VanWormer, Kramer, Craig and Ruhlman Head Up Huge List of Recipients
ROSSBURG, OH (Jan. 20) – A capacity crowd of drivers, owners, race teams and fans joined track owner Tony Stewart Saturday evening in the Eldora Ballroom to celebrate 2012 season championship titles captured by Jeep VanWormer (Late Models), Joey Kramer (UMP DIRTcar Modifieds), Barney Craig (Stock Cars) and Brian Ruhlman (Sunoco American Late Model Series).
As Stewart distributed the accolades he was quick to assure the fans that his love for short track racing, and the participants that make it happen, will never fade. While on stage with Eldora founder Earl Baltes, Stewart shared that “Earl and Berneice set the bar with the Eldora experience. My challenge is to maintain, and expand, those same standards that fans and race teams have come to expect of Eldora.”
The Eldora stage was kept busy all night, as Stewart and Eldora promoter Roger Slack distributed hardware to not only the champions and the remainder of the top 15 in each division, but a host of specialty awards as well.
Diana Kellen, daughter of Chick Hale, was in attendance to reward the speedway’s highest honor, the Sportsman of the Year trophy named in her father’s honor, to Alan Phillippi.
Recognized as the Rookie of the Year in their respective divisions were Justin Coulter (Late Model), Evan Taylor (Modified) and Ricky Ray Dillon (Stock Car), while Most Improved Driver honors were bestowed upon Bill Lewis (Late Model), Ryan Sutter (Modified) and Adam Schaeff (Stock Car).
John Brooks entertained the massive crowd with whimsical quips about the rugged season that earned him the Hard Luck award in the Modified division. Ryan VanderVeen was named the Hard Luck recipient in the Late Model division, while similar honors were bestowed upon Eric Sandlin in the Stock Car ranks.
Rewarded with the Best Appearing Car trophies were Andrew Reaume (Late Models), Shane Unger (Modifieds) and Casey Barr (Stock Cars).
Dave Chamberlain was emotional upon being named Mechanic of the Year, while Rick DeLong was equally humbled with his Car Owner of the Year honor. Berneice Baltes received a rousing ovation when named Woman of the Year, while Clyde Bateman was grateful in his acceptance of the Joe Mercer Fan of the Year tribute.
As he reflected back on his successful first year at the helm of steering the Eldora ship, Slack issued praise for the efforts put forth by the recently retired Larry & Kathleen Kemp; and was quick to thank everyone, including the race teams, staff and fans, for their support and dedication, with reassurance that 2013 and forward will continue to be aggressive years for Eldora. In their closing remarks, Slack and Stewart chimed, “we are excited about the future of Eldora!”