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SPORTS * WEEKEND | ORANGE COUNTY MOTOR RACING

Hicks' Broken Collarbone Likely to Affect Points Race

May 19, 2000|MARTIN HENDERSON

The next 1 1/2 months could be a little strange at the Orange County Speedway.

Second-place rider Gary Hicks broke his collarbone and three ribs in a racing accident during last week's event, an injury that could prevent him from winning his first series title.

Doctors told Hicks, 31, of Quail Valley, that the motorcycle mishap will probably sideline him for six weeks.

"We're going to try to come back in four," said Hicks, who finished second last season. "We're dark on Memorial Day [weekend], so maybe I'll only miss three events.

"I don't want to get too far behind on points. I'm going to ride harder than I've ever ridden."

The crash took place during an eight-lap handicap semifinal. Hicks' front wheel made contact with Charlie Cooley's back wheel in Turn 4, and Hicks flipped over the high side of his bike. He was taken by ambulance to Hoag Memorial Hospital and released that night.

It was the third time Hicks broke his collarbone but the first time in his 15-year racing career he got carried off on a stretcher.

"I'm recuperating at my parents' house," Hicks said, "and my mom [Sandra] turned to me and said, 'It's been a long time since you've been hurt--you were kind of overdue.' "

Hicks was having an outstanding season. He won the scratch main event at this season's Spring Classic, a non-points event. In the first week of points racing, he won the scratch event and was leading the second week when he broke a chain in the final. Hicks was second to Charlie Venegas in the points standings.

Hicks had a difficult time last weekend. He raced in Auburn on Friday, but mechanical difficulties on his primary bike prevented him from transferring to the final. He drove back to Southern California Saturday morning, then raced on his backup bike.

"I was real fatigued," Hicks said. "If I had been a little sharper, it might not have happened.

"When I hit the ground, it was like Mr. T hit me with a four-by-four."

Hicks' injury made for a strange scratch main event. Brad Oxley was the only finalist who finished in the top five in last year's standings. Oxley won the race, and series leader Venegas finished fourth.

* Lance King, 36, who finished third in the 1984 World Championship but hasn't raced in 2 1/2 years, returned to Speedway last Saturday. He won the eight-lap handicap main from the 40-yard line.

King will not compete Saturday, but expects to race on a regular basis this season.

"I've raced there since I was 16," King said. "The last time I [raced] for a living was 1989, which was my last year in Europe racing for the World Championship.

"I just want to race, and it might not be around anymore."

This could be the last year that Speedway racing is held at the Orange County Fairgrounds.

INDY RACING LEAGUE

Who's the toughest guy at the Indianapolis 500? Team owner Dick Simon of Dana Point suffered third-degree burns on his arms at the Indy Racing Northern Lights Series event last month in Las Vegas when a propane grill exploded.

He was told he would need skin grafts.

"The only reason you do skin grafts is to prevent scars," Simon said. "I told the doc, 'I'm 66 years old, I have 21 grandkids, nine children and a wife who loves me. A scar isn't going to bother a damn thing. Let me out of this hospital--we have to go to Indy.' "

NHRA

Yorba Linda driver John Force, with victories in the last two NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series events, can take his place in series history on Sunday.

Force can tie Bob Glidden for most career victories, with 85, at the Matco Tools Spring SuperNationals at Englishtown, N.J., an event Force has won the last two years.

Force trails Huntington Beach's Jerry Toliver for the Funny Car series lead. Toliver has 589 points, 30 more than Force.

If you have an item or idea for the motor racing report, fax us at (714)966-5663 or e-mail us at martin.henderson@latimes.com

Orange County Speedway

Through May 14

Speedway motorcycles

1. Charlie Venegas, San Bernardino: 116

2. Brad Oxley, San Juan Capistrano: 99

3. Gary Hicks, Riverside: 85

4. Shawn McConnell, Brea: 78

5. Bobby Schwartz, Costa Mesa: 73

6. Randy DiFrancesco, Bakersfield: 62

7. Eddie Castro, Ojai: 61

8. Dukie Ermolenko, Cypress: 59

9. Gary Ackroyd, Newport Beach: 46

10. Jim Estes, Winnetka: 45

Schedule

May 20--Olympic of Speedway (speedway, sidecars).

June 3--Harley Blowout (speedway, sidecars, Harley races); 10--Jack Milne Cup (speedway, sidecars); 17--Father's Day (speedway, sidecars, peewee 50s, Jr. speedway); 24--Championship 25-lap Classic (speedway).

July 8--Fan Appreciation Night w/Razzo (speedway, sidecars, peewee 50s, Jr. speedway); 14--Friday sidecar, quad, midget championship; 15--Fair Derby (speedway); 16--Youth Motorized Olympics (Jr. speedway series), Vintage Dirt Track races.

Irwindale Speedway

Through May 14

Super Late Model

1. Greg Voigt, Goleta: 238

2. Ben Walker, North Hills: 196

3. Dan Holtz, Bakersfield: 188

4. David Brandon, Palmdale: 166

5. Tim Woods, Chino: 164

6. A.J. DiMarzo, Saugus: 158

7. Charles Utts, Camarillo: 134

8. Rod Johnson, Saugus: 128

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