ROSSBURG, OH (Jan. 25) – Despite near blizzard-like conditions earlier in the day, nearly 400 drivers, crew members and fans gathered inside the Eldora Ballroom Saturday evening to bring an official close to the 2013 season with the annual Eldora Speedway Awards Ceremony. Honored as divisional champions for the legendary .500-mile clay oval were Matt Miller (Late Model), Jerry Bowersock (UMP DIRTcar Modified) and Barney Craig (Stock Car), while Brandon Thirlby received accolades for his championship in the Sunoco American Late Model Series.
For Miller, it was his fourth championship, having mastered the field in 2000, 2008 and 2010 prior to this year’s title on board the Rick DeLong owned machine. Likewise, Bowersock is no stranger to the Eldora stage; having captured Modified titles in 2008 and 2011. His 2013 ride to the top was provided by Al Austin. Of the trio, it was Craig laying claim to the most titles, with the 2013 season providing him with championship number five; including a defense of last year’s crown. His other three trips to the stage were in 1992, 1993 and 1999.
Prior to the presentation of the champions, the remainder of the top 15 in the final point chase were brought to the stage to receive their hardware and point fund money.
Intermixed were multiple ‘specialty’ awards. Received Rookie of the Year honors were Ryan Sutter (Late Model), Derrick Austin (Modified) and Chris Douglas (Stock Car), while the Most Improved Driver honors were bestowed upon Duane Chamberlain (Late Model), Aaron Orr (Modified) and Paul Pardo (Stock Car). Determined to have the Best Appearing Cars in 2013 were Miller (Late Model), Brandon Vaughan (Modified) and Casey Barr (Stock Car). Recognized for their run of Hard Luck were Jacob Hawkins (Late Model), Mike Dirksen (Modified) and Dean Pitts (Stock Car).
Considered to be one of the most prestigious awards of the year, the Chick Hale Sportsman of the Year trophy was presented to Earnie Woodard.
Earlier in the evening, Tess Thwaits was named Woman of the Year. Ed Muleski was tabbed as the Joe Mercer Memorial Fan of the Year, with Phil Westfall capturing the Mechanic of the Year hardware. For their outstanding stable of race machinery, Best Performance Motorsports was announced as the Owner of the Year.
Eldora now turns its eyes on another busy season ahead. Reserved seating and campsites for Eldora’s major special events in 2014 – the 31st annual Kings Royal Weekend; the 20th annual Dirt Late Model Dream by Ferris Mowers; the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 1-800 CarCash Mudsummer Classic; and the 44th annual World 100 – are on sale now at (937) 338-3815 and online at www.EldoraSpeedway.com.
The complete schedule for Eldora’s 61st consecutive season, including ticket and campsite information, is available at www.EldoraSpeedway.com and can be requested by phone at (937) 338-3815. Tickets for all events will go on sale Monday, Feb. 10 at 10 a.m. EST.
Fans can get behind-the-scenes access of Eldora Speedway by following @EldoraSpeedway on Twitter, hitting ‘Like’ at www.facebook.com/EldoraSpeedway and on www.youtube.com/EldoraSpeedwayInc. The Eldora Speedway app for the iPhone, iPad and Android is available for free download via iTunes and Google Play.
(Ed. note – complete set of banquet photos HERE)