steve Howard and Wally Pankratz were present. Wally is the race car instructor for 250cc Junior rider Courtney Crone, 13. She has raced midgets and plans to step up to sprint cars. ... Shawn McConnell, of Brea, was interviewed on the big screen TV above turn three. He said he started racing speedway bikes as a Junior rider in 1974. He currently is the promoter of speedway bike racing at Pirate Speedway in San Bernardino at the Orange Show Fairgrounds.

Prior to the start of the D-1 feature at 9:59 pm, Industry's racing Director Kelly Inman. a former CRA sprint car driver (blue No. 43), used the pit mic and wished a happy 69th birthday to track announcer Bruce Flanders. Kelly, along with starter Tom Fox and referee Brian Galvin, led the singing of “Happy Birthday” by riders and grandstand spectators to Bruce. He is the chief announcer at Industry (Wednesdays), Pirate Speedway (Fridays), and Irwindale Speedway (Saturdays). He has also been the chief track announcer at the annual Long Beach Grand Prix every April since the late 1970s.

Second year 500cc D-1 rider “Mad” Max Ruml,16, fell hard in the first race of the night at 7:33 pm. His solo crash occurred on lap 2 in the second corner while he was in P. 2. He remained on the ground several minutes. He walked to the pits unassisted, but he withdrew from his other races with a nasty headache. He remained in the pits and watched his younger brother Dillon win the 250cc feature. As the Ruml's loaded their motorcycles for the trip home to Huntington Beach, the father of the racing brothers said Max was feeling better and did not have a concussion.

Under current speedway bike rules, point ties after all heat races are broken using the following system: head-to-head competition, wins, seconds, thirds and finally, if necessary, a run-off race if the tie is not broken by any of the first four steps. Three riders--Burmeister, Jason Ramirez and Austin Novratil-- tied at five points for P. 7 this week. Only P 7-8 were open for the two semi-finals and Novratil was eliminated by the tie-breaking system. ... Next Wednesday, June 11 at Industry Speedway will be the popular, annual “Legends of Speedway Night”. Speedway stars from past decades will be signing autographs at tables inside the front gate starting at 7:00 pm.




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