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Austin Novratil capped a perfect night Wednesday by winning his second AMA Speedway first division 500cc main event of 2019 in a thriller. The 24-year old Huntington Beach resident started from the inside lane and trailed outside starter Dillon Ruml by one length for the first three laps. On the final lap in turns three and four, Novratil went to the outside three feet higher than Ruml. He powered past surprised Ruml from turn four to the finish line. Scorers had Novratil the winner.

A smart phone video taken at the finish line infield showed Novratil won by half a length. The winner used the same No. 7 Jawa frame and Swiss citizen Marcel Gerhard-designed and manufactured GTR engine. He used the same combination to win the season opening feature May 29. Novratil's older GM engine had problems for the last two weeks, including last Saturday in Ventura during the Speedway National Championship first round. Reigning Speedway National Champion Billy Janniro won at the fifth-mile Ventura Raceway and leads the three-race series by five points.

The 16-rider D-1 500cc field Wednesday ran four heat race rounds this week instead of three. Only Novratil scored a perfect 12-points by winning all four of his heats. He started his semi-final race from pole position and led all four laps and selected the inside lane for the main event. Determined to go undefeated, his final turn to finish line pass electrified almost 500 spectators who watched him attain his perfection goal. Aaron Fox and Russell Green, who dropped out with a clutch problem, placed third and fourth.

Novratil's dramatic last second pass for the victory was reminiscent of D. Ruml's similar stunning charge from the outside out of the fourth turn to the finish line last August. Ruml surprised race leader Janniro and won the 2018 Speedway California State Championship feature. However, Ruml did a cross-over move to pass Janniro on the inside at the finish line in one of the more memorable races ever run at Industry.

The top two finishers in a pair of D-1 semi-final races Wednesday advanced to the feature (event 28). Novratil won the first semi over D. Ruml. Colton Hicks and Tim Gomez finished third and fourth. Fox shot from lane one and led all four laps of the second semi over outside starter Green. Veterans Shawn McConnell and Bobby Schwartz followed.

The father and son Hicks team from Auburn bookended the D-1 consolation race. Son Colton, 17, led all the way from pole position. Dad Bob, 54, started from lane four and was third on lap 1 when he fell, remounted and finished half a lap out of P.3. Gomez was a close second all four laps. Schwartz placed third despite a lingering sore right shoulder from his fall May 29.

With no sidecar, pee-wee or support divisions racing this week, three 500cc D-2 riders were in the D-1 field of 16 and one reserve rider. Six riders won the 16 D-1 heat races. Novratil won four heats, D. Ruml and Green captured three each. Two heat victories went to Schwartz, C. Hicks and Fox. It took at least seven points by riders in four heat races to qualify for the two semi-final races. Those races were open to the eight riders in the 16-rider field who scored the most heat race points.


Three 250cc juniors raced this week. Wilbur Hancock, 14-year old son of four-time World Speedway Champion Greg Hancock, won the 250cc main over a pair of 13-year old riders--Luke Whitcomb and Andrew Russell. Hancock also won two of the three heat races and placed a close second to Russell in the other heat. Hancock fell on the first lap of that race and had to restart 20-yards from the starting gate as a penalty.

There were five 150cc junior riders. Nick “the Pirate” Hohlbein, 10, from Auburn, led every lap in the 150cc feature. Levi Leutz, Jose Navarette, and Nick Dunn followed in second through fourth respectively. Past 150cc feature winner Owen Williams crashed hard at start/finish against the crashwall after one lap. He remained on the ground a few minutes but was able to walk to the pits. His damaged bike remained parked for the evening.

There were two six-lap exhibition races for Harley-Davidson riders present from various states for the Thursday, June 20 3 to 10 pm Born Free Stampede X-Games qualifying special event. The ESPN X Games Harley-Davidson hooligan qualifier was video-taped for airing July 23 by ABC/ESPN. Winners hoped to qualify for a four-day event in early August at the indoor major league stadium in Minneapolis. A Live Mobile Group (LMG) 18-wheeler video recording studio was in the Industry pits to tape the Harley races Thursday.


   > Max Ruml and Gino Manzares were spectators this week at Industry. Saturday night at Ventura Raceway they collided and fell hard. Gino received a separated shoulder and Max was unconscious briefly. He received a concussion, so he did not race four days later.

   > Other injuries from sidecar racing at Industry June 12 sidelined several sidecar teams and canceled sidecar racing June 19. Kevin Kale (No. 07 driver) received four broken ribs and a collapsed lung during his sidecar flip entering the first turn on lap 1. His sidecar swinger, Jen Hernandez, had a sore arm.

  > No. 11 swinger, Shannen Hennessey, 25, was in her fourth sidecar race. All of her races took place during June at Costa Mesa and Industry. Her driver, Kevin Holman, turned right sharply into the infield when he crossed start/finish and saw the red flag for the overturned No. 07 sidecar in mid-track. Hennessey was ejected from the sidecar, landed on the ground helmet first, and was unconscious several minutes. She walked to the pits but later said she did not recall the accident and received a “mild concussion.” She said she had cracked two ribs earlier in June at Costa Mesa during a sidecar crash. S/C leader Joe Jones said there were five sidecar teams racing last Friday at the Fast Fridays Speedway in Auburn.

   > Industry PA announcer Bruce Flanders was missing in the announcing booth for the fourth consecutive week. Terry “Ike” Clanton, the Costa Mesa track announcer, filled in for Bruce again on the PA mic. Hopefully Bruce will be able to return as track announcer before the annual Bruce Flanders Ugly Hawaiian Shirt Contest Night. This year it will take place July 24.

   > Speedway rider Ricky Wells' mother works as the Industry Speedway pit gate window again this year. She said her New Zealand-born son Ricky came to the USA at age six. The family resides in Orange County. Ricky starred racing speedway bikes in California and has been racing for years in the British Racing League for the Edinburgh Monarchs. He now holds citizenship in three countries—New Zealand, USA and Great Britain.

   > Last week was BSA Motorcycle Owners of So Cal Night at Industry. A group rep said BSA stands for Birmingham Small Arms of Birmingham, England. The firm manufactured rifles in the 1850s and in 1903 began manufacturing motorcycles. It made rifles for the British army during World War II and still manufactures air rifles. The BSA owners club had about 15 BSA motorcycles on display in the front courtyard at Industry. The club had incoming speedway bike fans vote in writing for their favorite BSA motorcycles on display. Three plaques were awarded based on total votes in three categories: Best of Show, Best Street Bike, and Best Competition Bike.