LANCASTER, Pa. – The 2012 point champions at Lanco’s Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway were honored on Saturday night at the organization’s annual awards banquet.
The festive affair, with a crowd of more than 300, was held once again at the Host Resort & Conference Center in Lancaster, Pa.
Heading home with a couple of pieces of very large hardware and the most cash was Mike Rutherford, as the resident of Lititz, Pa. captured two point titles this season. Rutherford recorded his second track championship in the 270cc Two-Stroke Class, and he also registered the third 600cc point title of his stellar career at the banked oval in Newmanstown, Pa.
“It’s all due to my car owners, Ken and Tony Kaylor,” said Rutherford after he was recognized as this year’s 270cc Champion. “They give me such good equipment, week in and week out…anyone could win in their cars. It’s hard to believe we’ve been together for ten years now, and I hope we’re going to be able to race together for many years to come.”
Driving the potent Kaylor Petro No. 5k, Rutherford accumulated eight feature wins in 2012, and 14 of his 16 Clyde Martin starts ended with a top-five finish. One of those victories occurred in the double-point Clyde Martin Memorial Race, and he clinched the title in style, by winning the season finale` on September 15.
As he accepted the accolades for winning the 600cc championship, Rutherford acknowledged Gary and Rose Hunter, whose Hyper Chassis No. 7h propelled him to the point crown in that division.
“We really came together this season; Gary learned what I like (regarding set up) and he gave me a terrific car each night. It’s been a fantastic season and I have them (the Hunters), along with Ken and Tony, to thank for it.”
Rutherford notched four feature triumphs in 600cc competition, and he won the championship by almost 200 points – despite missing a race when he (along with many of the other contenders) traveled to the midwest to compete in a big event for the 600’s.
In 18 Clyde Martin starts, Rutherford scored 16 finishes inside the top 10.
Reading’s Richie Hartman has earned numerous 270cc Two-Stroke and Four-Stroke point titles at the Clyde. The recently completed season, though, marked the first time that Hartman came to the banquet to receive the 125cc crown.
Steering Gary Gorski’s Pork Producers No. 29, Hartman authored an incredible season for himself and his car owner. In fifteen races, he never finished outside the top ten. And thirteen of those efforts ended inside the top five, with six victories – including a stretch of five consecutive wins – cementing his hold on the championship.
Topping it all off was the birth of his daughter; the first child for Hartman and his wife, Brianne.
Chip Geib triumphed in the first five point shows of the 2012 season to establish himself as the driver to beat for this year’s 270cc Four-Stroke point title.
Geib, from Manheim, Pa., added a few more feature wins throughout the season, and in 14 events, he drove George Shupp’s No. 15 to 13 top five finishes.
On Saturday night at the awards banquet, Geib was recognized for winning his fifth track championship in the Four-Stroke Class.
Jason Swavely, Douglassville, won his first Sportsman Class point crown in 2011. As the new season unfolded, Swavely quickly served notice that there would be no championship hangover.
Buckling into Curt Miller’s No. 7c again in 2012, Swavely rocketed to victory in the season opener. He added six more triumphs during the year, including the double-point Clyde Martin Memorial Race and the lucrative Labor Day Shootout. Three of his victories came in the final five point shows to lock up his second straight Sportsman title.
Numerous special awards were presented during Saturday’s awards gala, including the following:
Mark Geib Sportsman of the Year: Jeff Stelter (600cc); Christi Sweigart (270cc Two-Stroke); Craig DeSantis (270cc Four-Stroke); Shane Braxton (125cc); Jeff Hughes (Sportsman).
Rookie of the Year: Dan Lane Jr. (270cc Two-Stroke); Kory Shissler (270cc Four-Stroke); Dylan Adams (125cc); Brian Becker (Sportsman). No one declared intent to run for Rookie of the Year in the 600cc Class.
Most Improved Driver: Brent Ely (600cc); Ryan Morris (270cc Two-Stroke); Kenny Miller III (270cc Four-Stroke); Darren Miller (125cc); Curtis R. Miller (Sportsman).
Dick Greenawalt Best Appearing Car Awards: Travis Esh (600cc); Brian Sholley (270cc Two-Stroke); Kory Shissler (270cc Four-Stroke); Dylan Adams (125cc); Mark Ludwig (Sportsman).
J.S. Weld-Rite Heat Race Challenge: Shaun Brandel (600cc); Mike Rutherford (270cc Two-Stroke); Chip Geib (270cc Four-Stroke); Richie Hartman (125cc); Bret Habecker (Sportsman).
Hard Luck Awards: Chris Gerhart (600cc); Nate Weidman (270cc Two-Stroke); Steve Smith Sr. (270cc Four-Stroke); Bradley Brown (125cc); Kerry Lengle (Sportsman).
Forty-one drivers joined this year’s Upside Down Club. All of them were introduced and received a special T-shirt to commemorate their tumbles.
Outgoing Lanco President Tim Bortz was given a plaque in recognition of his outstanding leadership efforts over the past four years. Bortz infused the club’s operation (at the race track) with technology during his tenure. He was a terrific communicator, always making sure that important information was distributed to club members in a timely fashion.
Bortz also convinced the club to institute a Fan Appreciation Night, where all spectators were admitted free. The first of these nights took place in May of this year, and it was a rousing success as fans packed every inch of the bleachers that stretch from turn four to turn one at the Clyde.