INDUSTRY, Calif. – Billy Janniro, the 10-time and reigning AMA Speedway National champion, led all four laps Saturday on his No. 1 GM 500cc speedway bike from the So Cal shop of Denny Scopellite in the scratch main.
About 500 spectators witnessed the first Industry Speedway event of the year. The opener was the Gumball Rally for adults preceding a Sunday afternoon Kids Gumball Rally. Saturday night riders donated all their winnings towards the cash purse shared by junior division riders Sunday.
The 39-year old speedway racing star also finished second in the feature for first division experts in a six-rider handicap feature. Janniro started 50 yards from the starting gate. Winner Tyler Warren, 24, launched from the 20-yard line and led every lap while holding off challenging Janniro. The Auburn resident has been an infrequent visitor to the Industry Hills Expo Center Grand Arena. He last raced a full season at his hometown track in 2015.
The 500cc second division main event victory went to rookie Landon Norton, 16, with three fellow Nor Cal riders following. The winner, from Citrus Heights, moved up to the 500cc expert class and Saturday was his debut ride. The talented 2018-19 California State Junior 250cc champion skipped the third division and showed why by winning his first 500cc feature in his first start.
The third division 500cc feature for new or less experienced riders was a start-to-finish ride out front by rookie Dave Perry, 25, from Camarillo. It was only his third race and first competition at Industry on his No. 127 Jawa. He raced for the first time at Perris Raceway on Jan. 11 and Feb. 1.
Also on the program were seven 1,000cc-Suzuki powered motorcycles with sidecars. Swingers in the sidecars provided counter-balance to enable drivers to negotiate four corners each lap. Perennial sidecar champion Joe Jones and his passenger Josh Flammia won their heat race and the four-lap feature. They led every lap in each race, competing in a clockwise direction as opposed to the speedway bikes that race counter-clockwise.
Saturday’s racing program had 35 races from 7:39 to 10:25 pm. One crash in event 15 (a 500cc third division semi-final) had two bikes make contact. Cody Baugh, riding in his eighth race and first event at Industry, veered into the plywood crashwall at the start of the front straight and hit hard. The 24-year old heavy equipment mechanic from Roseville tumbled to the ground. Ambulance EMTs treated him trackside for a broken collarbone. He remained on the premises to watch competition with his right arm in a sling.
D-1 Scratch Main: Billy Janniro, Gino Manzares, Broc Nicol, Max Ruml (spun 360 and fell EZ on lap 1, turn one after contact with Janniro’s bike).
D-1 Scratch Consy: Blake Borello, Tommy Hedden, Russell Green. DNS-Sammy Ramirez.
D-1 Handicap Main: Tyler Warren, B. Janniro, Jake Isaac, G. Manzares, M. Ruml, B. Nicol.
D-1 Handicap Consy: Blake Borello, Brad Sauer, Sebastian Palmese, Tommy Hedden.
Sidecar Main: Joe Jones/Josh Flammia, Ace Kale/Brent Smith, Kevin Kale/Tracy Gallagher, and Dillon Osborne/Jamie Marboro.
D-2 Main: Landon Norton, Timmy Dion, Will McCloskey, Lawrence McNutt.
D-3 Main: Dave Perry, Rees Todd, Andy Dix, Tyler Moszer, Dennis Osmer, Jake Myers.
– The Gumball Rally dates back to 1983 when two fathers of junior division riders wanted a special race for only junior competitors. It has been held for many years at Industry Speedway. It was not held in 2019 because a suitable date could not be found at the busy Grand Arena, which seats 5,000 and hosts many diverse events, including rodeos, circus acts, horse and dog shows, and at times roller derby.
– Broc Nicol, from Lomita, told me he will fly back to England on Feb. 26 to resume his pro speedway racing career on the Wolverhampton Wolves team. Practice sessions begin in early March with British Speedway League racing starting shortly thereafter. He also signed with the Glasgow Tigers for part of the year.
– Four-time Speedway World Champion Greg Hancock, of Costa Mesa, recently announced his retirement at age 49 from racing following a brilliant 30-year career on the world stage. He had his sons Wilbur, 14, (250cc) and Karl (50cc pee-wees) racing at Industry Sunday.
– Dillon Ruml did not race at Industy in the Gumball Rally. He is still recuperating from a fall and shoulder injury during a recent race at Perris Raceway on Burton Road in the Inland Empire city. He and brother Max made contact, precipitating Dillon’s fall and injury.
– Billy Janniro’s entire family was present to see him race at Industry. Wife Christina, daughter Gracie, 9, and son Ricky, 23 months, enjoyed the Saturday event. Billy’s gumball machine filled with gumballs was in the hands of daughter Gracie on the podium with Billy and Ricky. Look for curly-haired Ricky to be a pee-wee division rider as soon as possible. Billy, Max Ruml and Gino Manzares were all present Sunday to help junior division riders, the next generation stars. Gino was helping his son Ryder, 7, start his 50cc pee-wee racing.
– Newcomers to Industry Speedway Saturday were plentiful in each division for the initial event. It was a chilly (for So Cal) mid-50s night with a light rain shower briefly about 8 p.m. That did not affect the indoor event in the modern arena overlooking the East San Gabriel Valley.
– With seven sidecar teams in action, three entrants locked into the four-sidecar feature early. Four teams had to race in a Last Chance race. No. 28 led every lap with driver Lawrence McNutt and swinger Sammy Tetrault aboard. The new No. 77 team of Kenny Greco/Mike North finished second, with No. 07 (Kevin Kale/Tracy Gallagher) third and No. 11 Kevin Holman/Weston Farnworth fourth. However, the winner was disqualified after the swinger fell out (without injury) before the checkered flag. The runner-up also was disqualified after the right side wheel went into the infield inside the piping. The unusual double DQ resulted in Kevin Kale joining his father’s No. 357 in the feature.
– Ace told me he currently also owns five TQ Midgets — all have seven in the car numbers. Ace and son, Kevin, drive two of the TQs in the NMRA-TQ Series. They will race at Ventura Raceway five times from March 14 to Oct. 3, four times at Bakersfield Speedway (March 21 to Sept. 5), and twice at Santa Maria Raceway (Aug. 1 and Aug. 15).