Christian Is Moving Closer to First U.S. Championship

Times Staff Writer

He once won 13 consecutive scratch main events at the Orange County Fairgrounds. He's dominated the racing scene on the short tracks in Southern California for the past five years. Needless to say, he's made a profitable living at racing speedway motorcycles.

But Alan Christian has never won the U.S. Championship, the pinnacle of racing for the methanol-burning, 180-pound motorcycles that are capable of producing speeds of up to 60 miles per hour in less than three seconds. It's a rap that has plagued Christian for years.

But that all might be behind Christian, a soft-spoken veteran from Huntington Beach who wears brilliant orange leathers and wears No. 2. Seems like he has been No. 2 all his life, but Christian appears ready to shed the runner-up image.

Christian won the main event Friday night in the fifth of sixth qualifying rounds at the Orange County Fairgrounds and put himself into the favorite's role for that elusive U.S. Championship on Oct. 12. Christian held off John Sandona to win the four-lap feature in front of 6,598 fans at Costa Mesa.

Christian was riding an English-built Weslake powered motorcycle and said it was the first time this season that he has ridden the bike. He normally rides an Italian-built GM.

"My GM was built for long track riding and the track at Costa Mesa is generally slick and always small," he said. "I went out three weeks ago and bought a Weslake and figured this would be a good night to practice my starts.

"I don't consider Costa Mesa my track any more. I have more trouble here than anywhere else on the circuit. If I was fortune teller, I might be able to tell you if I was going to win the championship here."

Christian totaled 21 points to easily win the meeting. Robert Pfetzing of Santa Ana was second with 17 points and Brad Oxley (San Clemente), Sam Ermolenko (Cypress) and John Sandona (Reche Canyon) all tied for third with 16.

Ermolenko remained the leader in the week-long qualifiers with 86 points, but he will skip the final qualifier on Sunday night at Carlsbad Raceway. He will leave today for Europe to prepare for the World Final next Saturday in Bradford, England.

Faria is second in the points' standings with 81 followed by Lance King and Steve Lucero, each with 73. King will also skip the last qualifier, leaving for Europe for the World Final. Faria and Christian would appear to be the logical choices to emerge as the top qualifiers.

"I've felt all along that I was going to win the qualifier at Carlsbad," Christian said. "That's my track."

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