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Team USA tops World in friendly speedway clash

Janniro leads the way for Americans
By: Michael Kirby Journal Speedway Correspondent
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Sure there were trophies for the winners, but the real winners were the fans at Fast Fridays motorcycle speedway at Auburn’s Gold Country Fairgrounds Friday night. Die hard speedway fans braved threatening weather to see the Fast Fridays season finale -- the annual good-will classic, USA vs. The World meeting of world professional riders racing against the best American riders, staged in Auburn. Fast Fridays promoter David Joiner did an excellent job of inviting a talented group of world-class challengers to compete against the American team. The World team was comprised of German riders Martin Smolinski, and Tobias Kroner, Patrick Hougaard and Kenneth Hansen representing Denmark, and Thomasz Bajerski rode for Poland. American rider Greg Hooten filled out the final sixth world team spot. For Smolinski it was his third trip to America to participate, Bajerski and Hansen were making their second appearance. On the American team were 2010 USA/AMA National Speedway Champion Billy Janniro, Auburn’s Tommy Hedden and Bart Bast, veteran riders Charlie Venegas, Bobby Schwartz, and up and comer USA Under 21 champion Bryce Starks. The riders rode in team pairs and competed for points in 18 heat races, scoring three points for a first place finish, two for second and one for a third place showing. At the end of the evening it was the hometown boys from America that came out on top, scoring 60 points to the World’s 48. Janniro and Smolinski led all riders in points with 16 after six heat races. Smolinski finished with 19 points after substituting for Hougaard in heat 11, picking up another three points riding in seven heats. Friday night in Auburn at Fast Fridays Motorcycle Speedway there were no winners or losers as far as the riders or fans were concerned. The joy of the friendly competition was obvious throughout the evening as the riders enjoyed themselves in a sport they love that knows no language barriers. “We take it serious, we want to make a good show, but no risky stuff tonight,” said Smolinski. “It’s really nice to come back to America to race and see Billy (Janniro) again after racing together in Europe.”