More Winners of the 51 Awards Are Announced
Best Track, Wildest Wreck, Best Quote and Best Comeback Are Revealed
You voted and over a two-week period, Speed51.com will reveal the winners in the 2008 51 Awards. These awards contain 36 categories related to short track racing during the 2007 season. Fans voted over a one-month period and their ballots were verified and tabulated. Watch Speed51.com daily to see more winners with the biggest honor, Short Track Racer of the Year, being announced on March 17th live on Race Talk Radio.
Race fans go to plenty of different tracks every season. Some they love, some they like and some they can’t stand. But what is their favorite one of all? We decided to find out during the 51 Awards by letting the fans vote from a number of nominees. Up for consideration were tracks all across the United States and one up in Canada as well.
And the winner is….Thompson International Speedway.
Thompson’s weekly show is pretty impressive, with Jimmy Blewett and Woody Pitkat just a few of the big touring names who you’ll find there every week (PASS North’s Derek Ramstrom and Mod Tour pilot Bobby Grigas, III are planning on racing there weekly this coming season as well). The track in Connecticut also hosts the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, NASCAR Camping World East Series, PASS North, ISMA Supermodifieds, NEMA Midgets and several other tours. They start the season with the Icebreaker and end it with the World Series. Both events are among the most storied races in New England.
Fan gave Thompson a victory margin of less than 100 votes over Nashville’s Music City Motorplex – an historic track known for some great racing and visits in 2007 from the CRA Super Series, ASA Late Models and the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour.
Next up was the home of the Snowball Derby – Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida. Fourth was the home of the annual World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Track Racing, the newly-repaved New Smyrna Speedway and rounding out the top five was the tight and picturesque oval on the hill – Thunder Road Speedbowl in Barre, Vermont.
Bobby Gill won three USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series championship from 1999 through 2001, but since then the series had become a young man’s playground with guys like Brian Vickers, Joey Logano, Danny O’Quinn, Clay Rogers and Shane Huffman graduating from it and having varying results in various levels of NASCAR racing.
But the cagey veteran never gave up and in 2007, he put a whipping on the young guns by winning yet another Pro Cup title. The fans appreciated his efforts by giving him a narrow victory in the category of Comeback of the Year.
A racetrack was next on the list. All-Star Speedway (NH) was formerly known as Star Speedway. The track has hosted tours like the Busch North Series, PASS North and the NASCAR Modified Tour through the years. But the track had fallen on hard times and the booming real estate market around it didn’t make its chances of survival very good when it was listed with a commercial realtor in 2006.
Instead of becoming a distribution center or housing development though, Super Late Model racer Bobby MacArthur purchased it to remain a racetrack. He added SLM and Modifieds to the weekly racing card and scheduled some big shows. Now, the future for the quarter mile’s future looks bright.
Patrick Laperle’s comeback was voted third on the list and was a very inspiring one. Before the start of the season, Laperle split with his long-time Late Model/Super Late Model car owners to concentrate solely on Late Model racing. But by the time that the season opening ACT race rolled around, Laperle was in a Canadian hospital with a life-threatening infection. He recovered and after missing the ACT Serie Quebec season opener, and needed a relief driver for the next race, he came back to win the title. He also won the biggest ACT race in the United States all year – The Milk Bowl.
Jan Leaty’s comeback included another career victory in the Race of Champions, while Robbie Pyle bounced back from the demise of the old ASA National Tour to win a few ASA Late Model features. Those racers were fourth and fifth in the fan voting.
Quote of the Year
Steve Wallace wasn’t feeling much love for technical director Ricky Brooks at last year’s Snowball Derby. Wallace’s car came up a little bit of light on the scales after his last chance race to get into the Derby field and the former Derby winner allegedly started stuffing sockets in his pockets to add just a little bit of weight for another attempt on the scales.
Brooks caught Wallace and send his team packing. Wallace wasn’t very happy and didn’t hide that fact by sounding like a Mac Tools salesman.
It doesn't matter if you like your racecars with or without fenders, you'll find them at Thompson.
“I put a socket in my pocket and they threw me out for lying to him (Ricky Brooks),” said Wallace. “The guy is just a total tool.”
Wallace’s witty comments gathered nearly twice the number of votes as an exchanged between Bill Penfold and Steve Berry after the PASS North feature at Riverside Speedway (NH) in July.
Berry - “I slid up and bounced him [Bill Penfold] into the wall. Now I’ll have to deal with that for the probably the rest of my life.”
Penfold in response - “That’s not a mistake. The little bastard tried to wreck me. Quote this: the little f----- is never going to finish a race that I’m in.”
Ranking third in the fan votes was veteran Dave Dion’s take on the current state of the series that was known as Busch East at the time, and Camping World Series currently:
“NASCAR isn’t giving anything back to New England, the people who created the series or the tracks,” said Dion. “They would rather promote the grandson of Dale Earnhardt that nobody in the world knows instead of someone like Dick McCabe. I just think that is wrong. That name should only carry you so far. It shouldn’t be enough for everyone to go ga-ga. ‘Earnhardt! Earnhardt!..ooh. I’d rather see this no-name Earnhardt instead of Dick McCabe or Mike Rowe. I don’t like that. I don’t think it is respectful to the people who built this fan base or supported these tracks.”
Fourth in the voting was Jimmy Blewett describing why he doesn’t do Carl Edwards style backflips in victory lane after winning Modified races.
“I’m pretty agile,” said Blewett. “I’m no Carl Edwards, you’ll never see me do a back flip. I was joking around with the guys and they said I should do a back flip. I told them that if I did a back flip, I’d probably break my neck. I could do them a cartwheel, though. That’s about as good as I can do for a fat guy.”
And rounding out the top five was Patrick Laperle discussing just what it was like to kiss the trophy queen of the Milk Bowl at Thunder Road, a race that he has now won twice. Did we mention that the beauty queen was a real live dairy cow?
“It was the same cow [as before],” said Laperle. “There have only three guys who have kissed her – me, Eric Williams and Dwayne Lanphear. I missed her so much, but she didn’t recognize me.”
Wreck of the Year
Here is the category that nobody really wanted to win, but if you are going to destroy a racecar and not be hurt, you might as well do it in spectacular fashion, right?
While at USA International Speedway’s Speedfest 2007, Patrick Laperle got tired of being chopped by Eddie Van Meter. He vowed that it wouldn’t happen again and if it did, he would not lift. Well, going into the next corner, Van Meter came down and Laperle didn’t lift. That led to one heck of a wreck and was voted by fans as the wildest wreck of the year.
Brian Pack’s trip out of the park at Bowman Gray finished second by just over 200 votes.
Rounding out the top five was a wild ride in an ACT heat race at Thunder Road by Rusty Berger, Ty Dillon going head over heels in a Legends car at Lowe’s Motor Speedway and Korey Blevins using Shannon Mines’ Super Late Model as a launching ramp during the PASS South Howler 150 at Greenville-Pickens.
Stay tuned to Speed51.com from now until March 17th to find
out the other winners of the 51 Awards
Patrick Laperle's hard Speedfest wreck was the wildest of the year in the eyes of the 51 fans.
While his team packed, Steve Wallace talked at the Snowball Derby.