BUSCH EAST BANQUET TURNS FAMILY-FRIENDLY By Mike Twist
Olsen/Fadden Clan Takes Top Honors for 2006 Season
Friday’s NASCAR Busch East Series banquet at Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun Resort was a family-friendly affair – well, let’s rephrase that slightly. It was an affair that was very friendly to one family in particular.
Mike Olsen headlined the evening as the 2006 Series champion. In accepting his awards for that, the grandson of New Hampshire racing legend Stub Fadden wasn’t just flanked by various members of the Olsen/Fadden clan.
He was also backed up by the rest of a team who have been together long enough and through enough ups and downs, that they might as well all be related.
“My family is my life and my foundation,” said Olsen. “I thank them for everything that they have done to get me here.”
After a season where the Busch East Series was renamed from the familar Busch North Series, and saw regional expansion kick into high gear, Olsen’s championship had a familiar feel to it.
“It was the dawn of a new era in the Busch East Series this year,” said banquet emcee and NASCAR on FOX television personality Mike Joy. “But we ended up honoring a family with deep roots. Up in North Haverhill, New Hampshire, one of NASCAR’s most successful teams sets out and gets results.”
Mike Olsen celebrates his Busch East Series championship with his wife Victoria. (Howie Hodge Photo)
Olsen started out in Busch North/Busch East racing nearly two decades ago racing alongside of his Grandfather. He didn’t get behind the wheel though until after a lengthy education turning wrenches on the family racecars along with a few childhood pals – his current crew chief Harry Norcross and NASCAR Nextel Cup crew chief Frank Stoddard.
“Thanks for letting me tag along as kid when you went racing,” said Olsen, referring to Stub Fadden, in his acceptance speech.
“The phone’s ringing and I’m sorry, but I have to take it – it’s my boys,” said Norcross. “They played their first home basketball game of the year tonight and I couldn’t be there. So had to answer it and see how they did.”
“Well, did they win?” asked Joy.
“Yes, they did.” came the response.
And if Olsen could have had his way, Norcross’ sons who weren’t even there would have gotten the bulk of the accolades. When the crowd saluted Olsen by rising to their feet on three separate occasions, he appeared uncomfortable with the attention.
“I don’t deserve a standing ovation,” said Olsen. “But thank you very much for it.”
Other competitors who were honored throughout the evening included Rookie of the Year Ruben Pardo, Most Popular Driver Matt Kobyluck and winner of the Driver Achievement Award (Most Improved Driver) Charles Lewandoski.
Next up at Mohegan Sun is Saturday night’s NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour banquet, where Mike Stefanik will be honored. We’ll have more from both events, including news and some snappy quotes, coming up later this week.
Unfortunately, Fadden could not attend the banquet due to health problems. He did however get to be at the track when Olsen won the championship in the season finale at Lime Rock Park.
“I wish that you could have witnessed the grin on my father’s face when the team came over the radio and told Mike that he clinched the championship,” said Stub’s son and #61 car owner Alvin Fadden. “That’s when the told Mike to go for the win and he almost got it.”
In a setting where many competitors would ham it up for the audience, Olsen and company kept it simple and geared towards family. Olsen presented his wife with a bouquet of flowers while on stage. Norcross was even interrupted by a cell phone call when making his championship crew chief speech.
Past Busch North/Busch East champions were honored by banners in the Mohegan Sun ballroom. (51 Photo)
2006 NASCAR BUSCH EAST SERIES AWARDS
2006 Busch East Series Champion – Mike Olsen
Championship Car Owner – Alvin Fadden
Championship Crew Chief – Harry Norcross
Most Popular Driver Award – Matt Kobyluck
Featherlite Most Improved Driver – Brian Hoar
Sunoco Rookie of the Year – Ruben Pardo
Driver Achievement Award – Charles Lewandoski
Sportsmanship Award – Scott Bouley
The Busch East Series Auxiliary Award - Sue Santerre
Bunk Sampson Memorial Award – NASCAR BES chief scorer Cheryl Plowman.
20-Year Service Award – NASCAR Officials Gerry and Roxanne Craig
Olsen's #61 has been on display at Mohegan Sun all weekend. (51 Photo)