CITY OF INDUSTRY, CA, DEC. 29 – A sellout crowd at The Grand Arena in the City of Industry was witness to the first-ever Monster Energy Speedway Invitational. The holiday event was not only the first of its kind, but the first world-class speedway race in Southern California since 1988, which prompted nearly 5000 spectators to cram into Industry Racing’s Grand Arena. The stacked international field did not fail to put on a great show for SoCal fans, and in the end it was American Billy Janniro who stood on top of the podium, flanked by fellow American racers Greg Hancock and Ricky Wells, who finished second and third, respectively. Billy Janniro
The night started out looking like it belonged to Wells, who came away from nearly all of his heat races with monster wins. The former SRA U.S. National Champion appeared to lose some steam toward the end of the night, however, and he cruised to a third-place finish ahead of former World Speedway Champion Billy Hamill.
On the flip side, Janniro started off his night at a modest pace, but picked up his momentum and rode it all the way to the big win in the main event. “It was great,” three-time AMA National Champion Janniro commented. “It was a tough night at the beginning and it ended up really good. The bike started working for us.”
Patience paid off, especially in the rough and tacky conditions of the course, which continually punished riders who tried to hang it out. World Speedway regulars such as Maciej Janowski and Tomasz Gollob of Poland did not find the eighth-mile course to their liking, and struggled to stay consistent on the tacky surface. Several spectacular crashes throughout the course of the evening from riders like Antonio Lindback and Scott Nicholls had the crowd wide-eyed, but thankfully every rider was able to walk off the track.
The “home court advantage” led to an all-American four-rider final, much to the crowd’s delight. Janniro led the charge nearly from start to finish.
In the Junior division (250cc), Max Ruml took top honors, while 11-year-old Courtney Crone topped the Mini class (150cc).