Remembering Ricky: Salinas-Style

| April 21, 2009


The Salinas Rodeo Grounds provided the perfect place to put together an AMA District 36-sanctioned Half Mile TT event in honor of the late Ricky Graham, who lost his life in a house fire 11 years ago. Graham, a local boy, accomplished many victories in his short life, including three Grand National Championships and an AMA Athlete Of The Year award. With six wins, Graham set the mark for the most consecutive Grand National victories in 1993 and was later inducted into the AMA Hall of Fame. Graham’s father and brothers attended this race, along with other members of his extended family.

The weather made for perfect track conditions, allowing this cushion track to hold together nicely. The California Motorsport Productions team built a great track that was as fast as any Grand National event of the same size and put together a well-orchestrated event for the more than 100 riders who showed up for a day of fun.

The youngsters on bikes as small as 50cc rode through the sweeper and over the jump, testing their skills and stamina. James Millaris, Corey Beck and Timothy Millaris filled this podium.

Trevor Potts, Zachary Pesl and James Millaris finished one-two-three in the 65cc event. Potts led the pack start to finish.

Bronson Bauman got the holeshot in the 85 event and never looked back. Brandon Rothell followed for all nine laps. Behind them, Giovanni Giannotta got around Damon Coca to finish third.

Nineteen riders lined up for the Open A main event. Stevie Bonsey (24) got the holeshot, followed closely by Sammy Halbert (43) and Jethro Halbert (69). Jimmy Wood was riding in the fourth position. Behind them, positions were changing rapidly. Mikie Rush got around Kris Bunch on lap two. Mikey Avila, another young upcoming local flat-track star, was working his way up from the seventh spot and got past Rush on lap six. With Sammy right on his back wheel, Bonsey’s bike broke on the ninth lap. The front of the pack started lapping riders on lap 11. By lap 20, the first five riders had lapped the last nine. The race finished with the Halbert brothers, Sammy and Jethro, going one and two. Jimmy Wood was third, followed by Avila and Rush, who’d battled each other and the track turn after turn throughout the race.

Two riders from each of the four Open A heats made the Trophy Dash. Stevie Bonsey got the jump off the line, with Sammy Halbert (43, left) close behind. Halbert got around Bonsey in the first turn, but Bonsey stuffed it under for the lead again after the sweeper. Halbert then passed Bonsey on the outside in turn one around lap four. Sammy’s brother Jethro Halbert also got around Bonsey but gave the spot back to him with a bobble on the last lap. Sammy took the win; Bonsey and Jethro followed.

In the 100cc division, the A, B and C riders ran combined. Austin McDonnell, a C rider in District 36, rode the race in front from pole to pole, followed by Bronson Bauman (aboard a little bike that looked like a pumped 50) and Marcus Fragoso. Darius Peterson Giannotta followed them to the checkers.

In the combined 250 A and B event, John Vanderlaan took the first spot on lap four when Briar Bauman slid out while waving to the corner workers coming out of the sweeper. Cole Crowley slid into the second spot. Up-and-coming road racer Danielle Caldeira finished third.

Twelve riders lined up for the 250 C start. Ryan Foster, Anton Aaroe and Shane Hagerty were the front three riders for all 10 laps. Foster took the lead from Aaroe when they switched positions on lap four. Hagerty followed. Ricky Graham’s cousin Matt finished this main event in eighth place.

Jon Nunes led the five-rider Vet Over 30 pack into the first turn, but Donnie Harrell wasted no time getting under him for the lead. Behind them, Curt Chandler worked his way around Dan Cahon to finish third.

A.J. Herrera got the holeshot in the ’70s Singles A main and held the lead through lap three, when Paul Herman came from the third spot past Fred Bennett to take the lead. On the last lap, Herrera gave Bennett the room he needed for a pass and a second-place finish, behind Herman.

Michael Dobbs led the ’70s Singles B/C class home, followed by Samuel Freeze.

Alan Shaw and Jim Hoogerhyde showed tenacity by riding the Pre-’74 class bikes with little suspension around the track and over the jump for eight laps.

Steve Hill, Jon Nunes and Curt Chandler rounded the first lap of the sweeper wheel to wheel in the Old-Timers Over 40 A event. Nunes and Chandler got past Hill when he went high into the sweeper on lap four. Nunes rode hard to maintain the lead, but Chandler took the opportunity he needed on lap six to get in front and take the win. Nunes and Hill followed. Tom Knight was the first Over 50 A rider to the checkers, in front of John Phillips and Clay Chambers.

Jason Craven took the Vet Over 30/40/50 win, passing Steven Sandman on the last lap. Billy Gonzalez got the holeshot but finished third.

Cody Silva earned his right to ride the A class in District 36 following his easy Open B win on this day. Behind him, the second- and third-placed riders changed three times during this 10-lap race. At the finish, Ryan Foster took the second spot, followed by Kenny Jones.


Ricky Graham’s dad (11, right) put in a couple of laps on a 100cc Honda following the day’s final event “just for fun.”


50 STK: 1. Timothy Millaris.

50 MOD: 1. James Millaris; 2. Corey Beck.

65 B/C: 1. Trevor Potts; 2. Zachary Pesl; 3. James Millaris; 4. Nolan Reitz; 5. Isabelle Vitale.

85 A: 1. Bronson Bauman.

85 C: 1. Brandon Rothell; 2. Giovanni Giannotta; 3. Damon Coca.

100 STK A: 1. Bronson Bauman; 2. Bobby Caldeira.

100 STK B: 1. Marcus Fragoso.

100 STK C: 1. Austin McDonnell; 2. Darius Peterson; 3. Giovanni Giannotta; 4. Jonathan Melicia; 5. Trevor Potts.

250 A: 1. Cole Crowley; 2. Danielle Caldeira; 3. Briar Bauman; 4. Jess Garcia.

250 B: 1. John Vanderlaan; 2. Garrett Boutonnet.

250 C: 1. Ryan Foster; 2. Anton Aaroe; 3. Shane Hegarty; 4. Steven Aguirre; 5. Bobby Caldeira.

OPEN A: 1. Sam Halbert; 2. Jethro Halbert; 3. Jimmy Wood; 4. Michael Avila; 5. Mike Rush; 6. Kris Bunch; 7. Chris Podergois; 8. David Brown; 9. Shawn Raggio; 10. Jeremy Chisum.

OPEN B: 1. Cody Silva; 2. Kenneth Jones; 3. Bryan Grier; 4. Greg Ghione; 5. Danielle Caldeira.

OPEN C: 1. Ryan Foster; 2. Anton Aaroe; 3. Matthew Anderson; 4. Robert Bacosa Jr.; 5. Kevin Keeran.

POWDERPUFF: 1. Danielle Caldeira; 2. Julia Rankin; 3. Kimi Valentine; 4. Isabelle Vitale.

VET 30+ A: 1. Donnie Harrell; 2. Jon Nunes; 3. Kurt Chandler; 4. Dan Cahon; 5. Adam Souza.

VET 30+ B: 1. Jason Craven.

VET 30+ C: 1. Kevin Keeran.

VET 40+ B: 1. Billy Gonzalez.

VET 40+ C: 1. Steven Sandman; 2. Rob De Waard.

VET 50+ B: 1. Raul Sanchez; 2. Michael Dobbs; 3. Doug Cohon.

VET 50+ C: 1. Samuel Freeze; 2. Guy Duckett; 3. David Valentine.

O/T 40+ A: 1. Kurt Chandler; 2. Jon Nunes; 3. Steve Hill; 4. Chuck Monasmith; 5. Fred Bennett.

SR 50+ A: 1. Tom Knight; 2. John Phillips; 3. Clay Chambers; 4. John Hlebo Jr.; 5. David Holland.

PRE-1974 A: 1. A.J. Herrera.

PRE-1974 B: 1. Alan Shaw.

PRE-1974 C: 1. Jim Hoogerhyde.

’70s SINGLES A: 1. Paul Herman; 2. Fred Bennett; 3. Wayne Karcich; 4. Jeff Spohr.

’70s SINGLES B: 1. Michael Dobbs.

’70s SINGLES C: 1. Samuel Freeze; 2. Rob De Waard.

TROPHY DASH: 1. Sam Halbert; 2. Stevie Bonsey; 3. Jethro Halbert; 4. Kris Bunch; 5. Jimmy Wood.




By Karen Gould