Perris Raceway ¼ Mile
August 21, 2010
By Jamey Blunt
Perris raceway established in 1957 added yet another chapter to its historic legacy. From scrambles track, to motocross track, to 1/8th mile oval and now a new ¼ mile oval thousands of riders have cut their teeth so to speak at Perris. Few are probably aware of the fact that Perris is one of the longest operating race tracks in the state of California where motorcycle racers can still turn a wheel. On this Saturday night the 21st of August the first official race on the newly constructed oval was held, with 120 entrants filling the grids of fourteen classes, twenty heat races and twenty main events. A high summer temperature measured at the Disneyland booth at the front gate revealed at 104 degree temperature. But by practice time the North West wind was cooling things down as the riders took to the track with newly added clay prepping the dirt surface.
Just prior to the first race the Steve Polson family lined the turn three crash wall releasing orange and white balloons (the colors of Steve's leathers) to the heavens in memory of this beloved racer who lost his life doing what he loved at Ascot park on Aug.11th, 1980. Over a hundred family members were on hand adorned in Steve Polson memorial tee shirts.
Young Travis Petton the fourth kicked the main events off in the youth class with a wire to wire victory on his KTM (Stands for K-ick T-en M-inutes) putting in a solid ride. Cycle World Magazine's Mark Cernicky (an established road racer, past super-moto number one plate holder and someone who can wheelie anything) hammered the Men's 4 stroke 100cc class posting a blistering 17.61/100 second lap that no one else could come close to, while Parker Earhart of the Dirt Diggers did likewise to the youth 100cc (16yrs and under) field.
In the mini bike class, where many a lawn mower has lost its engine; Dan Matlock held off a strong field of eleven diverse racers for a close victory. A true vintage sight to behold as many a rider started his motorcycle career on a Taco, Rupp, Bonanza, or the like. If you get the chance check out these machines and notice the size of the chains.
The Classic Vintage 500cc-750cc main was a war. Ron Lessley twisted his BULTACO B-bikes U-usually L-losing T-to A-always C-completive O-ossas) throttle just a little further than anyone else and posted the fastest lap of the race at 16.30/100 seconds for a mistake free ride to the top step of the podium. Worth mentioning was Jim Ottele's ride from behind through to second aboard the "APPLE" Harley Sprint. Ottele turned an amassing 16.48/100 second lap with no rear suspension! But one would expect this from a mount once seen under the seat of the late great Cal Rayborn.
Jim "JUMPER" Rosa is back, yes again. While he had his hands full and hasn't races for two years, he still has the speed. Rosa put in a blistering 15.72/100 second lap time to top the Vet 35+ field and was as stylish as ever.
Senior Vet 50+ was a large pack of riders fighting for a berth in the "A" main, sixteen to be exact. Pilot Craig Johnson was the captain of low altitude maneuvers on this night with a 15.19/100 second lap time (second fastest of the night) as he displayed style with blinding speed. Shame he didn't ride his Bultaco on this night as well. The other senior race was for 60 plus years where Ron Moore rarely disappoints. Ron's fastest lap was a 16.35/100 seconds with Tim Thomas all the way from Chandler Arizona giving chase on his big twin.
The Vintage 250cc two-stroke field is heating up with top names entering this class. The likes of Tom Horton, Jim Wood, Jeff Lessley, Bruce Reynolds, and Joe Steffen all capable of winning on any given night are the main front runners. The fastest lap of the race went to the Bultaco of Reynolds at 16.03/100 seconds, but this alone does not assure a victory, far from it as Steffen turned a 16.06/100 second lap himself. But when all was said and done Lessley who was Hodaka mounted ran consistent 16.12/100 second laps to come out on top. This was a race well worth the price of admission and only promises to get better.
For the Pro final Jeff "The Jester" Johnson nailed the start with Kenny Malaguarnero and Jeff Evens Jr. in tow. By lap two Johnson had a 1 ½ second gap and looked to be the sure winner while Malaguarnero and Evans swapped second. Around lap three something clicked within Evans as he changed his line and started using finesse with his excellent throttle control. He began to gap Malaguarnero, who in turn feed his mount more throttle causing more mistakes as his lap times lengthened. Slowly but surely Evans pulled back Johnson setting the official track record at 15.00/100 seconds in the process. At the front Johnson stylish as ever throwing fifteen foot dirt showers from his back wheel succumbed to Evans and relinquished the lead but never faltered from his chosen path of racing. Evans took a well deserved victory and the cash for a job well done!
On another note: Vince Graves, Freddie & Donna Edwards were given a standing ovation for the thousands of hours they have sacrificed to make this dream come true. (forget about all the money) Gerry & Grace Burton would be very proud as were Carolyn and Gerry Jr. who were in attendance on this night.