ISMA Awards Banquet concludes 2002 season; Lucas Oil announced as new sponsor for 2003. Syracuse, NY An elegant gathering Saturday evening, Nov. 16th, concluded ISMA's 28th year as a supermodified sanctioning body. The Wyndham Hotel in Syracuse...
ISMA Awards Banquet concludes 2002 season; Lucas Oil announced as new sponsor for 2003.
Syracuse, NY An elegant gathering Saturday evening, Nov. 16th, concluded ISMA's 28th year as a supermodified sanctioning body. The Wyndham Hotel in Syracuse was once again the scene of the award presentations for the International SuperModified Association, which concluded a very successful year in 2002. The ISMA champion car owner, Paul Dunigan and driver Russ Wood, were the recipients of the huge championship trophy and each was presented a smaller trophy and a jacket indicated their history-making accumulative titles garnered this season.
While Paul Dunigan and Russ Wood were honored on their seventh and sixth ISMA championships respectively, it was the Vic-Miller Chris Perley team who took away many of the season-ending laurels. The Perley and Miller number 11 team finished second in ISMA-Hoosier point standings and were honored with numerous awards as voted upon by the ISMA membership.
Vic Miller was voted ISMA Mechanic of the Year, the first such award for the Massachusetts car owner. The entire team was voted the Race Threads (Ohio) Crew of the Year award, with each member of the crew received embroidered hats and shirts. In turn Perley, known as the "Rowley Rocket", was presented the A.J.Michaels Memorial Award for the second straight year and he was also voted the Fan's Choice Most Popular Driver, sponsored by Gater Racing News, for the second consecutive year.
The Regional top three in points were each presented with checks as ISMA, for the first time in 2002, kept separate points at the races in each of three regions with the top point getters in each receiving awards. Paul Dunigan's 29 team took honors in the Empire and Midwest Regions while relative newcomer to ISMA, Greg Furlong, took the New England Region. Former Oswego champion Furlong was also honored with the ISMA Achievement award as he copped two feature wins in his first full year of ISMA competition.
The battle for the ISMA Rookie of the Year was between Eric Shirey of Ohio and Jon Gambuti of New Jersey with second-generation driver Shirey winning the award named after the late Randy Witkum and sponsored by Shea New England Concrete.
The ISMA Most Improved Driver award went to Ken Bell, who despite a horrendous Oswego Classic crash, still brought the Soule Racing team a top 20 finish and its first feature win.
Former ISMA president and current board member Jack Murphy took home the ISMA Support and the prestigious Jim Shampine Memorial plaque. Murphy, who was a friend of compatriot of Shampine's, indicated that this award meant a great deal to him on the 20th anniversary of the ISMA co-founder's and supermodified legend's death.
Dan Soule and Soule Racing were presented the Jim Soule Dedication award, an honor named after his late father and one of ISMA's staunchest supporters. Dan's mom, Ruth Koch, who serves as ISMA secretary and wife Barb made the presentation.
Two ISMA Appreciation awards went to a pair of behind-the-scenes or lenses, if you will, recipients. The first presentation was made to ISMA photographer Jim Feeney for his almost twenty years of following the ISMA tour and bringing their story to the fans in an excellent array of photos. Another unheralded worker for many years, ISMA scorer Lorraine Kisselstein, was also honored for her dedication and expertise on getting a tough job done well.
Brad Lichty was given the Seymour Enterprises award in a drawing from the top ten drivers in the points. Seymour Enterprises, each year, presents a helmet as the prize.
Capping off the night was the announcement of a new title sponsor for ISMA In 2003. After months of negotiations, Lucas Oil has agreed to provide a hefty monetary sponsorship to the organization, which travels from Maine to Michigan and into Canada, for six months out of the season. LUCAS OIL PRODUCTS is a worldwide leader in the production of a premium line of lubricating oils, greases and problem solving additives for racing and for general use. Based in Corona, Calif., Lucas Oil Products is one of the fastest growing additive lines in the consumer automotive industry featuring a premium line of oils, greases and problem solving additives. Through innovative product research and development, along with aggressive marketing programs, Lucas Oil Products has established itself as the top selling additive line in the American truck stop industry. They are major sponsors of racing including NASCAR Craftsman trucks, NHRA, Hooters Pro Cup, IHBA and much more. The announcement of Lucas Oil backing ISMA was greeted with much enthusiasm, pride and appreciation . ISMA is also purported to be in negotiations for a return Florida Series during Speed Weeks in February in St. Augustine. Further schedule announcements will be forthcoming, but whatever happens, the 2003 season for ISMA looks as bright as ever!
On a bittersweet note, Bob Gangwer of Goshen, IN, read a gracious letter of thanks to ISMA from the widow of Dion Parrish, a Michigan supermodified pilot who lost his life testing a new car at Kalamazoo in the early fall. Parrish ran with ISMA when the tour traveled to the Mid-west region and was anxiously anticipating the 2003 season with a new super.
A round of applause was given to the banquet committee with Vicki Rabozzi as chair and to the hard-working 50-50 girls who once again assisted in providing the drivers extra point fund money by selling tickets at most ISMA venues throughout the season. The voice of ISMA, Artie Rousseau provided the cutting-edge commentary as M.C. and Brian Oddo provided the music to cap off the ceremonies.