Lancaster, Pa. - November 20 - He may not have paid a visit to victory lane during 2010, but Chris Gerhart was basking in the limelight on Saturday night, as Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway saluted its newly crowned point champions at the club's annual awards banquet.
Inside the beautifully decorated showroom at the Host Resort in Lancaster, Pa., Gerhart was introduced as this year's 600cc Micro-Sprint Champion. The 350 banquet attendees listened as Gerhart, from Harleysville, Pa. explained how he and his family-owned team captured the title without winning a single feature.
"At one point in the season, we were 13th in points. We fought hard as a team and took advantage of our opportunities when the people (ahead of us in points) had problems. My dad has such great knowledge of these cars; he always knows what to do to make the car better."
Gerhart claimed the 600cc crown with consistency, finishing more than half of the season's features inside the top ten. Even though he failed to qualify for the main event on August 14, Gerhart somehow vaulted into the point lead by the end of that month. He secured the championship by ending the season with efforts of sixth, seventh, and tenth to record the first point title of his Micro-Sprint career.
While thanking his family, Gerhart gave credit to his brother, Brad, for fueling the passion for racing in his younger sibling. He also thanked his girlfriend, Jess, for "dealing with my insane obsession with racing for the past three-and-a-half years."
Gerhart plans to defend his 600cc title next season, armed with a brand new Hyper Chassis.
Richie Hartman, Shoemakersville Pa., received the hardware and cash for a third consecutive point crown in the 270cc Class. He began his championship address to the crowd with some words of wisdom.
"Someone once told me that you must bring your friends to the track because once you get there, you don't have any."
Hartman went on to say that he's found those words to be true, but he's proud to call two of his competitors, Chip Geib and Jesse Maurer, "great friends", and noted that, without their generosity, he (Hartman) probably would not have competed at the Clyde on a weekly basis.
Winning three of the year's first six races put Hartman in control of the 270cc point chase. He racked up 14 top-fives during the season, and finished in the top ten in 16 of the season's 19 main events.
The Mount Joy Outlaw, Jesse Maurer, notched his third championship in the 125cc Micro-Sprint division. Despite his class-leading six triumphs, Maurer had to come from behind to secure his title, finishing as the runner-up in the season finale to defeat David Ravel by 23 points.
"It seemed as though we had some sort of problem every week," stated Maurer. "The engine, the car...you name it, we had trouble with it. But we always got it together for the feature. Hopefully next year we can do it again, but without all the problems."
After his third championship in the 250cc Four-Stroke Class, Chip Geib decided it was time for a break. He sat out for two seasons before the desire to mash the gas returned. Geib's parents supported his idea of a comeback, purchasing another Micro for the 2010 campaign. And the Manheim wheel-twister came back in style, winning his fourth point title and accumulating eight feature triumphs in the process.
A couple of early season DNF's, caused by mechanical gremlins, had Geib mired deep in the point standings. He climbed out of the hole quickly, however, as the victories and top-five efforts piled up. Trailing Peter Michael by ten points heading into the final night of the season, Geib recorded his eighth feature triumph and in the process, leap-frogged over Michael to claim the championship.
"Without my crew, there's no way we could have done what we've done this year," said Geib. "After a bad night, I'd get a call from the crew on Sunday, saying they'd fixed the car and now we needed to start it and see how it runs. They were just fantastic, all year long."
Ken Miller capped off his championship season in the Sportsman Class by registering victories in the final two main events of the year. He wound up with seven feature wins, one less than his teammate, Jason Swavely.
The championship is Miller's second in the Sportsman Class; he also earned the title in 2008. He gave the credit to his car owner, Pete Rozmus, and his uncle, Curt Miller, who built the motors that carried him to the Sportsman crown.
"A champion isn't a champion without his team," noted Miller, who then mentioned every member of his crew. He gave a special "shout out" to his wife, Kim, who he said, "pushes me to race each and every week."
Along with the five champions, the top fifteen in the standings in each of the track's weekly classes were introduced as they came forward to receive trophies and point fund checks.
Receiving the Championship Car Owner's trophies were: Donald Gerhart (600cc); Richie Hartman (270cc); Gary Gorski (125cc); Chip Geib (250cc Four-Stroke); and Pete Rozmus (Sportsman).
The recipients of numerous special awards are listed below:
Rookie of the Year: Zachary Fisher (600cc); Jared Esh (250cc Four-Stroke); Curtis R. Miller (125cc); Michael Heiser (Sportsman). There was no Rookie of the Year in the 270cc Class.
Most Improved Driver: Tyler Ross (600cc); Dave Grube (270cc); Matthew Swift (250cc Four-Stroke); Bradley Brown (125cc); Kelby Stauffer (Sportsman).
Sportsman of the Year: Jamie Kostic (600cc); Nick Skias (270cc); Peter Michael (250cc Four-Stroke); Derek Ecenrode (125cc); Brett Wanner (Sportsman).
Viper Chassis Heat Race Challenge: Brittany Brown (600cc); Zack Fouse (270cc); Chip Geib (250cc Four-Stroke); Jesse Maurer (125cc); Ken Miller (Sportsman).
Best Appearing Car Awards: Tyler Esh (600cc); Nick Skias (270cc); Jared Esh (250cc Four-Stroke); Cody Drace (125cc); Dave Kemp (Sportsman).
Hard Luck Award: Brent Ely (600cc); Kerry Lengle (270cc); Jessica Mohler (250cc Four-Stroke); Mark Yoder (125cc); Robert Shanaman (Sportsman).
The President's Award went to Bonnie Goshert for her efforts in organizing the annual Kids Fun Day for the past several seasons. The activity is held on Saturday of Labor Day weekend, during the track's annual two-day Labor Day Shootout. Goshert also served as the track's handicapper for the last few years.
Fifty-six drivers were inducted into the Lanco Upside Down Club on Saturday, receiving t-shirts to commemorate their tumbles during the recently completed season.
The 2011 racing schedule was released during Saturday's banquet, with the season opener slated for April 16. There are 21 events penciled in, with all of the annual specials back on the schedule. The Memorial Day Open Show will be presented on May 28, and Micromania is back on the calendar; it's set for July 2nd. The Clyde Martin Memorial Race will be run on July 30, and the Labor Day Shootout will be held on September 3rd and 4th.
For additional information on the 2011 season and rule changes for next year, log on to www.lancomicrosprint.com.