INDUSTRY, California — Charlie “the Edge” Venegas returned to Industry Speedway after missing five Wednesdays to concentrate on promoting his weekly Saturday night racing series that will conclude on September 4 at the Solano County Fairgrounds Golden Gate Speedway in Vallejo. The San Bernardino resident and past Industry Speedway champion proved he hasn't lost his edge at Industry. He led all four laps of the 500cc Division 1 main event on his Borge Development/Red Line Oil No. 43 JAWA cycle. It was his fifth feature triumph this season at the Grand Arena of the Industry Hills Expo Center.
With 16 D-1 riders competing, five riders qualified for the feature after three rounds of heat races, two semi-finals and a last chance race. The five finalists picked starting positions in a blind draw at the starting line and Venegas wound up with pole position in the five-wide lineup. He shot into the lead immediately when the green light flashed and the starting tapes lifted. Tyson Burmeister and Shawn McConnell collided entering turn one and fell simultaneously. Lane five starter Eddie Castro laid his cycle down to avoid hitting the two fallen riders. A red flag and complete restart resulted. All five riders remounted and answered the call. Venegas duplicated his initial perfect hole shot and led all four laps. He won by ten yards over McConnell, with Castro, Burmeister and three-time winner Buck Blair following.
Industry Speedway round 12 of 14 this season attracted about 900 fans on “Bruce Penhall's Night of Legends” that honored past speedway cycle racing legends from past decades. About 25 retired riders, seated behind a long table just inside the front entrance, took part in an autograph session. They conversed with fans, autographed photo cards and relived past exploits. Two 1930-era speedway cycles also were on display. Later several retired riders raced in two-lap match races. As part of the festivities, a group photo was taken at the starting line infield and included about 30 riders, past and present.
Retired speedway cycle racers present included: Billy Hamill, Bruce Penhall, Brad Oxley, Jim Fishback, Sr., Dubb Ferrell, Billy Gray, Dean York, Bill Cody, Doug Nicol, Gary Hicks, Sr. and Jr., Mark Cherry, Kelly Inman, Pat “Tumbleweed” Walton, Pat Hawley, Pam (nee Bennett) Weaver (known as The Pink Lady when she raced D-2 from 1975-82 at Costa Mesa and Ascot), Steve Murray, Andy Northrup, Scott Sivadge, Dennis Sigalos, Don Odom, Tom Burba, Dave Galvin, Johnnie Griffitts, Danny McNeill, Rick Miller, Greg and Bruce Haserot, Bobby Hardison, and Dean Foreman. Current riders Bobby Schwartz, Mike Faria, McConnell, Castro and Venegas also participated. Attendees included racing promoters/brothers Jay and Chris Agajanian, AMA TT expert rider Skip Van Leeuwen, and race car drivers Steve Howard and Wally Pankratz.
Jake Myers won his second five-rider Support Division main this year. Venegas and Burmeister captured the two semi-final races. Castro won the last chance race for third and fourth place finishers in the twin-semis. Castro had just nipped teen Joey Holt by inches for P. 4 in their semi-final to earn a position in the last chance race. Holt was riding a cycle he borrowed from B. Schwartz. Five sidecar teams raced three heats and a main. Paraplegic driver Bryan Motis, of Garden Grove, and sidecar rider Brandi McElroy, of Ontario, took the lead on lap two and won their fourth four-lap race at Industry this season as a team. Broc Nicol won the first youth main (three starters) on his 150cc cycle for his third victory of 2010. Matthew Duffy, 9, won the second youth main for motocross-style cycles in his second race this season. Season-long competitor and rookie Alyssa Smith, an 8-year old pony-tailed blond wearing a pink helmet, led all four laps of a six-rider pee-wee main for youngsters. The Lakewood lass uses No. 31 on her pink 50cc mini-cycle to honor her stock car driver dad, Tom, the 2006 Figure 8 champion at Irwindale. Her best prior main event finish was second place.
Prior to the third round of D-1 heat races, Gary Hicks, Jr. and E. Castro raced two match races on 1934 model JAP (designed by J. A. Pestich) 150cc singles (muffler-free) that were on display earlier. Each rider won a match race. Then retirees Andy Northrup and Steve Murray ran a match race on modern cycles, as did Billy Hamill and Doug Nicol with their sons Kurtis, 11, and Broc, 12, making it a foursome. Broc won. Then Jim Fishback, Sr. raced a match race against current support division rider Kevin Johnson, who led the first lap before being passed on the inside by Fishback leaving turn four at the lap 2 checkered flag. With all that action, at 9:58 pm the second largest Industry crowd of the season was en-route to the parking lot or to the pits for more conversations with current and past riders.