ESS: Award Banquet summary

Over $61,000 Handed Out at Empire Super Sprint Banquet: Mike Woodring Crowned Seven-time Champion. SYRACUSE, N.Y. - The 18th season of the Empire Super Sprints (ESS) was brought down with a big celebration as the annual awards banquet was...

Over $61,000 Handed Out at Empire Super Sprint Banquet: Mike Woodring Crowned Seven-time Champion.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. - The 18th season of the Empire Super Sprints (ESS) was brought down with a big celebration as the annual awards banquet was held at the Holiday Inn in East Syracuse, N.Y. on November 17. The crowd of nearly 200 guests witnessed a record amount of over $61,000 handed out to 26 drivers that competed on the ESS Tour 2001 which included over $31,000 from the Empire Super Sprint/American Race Tires point fund.

The guest of honor was once again Eden, N.Y.'s Mike Woodring as he celebrated his record seventh ESS championship and his winning season also marked the sixth year in a row that he was king of the 360 sprint car organization. While Woodring only won two A-Mains during the 28 event tour, his uncanny knack to finish almost every event he enters was key to his record setting feat.

The driver of the familiar black, #19 took home over $8,300 during the night which included over $6,000 in cash. Not only did he win the ESS title but he was also crowned the Lucy's Retired Surfers Bar/LaBrie Design Canadian Invasion Champion as well. Not only was his seventh championship a new notch in the record books, but during the 2001 season he also topped the 50 career win mark in ESS. A true amazing tally for the 1990 rookie of the year.

While Woodring did collect the biggest chunk on the $61,000 pot of gold, many special awards highlight the evening as well:

Seventeen year old sensation Kyle Drum was crowned the Jereco Engines and Parts Rookie of the Year and he collected $500 cash for his award. Drum finished his ESS rookie campaign with one A-Main victory and a solid 11th place finish in the season long point standings.

The very likeable Tim Zimbardi was the Foar Score Fan Club Most Improved Driver for 2001. While 2000 was filled with many accidents and DNQ's, this season saw his colorful #82 qualify for almost all feature events with several top five finishes as the result. Zimbardi collected $300 cash for his well deserved award.

Liverpool, N.Y.'s Brian Dumigan was voted the Outstanding Newcomer award winner. Dumigan collected $300 cash from Car-Mate Trailers for his award. This talented driver entered only a handful of ESS events over the past two seasons, but a more consistent attack in 2001 saw him a threat to win on every night and a 19th place finish in the final standings.

Other award winners saw Lance Yonge crowned champion of the Walt's Hobby Dash Series with Walt Throne presenting Yonge with $500 cash for his title. New Hampshire's Don Sharp Jr. was the Brodix Cylinder Heads 2001 Hard Luck Award winner, he too received $500 in cash. The Thomas Video Productions/QA1 Motorsports Perseverance Award went to Quebec's Alain Bergeron. The French-Canadian collected $100 in cash and a free set of rod-ends for his award.

Young 19 year old Tim Canastra was voted the Empire Super Sprints/Mechanix Wear Mechanic of the Year. Race teams throughout ESS was in on the vote and the crew chief of the John Karklin Jr. and Billy Wolf #69's was a very popular choice from the crowd.

The final and most prestigious award of the night is the annual John Zentner Memorial Award. The award is in honor of the faithful ESS competitor that lost his life in an ESS event. John Zentner was a dedicated driver of the Empire Super Sprints and a very well deserved award is held each year in his honor. This years recipient was Bubby Kerrick and the entire Kerrick family. For many years now, the sharp, red #61 has graced the pit area at every ESS event no matter how tough the times are or how far the journey is. Bubby Kerrick always greets his fans with a smile and is well liked by all of his ESS peers.

Several special sponsor drawings was held during the night with a set of Brodix spec heads valued at $2,200 highlighting the these drawings. Exciting Canadian Rick Wilson won his very first ESS feature ever on the last race in October at Rolling Wheels.. Wilson will enter the 2002 season for the first time as a car owner and now he has a brand new set of cylinder heads to start the year. TW Metals entered the ESS fold for the first time in 2001 by giving away free tubing and nerf bars to build two sprint car chassis. Lance Yonge and Scott Holcomb won the very special awards from TW Metals. The $800 Simpson Vudo helmet went to Rob Dietrick but Dietrick wasn't done there as he also won the $450 Bieffe Helmet given away by Richard LaBrie.

Other special drawings were: A free radiator from C&R Racing Radiators went to Tim Zimbardi, a free radiator from Griffin Thermal Products was won by Mike Stelter. Mike VanDusen and ProSpas handed out $1,255 in cash to be split by five drivers, Mike Woodring, Ray Preston, Kyle Drum, Lance Yonge and Alain Bergeron each won $251. Hi-Performance Racing Cards gave away three sets of 1000 5x7 autograph cards with John Karklin Jr., Dan Kaszubinski and Bubby Kerrick winning these popular drawings.

Other sponsor highlights saw a $1000 custom driving suit from Extreme Racewear going to Dan Kaszubinski. A free top and front wing going to Mike Woodring from Top Flight Wings, a free top wing from Thunder Mountain Wings went to Ray Preston. Randy Years, Kyle Drum and John Karklin Jr. won headers from Schoenfeld. QA1 also gave away a complete set of rod ends to R.C. Faigle was well. Finally, Sway-A-Way provided a complete set of four torsion bars to the tour champion as well.

Other sponsors providing awards during the night were Vicomp Graphics, Lucy's Retired Surfers Bar, KSE Racing Products, Red's Speed Shop, ATL Racing Fuel Cells, Design 500, Hazlitt Vineyards, Winters Performance Products, Tire Competition East, Weld Motorsports, Hank's Performance Products, Total Seal Piston Rings, Joe Hunt Magnetos, Pro Shocks, Flag2Flag.com, Behrent's Performance Warehouse/Mechanix Wear, Bailey Racing Products, Sander Engineering, Outerwears, Earl's Indy, Kreitz Oval Track Parts, Gaerte Engines, TrevisCraft Sprints, DSR Fuel Systems, Keen Fabrication and Speed Equipment and Miller Lite Beer.

Earlier in the day was the annual rules meeting with a few rule changes for 2002 voted in by the membership. The tire rule was voted out for next year, any tire, any compound will be allowed at all full point shows with ESS. A new starting format for the nightly 20 lap A-Main will use a combination of the handicap system as well as a blind draw. The weight limit for 2002 will now be 1300 lbs. after an event without driver. ESS President Dick Carbery also announced that the ESS Tour 2002 could very well be the most exciting ever as a possible 35 or more dates could be on the calendar.

The 18th season of showcasing the very best in "America's Race Cars" is now history. The Empire Super Sprint Tour 2001 was not only the most competitive but the most successful in ESS history. Record payoffs and record car counts greeted huge crowds at over 20 different dirt facilities in three states and two Canadian Provinces. Sat. night April 13 is opening night 2002, once again Lin Hough's Black Rock Speedway will throw the first green flag of the season...it will once again be excitement guaranteed!!!

Empire Super Sprint Tour 2001 Banquet Totals.


Mike Woodring $8,366
Dan Kaszubinski 6,120
Lance Yonge 4,996
Steve Dow 2,695
Bill Coffey 2,590
Scott Holcomb 3,120
Randy Years 1,875
Bubby Kerrick 2,400
Mike Stelter 2,195
Rob Dietrick 3,250
Kyle Drum 2,556
Alain Bergeron 2,216
R.C. Faigle 1,915
John Karklin Jr 2,015
Ray Preston 2,071
Don Sharp Jr. 1,940
Ryan Coniam 1,355
Tim Zimbardi 1,615
Brian Dumigan 1,490
Rick Wilson 3,365
Bob Podolak 735
Justin Barger 860
Jeff VanDusen 495
Tom Taber 420
George Ely 385
Dick Spadaro 265

Total - $61,300.

-ESS-

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Series Sprint
Drivers Justin Barger , Bill Coffey