Speedway motorcycle riders Kelly Moran of Huntington Beach and Sam Ermolenko of Corona, after tying for the World Best Pairs championship last Sunday in West Germany, have returned home to try to qualify for the world individual championship Saturday night in the Nissan American Speedway Final at Long Beach Veterans Stadium.
In a sudden-death rideoff for the pairs championship, Moran lost to Denmark's Erik Gundersen, who shared the team title with Hans Nielsen.
Sixteen of the best U. S. riders, among them seven who have been riding this season in the British League, will compete Saturday night, with only five advancing to the Overseas Final June 29 at Bradford, England. From there, 10 will advance to the Intercontinental Final July 20, also at Bradford. The top 11 will make it to the World Finals Aug. 30 at Katowica, Poland.
"I would expect that we would have four Americans in the World Finals," predicted Harry Oxley, promoter of the national finals. "That makes Saturday night's results all the more significant."
It will be interesting to see how the riders who compete only in Southern California, on much smaller ovals, fare against the British League veterans who ride on large tracks, similar to the 440-yard Long Beach layout.
"Riding at Costa Mesa on a 160-yard track and riding in Europe is like competing in two different sports," said Rick Miller, who lives in Reseda but is racing in England this season.
The other British League riders entered Saturday night are Bobby Schwartz of Newport Beach, Lance King of Fountain Valley, Shawn Moran of Huntington Beach, John Cook of Roseville, Calif., Kelly Moran and Ermolenko.
Representing the local tracks will be U.S. champion Alan Christian of Huntington Beach, California champion Mike Faria of Colton, Brad Oxley of San Clemente, Steve Lucero of Riverside, Bob Ott of Oceanside, John Sandona of Reche Canyon, Mike Curuso of Fountain Valley, Robert Pfetzing of Westminster, and Keith Chrisco of Whittier.
Shawn Moran, a former world long-course and national individual champion, will ride Saturday night with a broken bone in his ankle. He had been scheduled to ride with his brother Kelly in the world pairs, but was forced to withdraw when he was injured in a crash on his home British League track at Sheffield.
"I had a plaster cast on my foot, but I took it off when I got here," Shawn said upon arriving from England. "I'll tape it up somehow, but nothing's going to keep me out of this race."
Ivan Mauger of New Zealand, six-time world champion who won the world title the last time it was held in Poland, in 1979, believes that Shawn Moran is the American with the best chance to win.
"Shawn is the one American rider who can best deal with the elements in Poland," Mauger said. "The race course there is a very continental style track, and most of the top riders in the British League have a difficult time adapting. Long Beach is very similar to the conditions in Poland where the track is fast and narrow.
"It would be a shame if Shawn didn't make it to the World Final because I think he would win the meeting."
Another rider who will compete hurt is King, the only American rider to qualify for the World Final in each of the last three years.
King crashed last April, compressing two vertebrae, and has not ridden for two months. He is still so sore that he plans to skip today's practice session to avoid re-injuring himself.
SPRINT CARS--California Racing Assn. leader Brad Noffsinger will be back Saturday night at Ascot Park in an attempt to extend his margin over Mike Sweeney and late-season challenger Bubby Jones. Noffsinger won his sixth main event last week and leads Sweeney, 1,745 to 1,657.
MOTORCYCLES--Former world trials champion Bernie Schreiber of La Crescenta is 10th after seven rounds of the world championship series. Three-time champion Eddy Lejuene of Belgium and T. Michaud of France are tied for the lead. The next round is set for June 29 in Germany. . . . Southland speedway riders will get a tune-up tonight at Ascot's South Bay Speedway and Friday night at Orange County Fairgrounds for Saturday night's American Final in Long Beach. . . . Ventura speedway champion Mike Faria will go for his 44th Ventura win Tuesday night in an effort to tie Mike Bast as the track's all-time winner. . . . San Bernardino's Inland Speedway will hold a three-division program next Wednesday night. . . . The CMC's weekly motocross show is scheduled Friday night at Ascot Park.
STOCK CARS--Brothers J. D. and Roger Wilson of Costa Mesa will drive in the Curb Motorsports pro stock series Sunday night at Ascot Park. J. D., 45, is an airline pilot, and Roger, 35, is an aircraft engineer. Also Sunday night, there will be Figure 8 and oval cars. . . . Modifieds, NASCAR sportsmen, street stocks and Figure 8s will compete Saturday night at Saugus Speedway after an ego challenge for street-legal vehicles. Hobby stocks and foreign stocks will race Friday night at Saugus.
ROAD RACING--The California Sports Car Club will hold a national championship points race meet this weekend at Willow Springs Raceway in Rosamond. More than 150 cars will compete in seven championship races Sunday over the 2.54-mile road course after qualifying races Saturday. Television personalities Lorenzo Lamas and Perry King are slated to drive.
DRAG RACING--More than 400 drivers will be at Sears Point Raceway this weekend for the National Hot Rod Assn.'s Division 7 sportsman series. Two-time world champion Brad Anderson of Covina will be favored in the alcohol funny car class. Anderson is also a four-time division winner. . . . The Coors Fuel Altered Nationals will be held June 27-29 at the Los Angeles County Raceway in Palmdale.
OFF-ROAD--The ninth annual SCORE off-road equipment show will wind up today at Anaheim Convention Center. Featured will be the radio-controlled off-road championship races on a dirt track built on the convention center floor. . . . The second event of Marty Tripes' Stadium Racing U.S.A. series will be held Saturday night at Cajon Speedway in El Cajon. . . . Mickey Thompson's Gran Prix series will resume July 19 in the Coliseum.