Hamill Unifies National Crown

| October 14, 2002

Billy Hamill (GM) became the undisputed American National Speedway Champion after winning the 34th annual U.S. National Speedway Championship at Costa Mesa Speedway on the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa, California, on October 12.

Hamill tied Gary Hicks (Jaw) for the top score in the preliminary rounds, both riders entering the National Final main event directly after earning 11 points each. Hamill got the holeshot in the five-man, four-lap main event, and he scored the win to unify the title, having already won the rival AMA National Championship Speedway Series. Three-time U.S. National Champion Mike Faria (Jaw) finished second, with Hicks third. Defending U.S. National Champion Chris Manchester (Jaw) was fourth, and American speedway veteran John Cook (Jaw) was fifth.

Of the riders who took part in this year’s event, it could be argued that none was more spectacular than Cook, who pulled an old trick out of the book to advance to the National Final main event. Cook’s motorcycle was fitted with a 22-inch rear tire, and he used it to good effect on the deep Costa Mesa track, passing around the outside at will. Late in the preliminary rounds, Cook defeated Faria to tie him on nine points. In a runoff with Faria to determine who would get the last direct transfer to the main event, Cook beat Faria again by using the outside.

“That [tire] was just something that I had used up North couple times this year,” Cook said. “I had some good luck with it.” Cook’s fifth-place finish was a career best in U.S. Nationals competition.

By Freelance