The 2009 AMA Racing/USA Speedway National Championship will fire off the line Saturday, June 6, when the series gets underway at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa, Calif.
An impressive field of racers will battle for the title in this year’s three-round championship, which will continue the action at Fast Fridays Motorcycle Speedway in Sacramento, Calif., on July 10 and Oct. 2. Included in that lineup is 1997 Speedway World Champion and seven-time AMA National Champion Greg Hancock.
Hancock, who is currently third in the European-based World Speedway Grand Prix Series, lives in Costa Mesa and said he was excited about racing in front of his hometown crowd.
Greg Hancock Speaks…
"I started my career here in the Costa Mesa bullring as a junior, and won my first AMA National Championship here in 1995," said Hancock, who is currently tied in championships — at seven — with motorcycle speedway legend Mike Bast. "Now I want to be the first American to win an eighth U.S. National Speedway title."
Defending AMA National Champion Billy Janniro, however, said Hancock will have his hands full with the national-caliber field.
Billy Janniro Speaks…
"Forget what Hancock says," Janniro said. "I’m winning that No. 1 plate again this year, and nothing’s going to stop me."
Janniro won all three rounds in last year’s AMA National Championship Series, and has been strong in his early showings this season.
Two-time U.S. Under-21 National Champion Ricky Wells, 17, will be another contender. Wells is returning to the United States after leaving the country to race for the Coventry Bees in the British Elite League earlier this year.
Ricky Wells Speaks…
"I can beat those guys," said Wells, who in 2007 at the age of 15 became the youngest winner of the Costa Mesa Fair Derby race. "I’m flying in from England, and I don’t plan on losing."
This is the fourth consecutive year that the opener has been held at the Orange County Fairgrounds’ Costa Mesa Speedway. Promoter Brad Oxley said that the event has attracted a more dedicated following in recent years.
Brad Oxley Speaks…
"This is serious high-dollar stuff," Oxley said. "The best of the best will be here. They want the title, and they want the money."
A 22-rider field (see below) is expected to compete for the $10,400 cash purse, plus contingencies.
The show starts at 7 p.m., Saturday, June 6, at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa. More information can be found at www.CostaMesaSpeedway.net.
Speedway racing began in the 1920s and is one of the most extreme versions of motorcycle competition. Using lightweight, single-gear bikes built solely for this type of competition, racers battle handlebar-to-handlebar on ultra-short oval dirt tracks typically a quarter-mile in length or less. Races typically last four laps, putting a premium on both good starts and the ability to slide the rear of the bike all around the oval.
Seeded Riders (based on 2008 Supplemental Regulations)
Billy Janniro, Vallejo, Calif.
Bart Bast, Foresthill, Calif.
Bryan Yarrow, Citrus Heights, Calif.
Mike Faria, Reno, Nevada
Ricky Wells, Yorba Linda, Calif.
Charlie Venegas, San Bernardino, Calif.
Kenny Ingalls, Foresthill, Calif.
Tommy Hedden, Auburn, Calif.
Buck Blair, Huntington Beach, Calif.
Jimmy Fishback, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
Nate Perkins, Bullhead City, Arizona
Bobby Schwartz, Costa Mesa, Calif.
Wild Cards (selected by USA Speedway)
Eddie Castro, Ojai, Calif.
Greg Hancock, Costa Mesa, Calif.
Permanent Series Riders (begin in elimination round)
Jason Ramirez, Orange, Calif.
Tyson Burmeister, Norco, Calif.
Ben Essary, Rio Oso, Calif.
Alex Marcucci, Nevada City, Calif.
In addition, four riders will be selected by the promoter to compete in the elimination round.