Speedway motorcycle veteran Shawn Moran, who won the American Final while riding with a broken right ankle last year at Long Beach Veterans Stadium, will return to Long Beach this week to see if he can win while healthy.
Moran, a former world long track champion from Huntington Beach, and most of Southern California's best riders will open their 1987 mainland season Saturday night at Long Beach in the first of a three-race Spring Classic series. Competition will continue Sunday afternoon at San Bernardino's Inland Motorcycle Speedway and conclude Friday night, March 13 at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa.
Moran was determined to ride in the American Final because it was a qualifying round for the world championship. He showed up with his leg in a boot that was sliced from the top to the sole so he could squeeze a fiberglass cast inside. Broken ankle and all, Moran responded by scoring 14 of a possible 15 points to win the championship.
This year's season actually got an early start 10 days ago at Aloha Stadium in Hawaii, where Brad Oxley of San Clemente was a surprise winner. Oxley not only won, but he also worked a week preparing the track for racing and then spent most of race day pumping water off the course after heavy rains saturated the track.
Oxley, son of Spring Classic promoter Harry Oxley, also prepares the Costa Mesa and Long Beach tracks for racing.
Moran, along with U.S. champion Bobby Schwartz of Balboa Island, Lance King of Fountain Valley, John Cook of Roseville, Calif., and Rick Miller of Reseda, will leave for England after the spring series to compete in the British Speedway League. Moran's brother, Kelly, and Sam Ermolenko, are already riding in Europe and will miss the Southland's season opener.
Schwartz, who won the 1984 American Final at Long Beach with a perfect score of 15 points, recently returned from a racing tour of Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii.
"We put on a good show for the Hawaiians, but I wasn't happy with the way I rode," Schwartz said. "Hopefully, I'll ride better at Long Beach. I've always considered the Spring Classic series as the start of the season. I want to do well before my home fans before I head for England."
California state champion Bob Ott of Newport Beach heads a list of local favorites entered this weekend. Others include Oxley, Mike Faria of Colton, Steve Lucero of Riverside and Gary Hicks of Riverside. Hicks, 17, is the grandson of the late Cordy Milne, who won the national championship in 1934 and 1935. Hicks finished third in last year's U.S. final and spent the off-season riding in New Zealand.
The format on the 250-meter Long Beach course will differ from the other smaller tracks. The four-lap scratch races will have five riders competing instead of the usual four.
Regular weekly night speedway racing will start Friday, April 3 at Costa Mesa; Tuesday, April 7 at Ventura Raceway; Wednesday, April 8 at San Bernardino; Thursday, April 9 at Ascot Park, and Sunday, April 26 at Victorville.
STOCK CARS--Hobby stock, foreign stock and jalopy drivers will open the season Friday night at Saugus Speedway. The jalopy division is new this year. There will be open practice the next two Saturdays for all Saugus divisions, and the regular Saturday night weekly season will open March 21 with a factory stock enduro and destruction derby. . . . Winston Cup champion Dale Earnhardt became the second race driver to be named the Carolinas' Professional Athlete of the Year when he beat out basketball star Michael Jordan and NFL Rookie of the Year Dino Hackett for the 1986 award. Richard Petty won the award in 1975 and 1979. Former recipients also include Lawrence Taylor, Dwight Clark and Gaylord Perry.
OFF ROAD RACING--Four-time Baja 1000 winner Mark McMillin, who has yet to win a race in southern Nevada, will try again Saturday in the Gold Coast 300, second event of the eight-race High Desert Racing Assn./SCORE International series. McMillin, the defending unlimited single seat champion from Bonita, will be the first driver off the line in his Porsche-powered Chenowth single-seater. McMillin will start at 7 a.m. Saturday from Sloan, 15 miles south of Las Vegas, with about 250 vehicles to follow at 15-second intervals. . . . Nissan and the HDRA recently presented two 1987 Pulsars to the Barstow Community College for its automotive training center. The college serves as the start-finish line for the Fireworks 250 over the Fourth of July weekend.
POWERBOATS--Don Johnston of Lakeview Terrace, Calif., with help from Jim Havenstein Jr., Fred Havenstein and Johnny Sanders, won the 25th Parker Enduro, a seven-hour marathon on the Colorado river, last Sunday. Second was Scott Jensen of Fort Collins, Colo., followed by Mitch Lembke of Orange, who had Russ Romer and Todd Fitchen as co-drivers.
SPRINT CARS--After finishing first and second in the California Racing Assn. season openers last week at El Centro, Mike Sweeney is the early leader in the Parnelli Jones Firestone point fund. Sweeney, who plans to race on the World of Outlaws circuit this year instead of remaining at home for CRA competition, has 252 points after winning his 18th career main event. Jerry Meyer and Bubby Jones, winner of the Sunday El Centro race, are next with 241 points.