Story By: DAVE BUCHANAN / RANSOMVILLE SPEEDWAY – RANSOMVILLE, NY – Ransomville Speedway celebrated the performances of its racers and teams during the 2019 season on Friday night during the annual season awards banquet.
Track staff, teams, their families and fans gathered at the Lewiston #2 Firehall for an evening of fun, with catering provided by Donna Eick and live music from Breakaway.
Headlining the list of award winners were the 2019 Ransomville Speedway track champions. Erick Rudolph of Ransomville was crowned Krown Undercoating 358 Modified track champion for a second year in a row. Rudolph beat Mat Williamson by 17 points after a season-long battle between the two drivers. He won five races and scored 11 top fives while en route to another title. Rudolph was also crowned the 2019 Driver of the Year for his impressive performance throughout the season, and the successful defense of his Modified title.
In the Investor’s Service Sportsman, Brett Senek of Ransomville scored his second-straight division championship. He narrowly beat Derek Wagner by 11 points to successfully defend his championship. Senek piled up four wins during 2019, which was in stark contrast to his 2018 title where he went without a win. He was also named the winner of the Trevor Wilkins Hard Charger Award for his ability to pass competitors consistently.
“The Huckster” Cory Sawyer of Niagara Falls, N.Y. was crowned Ki-Po Chevrolet Street Stock champion for a third time. Sawyer edged Pete Stefanski by 14 points to secure the 2019 Street Stock title. Cole Susice of Ransomville laid claim to his second career Gippster’s Collision Mini Stock track title. Susice amassed four wins this past season while finishing in the top ten in all 16 races. Susice was also honored for winning the Ransomville-Genesee Mini Stock Super Series championship.
The Stevenson’s Hardware Novice Sportsman championship was shared by two drivers. Mike Martin of Appleton, N.Y. and Butch Zimmerman of Burt, N.Y. finished the season tied with 668 points, and were declared co-champions. It was the fourth time in speedway history that there was a tie for a track title. Zimmerman racked up two wins early in the season, and then piled consistent finishes the rest of the way. Martin finished first and third in the last two races of the season to catch Zimmerman in the final weeks to share a piece of the title.
The significant other of each track champion received jewelry from Firth’s Jewelers.
A collection of specialty and achievement awards were also handed out. The 2019 Ransomville Speedway Rookies of the Year were: Brandon Michaud (358 Modified), Brian Harris (Sportsman), Anthony Guthrie (Street Stocks) and Brian Melcher (Mini Stocks). Hard Luck Award Winners included: Ryan Susice (358 Modified), Dave DiPietro (Sportsman), Jaren Israel (Street Stocks), Mike Kramarz (Mini Stocks) and Chris Hawkins (Novice). Most Improved Driver Awards were given to AJ Custodi (Sportsman) and Dan Korpanty (Street Stocks).
Street Stock veteran Pete Stefanski earned the Performance of the Year Award. Stefanski led all Ransomville drivers in 2019 with seven feature wins, including the King of the Hill 75. Rob Johnston was named Car Owner of the Year. His son, Robbie, finished sixth in the Sportsman standings this season with six top five finishes and nine top tens.
Modified driver Ryan Susice received the Ray MacIver Memorial Sportsmanship Award for his efforts in raising bonus money for the John Susice Memorial Street Stock race and his willingness to help his fellow competitors when needed. John Panattoni was awarded the Pat Spina Memorial Mechanic of the Year Award. Panattoni, a former racer turned crew member, turns wrenches on the Street Stock of Pat Dell.
Track photographer Tom Stevens received the Key Player Award for his dedication to his position and his craft. Stevens shoots photos for both the Friday night racing program and Go-Karts on Thursdays. He is passionate about his work, and is a valuable asset to the marketing and promotion of the facility.
Best Appearing Car Awards were presented to the most visually appealing vehicles in each division. Winners included: Chad Brachmann (358 Modified), Derek Wagner (Sportsman), Bubby Pawlak (Novice), Chris Dziomba (Street Stocks) and Ryan Plante (Mini Stocks).