KENNEDY: California Coast


LOS ANGELES — AMA Speedway Bike racing is on the upswing in Southern California.

Fast Fridays Speedway at the Gold Country Fairgrounds in Auburn, north of Sacramento, as well as tracks in Costa Mesa, Industry and San Bernardino operate regular schedules and periodic races are held in Victorville.

Aug. 9-10 was one of the three biggest weekends of the season at Industry Speedway, an eighth-mile dirt track, in the covered Grand Arena at the Industry Hills Expo Center. Almost 1,500 spectators watched the 23 four-lap races run Saturday night.

Aug. 9 was the third of four rounds to determine the 2014 AMA National Championship. Nor Cal’s Billy Janniro, 33, was perfection personified and won the Industry round. He also won the first two rounds at Costa Mesa and Ventura Raceway.

Known as Billy “the Kid,” he rode his Jawa/GM 500cc bike to victory in all five of his heats, a semi-final and the feature. He led every lap in his seven victories and scored the maximum 21 points. Janniro leads with an almost insurmountable 60 points to 44 points for the second-place Max Ruml, 17. The top riders look forward to round four in Auburn on Sept. 19.

Two riders each from NorCal and SoCal made the feature based on points earned during preliminary races. Janniro led all four laps over Charlie Venegas, Ruml and fellow northerner Bart Bast. Sixteen riders competed and the top eight in points after 20 heats made the pair of semi-final races. The top two in the semis advanced to the feature. Janniro beat Ruml, Buck Blair and Broc Nicol, 16.

Then Venegas topped Bast, Tommy Hedden and Jason Ramirez.

Victories in the 20 heats went to Janniro (five), Venegas (four), Bast (three), Blair, Hedden and Ruml (two each), plus Shawn McConnell and Nicol (one each). Normally slick and racy, the track was “tacky and grippy” according to one rider.

The top 10 in AMA National Championship points after three rounds are Janniro, 60; Ruml 44; Bast 35; Venegas 33; Blair 32; Nicol and Hedden tied at 24; Eddie Castro 22; Tyson Burmeister 18; McConnell and Ramirez tied at 15.

Sunday afternoon, Aug. 10 at Industry Speedway was the second annual AMA/FIM Silver Cup Championship for junior riders. About 300 persons attended. The Silver Cup is the largest juniors-only competition in the country. It is the only junior race in the U.S. recognized by the FIM, the world’s leading motorcycle federation. The Silver Cup utilized FIM rules and format like a Grand Prix event in Europe.