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Motor Racing : Half the Battle in U.S. National Is Getting There

August 21, 1986|Shav Glick

Getting into the U.S. Speedway National may be as difficult as winning it, since a rider must maintain his poise and determination through six nights of qualifying to gain 1 of 16 berths in the final Oct. 11 at Costa Mesa.

Actually, only 13 spots are available to the 32 contenders because Alan Christian, the defending champion from Huntington Beach, and British League veterans Sam Ermolenko of Corona and Lance King of Fountain Valley have been seeded into the final.

The competition started last Saturday night in Auburn, Calif., where Mike Faria of Colton scored a perfect 21 points, then continued Tuesday night in Ventura, where Faria scored another 21, and Wednesday night in San Bernardino.

Remaining are three more qualifying programs--tonight at Ascot Park's South Bay Stadium, Friday night at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa and Saturday night at Victorville. Riders with the most points from the six nights will be in the national.

"The idea of a national championship is to present the top 16 riders in the country and not have some trick qualifying system that will knock the best riders out and let the others in," said Harry Oxley, promoter of the U.S. National. "This way, by having a series of races, a rider can have an engine failure at one track and still make it through to the nationals."

After two events, Faria had 42 points, followed by Steve Lucero of Riverside with 31, Jim Sisemore of Woodland, the Northern California point leader, with 30, and Robert Pfetzing of Garden Grove with 29.

Gene Woods of Costa Mesa was disqualified when he failed to show up for the opener at Auburn. It was learned later that he rode that night in a second division race at Victorville, and now Woods faces suspension for the rest of this season and the first six months of next season.

Former state champion Bobby (Boogaloo) Schwartz of Balboa, who has done most of his riding this year in England, just made it into the qualifying round as the last of Southern California's 24 eligible riders. Not competing this year are the Moran brothers, both former national champions. Shawn has international commitments, and Kelly was injured in a non-racing accident and is out for the season.

Three East Coast riders, Warren Diem, Tuff McBride and Scott Brown, are among the 32 entries. There are also eight Northern Californians, but if tradition holds true, most of the 16 finalists will be from the Southern California contingent of Faria, Lucero, Pfetzing, Brad Oxley of San Clemente, Shawn McConnell of Brea, Mark Dwyer, Gary Hicks, Rocky Robinson and Rich Sweaney of Riverside; John Sandona of Reche Canyon, Ronnie Correy of Fullerton, Ed Castro of Santa Ana, Bob Ott of Oceanside, Jeff Johnson of Norco, Andy Northrup of Ontario, Walt Farnum of Ventura, Keith Chrisco, Gene Woods and Tim McCasland of Costa Mesa; Jeff Jones of Agoura, and Schwartz.

Sandona, 31, is the oldest and Correy, 19, is the youngest.

The first eight qualifiers will also be seeded into next year's American Final at Long Beach, the first round of races leading to the 1987 world championships.

MOTOCROSS--Honda teammates David Bailey of Axton, Va., and Rick Johnson of El Cajon will race for the American Motorcyclist Assn. 500cc championship Sunday at Washougal, Wash., in the final meeting of the season. Defending champion Bailey has a seven-point edge, 231-224, over Johnson, the national 250cc and stadium champion. Jeff Ward of Mission Viejo is third at 183, but with no chance at the title. Two motos Sunday will be worth 25 points each to the winner. Last week in Hollister, Calif., Bailey and Johnson finished 2-1 and 1-2. The 125cc championship will also be at stake with Micky Dymond of Yorba Linda the expected winner. Dymond leads George Holland of Kerman, Calif., by 39 points. . . . CMC riders will compete Friday night at Ascot Park.

SPRINT CARS--Mike Sweeney and Eddie Wirth, defending California Racing Assn. champion, will continue what is looking more and more like a futile chase of point leader Brad Noffsinger when the summer season continues Saturday night at Ascot Park. Noffsinger won his ninth main event last week and leads Sweeney, 2,455 to 2,249, with Wirth only seven points behind Sweeney.

STOCK CARS--Saturday will be Trucker's Night at Saugus Speedway with a special trucker's ego challenge for everything from minis to big rigs. Modifieds headline a busy program of four main events. . . . Ron Meyer has won 10 pro stock main events in the Curb Motorsports series at Ascot Park and defending champion Don Wright Jr. has won only two, but Wright has closed to within 46 points of Meyer. Consistency paid off for Wright last year, too, when he won only twice but finished ahead of five-time winner Jerry Johnson. . . . Last week's Cops 'n Robbers demolition derby at Ascot raised $5,000 for the Lomita-Harbor City Kiwanis Club's youth activities program.

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