RALLY: RACE: SOLO: St. Louis Region awards banquet report

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2004 proclaimed as the "Year of Al Baeyen" at St. Louis Region, SCCA banquet. St. Louis, MO - The St. Louis Region, Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) honored their best of 2003 at their annual awards banquet held at Spazio's Westport Bistro on...

2004 proclaimed as the "Year of Al Baeyen" at St. Louis Region, SCCA banquet.

St. Louis, MO - The St. Louis Region, Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) honored their best of 2003 at their annual awards banquet held at Spazio's Westport Bistro on Saturday, January 17. A proclamation was read declaring 2004 to be the "Year of Al Baeyen", beginning a year-long celebration honoring the first 50-year member of the St. Louis Region, which itself is only 52 years old. SCCA President and CEO Steve Johnson drove from the national headquarters in Topeka, KS to serve as the guest speaker.

Baeyen, the Regional Executive in 1965, has volunteered as a starter for 47 years having only missed those years when the Region didn't hold a road race! He began his career as a starter for St. Louis Region back in 1956 at Smartt Field, and followed the Region's events as they moved to Vichy Airport (north of Rolla), Malden (south of Rolla), Mid-America Raceway (MAR in Wentzville), St. Louis International Raceway (when it was new in 1967, and reincarnated in 1985), and then reincarnated as Gateway International Raceway (GIR) in 1996 (the name change had already occurred, but this is when Chris Pook took a "diamond in the rough" and polished it). While no longer in the starters' perch at GIR, he continues to help with the starters' (flagman's) duties from the pits.

The Spirit of St. Louis Award was presented to Cesare and Kris Venegoni for their work with the Arthritis Foundation Mini Grand Prix, a USO Benefit, a bowling party, and their work with the road racing committee and the meeting committee. The Regional Executive Award was presented to Eileen Waters for her work in gaining the Region more media coverage. Selected as the event of the year was the Crash, Fire, and Rescue School held in March to keep road racing volunteer workers trained in proper race safety and emergency procedures. Jude Ruder of PFM Racing was named the Mechanic of the Year. Outgoing Treasurer Beth Whitworth received the Worker of the Year Award. The first ever RallyCross Driver of the Year went to Jeff Templeton. Picking up the road racing awards were Mark Blythe as the Most Improved Driver, Nadeem Bari as the Rookie-of-the-Year, and Jim Stevens as the Driver of the Year. The annual Solo II awards were presented to Carl Hoffman as the Most Improved Driver of the Year, Jeremy Ting as the Rookie-of-the-Year, and Andy Hohl as the Driver of the Year.

The SCCA has five areas of competition: performance rallying, rallycross, road racing, road rally, and Solo II (autocross). St. Louis Region holds events in all of these areas. A bevy of awards were presented in the road rally series, the Midwest Division's Regional (MidAM) and National (MIDIV) Club Racing series, and the Solo II series. Pins were presented to members who marked significant membership anniversaries; thanks were given to all the committee heads and participants, and the 2003 and 2004 St. Louis Region boards were recognized.

Steve Johnson noted during his speech that NASCAR and the SCCA are the only two major U.S. motorsports sanctioning bodies that do not purchase television airtime. He also noted Cadillac's return to motorsports competition by joining the SCCA World Challenge. He paid tribute to the SCCA members by saying, "I'm in awe of your talents, accomplishments, and passion."

The largest attended banquet in Region history, it was also noteworthy that 10 percent of the attendees were from "The Next Generation", those members who are under the age of 16. "The Next Generation" helped close the banquet with a toast to the 2003 season and one for 2004. Carol Cohn was the banquet chairman and has already scheduled the 2005 banquet for January 15 at Spazio's.

St. Louis Region's next major event will be the SCCA ClubRally National Championships (CRNC) Friday and Saturday, February 20-21, headquartered in Salem, MO. This event is equivalent to the SCCA Valvoline Runoffs (the national championships for Club Racing) and the Tire Rack Solo II Nationals (the national championships for Solo II). If you'd like more information please contact Kim DeMotte, Chairman, at 314-963-1112 or Curt Faigle, Chief of Controls, at 314-839-2701.

The 2004 competition calendar for St. Louis Region also features a six (6) event rallycross series (basically a Solo event on dirt), four (4) road racing weekends at GIR, a six (6) event road rally series (a driver and navigator using their daily driver and following the rules of the road on public roads), and a 12-event Solo II series (to be held at GIR and the UMB Bank Pavilion). The Region will also provide the staffing for the Arthritis Foundation Mini Grand Prix.

Additional information may be obtained by visiting the Region website at www.stlscca.org.

-slregion/scca-

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