Vintage speedway takes center stage at Fast Fridays
July 01, 2012
Story and photo by Michael Kirby
Fast Fridays Motorcycle Speedway took a nostalgic look back Friday night at the Gold Country Fairgrounds presenting a special night of vintage speedway motorcycle racing. Seven riders dusted off their old bikes -- collector’s items all of them -- tuned them up, filled the gas tanks with fuel, and took to the track. The bikes were powered by 500cc two-value stand-up motors and straight pogo front suspensions, cutting edge technology in the ’50s and ‘60s. Many riders donned old sets of leathers, surprising that still fit, and vintage helmets.
Today’s racing machines have not made many changes over the years and it’s still the man on the machine that counts. The motors are now four-valve lay-downs models. The suspensions have advanced a little, and there have been updates in the clutch mechanisms that run today. The exhaust pipes are straight without mufflers so the noise level increased a little but basically the night was a chance for a couple of the guys that have not been on a speedway bike in a while to have another chance at the glory days on their beloved old motorcycles.
Harlan Bast, Glenn Scott, Bobby Hedden, Billy Meister, Vance Felicio, Bryan Yarrow, and Bob Hicks all suited up and climbed on the old bikes. Hedden won the main event but Felicio and Hicks did not go down easy, Felicio finished second and Hicks was third. The competition was fast but friendly and the guys had a great time riding the old bikes. Auburn resident Gary Davis also brought out a portion of his historical motorcycle collection for display, some 25 vintage machines that brought back memories to many that attended the throw-back night.
The defending USA National Speedway champion Billy Janniro has won the last three consecutive Division I scratch main events at Fast Fridays. Janniro has won five of the eight scratch main events so far in the 2012 season.
In the regular program, the Division I scratch main event again saw Bart Bast, Bryan Yarrow, Tommy Hedden and USA National Speedway champion Billy Janniro line up on the start line. It is the fifth week in a row these four seasoned veteran speedway riders have lined up for the scratch main event. If there’s a kink in Janniro’s armor the weaknesses are hard to find. Hedden is the only rider at Fast Fridays to beat Janniro in the scratch main event which he did in week four and five. Janniro was again undefeated in the scratch program and this week was riding out of lane three finding his way to the lead by going outside on the first turn. Hedden, out of lane one was right there just a bike length behind and made a few well planned attacks but Janniro just put the hammer down and pulled away from him glancing back a couple of times to check his position. Janniro seems to be able to pull just a little more out of his bike then the rest of the guys. Hedden was second, Bast was third and Yarrow was fourth. It is only going to take one small mistake by Janniro for any of these guys to jump on it and win the main event.
The Division I handicap main event was won by a very excited Daniel Faria, his first handicap main event win of the season. It was a very fast race with all the riders on their throttles from start to finish. Bart Bast was second, Tommy Hedden was third, and Greg Hooten was third. The Division II main event was won by Bryce Taddy, riding off the start line who also won his heat race. Dustin Berdolt, off the 20 yard line was second, and Danny Turner, off the 30 yard line was third. Shane Szuh broke through with a Division III main event win, his first of the season, followed by Eddie Marsalla in second and Kyle Marsalla was third.
The Division I Youth main event was won by 13 year-old speedster Luke Becker, his third main event win of the season. Max Ruml, up from Southern California was second. Ruml also won the trophy dash. Landon Norton took the Division II Youth main event, followed by Colton Hicks.
On Friday July 6 Fast Fridays will bring the third round of the Extreme Sidecar Series back to the Gold Country Fairgrounds. Joe Jones and his band of rowdy three wheeled adrenalin seeking racers will be back on their 1100cc bikes with exciting sidecar action.
Results from Fast Friday’s for 6-29-12
Division 1 Scratch Main Event
1-Billy Janniro, 2-Tommy Hedden, 3-Bart Bast, 4-Bryan Yarrow
Division I Handicap Main Event
1-Daniel Faria, 2-Bart Bast, 3-Tommy Hedden
Division II Main Event
1-Bryce Taddy, 2-Dustin Berdolt, 3-Danny Turner
Division III Main Event
1-Shane Szuh, 2-Eddie Marsalla, 3-Kyle Marsalla
Division I Youth Main Event
1-Luke Becker, 2-Max Ruml
Division II Youth Main Event
1-Landon Norton, 2-Colton Hicks