Having booked to join the James Easter/Speedway Star trip to America we set off at 3.30am…..Yes that is right!.… to East Midlands Airport to catch a National Express coach to Heathrow to meet up with other speedway supporters to catch our flight to The States on Tuesday June 3rd heading for Los Angeles to begin a 15 day tour which included visits to 4 different speedway tracks as part of the package.
We stayed for the first five days in Anaheim just outside L.A. and on our second day we visited Industry Hills Speedway, a very nice venue about an hour from L.A. with plenty of seating, good facilities and a roof over the track, just in case of rain , which was not needed as the temperature was around 90 degrees. Riding at this meeting (and at Costa Mesa) was Bobby Schwartz, still going strong at the age of 51. We had a chat after the meeting and he did say that he thought that this would be his last season. Also racing was a rider who was 76 years old and who only started racing four years earlier at the age of 72 !! and to top that he had previously won a meeting over there.
During our time in Anaheim time we did a coach tour of Hollywood, Beverley Hills etc and of course on one (or more ) of the free days, we were a very short distance from Disneyland, so a visit was on the cards.. On the last of the five days we went to the meeting at Costa Mesa, which was the first round of the American National Championship and which was won by Billy Janniro from Billy Hamill. A very big crowd turned out and this venue is another with good facilities and all seats. After the meeting I had a chat with Billy Hamill who, despite being left out of British Speedway, is now settled back home with a very good job and plenty of speedway for him to do. He still is very sharp on track and would still be a great asset to any British League Club. “Briggo” lives close to Costa Mesa and he came across to the meeting to catch up with us.
The following day we visited a real country track called Perris and once again, very hot. After the meeting at around 8.00.p.m. we drove from there to Las Vegas where we stayed for 3 nights. We then went through Death Valley (temperature was 116 degrees) to a town called Bishop where we stayed overnight and next day we went through Yosemite Park which was absolutely gorgeous. From there we headed for San Francisco and what a culture shock, the temperature only mid fifties, it seemed like the Arctic after what we had been used to. A tour of San Francisco was included along with a trip to Auburn speedway where, again, there was a very large crowd and great facilities. The presentation at all of the tracks was first class with each track putting on 36 races and for the cost of just $50.00 for the four meetings, great value for your money.
So the official trip was over although some people on the tour opted for an additional 3 days in New York. We arranged with James to fly back to Las Vegas for 5 days and fly home from there. On our previous visits to Las Vegas we were fortunate to meet Singer and Golfer Don Cherry who had a million selling record in the mid fifties “Band of Gold”, at the same time as having a top ten finish in the U.S.Open and they had invited us to visit them and have lunch with them which was very pleasant. Don is now 83 and still does occasional charity concerts and his voice is still very good.
We had been on two previous trips organised by James Easter, one to Australia for the Grand Prix and one to Lonigo for the Italian G.P. and this one, as were the others, absolutely first class with the couriers so helpful and accommodation really good. So I would certainly recommend The James Easter trips to anyone.
CALIFORNIA AND LAS VEGAS TOUR
June 2008 by Vic White