ESS: 2002 Banquet report

Mike Woodring crowned eight time Empire Super Sprints Champion. SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- On Saturday night, November 16th at the Turning Stone Casino Resort in Verona, N.Y., the final checkered flag was thrown for the Empire Super Sprints (ESS) Tour ...

Mike Woodring crowned eight time Empire Super Sprints Champion.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- On Saturday night, November 16th at the Turning Stone Casino Resort in Verona, N.Y., the final checkered flag was thrown for the Empire Super Sprints (ESS) Tour 2002. It was a night for the record books as Eden, N.Y.'s Mike Woodring was honored for his eighth championship taking home a record $10,590 from the largest banquet pay out ever totaling $69,125.

Woodring has the guest of honor as the point champion and he nearly made a clean sweep of all titles held this year in ESS. The driver of the familiar black #19 also won the Walt's Hobby Dash series title and the Brodix Cylinder Heads heat races point title. Only Ryan Coniam stopped the ESS great by winning the VSM Abrasives Canadian Invasion title where Woodring took second. After it was all said an done, the large banquet crowd saw him take in $8,900 in cash.

While the Woodring name was called to the front podium most, many other special awards filled the night. Coniam grabbed $1500 cash from the $5,000 point fund for his VSM Canadian title. In a touch of irony, Hal Banas from VSM presented the second generation star with his award, Banas and VSM are Coniam's main sponsors of his #6 sprinter.

Woodring bested his teammate Erin Crocker and Jeff VanDusen for the dash series title where $700, 200 and 100 was the pay out. Walt Throne from Walt's Hobby was on hand to present the $1000 cash.

New Hartford, Ct. driver Billy White was named the Jereco Engines and Parts rookie of the year and he received $500 cash. The driver of the International Paper Products #66W had a steady year in route to a fine 13th place in the final points standings.

Another second generation driver had the spot light shines on him as teenager Jeff VanDusen grabbed the Foar Score Fan Club Most Improved Driver award. A $300 cash prize was handed to the happy driver. Female sensation Erin Crocker was named the Brodix Cylinder Heads Outstanding New Comer with her fine sixth place finish at seasons end in the points. Crocker also received $300 cash for her efforts.

Randy Years had a season that he would like to forget, no A-Main victories and many nights with a wrecked sprint car. For his misfortunes, he was awarded the Brodix Cylinder Heads Hard Luck Award and he took home a $500 cash prize. Don Sharp Jr. was again awarded the QA1 Precision Products/Thomas Racing Videos Perseverance Award. Coming from New Hampshire to attend every ESS event was a feat recognized and Sharp Jr. took in $100 cash and a set of rod ends from QA1.

Two special awards were also given out with Rob Beattie winning the annual mechanic of the year voted on the by the race teams in ESS. Beattie had the task to making sure both Woodring owned sprinters were ready for each ESS event. The John Zentner Memorial award went to ESS Public Relations Director Dean Reynolds who was honored to receive such an important award in the ESS family.

Many product giveaways spiced up the evening and they went as follows: Tim Kelly won a set of 1-Block set up blocks from Mike Lutz, Lutz himself won torsion arms from Hank's Performance Products and a set of front wheels courtesy of Weld Motorsports. A pair of Zemco Headers went to Ray Preston, Mike Stelter won a front axle from DB Racing, sets of Schoenfeld headers went to VanDusen, Bubby Kerrick and Stelter. Hi-Performance Racing Cards gave away three sets of 1000 autograph cards and they went to Years, Bill Coffey and John Karklin Jr. Extreme Racewear provided a $400 certificate off a racing suit and that was won by George Ely. A set of VRP shocks were won by Dan Kaszubinski while two $300 certificates from Leaf Racewear was won by Kyle Drum and Rick Wilson. A Simpson Vudu helmet and helmet bag from Area Auto Racing News went to Sharp Jr. The final drawing was for a set of ASCS heads from Brodix and that was also won by Preston.

Cash awards also came from Sander Engineering, Car-Mate Trailers, Outerwears, MSD Ignitions and Red's Speed Shop. Product awards from Hazlitt Vineyards, KSE Racing Products, Design 500, Behrent's Performance Warehouse/Mechanix Wear, Bailey Racing Products, Earl's Indy, Winters Performance Products, ATL Fuel Cells, Keen Fabrication and Speed Equipment, Joe Hunt Magnetos, DMI, Saldana Racing Products, Sway-A-Way, Top Flight Wings, DSR Fuel Systems, American Race Tires, Gaerte Engines, Tire Comp. East and Goodyear Tires, Kreitz Oval Track Parts and Labrie Design help make for the record banquet total.

The rules meeting that precedes the banquet also held at the Turning Stone saw several changes upcoming for 2003. An ESS stamped Hoosier tire will be mandatory on the right rear for each ESS point show. A-Mains will now be 25 laps at all ESS events with restart line-ups reverted to the last completed lap. A final but welcome change for all sprint car competitors is a significant purse increase for the A-Main pay off. Details on the A-Main purse will be released shortly.

The 19th season was brought down in style at the Oneida room at the Turning Stone. The winter months now lie ahead before the 20th anniversary tour of the Empire Super Sprints will kick off in April of 2003 and it promises to be the most successful ever. ESS would like extend a sincere thank you to all sprint teams, fans and promoters for a memorable 2002 and we look forward to another exciting year.

-ess-

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Series Sprint
Drivers Erin Crocker , Bill Coffey