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Industry, CA., Aug. 17 – Change his nickname from “Mad Max” to “Marvelous Max” Ruml. The 19-year old superstar of AMA speedway bike racing won again at Industry Speedway Wednesday in front of 750 fans of the two-wheel action sport. Forty-five races were run from 7:30 to 10:08 pm on the eighth-mile dirt track. Ruml, from Huntington Beach, rode his new 500cc Jawa to his seventh D-1 feature triumph at Industry this season in 12 events. He won his first Industry Racing main on June 22 during week four.
Ruml's feature victory streak at Industry now stands at five in a row starting on July 20 through August 17. That includes the prestigious Saturday, August 13 AMA US National Championship third round in the four-race series at four speedways in California. Ruml's victory streak at all tracks is now seven and counting. He started the streak at Big Time Raceway in Rancho Cordova, near Sacramento. He also won the annual Orange County Fair feature at Costa Mesa Speedway on Saturday, July 16.
All but one of Ruml's winning rides were on his new Jawa according to Max and his expert mechanic Claudio Marquez. He won the Costa Mesa feature aboard his GM bike. The personable teenage star has a chance to “win out” at Industry on Wednesday nights, August 24 and 31, which is the annual California State Speedway Championship event.
Thirteen 500cc D-1 riders raced three rounds of heats, followed by a pair of semi-finals for the top eight point riders, and a four-lap feature. Ruml was the only perfect rider with three heat victories (nine points), a semi-final win and the feature triumph. He again led every lap of his five races.
FEATURE: Ruml started the feature at gate four next to the crash-wall. Charlie Venegas had the pole, with Austin Novratil at gate two, and Broc Nicol at gate three. When the feature started Ruml used his outside line to commandeer the lead immediately. Venegas, Novratil, and Nicol ran second through fourth all the way. Venegas kept the outcome in doubt by racing the outside line all around the track, hoping to use an outside pass at the finish line. He fell two lengths short of Ruml's No. 5. Novratil finished third, three lengths in back of Venegas. Nicol was four lengths in back of Novratil at the checkered flag.
The D-1 consolation race went to Dillon Ruml, 17, in a flag-to-flag ride. Rapidly improving Gage Geist, 17, was the only other finisher. P. 3 Gary Hicks engine failed on lap 3. Shawn McConnell fell on the opening lap and pushed his bike to the infield.
D-1 semi-finals went to M. Ruml from gate four over gate two starter Nicol and pole starter McConnell. D. Ruml fell entering turn one on the opening lap and pushed his bike to the infield. The second semi also went to the outside starter, Venegas, who also led every lap. On the opening lap, Novratil veered right exiting turn two and slammed at speed into the backstretch plywood wall. He went down hard but popped up quickly. He realized he was injured and sat next to the wall. Medical staff arrived, but he limped noticeably to a replacement bike at turn four to restart. Gutty Novratil shot from lane three to second place immediately and stayed there to earn a feature starting spot. Gary Hicks and G. Geist finished in P. 3-4.
SIDECARS: There were eight sidecars present for two rounds of heats, a consy and feature. Pole starter Joe Jones drove his 1,000cc Suzuki (No. 1) to his third victory at Industry this season. He used his third different swinger in the sidecar providing balance in the turns. New partner Dave German (the former swinger for No. 66 driver Gerard Jackson) followed Jones' prior winning 2016 swingers—brother Chris Jones and Dana Catone. Runners-up were Bryan Motis/Cody Brant, with Robert Curry and ex-wife Lori Curry third. The Jeff Medberry/Niki Davis team dropped out on lap 3.
The sidecar consy started four rigs and had two leaders. Dillon Osborne/Ashley Gibbons led lap 1, but retired to the infield on lap 2. Jeff Rowe/Matt Fishman led the final three laps. The green No. 13 of Kevin Holman/Josh Bennett finished second with Adam Duckiett/Kimberly Bailey third.
500cc D-2: Ten D-2 riders raced. Rudy Laurer, 59, started from gate two and led every lap on his Jawa 897 for his fourth D-2 victory this season. Eloy Medellin was a close second. Two-time 2016 Industry D-2 winner Hayley Perrault, a college sophomore, placed third. Fourth went to Ron Davis, a Figure 8 auto racer, who won a run-off race with David Lynch to earn the final feature berth.
500cc D-3: Brent Smith, 46, started his GM 20-yards from the gate in the handicapped main and led the final two laps. Gate starter/visitor from Colorado Bobby Richards, a 51-year old deaf four-time Colorado ice racing champion, led the first two laps. He finished second on his No. 108c. George Yates and Steve Brown, 2016 D-3 Industry feature winners, finished third and fourth.
JUNIORS: 250cc: From the 10-yard line, Michael Wells, 15, led all four laps in the 250cc final for his third Industry feature win this season. He also won the prior two Wednesday mains on July 27 and August 3. He finished second in the Sunday, August 14 Juniors Silver Cup Championship to 40-yard line starter Sebastian Palmese, 13, who followed him across the finish line Wednesday. Skylar Schnakenberg,17, started at the gate and placed third. Gate starter Sara Cords, a 16-year old from Cherry Valley, finished first and second in the two heats. She grabbed the lead on lap 1 but fell in the third turn. She rose quickly, pushed her bike to the infield and finished fourth.
150cc D-1: Slater Lightcap, 10, started his 2007 Shupa 40-yards from the gate and won his sixth 150cc D-1 Industry main this season in a five-lap race. He held off 20-yard line starter and closing Luke Whitcomb, 10, by three lengths. Travis Horn, 8, led the first two laps, but settled for third in his first competition as a 150cc first division rider. He merited the promotion by track officials from D-2 by winning six of nine prior Wednesday night 150cc D-2 main events at Industry. Keelan Venegas ran fourth all the way.
150cc D-2: The newest 150cc riders in D-2 started five riders, used handicapping and raced five laps. Andrew Russell, 11, started at the starting gate and led every lap for his second 150 triumph at Industry. He also won the February 21, 2016 Gumball Rally D-2 main. Rachel Schnakenberg, 11-year old Anaheim resident and the July 13 feature winner, placed second on her No. 5. Cole Ayers and Jose Navarette followed. Glenn Geist, 10-year old AMA/FIM Junior Silver Cup Championship 150 D-2 winner, started 30-yards back. He fell after reaching third place on lap 4. He pushed his bike to the infield and placed fifth.
Pee-Wees: A six-rider field of 50cc Honda and Yamaha riders entertained fans. Three started at the gate and three were ten yards back. Levi Leutz, 7, chased fellow ten-yard line starter Connor Salazar, 8, and and passed the lap 1 leader on lap 2. He remained out front to the checker for his third feature victory this year. Salazar was a close second. Owen Williams, Gavin Dryfka (Geist), and Ken Matsudaira followed. Dakota Black, a 5-year old in her third race, was fifth, a lap down.
PIT NOTES: It was 93 degrees at The Grand Arena at 6:15 pm and still 73 when racing concluded at 10:08 pm. Racing under a roof, with breezes coming through the building's open sides, and amid numerous trees on the IHEC property, kept people cool. ... Mike Miller performed his usual outstanding rendition of our National Anthem from the infield prior to the first race at 7:30. He should sing it before a Rams or Dodgers game.... CRA 1980s sprint car drivers Jerry Hudson and Tom Patton were in the grandstand to watch speedway racing..;.. Carol Perez, IHEC Manager, wore a cast after breaking an ankle at home.
D-1 500 veteran Jimmy Fishback, 35, came onto the Industry track in full riding gear and helmet aboard his No. 25 Jawa Wednesday after the second round--event 24. He left speedway racing in 2014 to go off-road truck racing. It seems that has gotten expensive, so Jimmy might be considering a return to speedway bike racing to get his racing thrills. He hot-lapped at speed for six laps and was as fast as ever. It looks like he could give current riders a run for their money.
D-2 500cc rider Mike Maely was entered August 17 but did not attend. He lives in Wrightwood and had to evacuate his home because of the huge San Bernardino County fire. ... August 24 Industry Racing will feature all divisions from pee-wees, juniors and 500cc pro riders to exciting sidecars.
Billy Janniro, 36, and his protege Luke Becker, 17, remained at their Nor Cal homes this week. They raced at Industry Saturday night and spectated Sunday afternoon at the Juniors Silver Cup Championships. They both raced for Team USA in the World Team Championship in Europe for two weeks during late July. They are sure to be present for the final two Wednesdays (24th & 31st). There will be an extra $1,000 added to the purse August 24, which is the inaugural Junior Kurtz Trophy race for D-1 riders. The coveted racing helmet has been painted by Junior's stepson, noted So Cal racing artist Troy Lee.
Ray “Junior” Kurtz owned a CRA sprint car (No. 30) that raced at Ascot in the 1980s. He became famous nationally as owner of a winning USAC Silver Crown Series car (the No. 30 Plastic Express). It won numerous champ car features of 100-miles at one-mile dirt tracks in Illinois and Indiana. Chuck Gurney, from Livermore, CA, was his most successful driver. Chuck, now 67, will be present at Industry on August 24 along with Kurtz family members. They all will participate in the first Kurtz Trophy helmet trophy presentation to the D-1 feature winner.
Junior Kurtz founded Plastic Express in 1970 and later opened other trucking/warehousing and distribution sites around the county. He started hauling plastic PCP pipes and expanded to other types of dry bulk cargo across the USA. Expansion included packaging, warehousing and railroad car loading and unloading. Plastic Express is located at 15450 Salt Lake Ave. in the City of Industry. Total employees vary between 51 to 200 according to the firm's website. Currently it is hiring truck drivers age 23+ with Class A CDL. Drivers must have at least two years truck driving experience and a clean motor vehicle record for three years.
Junior, 73, had been fighting pancreatic cancer. Earlier this year he suffered a stroke and then died from a heart attack. He was a fan of speedway bike racing and has attended races at Industry for many years. His Plastic Express firm was an Industry Speedway program and billboard sponsor since racing started at The Grand Arena in 2003. The Junior Kurtz Helmet Trophy is appropriate. It will be a treasured trophy by whomever wins August 24. The additional $1,000 in prize money offered should ensure a large field of riders and fans in the grandstand.
August 24 also is the date set for the annual appearance of two USAC Focus Midgets owned by open-wheel owner/driver Wally Pankratz, from Orange County. He asked D-1 rider Billy Janniro and Courtney Crone to hot-lap the cars for about six or eight laps on the eighth-mile dirt oval. Billy has not driven a midget. Courtney is a 15-year old former 250cc Junior bike racer and current USAC midget, Young Gun 360 cu. in. sprint car, and Formula Mazda auto racer.
Two supporters of Industry Racing enjoyed success last weekend. Three-time Speedway World Champion Greg Hancock, from So Cal, won the rain-delayed Swedish Grand Prix Sunday. He retained his lead for the 2016 World Championship. Greg and his son Wilbur, 11, have raced at The Grand Arena in the past.
Danny Thompson son of the late Mickey Thompson, followed his dad into land speed record competition on the Bonneville (Utah) Salt Flats. Last year Danny had his LSR car on display in the walkway behind The Grand Arena grandstand during a Wednesday speedway event. The piston-driven stream-liner named “Challenger 2” attempted to beat the existing LSR of 392.503 mph during 2016 Bonneville Speed Week. His dad Mickey never reached his goal of a 400 mph run. Danny, 66, ran a 411.191 mph run and backed it up with a 406.769 mph run to earn the new LSR record. 
Danny donated to Kelly Inman pistons from his dad's 1968 Challenger and one from his own LSR Challenger 2 for open-bidding. All proceeds went to the August 14 Junior Silver Cup Championship riders. The gift had a successful bid of $2,000 and helped swell the payout to $7,200 for the 31 Junior Division 150cc and 250cc riders who raced at Industry August 14. Maybe Danny's new LSR is his reward for his hard work and good karma for his generosity towards speedway bike junior riders.