Lancaster, PA - The 56th season of Micro-Sprint racing arrived at its official conclusion on Saturday night, as Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway saluted its champions and special award winners at the club's annual Awards Banquet. As it has for the past several years, the banquet was held at the Host Resort & Conference Center in Lancaster, Pa.
Heading up the list of 2013 Mark Millwright & Rigging point champions recognized by the crowd of more than 300 who attended Saturday's banquet, was 600cc titlist Heath Hehnly of Manheim. Driving Sonny Cooke's Hyper/Spar No. 2, Hehnly utilized consistency to capture his third point crown in the 600cc division, tying him with Mike Rutherford for the most championships since the 600's became a weekly class at the Clyde in 2005.
One feature win, three runner-up and four third-place efforts highlighted Hehnly's come-from-behind path to the title, along with an unfortunate race-ending crash by point leader Tyler Esh in the season finale`.
Car owner Sonny Cooke celebrated the championship, his 50th wedding anniversary, and the news that he and wife Melverne are going to be grandparents (of twins) for the first time. In his acceptance speech, Hehnly joked that, "our racing budget may decrease next year since Sonny is going to have grandchildren to spend money on..."
Mike Rutherford has driven Ken & Tony Kaylor's No. 5k for the past 13 seasons, and they were feted on Saturday night for winning their second consecutive 270cc point crown. Winless until June 29, the Rutherford/Kaylor combination caught fire in the second half of the campaign, reeling off five straight feature victories to end the year. One of those triumphs occurred in the lucrative Labor Day Shootout, and Rutherford, from Lititz, went on to win the title by 122 points over Billy Logeman.
As he received his Championship Car Owner hardware, Ken Kaylor told the crowd that, "it's been a great 13 years together, and there's absolutely no one I'd rather have in my car than Mike Rutherford."
Manheim's Chip Geib says that he is stepping away from weekly competition, and if that is truly the case, then he is going out on top.
Geib captured his second consecutive point crown in the 250cc Four-Stroke division. The championship is the sixth of his career in the Four-Stroke Class, more than any other driver who has gassed a Four-Stroke Micro at the Clyde.
This title was secured on the strength of seven feature wins and an almost equal number of second-place finishes. Geib wheeled George Shupp's RTS No. 15 to the championship, giving Shupp his third point crown as a Four-Stroke car owner. At the banquet, Shupp announced that he, too, will give up racing weekly rather than put someone else in his car.
Richie Hartman, from Temple, Pa., registered his second straight point championship in the 125cc Class. He and his Gorski Racing teammate, Jesse Maurer, dominated the division in 2013, as the two throttle-jockeys combined to win 13 of the 18 main events contested for the 125cc racers. Hartman recorded five of those triumphs, including three in a row in the month of August, and ran second to Maurer on several occasions, piling up much needed points and steadily pulling away from runner-up Derek Ecenrode in the standings.
Car owner Gary Gorski continued his incredible reign of dominance in the 125cc division, winning his sixth track title in the last seven years. The past two crowns have come with Hartman at the controls of a Gorski-owned RTS mount, and the first four championships were earned with Maurer at the wheel of the Cocalico Plumbing & Heating, Gary's Automotive, RTS No. 21.
Even though he missed two races early in the first half of the season, Douglassville's Jason Swavely notched his third consecutive point championship in the Sportsman Class. Swavely used ten feature victories to make up for the absences, and he never finished outside the top ten in the races he attended. In fact, he took the checkered flag inside the top five in all but one of the Sportsman features in which he competed. Three of his victories occurred in big races, too, as he captured the loot in the Memorial Day Open Show, the double-point Clyde Martin Memorial Race, and the Labor Day Shootout.
Curtis A. Miller scored another Sportsman Car Owner's Championship, as Swavely earned the title aboard Miller's No. 7c. Miller has now been a part of an amazing 13 Sportsman Championships as car owner and/or engine builder.
While Hartman and Gorski have not announced their plans for 2014, Geib and Swavely informed the banquet attendees that they will not defend their point titles next season. Rutherford and Hehnly are expected to return and attempt to win another track championship in their respective divisions when the Clyde's '14 racing season begins in April.
Many special awards were handed out on Saturday night, and the recipients are as follows...
Rookie of the Year: Sportsman = Anthony Yerger; 125cc = Chase Gutshall; 250cc Four-Stroke = Devin Adams; 270cc = Mike Binkley; 600cc = None.
Hard Luck Award: Sportsman = Brian Becker; 125cc = Nick Sweigart; 250cc Four-Stroke = Ron Good; 270cc = Mike Uhrich; 600cc = (Tie) CJ Tracy and Shaun Brandel.
Most Improved Driver: Sportsman = Jenna Heagy; 125cc = Derek Ecenrode; 250cc Four-Stroke = Eddie Nocera; 270cc = Brian Sholley; 600cc = Jared Esh.
Best Appearing Car: Sportsman = Kerry Lengle; 125cc = Chase Gutshall; 250cc Four-Stroke = Kenny Miller III; 270cc = Toby Blumenshine; 600cc = Tyler Esh.
Sportsman of the Year: Sportsman = Bret Habecker; 125cc = Derek Ecenrode; 250cc Four-Stroke = Scott Renninger; 270cc = Nick Sweigart; 600cc = Chris Gerhart.
Jim and Joyce Skias of Mongoose Chassis sponsored the Heat Race Challenge in 2013, and the drivers who scored the most points in the heat race standings were: Bret Habecker (Sportsman); Dave Grube (125cc); Donna Geib (250cc Four-Stroke); Brian Sholley (270cc); and Heath Hehnly (600cc).
Twenty-nine different drivers earned Micro-Sprint feature wins during the 2013 season, and track photographers Bonnie & Curt Goshert of Shred Racing Photos presented specially designed mugs to each driver who scored a feature victory.
Lanco club President Kenny Mohler presented Kim Adams with the President's Award in recognition of her many years of service to the club and the speedway. Adams is in charge of the Pit Shack and performs an endless number of duties each week during the racing season, and she also organized this year's awards banquet as well.
The plethora of sponsors who supported Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway in 2013 were also recognized during Saturday's awards gala.
Mark Millwright & Rigging sponsored the point fund for each of the five divisions (the first ever corporate sponsorship of Lanco's point chases), while Weld Racing provided gift certificates to each point champion as well.
Nouse Signs & Graphics rewarded each feature winner during the season with a gift certificate that is good toward the purchase of a new, two or three-layer custom designed racing uniform from K1 Racegear.
Mongoose Chassis, as previously mentioned, sponsored the Heat Race Challenge for each class, and the company signed on as an event sponsor, too.
Other race night sponsorship was provided by RTS Chassis, Animal Resorts, Nouse Signs & Graphics, MJF Trucking, Bud's Spring Service, Hoosier Tire Mid-Atlantic, Microracing.com, Gold Rush Trailer Sales, Mark Millwright & Rigging, Esh Racing Products, Triangle Communications, and Kim's Kreations.
After the awards presentation, it was time to socialize and dance the night away to the tunes provided by DJ Joel.
The 2014 racing season at Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway begins with a practice night on April 5. The 57th season opener takes place on Saturday, April 12.