13 Jun 19
Orange County Register
The first of three events to determine the AMA National Speedway Motorcycle Championship is set for Saturday night at Ventura Raceway on the Ventura County Fairgrounds. The show starts at 7 p.m., although there will races for amateurs beginning at 5:30.
On Aug. 22, the second round is set for The Grand in the City of Industry; the finale is Sept. 21 in Auburn.
In recent years, the national championships have been a showcase for Billy Janniro. The 48-year-old Jawa rider from Winters has won the title nine times since 2008, including the past six. Among his main competition this year will be brothers Max and Dillon Ruml; Austin Novratil, last year’s runner-up; Bart Bast; Tommy Hedden; Aaron Fox; Russell Green; Gino Manzares; and 16-year-old Colton Hicks.
Speedway racing is not for the faint of heart, on the track or in the stands. Riders race more than 80 mph, with no brakes. For Ojai’s ‘Fast’ Eddie Castro, his four-decade career was threatened following a series of surgeries, and radiation and chemo treatments in his battle with cancer. However, he rebounded to attend a special tribute race for him at Perris. He continued to fight and eventually got a medical clearance.
In 2017, he won an April qualifier to get back into the National Championship stage, reserved for the best 16 riders in America.
Now, Castro has teamed with former rival Doug ‘The Destroyer’ Nicol to compete at Ventura, his home track. Nicol has been in retirement for a few years, except for an occasional race, to concentrate on the rising career of son Broc.
Broc is considered by many as one of the latest U.S. superstars of Speedway and has raced in Europe as part of the Sheffield Tigers team in England.
However, a few months back the elder Nicol was told of his own cancer diagnosis.
“Having had to undergo treatment myself recently, I knew I had to stay in a good mindset and do something positive,” Nicol said. “Broc has good racing equipment at home now that stays in the garage while he is racing in Europe. Eddie has somewhat been compromised by the equipment he has been using, so I decided to help him by putting him on Broc’s bikes for Ventura.
“Eddie got very sick, he’s been well now for three years. Given my current situation health-wise, he has been there coaching me, telling what to expect and what he went through. Teaming up with him on the track seems a natural partnership given the increased bond from this.”
The bonding of Castrol and the elder Nicol has created Team Cancer Sux.
“Doug and I have been friends for 40 years and it means a lot to have him work with me on the Nationals,” Castro said. “Doug and I have even been teammates in England representing the USA. We want to do well in the Nationals, we want to spread a positive message, and I want to inspire Doug and anyone else going through cancer treatment.”
Said race director Steve Evans: “Eddie is a Speedway legend and one of the most exciting riders out there. He has a superb riding style and rides the fast-outside line with teenage bravery. Doug is a huge character and a very fine rider himself. We are thrilled the ‘Cancer Sux’ team, spreading such an inspiring message, is debuting at Eddie’s home track.
“Eddie will be a threat to the younger riders chasing the National title.”
Tickets: adults $25; seniors, military and students $15; kids 7 to 12 $10.
Deegan draws attention
Her NASCAR K&N Series West win last week – her second of the season – in Colorado has put Temecula’s Hailie Deegan in the sights of the national media, whether for the good or bad.
At question is Deegan’s contact with Bill McAnally Racing teammate Derek Kraus on the last lap in the final two corners. All three of her NASCAR wins have involved contact.
“What this incident has done … is solidify the belief that Deegan doesn’t care what anyone on or off the track thinks, and she has repeatedly made it clear she’s here to win races, will do so at any cost, and then climb out and tell you all about It,” wrote Kelly Crandall of Racer Magazine. “Deegan, like a Kyle Busch or Johnny Sauter, Clint Bowyer, and even a Tyler Reddick, is a firecracker personality who can make people cry with laughter or shake with anger.”
There’s reason why the 17-year-old is attracting attention.
“Deegan is fearless, determined, and has no reservations on track about her competition – male, female or teammate,” Crandall wrote. ” And for a sponsor, she’s plenty marketable, and she’s growing quite the fan base”
Kraus leads the points race with 216, a dozen more than Deegan. Rookie Jagger Jones is third at 198, with Trevor Huddleston in fourth with 196.
— Perris Auto Speedway will admit all kids wearing Little League or Scout uniforms free Saturday night for the PASSCAR/IMCA event. At intermission, the kids will be let onto the front straightaway to collect candy from all the drivers. Four divisions will be racing on the half-mile clay oval: PASSCAR Super Stocks, Street Stocks, American Factory Stocks and the IMCA Modifieds. Tickets: adults $15; active military members (with proper ID and their spouse/date), teens 13-18 (with school ID) and kids 6-12 $5. Parking on the fairgrounds is $8.
— At Irwindale Speedway on Saturday night, 48-year-old Nick Joanides won the first of two 35-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Racing Series late model series races, his first feature victory since July 2017. It was his 55th IS feature victory, third on the all-time list behind Rip Michels (67) and Ryan Partridge (60). The second main went to second-year late model driver Dean Thompson. John Watkinson drove his own spec late model in the Spec Late Model and Lucas Oil Irwindale Race Trucks combined 40-lap event, his first feature victory since 2006. Dennis Arena was second place overall, 0.75 seconds behind Watkinson, to win the truck portion. This Saturday night, it’s “Summer Motorsports Mayhem: Stunts & Pyrotechnics” – a program of stunts, a motorhome Figure 8 race and other unique events.
— The California Lightning Sprint Car Series will compete at Bakersfield Speedway on Saturday night, the third at the 1/3-mile Kern County clay oval, Five-time series champion Bobby Michnowicz has the lead, 21 points over two-time and defending champ Jarrett Kramer. Doug Nunes, Eric Greco and Cody Nigh make up the top five. In addition to the CLS, the Western Pro Stocks, American Stocks, Mini Stocks and Outlaw Karts will also be in action.
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— Tom Hendricks returned to Ventura Raceway to take the 30-lap VRA Sprint Car main event over Trent Carter. Hendricks now leads the points race by 120 over Charlie Butcher. In the IMCA Modifieds, Trevor Fitzgibbon made a late pass and now leads Jack Parker by six points. Trent Morley won the VRA Pro Dwarf Cars, in which Jason Horton leads Tommy Velasquez III by 135 points after seven races.
— NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Cole Custer was a winner earlier this year at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. ACS was modeled after Michigan International Speedway, but they are way different, said Custer of Ladera Ranch. “They are not similar at all. They are similar in shape and size but the pavement is so much different,” he said before last week’s race in Brooklyn, Mich. “This is a lot newer pavement. At Auto Club, you are able to search around the track more and able to slip and slide around, where here you are almost wide open and only have the bottom two grooves to work with. It is all about how you can manage keeping your momentum up.”
— The Great Race will make a noon pit stop in Victorville on June 22 on its route to Tacoma, Wash. The annual race, 2,300-miles long this year, features more than 100 pre-1975 entries from Australia, England, Japan, Canada and the U.S. and will stop at the California Route 66 Museum. The race will end June 30. Of the $150,000 total purse, the winner will receive $50,000.
Louis Brewster can be reached at email@example.com.