Speedway motorcycle racing's annual Spring Classic, which serves as a farewell appearance for Southern California riders planning to compete in the British League, will usher in the new season this weekend with races Friday night at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa and Sunday afternoon at the Inland Motorcycle Speedway in San Bernardino.
The three-race series, for a purse of $10,500, will end March 15 at Veterans Stadium in Long Beach.
Six riders, headed by veteran British campaigner Shawn Moran of Norwalk, are scheduled to ride in England this season.
The others are Sam Ermolenko of Corona, third-place finisher in the World Finals last year; Lance King of Fountain Valley, third in the 1984 World Finals; Rick Miller of Reseda, second to Shawn Moran in Australia's Mildura Masters earlier this year; John Cook of Roseville, winner of last year's American Finals in Long Beach; and Kelly Moran of Reseda, a former two-time U.S. champion. All but Cook are entered in the spring series.
Shawn Moran and Miller competed overseas last year, along with Bobby (Boogaloo) Schwartz of Balboa Island, who has elected to compete on Southland ovals this season.
Shawn, the younger of the Moran brothers, became the first American rider to compete in all four world championship finals last year. He was fourth in the World Finals, third in the World Best Pairs, fourth in the World Long Track and, with Schwartz, led the U.S. to second place in the World Team Cup.
As captain of the Sheffield Tigers in England, Moran maintained a 10.43 average--out of a possible 12--in 75 British League meetings, 11 team matches and 30 long track and grass races in Europe.
National champion Alan Christian of Huntington Beach will carry the No. 1 plates on his bike. Christian, who won the California championship six years ago, is the old man of speedway racing at 30.
The format for all three spring events calls for 20 scratch races, with the four leading point winners riding in a 21st race to determine the track champion. Defending spring champion is Mike Faria of Colton.
The weekly speedway season will start March 28 at Costa Mesa, followed by opening nights April 1, at Ventura, April 2, at San Bernardino, April 3, at Ascot Park, and April 5 at the San Bernardino County Fairgrounds in Victorville.
The Victorville track will be new to Division 1 riders after operating part of last season with Division 2 competition.
Carlsbad, which operated on Sundays last year, is closed, but track operators hope to relocate early in the season.
SPRINT CARS--The California Racing Assn. season, which began last week at El Centro with Ricky Hood of Memphis, Tenn., and John Redican of Sepulveda winning main events, will resume Saturday night, March 15, at Ascot Park. Most of the CRA drivers and cars will be at Baylands Raceway Park in Fremont, Calif., this week for a Friday night-Saturday night doubleheader.
MOTORCYCLES--Three-time world champion Freddie Spencer and longtime rival Eddie Lawson will be favored in Sunday's 45th annual Daytona 200, a $155,000 race also featuring Camel Pro Series champion Bubba Shobert, who will make his first start on the high-banked Daytona oval. Spencer is defending champion.
STOCK CARS--Marta Leonard, 34, a Suisun City, Calif., an adult school principal, is the first entry for NASCAR's new Southwest tour, which will open March 29 at Saugus Speedway. Leonard, the only woman driver to win a Sports Car Club of America Pacific Coast road racing championship, will drive a Camaro IROC-Z in the 100 lap race on Saugus' one-third mile flat oval.