SCHEFFEL EARNS BILLY MARVEL JR. AWARD BLOOMINGTON, IN (November 12, 1998) - Columbus, Indiana's Derek Scheffel has been named the recipient of the 1998 Billy Marvel Jr. Hoosier Sprint Car Rookie of the Year award by the Hoosier Auto Racing Fans.
SCHEFFEL EARNS BILLY MARVEL JR. AWARD
BLOOMINGTON, IN (November 12, 1998) - Columbus, Indiana's Derek Scheffel has been named the recipient of the 1998 Billy Marvel Jr. Hoosier Sprint Car Rookie of the Year award by the Hoosier Auto Racing Fans.
"This award is for the sprint car driver that did the best job in his first year. That, and sportsmanship, is what it was based on," says Brad Marvel, brother of Billy Marvel Jr. In a recent conversation, Marvel explained that his father, retired USAC Vice President Bill Marvel Sr., instituted the award as a memorial to his son who was killed late in his first year of sprint car competition. Brad, a racing champion in his own right who withdrew from driving after injuries in 1996, recalled his older brother, "Billy raced ASA stock cars and modifieds before sprint cars. He sat on the front row of a USAC race and won some heat races, but never a feature, in that first year."
While Derek Scheffel's first season in sprint cars saw early success, ultimately it was highlighted by the ability of the Scheffel team, lead by his father, Ron, to overcome adversity. Graduating from UMRA TQ midget competition, Derek only needed a couple races to get a feel for the larger, and many times more powerful, sprint cars. In his fourth race, he gained a lot of confidence with good laps at Terre Haute's fast half mile. Then, the next race out, he won his first sprint car feature behind the wheel of the family car at southeastern Indiana's Lawrenceburg Speedway.
New teams need time and experience as they learn what to do and when to do it, and sometimes the "bear gets you" as the old story goes. In July, the Scheffels jumped into USAC's Pennzoil Indiana Sprint Week with both feet. "Deke" didn't qualify for the first night's main event at Lawrenceburg, and missed Kokomo because of a trailer problem. When the series moved to North Vernon, he made the feature and ran thirteenth. The next race, at Bloomington Speedway, he earned his first heat race win against USAC competition, and finished fifteenth. But the following night, a nasty wreck at Paragon Speedway destroyed the Scheffel's race car.
Second in Bloomington Speedway track points at the time, they scrambled and found a used Maxim Chassis for sale, similar to the one that had been wrecked. With the assistance of new sponsors Cunningham Engineering and other sprint car teams, the Scheffels were back in competition for Bloomington's next points race.
Cinching the track championship at the prestigious Sheldon Kinser Memorial, the last point race of the season, Derek became the first driver to capture Bloomington Speedway's Pennzoil Cup track championship as a rookie. Bloomington's Pennzoil Cup is unique because it is scored over both winged, and non-wing, sprint car events. During the season, Scheffel earned three top-five finishes, including a fourth place in his first winged sprint car competition. Bloomington also named him the winner of the track's Jeff Gordon Rookie of the Year Trophy.
Several weeks after receiving the Pennzoil Cup, Scheffel returned to Bloomington for his first taste of Pennzoil World of Outlaws racing. He took second place in his heat race, behind Sammy Swindell, but ahead of Stevie Smith, Dale Blaney, Tyler Walker, Joey Saldana and Tim Engler. Then he started sixteenth in the main event. He had passed three cars by the fourth lap, when Walker spun just ahead of him. On Bloomington's fast banking, he wasn't able to avoid the crash. Derek was scored twenty-second in his last race of the season.
The Billy Marvel Jr. award is voted on at the end of each season by HARF's Board of Directors, Brad Marvel claimed, and the family doesn't know who's going to receive it. "But being around the tracks, we know who should be eligible, who deserves it. I was thinking about it the other day, wondering whom they would vote for, and Derek was the first one who came to mind. I really think he deserves it, he ran real good this year."
Previous winners of the award include Tony Stewart, Billy Puterbaugh, Stevie Reeves, Kevin Briscoe, Kenny Carmichael and Jason Robbins. In 1997, Brad's son Justin was selected to receive the award after his first year of sprint car racing. Ironically, when Derek won his first feature at Lawrenceburg, he narrowly beat Justin Marvel across the finish line.
The Billy Marvel Jr. Memorial Award will be presented with other HARF awards, including the Hall of Fame and a salute to Indiana's track champions at HARF's 47th Annual Presentation Dinner, in Indianapolis on Sunday, January 3, 1999. For more information on the dinner, contact Vicki Black at 317-487-8096.