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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | MOTOR SPORTS

Payne Is Proving Ready for Pros

May 10, 2000|DARIN ESPER

Billy Payne of Chatsworth has competed in outdoor motocross events since he was 9. On Sunday, he will make his professional debut at Glen Helen Raceway Park at San Bernardino in the first event of the American Motorcyclist Assn. Chevy Trucks U.S. Motocross Championship series.

Payne, 18, finished 10th in the 125cc West Region class in the recently concluded supercross season despite missing the final two races after bruising his right arm in a crash during a race in Reno. He rode for the factory-backed Kawasaki team during the 1999 supercross season, then competed as an amateur with Kawasaki's Team Green program during the outdoor season.

Motocross racing is in Payne's gene pool. His father, Bill Payne, rode a factory-backed Maico to the 500cc class championship at the 1972 Superbowl of Motocross in the Coliseum but retired before Billy was born. Billy Payne has always ridden Kawasakis, beginning with his first race at Glen Helen when he was nine.

According to Billy, his father has left the coaching to others since Billy joined the factory team.

"There really is no coaching, except basically my team manager, Jim Perry," Payne said. "I have a trainer too. Dad offers advice from time to time, and he's been there for me all the time."

Payne received his promotion after capturing his fourth consecutive title in the AMA Amateur National Championship Race at Loretta Lynn's dude ranch at Hurricane Mills, Tenn.

"[Being promoted] is motivating me," he said. "This year, I didn't get a [competition] number, so I'm going into the national with a three-digit number. If I would have rode the nationals last year, I'd have a two-digit number. I feel really good about riding the nationals this year."

Payne received his first sponsorship at age 11. He attended ninth and 10th grades at Royal High, then entered a home study program after accepting Kawasaki's offer to become a member of the factory team on the supercross circuit.

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Defending NASCAR Winston West series champion Sean Woodside of Saugus moved into third place in the NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Tour series points standings after finishing second to Augie Vidovich of Lakeside in the Patrick's Carpets/E.R. Carpenter 125 Saturday night at Tucson Raceway Park.

Woodside struggled in qualifying and started 21st in the 24-car field, while Vidovich started from the pole. Woodside worked his way up to 10th at the halfway point, and moved into second with 10 laps remaining.

A caution flag with four laps remaining helped Vidovich, who called his duel with Woodside "the toughest race I've ever run."

Although Woodside was able to pull ahead of Vidovich when racing resumed with two laps remaining, Vidovich held his position on the outside in the corners and outran Woodside in the straightaway.

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Palmdale native Ron Hornaday Jr. finished 17th in the Hardee's 250 NASCAR Busch Grand National Division race Friday at Richmond International Raceway in Virginia.

Hornaday remained fifth in the points standings and continues to lead the rookie points standings.

Jeff Green won with an average speed of 81.023 mph.

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Cory Kruseman of Ventura won the 30-lap Sprint Car Racing Assn. main event at Perris Auto Speedway Saturday.

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Gary Howard, who won Ventura Raceway's inaugural sprint car championship in 1994, won the 30-lap sprint car main event Saturday at the one-quarter mile clay oval on the Ventura Fairgrounds.

John Aitken won the 30-lap International Motor Contest Assn. modified main event, Randy Miller won the 20-lap street stock main event, and Mark Gillmore won the 20-lap pony stock feature.

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