For the first time in eight years, three U.S. speedway motorcycle riders have qualified for the World Final after a successful showing Sunday in the InterContinental Final in Fjeldsted, Denmark.
Shawn Moran, a Huntington Beach High School graduate now living in Apple Valley, heads the field for the world championship, Sept. 1 in Bradford, England. Moran won the race in Denmark with 14 points.
Rick Miller of Reseda finished fifth in the race in Denmark with 10 points and Ronnie Correy of Fullerton tied for sixth with Kelvin Tatum of England with nine points. The top 11 riders in the race advanced to the world championship.
It was the best showing for U.S. riders since 1982, when Bruce Penhall, Dennis Sigalos and Kelly Moran qualified for the World Final. Penhall won the championship at the L.A. Coliseum, Sigalos finished third and Kelly Moran was fourth.
Three U.S. riders had qualified for the World Final only once before Penhall's victory in 1982.
In 1937, Jack Milne, then a 27-year-old from Pasadena, became the United States' first speedway champion with a victory at Wembley Stadium in London. Milne's best friend, Wilbur (Lammy) Lamoreaux finished second and his younger brother, Cordy, was third.
Shawn Moran's victory Sunday was impressive, considering he was riding on a Danish track where natives Hans Nielsen, Per Janssen and Jan Pedersen have dominated the sport the past five years.
Nielsen, the two-time defending world champion, finished in a tie for third with Pedersen but won a three-lap runoff. Janssen finished second with 12 points. Jeremy Doncaster of England, who won the Overseas Final, failed to qualify for the World Final by scoring only two points.
Moran, attempting to become the first U.S. rider since Penhall to win the World Final, should have an advantage racing at Bradford, where he lives while racing for Belle Vue of the British Speedway League.
Correy qualified for his second consecutive world championship despite blowing an engine in his first heat race. Last year, Correy finished in a tie for eighth in the World Final despite riding with a broken arm.
Locally, defending U.S. champion Bobby Schwartz of Costa Mesa and 1985 champion Alan Christian of Murrietta are the leading scorers after two rounds of qualifying for the 1990 U.S. Championship, Oct. 6 at the Orange County Fairgrounds.
Both riders have totaled 39 points in qualifiers at Auburn and Victorville with the final round Oct. 6 at Costa Mesa. Promoters at Glen Helen and Ascot Park's South Bay Stadium declined to schedule qualifying rounds this season.
Other scoring leaders are Phil Collins (38), Steve Lucero (30), Mike Faria (30), Brad Oxley (25), Andy Northrup (170, Lance King (13), Josh Larson (13) and Mark Hannah (12).
The top 14 qualifiers advance to the U.S. Championship with Shawn Moran and Billy Hamill. Moran and Hamill were automatically seeded into the championship after finishing first and second at the American Final in Long Beach.
Moran has notified promoter Harry Oxley that he will not compete in the U.S. Championship and will be replaced by Rick Miller.
Among items discussed at the monthly rider's board meeting Monday was the inconsistent officiating at local tracks, including a possible conflict of interest involving Glen Helen referee Jim Fishback and rider Alan Christian.
Fishback, a former crowd favorite at San Bernardino, recently began providing Christian with equipment, and several riders have questioned the sponsorship.