Fans Will Get to Vote Through January on Their Choices
Johnny Clark (#54) was honored to be nominated for Driver of the Year over the likes of guys like Freddie Query (#8).
“I might be biased, but to me it’s no surprise that so many Northern boys are being looked at for these awards,” said’s Northeastern bureau chief Mike Twist.  “I’ve seen drivers from all over the country and I’d stack them up against these guys any day.  The Modified Tour drivers have dominated the North vs. South Shooutout two years in a row, Busch North driver Mike Johnson won the NASCAR All Star Showdown and we have one of the richest short track races of the season all across the country in the Banknorth 250 at Oxford, but nobody from down south ever comes up to run it.  Why do you think that is?”

Three New England drivers were nominated for the
prestigious Driver of the Year award.  Ted Christopher, a winner on the Modified Tour and in PASS competition, is up for top honors as well as PASS Champion Johnny Clark and three-time defending Busch North titlist Andy Santerre.

“Wow.  This is quite a list,” said Clark when he looked at his fellow competitors who are also up for the award.  “If you are involved in racing at all, everyone has heard of these guys with the exception of my name.  That is quite a list to be associated with.  It’s pretty awesome.”

The NASCAR Modifieds led the way in the region with 22 nominations spread out among 10 different racers.  Christopher led the way with more nominations than anyone in the country.  TC is up for seven different awards ranging from Bad Boy of the Year to Most Inspiring Moment of the Year for when he beat his brother Mike to the finish at New Hampshire in July.
When nominees for the 51s, a series of National Short Track Awards presented by, were released last week, there was plenty of diversity.  Over 90 drivers were nominated for an award, with fan votes to decide on the winners.  The Northeast racing scene was very well represented.  Drivers from the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, NASCAR Busch North Series, PASS Pro Stocks and ACT Late Models were all nominated, along with two area race tracks and two racing promoters.
The Christopher brothers are up for two different awards representing the Northeast.
Other Modified drivers nominated included champion Tony Hirschman, Eddie Flemke, Rick Fuller, John Blewett and Donny Lia.  With five nominations, Lia is second only to Christopher in that tally.

“This is a big compliment,” said Lia.  “If I can win one of the awards, that’s great, but just being nominated is a real honor.  Speed51 has the most extensive coverage in short track racing and when they do an award program like this, you know that a lot of short track racers will be considered.  It won’t be easy to win.”

PASS drivers had a total of four nominations, Busch North warriors had six among five drivers and ACT was represented
by Dale Shaw’s nomination for Bad Boy of the Year.  PASS driver Scott Mulkern was also nominated twice for his feud with Nextel Cup champion Kurt Busch at the Banknorth 250 in July.

One area where the Northeast especially showed their strength was in the category of Best Appearing Car.  Four cars out of the national pool of nominees were Northern rides.  They included the sleek black and silver #13 Modified of Christopher, Jim Long, Jr.’s touching tribute to the NYPD and NYFD, Matt Kobyluck’s colorful #40 Busch North machine and Ben Rowe’s immaculate #00 PASS car.
“I have nothing to do with this,” said Rowe.  “All that I do is dirty the car up.  My guys keep it clean.  We’ve have two guys who come down to the shop two nights a week just to clean the car.”

The tracks of the Northeast also got their due.  Stafford Motor Speedway and Thunder Road Speedbowl are both up for racetrack of the year, while T-Road’s Ken Squier and Oxford Plains Speedway’s Bill Ryan are possibilities for Promoter of the Year.

Voting for the “51s” will run from January 7th through February 1st.  The winners of the “51s” will be announced on February 5th.  For categories in which a driver is awarded for his excellence in 2004, the winner will receive a $100 certificate
toward a webdesign from the 51 family.  Two lucky fans will also be selected at random for prizes.  Those prizes will include a pair of tickets to one of the top short track events of the year (either the Spring Sizzler at Stafford Motor Speedway - CT, the Asphalt World Championships at Concord Motorsports Park – NC or the Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway – FL).   The other prize will be a hat and shirt.  Winners will be announced on  Only one vote per computer per day will be allowed.

Is this one of the best looking Short Track cars?  (Norm Marx Photo)