INDUSTRY, California — Charlie “the Edge” Venegas maintained his winning edge Wednesday night at Industry Speedway. About 1,200 spectators watched in the Grand Arena at the Industry Hills Expo Center. Four nights after he won the third of four qualifying rounds for the US National Speedway Motorcycle Championship event in October, the 46-year old San Bernardino resident enjoyed another perfect night. He won his three heat races, a semi-final race and the four-lap feature, leading every lap in his five rides aboard his GM mount. It was his fourth victory this season at Industry.
The 11th night of speedway bike racing in year ten of speedway motorcycle racing at the track was the annual Legends of Speedway Night. More than 20 now retired speedway bike racers, most from the 1960s through 1990s, attended and signed autographs for fans. They sat in a receiving line format at adjacent tables near the front entrance gate from 6:00-7:00. The legends chatted and signed their photos in a special 12-page free program that contained 25 action photos of the past two-wheel racing stars.
Retired legends present were: Jan Ballard, Tom Burba, Mark Cherry, Bill Cody, Dubb Ferrell, Jim Fishback, Bruce Flanders (the current track announcer at Industry, Pirate and Irwindale Speedways), Dean Foreman, Martin Hagon, Mike Lupo, Steve Martin (father of twin pee-wee racers Alex and Sterling), Billy Meister, Rick Miller, Rob Morrison, Doug Nicol, Sonny Nutter (a retired midget and CRA sprint car driver), world champion Bruce Penhall, Preston Petty, Scott Sivadge, Sammy Tanner (a top AMA flat track racer), Tumbleweed Walton, and Dean York.
The 500cc Division 1 main, the 39th race of the evening, had Venegas in the inside lane with Aaron Fox alongside. Buck Blair selected lane three, leaving the outside lane to Shawn McConnell. Venegas shot into the first turn in front and led all four laps over Fox. McConnell took third spot from Blair on the outside at the starting line as they completed lap two. A flat back tire caused McConnell to slide to the ground in the first turn on the third lap. He remounted but did not finish the final lap because of the deflated tire. Venegas won by three lengths, with Blair four lengths in back of Fox.
McConnell and Venegas won the pair of semi-final races that advanced the top two in each semi to the feature. D-1 500cc rookie Max Ruml, 16, led all four laps of the consolation race. Mike Faria scored a perfect nine points by winning all three of his heats, as did Venegas and McConnell. Tim Gomez and Steve Russell finished third and fourth in the consi.
Bruce Martiney, of San Dimas, won the first 500cc Division 2 main of his two-year D-2 career. He had won about four 500cc Division 3 features. Martiney's green No. 242 led the final three laps. First lap leader Braden Sauer, 16, fell in the first corner on his second lap. He remounted and finished third, behind recent winner Carl Gazafy. Kevin Fife was fourth.
Dave Troutt, 42, from Huntington Beach, was the third and final leader in a five-lap Division 3 main with five starters. Rick Howard was out front on the initial lap. Wade “the Rev” Whitcomb paced the second lap on a bike he bought recently from Troutt. Steve Brown, Howard and Tony DeAlmeida placed third-fifth.
Dillon Ruml, 14, led all four laps of the 250cc Junior main and scored his fourth Industry feature this season. He also won twice at Costa Mesa and once at Pirate Speedway. Broc Nicol, Dalton Leedy, Hayley Perrault and Michael Wells finished second through fifth respectively.
Sebastian “Big Daddy” Palmese, 10, won another mini-150cc five lap D-1 main. Maverick Molloy, Gino Scopellite and Dylan Smith followed. Tristan Britt, 10, from Huntington Beach, led the final three laps of the five lap contest. Slater Lightcap, Travis Hamilton, Jake Issac, Sam Hagon, Alex Martin, and Sterling Martin, who fell while a closing second place, followed.
In the five-lap 50cc pee-wee main, Dustin Staggs led all the way on his No. 725. It was his second night of racing at Industry; he followed his second place last week with his first main event victory. “Lightning”:Luke Whitcomb, 7, was the only starter 50-yards from the starting gate. He charged past most of the field on the opening lap when he fell in the fourth turn. He remained motionless for a minute. Then he rose and climbed back on his yellow and red No. 27. He restarted at the 50-yard line and finished second, a straightaway off the fleet leader. Connor Salazar, Andrew Russell, Jason Palmese, and Jake Troutt followed.
NOTES: Pam Bennett, a 1980s Division 2 speedway racer who raced once this season at age 52, was unable to attend. Reportedly, she was hospitalized for an emergency appendectomy. ... The 50/50 cash drawing this week totaled $1,070, so $535 went to D-1 riders in the feature. ... Missing riders this week as family vacations took place were: D-1 ace Billy Hamill and his 250cc Junior son Kurtis, 14. Mini150-D-1 rider Courtney Crone also was not present. Young 500cc D-1 stars Gino Manzares, Austin Novratil and Jason Ramirez also did not ride. ... Preston Petty, 72, rode his self-built, all electric 96-volt motorcycle around the Industry eighth-mile at speed. He also gave it a speedy and silent ride around the Perris Auto Speedway quarter mile on July 27 during the Long-Track Championship event. It is fast and silent.
Auto racing drivers present in the grandstand at Industry this week included 1980s CRA sprint car driver Jerry Hudson, who currently helps on the pit crew of Kyle McGrady's No. 11 NASCAR late model at Irwindale and other tracks. USAC Western Midget Series owner/driver Jerome Rodela, of El Monte, attended for the first time this season. He brought his cute daughter Kendall, age 3, and his dad. Jerome said he will have Nic Faas driving his No. 25 Spike midget in the lucrative August 31-September 1 doubleheader at the half-mile clay Calistoga Fairgrounds in the Napa Valley wine country.
The fourth and final qualifier round for the US National Championship race at Costa Mesa Speedway on October 5 will take place Friday, August 9. The site is Pirate Speedway on the grounds of the Orange Show Fairgrounds in San Bernardino. The speedway bike track is just outside the third turn of the quarter mile Orange Show Stadium auto racing track NE of the I-10 and 215 intersection.