While not as highlighted as the Packer/Bear game this weekend, the 2010 American Speed Association® Kwik Trip Midwest Tour presented by ECHO Outdoor Power Equipment and GrandStay Hospitality racing season is officially in the history books. Saturday night marked the fourth annual ASA Midwest Tour Championship Banquet. For the first time in history, the ASAMT crowned three champions in three divisions.
The night started out with a welcome and crowd warm-up from comedian C. Willi Myles, followed by a recap of the season presented by emcee, Matt Panure. Panure mentioned the close points battles and the highlights of the season, including the newly added Truck and Sportsman divisions.
Kevin Ramsell, Director of Public Relations, American Speed Association, was the first to the podium to congratulate the ASA Midwest Tour and all of the champions on their seasons. Ramsell also read a letter from ASA Racing President, Dennis Huth, commending the ASAMT and it's efforts in becoming one of the premiere short track racing series in the country.
Next up was ASA Midwest Tour President, Tim Olson. An emotional Olson thanked each and every person in the room for all of their hard work, effort, and support of the Tour. "We know that not everyone always likes our decisions. We don't even always like our decisions. But we work through them and are able to work it out and move forward. That is what this 'family' of racers is all about," added Olson.
As everyone knows, the ASA Midwest Tour is solely supported by its dedicated and incredible sponsors who continue to return year after year. Kwik Trip, Inc. has been with the Tour since its inception, and Jenny Frandsen was there to represent Kwik Trip, Inc. Jenny also presented Chris Wimmer with the Kwikade Team of the Year award based on his two quick qualifier awards during the 2010 season.
Jerry Kobza of ECHO was unable to attend, but sent along his congratulations to Steve Carlson and the entire ASA Midwest Tour on another great season.
Rod Lindquist, CEO of GrandStay Residential Suites Hotels thanked Tim Olson and Steve Einhaus for the opportunity to be a part of the ASA Midwest Tour and looks forward to the future. Lindquist also presented the GrandStay driver of the year to Nick Panitzke.
RaceTeamGear.com owner, Joe Hunter provides the series officials with their shirts each and every year. Hunter recognizes the importance of team appearance and professionalism. While he was unable to attend, Steve Einhaus presented the award of Best Dressed Team on Hunter's behalf to Griffin McGrath and the McGrath Racing Team.
As the awards continued, Matt Panure welcomed Chris Wimmer to the podium to receive the Five Star Race Car Bodies Fast Time Award. Wimmer collected two quick qualifier awards at Dells Raceway Park and Madison International Speedway. Wimmer received a $500 certificate from Five Star.
Mike "Lumpy" Lemke was next up to present the Coleman Tech Award. Gene Coleman has been a long time supporter of short track racing throughout the Midwest. Griffin McGrath was presented with a Coleman driveshaft.
Lumpy also had a special surprise and another award to be presented on behalf of Ford Racing. A video from Mike Delahanty thanked Julie and Jamie Iverson for their participation in the Ford Racing development program. Each received a Ford Racing jacket on behalf of Ford Racing. Before leaving the stage, Lumpy casually stated that at the end of the 2011 racing season, Ford Racing will be giving Jamie and Julie Iverson the engine.
After a funny video short to break up the night, Matt Panure continued with the Lefthander Hard Charger Award. The 2010 racing season had one of the closest hard charger battles to date. The top 11 were separated by only 10 points. Nick Panitzke and Travis Sauter tied for the top spot, each with 49 points. Nick Panitzke was awarded with the award because he finished higher in the overall point standings. Wayne Lensing who was unable to attend, extended his congratulations. "Congratulations to Nick Panitzke on winning the 2010 Hard Charger Award. You have accomplished a great accomplishment that is hard to do and an honor to get." Lefthander presented Panitzke with a complete 2011 chassis worth $2700.
Because of the awards already received by Panitzke, per request of VDL Fuel Systems, the VDL Hard Charger Award, a carburetor, was presented to Travis Sauter.
The Hedman Hedders Hard Charger Awards, went to Nick Panitzke in the ASAMT, and Jerry Wood in the ASA Midwest Truck Tour. They each received a complete Hedman Exhaust System.
Tim Olson was once again welcomed to the podium to present the Official of the Year. For their concerted efforts in the areas of registration, scoring, and wherever they are needed, Mallory Johnson, Jessica Olson, and Faith Olson were each presented the honor of Officials of the Year.
Before presenting a few more awards, ASA Midwest Tour Vice President, Steve Einhaus was welcomed and introduced. Einhaus echoed much of what President Tim Olson previously mentioned. Einhaus shared the good balance between he and Olson and what has made the ASA Midwest Tour work over all these years. He thanked all of those who work with the Tour.
Car Owner of the Year went to Joe Hunter, owner of Nathan Haseleu's car. Nathan accepted the award on Hunter's behalf extending his thanks and appreciation to Hunter to allow him to do what he loves.
Einhaus also presented the Dedication Award to Gary LaMonte. LaMonte joined the ASAMT for his first full year. It was a year full of struggles and frustration while trying to make the events, but with true heart and dedication, he and his team ran the entire season's events.
Five Star Race Car Bodies provided two Sportsmanship Awards; one in the Truck division and one in the Sportsman division. Aaron Cain and Camden Murphy each received a $500 certificate from Five Star for their sportsmanship throughout the season.
Larry Detjens is a name that fans who have been attending races in the Midwest for years will certainly remember. In 1981, Detjens had won five races and was leading the ARTGO point standings for most of the season. On August 1st, 1981, Larry Detjens lost his life in an on-track accident at Wisconsin International Raceway. In 1987, ARTGO created the Larry Detjens Sportsmanship Award to ensure that his contributions to the sport would be forever remembered. This year, the recipient of the award was very special, as it was presented to ASA Midwest Tour driver Chris Wimmer, nephew of Larry Detjens. Chris was presented a diecast car with one half painted like his uncle Larry's car and the other Chris' car. The car was designed by Shawn Weber.
Bruce Mueller of B&B Racing Engines was presented with the Engine Builder of the Year award, which traditionally goes to the engine builder of the season's champion.
Next on the agenda was the introduction of the top six drivers in the sportsman division and the top seven in the truck division. Chris Marek was honored as the first ever champion in the Sportsman division, while Jerry Wood was honored as the inaugural ASA OREGON Midwest Truck Tour Champion.
Before the introduction of the top 20 ASA Midwest Tour drivers, Steve Einhaus presented a special owner's award to Mike Carmichael in honor of his dedication to the Truck series and ownership of four series trucks in 2010.
Along with the recognition of the top 20 drivers of 2010, fourth place finisher, Ross Kenseth, was presented with the Rookie of the Year title. Ross was awarded a Roltek transmission worth $5000, a $250 certificate towards product and a new specialized varsity jacket from Lane Automotive, a $250 certificate towards product and a new specialized varsity jacket from Red Line Oil, $250 worth of springs from Hyper Coil, a $300 certificate from Penske, a full set of rotors from AP Brakes, one full set of brake pads from Ferodo, and a $250 certificate from Sonic Clutches.
Steve Carlson was crowned the 2010 ASA Midwest Tour Champion for the second consecutive year.
The announcement of the 2011 eligible Swiss Colony Touring stars included, Jonathan Eilen, Nick Panitzke, Michael Bilderback, Jeff Storm, Andrew Morrisey, Jamie Iverson, Tim Schendel, Griffin McGrath, Nick Murgic, Jacob Goede, Ross Kenseth, Nathan Haseleu, Chris Wimmer, and Steve Carlson.
After a special thank you to all of the 2010 sponsors, the night wrapped up with some laughs from the comedic entertainment of C. Willi Myles.