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Alex Martin Takes U21 Title In Bakersfield

Alex Martin came from the deck after a scary fall in the first staging of the Main event to win the John Schroeder AMA National Under 21 Championship at Kern County Raceway Bakersfield in California on November 5th.

The event had a full compliment of 16 riders, showing that American speedway is alive and kicking. The format used replicated that of the European & British Championships, with a customary 5 round 20 heat event, followed by a semi final for finishers 3rd to 6th, with two riders transferring to the big final with 1st and 2nd in points.

Wilbur Hancock started the ball rolling with a heat 1 win, with three of the title favorites in Blake Borello, Martin and 2021 winner slater Lightcap taking the rest of the heats.

Heat 5 saw everyone pay attention and take notice as 15-year-old Charlie Trana, the current 250cc National Champion, took victory in his second ever heat on a 500cc bike. Lightcap, Martin and Borello meantime stayed on maximum points. Heat 9 saw another Martin win, whilst Timmy Dion continued a very solid performance in taking heat 10 from Michael Wells. The heat 11 showdown between Borello and Lightcap was anticlimactic with the latter going through the tapes. Sebastian Palmese, multi time Junior Champion finally got on the winners list in heat 12 after earlier bike gremlins.

Lightcap returned to winning ways in heat 13 after Palmese dropped a chain when leading. Borello came out on top of the heat 14 showdown with Martin and remaining the only unbeaten rider. Justin Almon took victory in heat 15 after coming out on top of the daredevil outside line push of Greg Moore. Trana took his second win in heat 16.

Borello completed the 5-rider maximum with an easy cruise in heat 17. It was Trana again in heat 18, stunning 13-point debut haul would see him as third place qualifier. Almon proved to be a late bloomer with his decisive heat 19 win over Dion, catapulting him into the semifinal. Lightcap was victorious over Martin in heat 20, though Martin would still be second qualifier, joining Borello in the final.

The semi final race brought four riders to the tapes in a battle royale. Lightcap made a blistering start with Trana behind him and Hancock third. After a lap of trying to find room to get by, Hancock dropped off the first two by a few bike lengths but was well clear of the impressive Almon in fourth. Lightcap and Trana came home for the transfer places.

The final saw Borello fight off the early challenge of Lightcap. Meantime behind, there was a sensational battle for second with Lightcap and Martin. Martin found a way by on lap three and then Lightcap charged underneath going into lap 4 with Martin going down hard. All attention at this point turned to Martin who for a while lay motionless on turn three while promptly being attended to by medics. Thankfully the initial fears over Martin being seriously hurt were abated as he responded to the safety team. When Martin got up it was announced Lightcap was excluded as the prime cause of the stoppage, prompting a rerun as the remaining three riders did not all complete the four laps with Martin sprawled on the ground. Martin got a fantastic start in the rerun to take the victory, with an understandably very frustrated Borello in second and Trana in third.

The Under 21 event included the Inaugural presentation of the John Schroeder Cup in honor of a huge yet low key asset of American speedway who passed away earlier this year. John and his wife Sandy, who herself passed away only a few days before the event, had a private training track where many of the contenders in the event would practice honing their skills. The tribute to the Schroeder’s will continue at this event for the many years to come.

Outside of the U21 there were 5 other divisions of racing. Broc Nicol was victorious in Division 1 with a final win over Gino Manzares and Russell Green and a perfect 5 ride score. Luke Becker, thrilling the crowd with an opening ride pass to win, was also on maximum going into the final but after missing the start he got out of shape trying to come third place on lap 3 and went down hard. Manzares won two of the heats.

Veteran Rudy Laurer won a thrilling Division Two Main with a pass on local favorite Isaiah Canales. Heat winners were Laurer, Canales, Lawrence McNutt and Dan Waller. B Main was won by Kevin Fiore. Jordan Vanderham was perfect all night in Division Three, as was Ryder Schultz in the 150 Junior class. National Champions Robert and Lori Curry won all their sidecar races. Other heat winners were Lawrence Mcnutt / Dana Miller & Wade Boyd / Eric Lindauer. James Kinne / sammy Tetrault took the last chance race.

The event was part of a huge all-day race which included Flat Track earlier in the day. The track was still perfect at the end of the night after A total of 97 races between both shows. The final event of 2022 will be held at KCRP on December 17th, but action continues every month Until the two-month summer break beginning July.

Under 21 Heat points: Blake Borello 15, Alex Martin 13, Charlie Trana 13, Slater Lightcap 12, Wilbur Hancock 9, Justin Almon 9, Timmy Dion 9, Sebastian Palmese 8, Jonathan Oakden 7, Michael Wells 7, Greg Moore 5, Dylan Wagner 4, Dalton Oakden 4, Aidan McNutt 3, Sammy Tetrault 1, Catherine Moore 1.

Semi final
28 Lightcap
66 Trana
117 Hancock
137 Almon

Final (rerun)
30 Martin
27 Borello
66 Trana
28 Lightcap excluded

Division 1 heat points: Luke Becker 12, Broc Nicol 12, Gino Manzares 10, Russell Green 8, Rees Todd 6, Louie Mersaroli 5, Eddie Castro 5, Fred Cook 2.
98 Nicol
24 Manzares
321 Green
22 Becker fell

Division 2 B Main
159 Kevin Fiore
111 David Newsham
27 Bob Waller
115 Tom settlemire Dns

Division 2 A Main
182 Rudy Laurer
106 Isaiah Canales
275 Lawrence McNutt
240 Dan Waller

Division 3 Main
123 Jordan Vanderham
100 Samuel Richardson
115 Dylan McNulty
103 Brent Smith dns
138 Jim Sanders

150 Junior Main
22 Ryder Schultz
169k Kayd Fiore
5 Brandon Soto dns

Sidecar LCQ
74 James Kinne / Sammy Tetrault
70 Larry Bell / Sabrina Richardson
07 Kevin Kale / Tracey Gallagher exc

Sidecar Main
1 Robert / Lori Curry
88 Wade Boyd / Eric Lindauer
28 Lawrence McNutt / Dana Miller
74 James Kinne / Sammy Tetrault