NA-F2000: Morioka Honored

Morioka Honored at USAC Banquet INDIANAPOLIS, Jan. 10 - Zak Morioka was among those honored at the 42nd annual "Salute to the USAC Champions" national recognition awards dinner Friday night at the Adam's Mark...

Morioka Honored at USAC Banquet

INDIANAPOLIS, Jan. 10 - Zak Morioka was among those honored at the 42nd annual "Salute to the USAC Champions" national recognition awards dinner Friday night at the Adam's Mark Hotel here before a capacity crowd of about 400.

Morioka, who turned 19 on Nov. 6, walked away with all the awards for the U.S. Formula 2000 division, which is jointly sanctioned by the United States Auto Club (USAC) and the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA). The resident of Sao Paulo, Brazil and Miami, Fla., earned the series' "Oval Crown" championship in 1997 for its five oval-track races and then went on to earn the overall national championship in the 12-race series of oval, road course and street course events. Morioka won two races in 1997, which was the most competitive season in the series' history. Those victories came both on an oval (Pikes Peak Int'l Raceway in Colorado) and a road course (the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course).

Morioka thanked USAC; series administrators Formula Motorsports; his primary sponsors, Kentucky Fried Chicken of Brazil and A.M.E. Sports; spec engine manufacturer Ford; spec tire Yokohama; and his team, Hayes Motorsports of Aurora, Colo.

Morioka was presented two prestigious USAC championship rings for his national title and the Oval Crown by Formula Motorsports' Mike Foschi and emcee Bob Jenkins. He also received a letter of congratulations from U.S. Senator Richard Lugar and a certificate making him an honorary Secretary of State of Indiana by Sue Anne Gilroy.

Morioka's father, Jonas Morioka, was unable to attend the banquet so his son accepted two plaques on his behalf for being the winning car owner.

"It was a great evening," the young charger said. "It was a pleasure to be there and to celebrate racing with all the different divisions of USAC. I will cherish my championship rings and the other awards for the rest of my life, and I'm proud to be part of the USAC family."

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