GILBERTSVILLE, Pa. — Nearly 500 people filled the Gilbertsville, PA Fire Co. Social Hall on Saturday night as the 51st annual Grandview Speedway Awards Banquet honored the NASCAR stock car champions.
For the seventh time in his career Craig VonDohren was honored as the NASCAR Whelen All American Series 358 Modified champion. The Oley, Pa., professional racer also earned the car owner championship. Earning 5,907points on his way to the title VonDohren walked off with well over $10,000 for his championship efforts including championship money from track owners Bruce and Teresa Rogers along with NASCAR.
Young Jared Umbenhauer was honored as the NASCAR Sportsman titleholder for the second year in a row with Barry Bashore, his car owner, sharing in the honors. The team had five feature victories.
Jason Miller took home his very first championship in the late model division. The New Tripoli, Pa., racer did it the hard way as he tallied 5,284 points but had no feature wins. Green Lane’s Terry Snyder, owner of the car driven by his son Danny, was able to take the owner’s championship while his son finished second in the standings with 5,266 points just 18 points behind the champion.
The top 20 drivers and top ten owners in each of the three divisions were honored with awards.
Brett Kressley, picked up the American Racer Sportsman Cup which included four American Racer Modified tires courtesy of Lias Tires in Indiana, PA.
In the NASCAR 358 Modified division former ARDC midget champion Tim Buckwalter earned Rookie of the Year honors while DIRT stock car legend Frank Cozze was presented with the Best Newcomer award for his first season of racing at Grandview. John Willman went from 24th in the 2012 standings to 11th in the final 2013 standings to earn the Most Improved Driver award. Veteran racer Jeff Strunk took home the Sportsmanship award while Jarrad Miller received the Best Appearing Car honors. Kevin Hirthler took home Hard Luck honors.
Former 410 sprint car racer Sam Schlosberg took the Best Newcomer honors in the late model division as he was able to win three features. Dan Green, a graduate of go-kart racing, took the rookie of the year honors. Wayne Pfeil Jr., a feature winner, earned the Most Improved award. Kory Fleming, who had his race car destroyed late in the season in a race accident, took home the Hard Luck award. He does plan to return to Grandview racing in 2014. Buddy Mertz, a big supporter of racing at Grandview, was given the Sportsmanship award for lending his car to other competitors during the season. Past champion Chuck Schutz was honored with the Best Appearing Car award.
Jordan Henn earned the rookie of the year honors in the sportsman division. Six feature winner Brett Kressley was named Best Newcomer. Kenny Gilmore went from 21st in the points in 2012 to second in 2013 to pick up the Most Improved Driver award. Lady racer Kaitie McCardle, who was forced to miss a few races due to a lack of sponsorship, earned the Hard Luck honors while “Geezer” Joe Fanelli won the Best Appearing Car honors.
Longtime track announcer Ernie Saxton, who retired at the end of the season after 45 years in the booth, served as the MC for the banquet for the final time. He was presented with a beautiful gold watch by the Rogers family and an appreciation award. It was announced that veteran short track announcer Jeff Ahlum will become the Saturday night announcer at Grandview. Saxton will continue as the marketing and PR director for the speedway a position he has held for 47 years.