Awards banquet notes

Headlines Abound at World of Outlaws Banquet By Richard Day LAS VEGAS, NV (November 7) - Rarely has there ever been an event that contained as many startling announcements as the 1996 World of Outlaws Awards Banquet. ...

Headlines Abound at World of Outlaws Banquet By Richard Day LAS VEGAS, NV (November 7) - Rarely has there ever been an event that contained as many startling announcements as the 1996 World of Outlaws Awards Banquet. Set in the demure elegance of the Monte Carlo Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas strip, Vice President Stacy Johnson's 19th annual production dazzled officials, sponsors, drivers, car owners and fans alike. U.S. Tobacco's cocktail party preceding the dinner featured an Elvis Presley imitator who sang many of The King's famous songs while several car owners sought to resurrect their teams for next year. Emcee Dave Bowman's first introduction of the evening brought Brian Bachauer to the podium. With that, the Skoal Outlaw Series Racing Coordinator delivered the first of many surprising revelations. "It has been wonderful for United States Tobacco to be a part of the World of Outlaws since 1982," Bachauer said, "but we won't be sponsoring the series after this year. We regret this decision, but we believe the new major sponsor will take the World of Outlaws far beyond its wildest expectations." David Hall, Senior Vice President of TNN: The Nashville Network, assured the track owners at the series' annual Promoters Meeting earlier in the day that the series' next major corporate sponsor is expected to be announced soon. "TNN is excited to be involved with the World of Outlaws," Hall said. "The addition of television will bring an exciting edge to the series. It will also bring additional sponsorship for the series, teams and the race tracks. It will help the sport grow by bringing more people to sprint car racing. It's a win/win situation." Hall added that his network would be responsible for at least 10 live telecasts of World of Outlaws racing events live in 1997. Rookie racer Brian Paulus was flabbergasted to receive the World of Outlaws' Perseverance Award. "Growing up, I always dreamed of racing with the World of Outlaws," said Paulus, who finished 15th in the point standings. I'd just like to thank all the teams for their help. I'm just glad to be a part of this great series." As quickly as it was announced that EcoWater Systems would no longer be sponsoring the Quick-Time Award, Bob Cannon announced that Channellock Tools would step in to fill that void. "We're going to be back with Sammy Swindell next year, and we're also going to sponsor the World of Outlaws' Quick-Time Award in 1997," Cannon said. "Channellock is proud to be the official tool of the World of Outlaws." Cannon added that Channellock will add a special twist to the Quick-Time Award next season. The driver receiving the Quick-Time Award at each event will draw the name of a lucky fan who will receive a Channellock tool set. Cannon presented a special Channellock tool set to World of Outlaws President Ted Johnson, then gave one to 1996 Mechanic of the Year Karl Kinser. Joey Saldana, who edged Lance Blevins in one of the closest rookie battles in World of Outlaws history, accepted the Rookie of the Year award from Jack Elam of J&J Auto Racing. "I'd just like to thank Dennis Roth, who approached me about running with the World of Outlaws last year," Saldana said. "This is a dream come true." Later in the evening, Saldana - who moved from Roth's Meat Packers team to Gary Stanton's #75 Mopar Maxim midway through the season - thanked Stanton for hiring Davey Brown as the team's crew chief. Jim Carr, the series' Rookie of the Year in 1991, accepted the check for McCarr Racing's 12th-place finish in the Car Owner Point Standings. "It was a tough, but good year for us," Carr said. "I'd just like to thank everybody here. This is one big happy family." Blevins, who graduated from high school while racing for Rookie of the Year honors in 1996, finished 12th in the Driver Standings. "This is quite an experience for me," Blevins said. "I thought high school was tough, but I learned a real lesson this year." Jack Elden, the 10th-place finisher in the Car Owner Point Standings, thanked his wife, Carol, for putting up with him for another year in racing. "It was great racing with you again this year," Elden added. "I just hope we can come back." As many in the crowd of 500 wondered why Elden ended his speech in such a way, Patty Haudenschild - accepting the 10th- place drivers' check for her husband, Jac - enlightened them. "This was a humbling year for us," she said. "I'd like to thank Pennzoil for sponsoring us for so long," she said. "I'm sorry they won't be with us any more." Gil Sonner, owner of the ninth-place, #47 Casey's General Stores Maxim, thanked his life-long friend, Don Lamberte, for sponsoring his team. "If it wasn't for Don, we wouldn't be able to do this," Sonner said. Johnny Herrera, driver of the #47, thanked Casey's General Stores, Strange Performance and his crew members after receiving his ninth-place drivers' check. "I'd also like to thank U.S. Tobacco for all the years they sponsored the World of Outlaws and I'd like to wish Mr. Lamberte a Happy Birthday," Herrera said. Joe Gaerte, whose first year as a driver/owner with the World of Outlaws saw him finish eighth in Driver and Car Owner Points, assured everybody in the audience he'd be back next season. Dan Motter, owner of the #71M EcoWater Systems Maxim, thanked many before delivering some rather disconcerting news. "I'd just like to thank U.S. Tobacco for all their support through the years," Motter said. "I'd also like to thank the World of Outlaws' officials. They do a great job and they're very fair. I'd like to thank Greg Stephens for all he does to get our race highlights on television every week. Art and Carol Malies do a great job with Workin' Woody, too. "Casey and Beverly Luna have been a credit to our sport of the years," he added. "I'd like to congratulate Mark and Karl (Kinser) for their unparalleled performance this year. Dave Blaney and Kenny Woodruff did a great job, too. They just had to follow that #5M a lot. "EcoWater, our sponsor for three years, isn't returning next year. I told Banzai (crew chief Dean Bruns), (driver) Stevie Smith and the crew to find something else to do when I found that out in September. I think that distracted them for the rest of the season. "I'm working with my brother, Tom, to get a new sponsor, but I might have to step away for a year. I just feel like I need to take a step back and start over. We've already made a mark on the sport. I just want to come back out and win." Smith, who followed a third-place finish with a seventh-place run in the Drivers Standings in 1996, announced that he and his father, Steve, would be running their own team next season. "I'd like to thank Ruth and Dan Motter and EcoWater," Stevie said. As a parting comment, he added, "My wife, Kendra, is expecting (a baby) in May. She's been a little grumpy, but we'll be OK." Andy Hillenburg, a close friend of Smith's on the World of Outlaws tour added to Stevie's comment with, "if you think your wife's grumpy, wait until you have three kids." Hillenburg, who finished sixth in the Car Owner and Driver Point Standings, thanked STP, Wesphal Engines and J&J Auto Racing. Bob Kramer, speaking for Two Winners Racing, welcomed TNN to the World of Outlaws while thanking Gold Eagle, Maxim Chassis and Kriner Engines. He also introduced David and Donna Keller, winners of a free trip to the World of Outlaws' season finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the series' 19th Annual Awards Banquet, courtesy of Gold Eagle. He added that Two Winners Racing signed a three-year extension to their sponsorship contract with Gold Eagle earlier in the week. "We went through some trying times this year," Kramer said, "but we still think Jeff Swindell is the greatest driver out there. We'll be up here last (as the champion) one of these years." Swindell, who finished fifth in Driver Points, thanked Gold Eagle for being such a great sponsor. "No sponsor has done more to help their team and to promote the World of Outlaws," Jeff said. "I'd like to thank Stacy Johnson. I went to one of the early banquets in Florida some years ago, and she has been improving them every year since." Steve Kinser accepted the checks for finishing fourth in both the Driver and Car Owner Point Standings, then thanked the World of Outlaws and U.S. Tobacco for their continued support. "This was a tough year for us," the 14-time series champion said. "As a car owner, if the driver doesn't get better, I'm not sure what we're going to do." Sammy Swindell, driver/owner of the #1 Channellock Gambler, finished third in both the Driver and Car Owner Point Standings. "Driving into town the other day, I noticed a roller coaster on top of one of the buildings (the New York, New York Hotel and Casino, scheduled to open in December), and I thought 'it's really been a roller-coaster ride for us this year.' "I'd like to congratulate Mark and Karl. It's been fun watching Karl this year. I think it's the best year he's ever had. "We got great support from Channellock this year. They came with us from the trucks (NASCAR's SuperTruck Series) and stayed with me through the good days and the bad days. They've been friends, not just sponsors, to me. "It's been great racing with you all these years. We're going to come back next year and try to get a better 'grip' on this thing." Casey Luna, who with his wife, Beverly, have owned the first- or second-place team on the World of Outlaws' tour the last four years, delivered the most emotional speech of the evening. "I've had the opportunity - the pleasure - of being here many years," he said. "I've always expressed my appreciation of being part of this family. This time, I just want to say farewell. This is the last time we're going to meet you in this capacity. "We appreciate you - we love you - and we want to thank you for the opportunity to race with you for so many years. You are our family. We've been very proud to be a part of the World of Outlaws. This has been a big part of our lives." Dave Blaney, accepting the second-place check for the third time in the last four years, thanked the World of Outlaws, U.S. Tobacco and TNN - now and in the future. "We were consistently fast, but we also consistently got our butts kicked," Blaney said of the 1996 season. "I'd like to thank Casey and Beverly and the Luna family for giving me the best car I have ever driven for four years. I just hope I can keep doing the job for Vivarin in the coming years." Karl Kinser, winner of his 15th World of Outlaws car owner championship, said, "I'm not much for words; I'm a man of action. Mark amazed me a few times this year though." Mark, basking in the glory of his first World of Outlaws championship, thanked Skoal for its long-term involvement with the series. "I'd just like to thank all my sponsors - Phil Durst from Nebraska, Ray Williams from California and Stew Murray from Wirtgen. Productivity, dependability, quality and winning by design did it for us this year." With the World of Outlaws' future looking brighter than ever, Johnson invited all of its sponsors, teams and fans to return for another banner year in 1997. WoO

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About this article
Series World of Outlaws
Drivers Andy Hillenburg , Steve Kinser , Sammy Swindell , Brian Paulus , Joey Saldana , Ray Williams , Dave Blaney , Johnny Herrera , Jeff Swindell
Teams Williams