Banquet honors local drivers

On Saturday evening some of the best racers in the region gathered together in the Beverly Fire Hall for the final event of the 2017 season.

The Elkins Raceway Championship Awards Banquet is always one of the most fun events of our season. It’s nice to clean up, put on our nicer clothes and share a meal and do some “bench racin'” as I call it.

There’s congratulations and hope for next season. We can reflect on the good and the bad. Thoughts are already turned toward next season.

The track management said that there will be no major changes and if last year was any indication 2018 should be an awesome year. Competition was amazing each and every week and car counts were some of the best ever.

The quality of the cars and teams is amazing for a local weekly dirt track. The crowds were some of the biggest and best ever and the only real downer was the fact that we lost several events due to rain. This, however, intensified the importance of each and every event in the championship battles.

I want to say that we have some very talented drivers and many of them could move on up to higher levels of competition, even to NASCAR if given the opportunity. The sad fact in today’s big-time auto racing world is money means more than just talent. It’s all about marketing and charisma, along with talent. The dream of reaching the upper levels of racing from the local dirt track seems to be slipping further and further away for most teams and drivers.

Well, l need to get down off my soapbox and look at the top five in each division and say thanks and congratulations to all the teams, fans, drivers, sponsors,and track management that helped make 2017 one of the best years ever.

Here’s the top five and it is only because of space limitations for my column that I chose only five to recognize. If you suited up and turned one competitive lap, I say thank you and I know how much sacrifice and work it takes to make that happen.

First up was the B Group of the BCT Construction Mini-Mods. George Casto III was Champion over Noah Whited. Elliot Smith, Presley Wilt and Keith Powell rounded out the top five.

In the more experienced Group A, a young lady captured the Championship. Chandi Currence dominated this class but second-place Luke Hyre stole the thunder with several wins also. Brayden Beachler, Dalton Goode and Ryan Hare rounded out the top five. Hey, Dalton, how do you get those long legs in a mini-mod? Extra points were also added for George Casto’s Mohawk haircut! Officials are checking to see if it gives him an aero advantage.

You won’t believe the effort it takes to keep these little racers running well each and every week. Great job!

The WV Pools Street Stocks were next up and Anthony Arbogast overcame a garage fire and other setbacks to capture the Championship over a hard-charging and very consistent Jamie Keene. Brian Youtzy finished third. Teresa Vaughan and J.P. Tallman rounded out the top five.

The Performance Chevrolet AMRA open wheeled modifieds were up next. Elkins’ own Jamie McCloud won his first Points Championship. Jamie battled the toughest fields and the absolute best teams in modified racing to grab this title. Each week this group had the very best cars and the tightest racing. Fifteen to 20 cars signed in each week and most weeks 10 to 12 were very capable of winning the event!

Second-place finisher Mathew Chenoweth pulled off consistent top fives and was knocking at the door for wins each week. Kenny Rowback had a great year, finishing third, and was also awarded the Elkins Raceway Most Improved Driver award. Dave Difibaugh and Dustin Isner rounded out the top five.

It needs to be noted that sixth-place finisher Mitch Thomas also received the track’s Rookie of the Year honors and had moved up from the Mini-Mods to these fast, full-sized modifieds. Did I mention he’s only11 years old?

This is my class and I just want to thank all my sponsors, The Inter-Mountain, El Herradura Mexican restaurant, Millers Used Cars and TJ’s Tire.

This was the toughest year I’ve ever experienced in 40 years of racing. We finished up 21st in the final points. The WOW Racing Ministries John 3:16 Mud bus just seemed to never really get going this year and several conflicts with work, coupled with part failures, really cost our efforts. Thanks to all my fans and I apologize for our bad year. I’m reviewing my options for next season and will keep you posted.

The Budweiser FasTrack Crate Late Models once again had the largest car counts weekly and this is the toughest division to compete in due to the similarities of the cars. General Motors Chevrolet “Crate Engines” are required and these engines are sealed and very little can be done to them. Brayden Beachler’s dad, Billy Beachler, won the Championship in this super competitive class. Troy Frazier finished second. There was a tie for third place between Tyler Stutler and Kris Southern. Sparky Davisson rounded out the top five.

The awards for the Jenkins Ford Super Late Models finished out the evening. Shane Hitt grabbed the Championship over Steve Wilmoth. Bob Gordon had consistent strong runs and finished third. Billy Holbert and Ryan Montgomery rounded out the top five.

Wow! No room left for those NASCAR guys in this column. Check the paper tomorrow for a second column this week.

Until then, remember, at the end of the straightaway there’s Another Left Turn.

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