One of the most prestigious events in North America for speedway motorcycle racing, The John F. Stalma US Open National Championships, is set to come to Champion Speedway in Owego, NY on Aug 30 and 31 and one of the greatest riders of all-time, former WORLD CHAMPION, Sam Ermolenko, is set to compete. Ermolenko, from Cypress, CA but who has lived in Wolverhampton, England for over 25 years now, will be making his second appearance at Champion Speedway in his career…in 2012 he rode the US Open, becoming the 4th American World Speedway Racing Champion, to have turned laps at the local track! Ermolenko was extremely impressive, despite having been retired for five years, and nearly won the event, finishing second after losing a few valuable points with mechanical gremlins. Ermolenko has competed in a few exhibitions the past several years and his lap times were on pace with the current world GP stars. Champion Speedway promoter, Jason Bonsignore, lured him out of retirement so that local fans will have had the chance to see one of the all-time greats again!
This year’s Championship series will include two nights of racing at Champion on Aug. 30 and 31. The big news of who is racing does not stop at Ermolenko…the most notable announcement being that 17 year old California whiz-kid and 2013 AMA Under 21 National Champion, Max Ruml of Los Angeles has committed to the event. Ruml, tipped as a future World Champion, has been tearing up the West Coast tracks and just got back from representing Team USA in the World Team Cup rounds in England and Poland last month! Joining Ermolenko and Ruml on the program will 2012 US Open Champion, Chris Kerr, of Auburn, CA, who rode 5 seasons in the World Class British League, 4-time US Open Champion and Hollywood Stuntman, Shawn “Mad Dog” McConnell, of Brea, CA, and 13 year British League star, David “Victor” Meldrum, of Berwick, who now currently resides in Florida.
Local fans will have a lot to cheer and the guest stars will have their hands full as Bonsignore has a very strong program of local riders at the moment. The local D-1 pool of riders expressing interest in the event was at 20 last week. The top local favorites to win the Championship have to be Endicott’s Adam Mittl, who just clinched the NY State Championship in July along with Binghamton’s Mikey Buman who has 3 wins in 2014 and Port Crane’s Casey Donholt, who also has 3 feature wins. Windsor’s Tuff McBride is a multi-time track and East Coast Champ who has been nursing some injuries but could do well if healthy and Dave Clark of Berkshire can be hot at times. A strong local contingent of long serving veterans and up and coming riders may also give the visitors a run for their money.
Speedway motorcycles have absolutely no brakes, go from 0 to 60 mph in 3 seconds and slide totally sideways through the turns. They run on methanol and the sport attracts crowds of 20,00 plus for weekly meetings in Europe. There are only several pockets of speedway in the US and New York is recognized as one of the best, second only to California.
The Speedway action gets underway at 7 p.m. on the 30th at Champion Speedway, and at 6 p.m. on the 31st at Champion which is on East River Drive at the end of Rt. 434 in Owego. ATV and Support Class racing will be included both nights. Monday the 1st at Noon will serve as a rain-date. More info can be found by calling (585)739-9612 or going to www.eastcoastspeedway.com or www.speedwaybikes.com