The following is a press release from the AMA:
Defending champion Billy Hamill headlines a superb 22-rider field which will contest the 2003 AMA National Championship Speedway Series, Presented by Progressive Insurance.
Hamill will be one of five riders in the elite field who will return home from European racing commitments to ride in the 2003 series opener, Friday July 25 at Fast Fridays Speedway. He’ll be seeking his third consecutive AMA National Championship. Also among the “foreign” contingent are past AMA and World Champion Greg Hancock of Balboa Island, California; past AMA Champion Chris Manchester of Reno, Nevada; last year’s AMA national runner-up, Billy Janniro of Vallejo, California; and past AMA Junior National Champ Ryan Fisher of Norco, California. All of those jet-setters are regular competitors in the British Speedway League, and most also race in weekly leagues in Sweden and Poland.
Hancock is America’s sole representative in the 2003 World Speedway Grand Prix Series, and at midseason the former champ ranks fifth in the world.
Riders upholding the honor of domestic speedway racing on the tight Fast Fridays dirt oval located at the Gold Country Fairgrounds in Auburn, California, will include past AMA champions Mike Faria of Reno, Nevada, and Bobby Schwartz of Costa Mesa, California.
Others expected to challenge for the top spot in AMA speedway racing will be Bobby Hedden of Folsom, California, the hottest rider in Northern California this season; and Southern California aces Scott Brant of Riverside, California, and Eddie Castro of Ojai, California.
There will also be one foreign national in the field, Bartek “Bart” Bardecki. Bardecki holds a Polish passport but is eligible for the AMA championships since he races full-time in the United States.
Based on their 2002 results, 12 riders in the 22-rider field earned automatic seeds into the Qualifying Round of the 2003 series opener. With the exception of top contender Josh Larsen of Monrovia, California, who is sidelined by injury, all have accepted their bids.
Under supplemental rules governing the championship, three additional riders were seeded directly into the Qualifying Round by AMA Sports: Schwartz, Tommy Hedden of Auburn, California, and Bryan Yarrow of Vacaville, California. The remaining eight riders in the field were invited by AMA Sports in consultation with its National Championship Advisory Committee. Those eight riders will attempt to advance through an Elimination Round which will open the night of racing on July 25. Just two of the eight will move into the Qualifying Round and join the 14 seeded riders.
In the Qualifying Round, the 16 riders will compete in five heat races each, facing all of their opponents once. Results from the Qualifying Round will determine the lineups for the A, B, C and D Main Events which will comprise the Championship Round. Points earned in the Championship Round will go toward the 2003 AMA National Speedway Championship.
AMA Sports conducted the draw for starting positions in the first round of the AMA National Championship Speedway Series, Presented by Progressive Insurance, on July 16. Start numbers are as follows:
2003 AMA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP SPEEDWAY SERIES PRESENTED BY PROGRESSIVE INSURANCE STARTING DRAW FOR ROUND ONE – JULY 25, 2003
17 – Bartek Bardecki, Auburn, California
18 – Charlie Venegas, San Bernardino, California
19 – Randy DiFrancesco, Bakersfield, California
20 – Bobby Krips, Riverside, California
21 – Jim Estes, Carson City, Nevada
22 – Gary Hicks, Riverside, California
23 – Eric Carrillo, Vallejo, California
24 – Chris Kerr, Auburn, California
1 – Chris Manchester, Reno, Nevada
2 – Bryan Yarrow, Vacaville, California
3 – No. 1 Rider from Elimination Round
4 – Scott Brant, Riverside, California
5 – Bobby Hedden, Folsom, California
6 – Bobby Schwartz, Costa Mesa, California
7 – Billy Hamill, Monrovia, California
8 – Cam Rafferty, Binghamton, New York
9 – Bart Bast, Auburn, California
10 – Billy Janniro, Vallejo, California
11 – No. 2 Rider from Elimination Round
12 – Eddie Castro, Ojai, California
13 – Tommy Hedden, Auburn, California
14 – Ryan Fisher, Norco, California
15 – Mike Faria, Reno, Nevada
16 – Greg Hancock, Balboa Island, California
For more information and to order tickets, contact Fast Fridays Speedway at (530) 878-7223 or consult www.FastFridays.com on the Internet.