Story By: KENNY SHUPP / OUTLAW SPEEDWAY – WATKINS GLEN, NY – The Harbor Hotel located on the southern shores of beautiful Seneca Lake in Watkins Glen played host to the recently held 3rd Annual Outlaw Speedway Awards Banquet on Saturday, February 9, 2019.
Some 300 drivers, fans, sponsors, members of the working media and many track employees were treated at the event honoring the 2018 track champions along with all the top point finishers as well as several other special recognizes.
Track announcers, Mel Thomas and Kenny Shupp Jr. were on hand to emcee the bulk of the awards ceremony as all the recipients of trophies and point fund money were greeted by track owner, Tyler Siri and his partner, Jordan Lynch.
The night started off with a mouthwatering prime rib buffet carved up to perfection by the wait staff of the Harbor Hotel. Prior to the completion of the awards ceremony, Siri took to the podium and addressed the capacity crowd with his plans for the upcoming season and beyond. For the third year track owner/promoter, it was with a great deal of pride that Siri acknowledged the tracks successful 2018 campaign which like so many other race venues in the northeast was plagued with continual weather related problems throughout the entire season. He credited his entire staff, the drivers and teams as well as the fans and all the tracks marketing partners for helping the track work thru early season snow, what seemed like never ending rain issues throughout the summer and late season sleet, freezing rain and snow conditions which would prematurely end the season. When he had finished addressing the masses and in traditional Tyler Siri form then presented a multitude of appreciation awards to deserved recipients. Ranging from employees of the year to outstanding performance, media relations to fire and safety, track maintenance to marketing partners, concession staff to scoring and timing, the list went on and on to a who’s who list of worthy accepters’. When it was over some $30,000 in checks, hardware and plaques had been dished out and with virtually everyone is attendance leaving with smiles on their faces the 2018 season at the Outlaw Speedway had officially come to a conclusion.
The top 10 point finishers in all of the respective weekly classes (top 4 in Crate Late Model, top 6 in the Bandits) all shared in the cash and hardware including track champions, Alan Johnson (3 feature wins) in the Friendly Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram Modified Division, Chris Fisher (3 feature wins) in the 602 Crate Sportsman Class with Glen Whritenour (3 feature wins) successfully defended his Street Stock Title.
Chad Homan (6 feature wins) picked up his first Doug Gross Construction Crate Late Model Track Title at Outlaw Speedway as Will Ward (4 feature wins) nailed down the track title in the Marion Decker Farmers Insurance IMCA Modifieds. Second generation pilot, Adam Austin (8 feature wins) was crowned track champion in the 4 Cylinder Division as Austin LaBar (4 feature wins) took the top spot in the Winners Circle Deli Bandit Class. Marc Minutolo laid claim to the Marion Decker Farmers Insurance Hobby Stock track title and last but not least, Dave Marcuccelli (5 wins) was crowned champion in the inaugural Outlaw Speedway American Racer Tire Sportsman Series. Congratulations to all the 2018 Track and Series Champions.
Several Rookies of the Year plaques were awarded including Josh Oles in the 4 Cylinder Division. Justin Eldridge backed up his impressive runner up position in the Hobby Stock Class point finale with his Rookie of the Year honor. Aksel Jensen finished 7th in the Street Stock point battle and was crowned with the Rookie Award. Last but certainly not least Billy Bowers was awarded the Rookie of the Year in the ultra-competitive 602 Crate Sportsman Division. A complete list of the top ten point finishers and all other competitors in Outlaw Speedways regular classes of competition can be found by simply go to the tracks web site.
Special Employee Awards were presented to the track preparation crew of Ron, Joe and Terry Povoski. Additional staff members including Steve Whetmore, Joe Crane, Paul Lodge, Mark Phelps, Rich Sharpseen, Dave Machuga, Sheila Darcy, Tommy Curtis, Sharon Skyler, Missy Hammond, Nancy Hunt, Pat Baker, The Dinkins Family, Carmen Moss and Family all received plagues.
Employees of the Year Awards were shared by both Dave Wyre and Mark Gurnsey.
George Fisher received the Car Owner of the Year Award having two cars in the top ten in two different classes. His son Chris picked up the track title in the 602 Crate Sportsman Division while other son Eric placed fourth in the tough Modified Class.
Track owner, Siri presented the prestigious Dedication to Motorsports Award to former track promoter and current dedicated employee, Steve Whetmore.
Media Awards went to photographer, Greg Mesler and track announcers Mel Thomas and Kenny Shupp Jr.
Sponsor Awards went out to representatives of class sponsors Marion Decker Insurance Company of the IMCA and Hobby Stock Divisions, Winners Circle Deli who sponsored the Bandit Class. Larry and Brian Knowles were on hand to accept the sponsor plaque for their participation in the Doug Gross Construction Crate Late Model Division as well as the folks of Friendly CDJR who sponsored the Mighty Modified Division. Additional Sponsor Plaques went out to Suburban Propane, NAPA, Knapp and Schlappi, CARQUEST, Fisher Tree Service, Sunrise Insulation, Finger Lakes Radio Group, Lanes Yamaha and Bully Hill Vineyards.
Other points of interest for those in attendance included statistics provided by Thomas and Shupp that some 350 different drivers competed at the Outlaw Speedway during the 2018 season representing the weekly classes of competition including the Crate Sportsman American Racer Tire Series. 52 different drivers found victory lane throughout the season in all of Outlaw Speedway’s regular weekly classes. Taking into consideration outside touring groups such as 360 and 410 Sprints, Big Block Modifieds and the World of Outlaws Late Model Series the number jumps to an astounding 450 different competitors racing at Outlaw Speedway in 2018 with the number of different faces gracing victory lane jumping to 61 drivers. In addition the track paid out over $687,000 in nightly prize money to all the classes during the season. That number surely would have surpassed the ¾ of a million dollar mark without the numerous rainouts along with the loss of the season ending Dutch Hoag Memorial Triple 7’s Saturday races, the highest paying two day event of the year!
Up next it will be a series of car shows the track will participate in including the Annual Outlaw Speedway Arnot Mall Car Show in Big Flats, NY on Saturday and Sunday, March 30 and 31 with the high lights of the weekend being on Saturday night with the Drivers Autograph Session followed by the Tire Changing Competition.
The track will then open for a pair of practice nights scheduled for April 5 and 12 with the Dutch Hoag Triple 7’s make-up from last October set to go off on Saturday, April 13.
The Annual Spring Nationals will then roll off on Friday, April 19, 2019 and like the Dutch Hoag Memorial will feature a multitude of different classes of competition from 360 Sprints to open wheel Modifieds and various full fender divisions.