FISHBACK TRIUMPHS @ INDUSTRY – By Tim Kennedy
Industry, CA., Jun. 6 – Jimmy Fishback III, 37, from Rancho Cucamonga, rode impressively to the AMA Speedway 500cc scratch feature triumph Wednesday in a 35-event racing program at Industry Speedway in the Grand Arena of the Industry Hills Expo Center. He started his GM bike next to pole-sitter Dillon Ruml, got to turn one before Ruml's Jawa, and led all four laps. He edged pressing Ruml by one length when starter Tom Fox waved the checkered flag at 9:52 pm. About 800 spectators witnessed the action.
Tim Gomez, 29, from Hesperia, started his Jawa on the outside next to the wall. He finished third, two lengths in back of Ruml, after taking third on lap 2. Lane three starter Austin Novratil went high in the third turn, losing the position to Gomez. Novratil was unable to catch Gomez and slowed in the final two corners to trail by ten lengths at the finish.
Fishback III won his first main event at Industry since 2011, when he won five D-1 main events during two months (June and July) on his familiar No. 25 Jawa. He won six features in 2012 at Inland Motorcycle Speedway in San Bernardino on the Orange Show Fairgrounds property. He also won a 2012 speedway feature in Las Vegas at a track promoted by Sammy Tanner. Fishback finished second in the feature at Costa Mesa last Saturday.
Fishback raced his speedway bike infrequently since 2013 while his daughter and son Jimmy IV were young. Then he spent almost two years racing on four wheels in desert off-road truck racing events. He returned to speedway racing last year during mid-season and showed his racing skills were still intact.
Fishback, known as “Little Animal”, is the son of former speedway racer Jim Jr., called “The Animal” for his gung-ho run to the front style. Fishback, Jr. was 6' 5” and 185 and raced in the US Speedway Finals as a rookie in 1975. He won often in the first division from 1975-82. Then Jim (born in 1954) joined Mickey Thompson's new stadium motocross circuit for his racing thrills.
The 500cc D-1 field was only ten riders this week. They raced three rounds of heats. Absentees included Max Ruml and Broc Nicol, who are both realizing their dream to race speedway bikes in Europe.
Tyson Burmeister was recuperating at home after suffering a badly broken hip in a main event lap 1, first turn crash with Nicol at Costa Mesa last Saturday. On Sunday he underwent successful surgery that avoided the need for hip replacement. Billy Janniro did not fly south this week after winning main events last Wednesday at Industry, Friday in Auburn, and Saturday at Costa Mesa.
HEATS: Ruml was the only D-1 rider who scored a perfect nine points by winning all three of his heat races. Novratil and Aaron Fox tallied eight points with a pair of heat wins and a second. Fishback had a win and two seconds for seven points. All ten D-1 riders scored at least a point. It took two points to qualify for one of the two semi-finals that transferred the top two finishers in each to the feature.
Pole starter Ruml led all the way over second lane starter Fishback in the first semi-final. Charlie Venegas and Michael Wells followed closely. Novratil employed the same tactic in the second semi by starting from pole position and leading every lap over Gomez, Fox and Bobby “Boogaloo” Schwartz, the 61-year old Grand Marshal for the Connor Penhall Memorial Cup a week earlier.
SIDECARS: A field of seven 1,000cc sidecars raced two rounds of heats, a consy that sent the top two finishers into the main with the top two point scoring teams. The feature was a wild race with first heat winners Bryan Motis/Johnny Bach the lap 1 leader. The No. 64 of Dillon Osborne/Ashley Gibbons led part of lap 2 before season champions Joe Jones and his swing-man Tom Summers shot past on the inside at turn two and led the final three laps.
However, referee Steve Lucero ruled the apparent winning team had made their pass for the lead inside the course-marking pipe. The No. 1 Jones/Summers team was placed last, behind the winning 2003 Yamaha R1 of Motis/Bach, No. 1965 Jeff Rowe/Josh Bennett, and Osborne/Gibbons, who dropped out.
Seven 500cc D-2 (intermediate skill level) riders competed in heats, a consy and main event, won by former USMC veteran Eloy Medelin. He led all four laps over Rudy Laurer, Bruce Marteney and Mike Miller, who raced in a tight pack all the way.
Six 500cc D-3 (newer riders) also raced two heat rounds. Industry newcomer/second-year speedway rider Blake Cronkrite, 33, led every lap of the main, as he did in both heats. He won by a straightaway each time. He rode a 2006 Jawa (No. 223) and seems to be a lock to move up to D-2 rapidly based upon his skill level.
JUNIORS: Four 250cc Junior Division riders raced two heats and a main event. Whittier's Jake Isaac, 15, won both heats and the main over Slater Lightcap, Luke Whitcomb and Andrew Russell. Five 150cc riders raced. Justin Almon,12, won one of two heats and led all four laps of the 150cc main on a Stuha frame modified by Charlie Venegas for his son Keelan to race as a 150 junior. It was Almon's first feature victory at Industry. He won earlier this year and last year at Perris Raceway.
Travis Horn, Owen Williams, Jose Navarette, Levi Leutz and Gordon Teufel III followed. Only one of two 50cc pee-wee riders entered was present. Uncontested Ken Matsudaira won the main and two heats (the first after an easy fall in turn four on the initial lap). He re-mounted and ran all four laps to cheers from fans.
Two Born Free & Harley-Davidson Stampede exhibition four-lap “races” had six Harley riders in event one and seven in the other event. They entertained themselves and spectators without colliding and falling from their street-legal Harleys. The demo “races” promoted the Fox Stampede at Industry Speedway on Thursday, June 21. Classes, with main events in each class, are: Tank Shift, Hooligan, Vintage, Open Twin, XR75, pull start minis, ladies and more.
> Usual Industry PA announcer Bruce Flanders was home ill according to his brother Paul. Terry “Ike” Clanton, the Costa Mesa Speedway PA announcer, subbed for Bruce this week. Clanton is a distant relative of the Clantons who had the famous 1881 gunfight at the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona.
> Long-time 500cc D-2 rider Pam Bennett (No. 351) won the weekly raffle at Industry this week according to her daughter Cayla, one of her six children.
> The general manager of the So California Fair at Perris and PAS track announcer Scott Daloisio were in the pits Wednesday night checking out the Industry Speedway weekly action. There could be speedway bike racing in the future in Perris at the eight-mile dirt track on the So Cal Fair property near the half-mile PAS oval. The Inland Empire could use a replacement for the IMS that raced through 2013.
NEW SIDECAR TEAMS:
> Newlyweds Aaron Silvy, a 37-year old mechanic, and his new wife Vanessa, a 36-year old nurse, raced on the pink No. 21 1,000cc Suzuki normally raced by the two Heathers. Usual driver Heather Rowe, the tall blond & tattooed wife of No. 1965 S/C driver Jeff Rowe, loaned her Riverside-based No. 21 to the personable couple. The Adelaide, Australia residents came to the USA on their honeymoon after marrying on May 5. Both race speedway sidecars and motocross sidecars in Australia. They are the parents of eight children (four each) from ages 6 to ages 18.
> Aaron drove a sidecar in the USA for the first time June 2 at Costa Mesa. At Industry Aaron drove Heather's No. 21 and Vanessa rode in the sidecar. The newlyweds raced in the first sidecar heat (event 6) but dropped out of P. 4 on lap 2 after a cylinder problem caused the engine to misfire. They joined Heather Rowe in the grandstand to watch remaining races. They enjoyed their visit to So Cal and local sidecar experience. They said they race on much bigger tracks back home. The newlyweds will fly home to Australia Monday, June 11 via Air New Zealand. They said it is a 12-hour flight from LAX to New Zealand and another four hour flight from New Zealand to their home in Australia.
> The second new sidecar team at Industry June 6 was a father and son team. They were listed in the printed program as Ace Kyle and Kevin Kyle. That is incorrect. Their names are Ace and Kevin Kale, from Westminster, CA. Ace, 61, is the driver and son Kevin, 40, is the S/C swinger. Their 1,000cc Suzuki is the ex-No. 1 Joe Jones built and driven sidecar. He sold this one after he built and raced his new 2017 sidecar last season and in 2018.
> The Kale duo is new to speedway sidecar racing. They said they have five years of motocross sidecar racing experience at tracks in Ridgecrest, Milestone (Riverside), and Glen Helen. They use No. 357 on their leathers because Kevin raced a speedway bike No. 357 as a 500cc D-3 rider for a year in Costa Mesa about a decade ago. Kevin kept his No. 357 leathers, so Ace kept that number to save Kevin the cost of $1,400 leathers with a new number.
> The Kale team made their speedway S/C debut at Industry and finished third in heat 6 and third in the consy to just miss making the main event. Ace said they had the wrong gearing and will have it correct next Wednesday at Industry when S/C teams race again at Industry.
> Ace and Kevin have raced NMRA-TQ (three-quarter) open-wheel midgets since 2015. Ace won the NMRA- TQ rookie of the year title that season. He won his first ever 20-lap TQ midget main event May 19 in an eight-car field at the third-mile clay Bakersfield Speedway in Oildale. He is now the NMRA point leader by three points in both driver and car owner point standings after three of 16 scheduled races.
> Ace owns six TQ midgets and races four of them in NMRA with his son Kevin and two hired drivers. Ace has the number 7 on all four of his active TQ midgets to honor his 1977-born son who died at age 29 in 2006. Ace drives No. 77, Kevin drives No. 07, a friend named Don drives No. 70, and a female rookie drives No 7.