USAC Annual Banquet
Ryan Newman of South Bend, Ind. raked in a lion's share of bonuses as USAC participants split $615,890 in posted awards at Friday night's 44th Pennzoil "Night of Champions" USAC National Awards Dinner in downtown Indianapolis, Ind. Prize ...
Ryan Newman of South Bend, Ind. raked in a lion's share of bonuses as USAC participants split $615,890 in posted awards at Friday night's 44th Pennzoil "Night of Champions" USAC National Awards Dinner in downtown Indianapolis, Ind. Prize money paid to USAC participants in 1999 totaled $3,439,860, which included $350,000 in year-end point funds and $265,890 in special, designated and seasonal awards. The Grand Ballroom of the Westin Hotel served as the focal point for the cream of America's open-wheel talent as drivers and car entrants in all of USAC's various racing series convened for a night of pomp and circumstance which focused on their collective achievements during the past racing season. Internationally renowned Bob Jenkins served as the evening's Master of Ceremonies. Newman, winner of the Coors Light Silver Bullet Series championship, collected checks from the series point funds, the Indy Racing League's "Road to Indy" incentive program and for his Stoops Freightliner Sprint Car "Rookie of the Year" honors, totaling $30,880 in year-end bonuses! Likewise, Coors Light Silver Bullet car entrant champions George Snider and A.J. Foyt of Bakersfield, Calif. and Houston, Tex. respectively, garnered point fund and Hoosier "Extra Mile" awards totaling $21,875. Driving champions Dave Darland (Kokomo, Ind.), Jason Leffler (Long Beach, Calif.), Bud Kaeding (Campbell, Calif.), Marc DeBeaumont (Clayton, Calif.), Josh Wise (Riverside, Calif.), Michael Lang (Indianapolis, Ind.), Ron Smoker (North Boston, NY.), Dan Wheldon (England), Tyler McQuarrie (Walnut Creek, Calif.) and Nathan Smith (Escalon, Calif.) were also feted, as well as car entrant champions, plus second and third-place finishers in each series. Darland won the Stoops Freightliner Sprint Car title, while Leffler was the MCI WorldCom National Midget Car titlist, Kaeding was the Western Sprint Car champ, DeBeaumont won the MCI WorldCom Western Midget Car championship, Wise was the MCI WorldCom TQ Midget Car king, Lang won the Indianapolis Speedrome Midget crown, Smoker was the 16th Street Speedway's Midget champ, Wheldon won the U.S. Formula 2000 National and Oval Crown titles and McQuarrie and Smith won Russell Racing Series championships, McQuarrie the Triple Crown Pro champ and Smith the Russell Racing Series king. Car Entrant champions included Snider/Foyt Racing in the Coors Light Silver Bullet Series, plus Dynamics, Inc. of Milford, Ohio (Stoops Freightliner Sprint Cars), Steve Lewis of Laguna Beach, Calif. (MCI WorldCom National Midget Cars), Kaeding (Western Sprint Cars), Jim DeBeaumont and Richard Sewell of Clayton, Calif. (MCI WorldCom Western Midget Cars), Charles Wise of Riverside, Calif. (MC WorldCom TQ Midget Cars) and Primus Racing of St. Petersburg, Fla. (U.S. F2000). In addition to distinctive rings from Josten's, Inc., driving champions also received congratulatory telegrams from Indiana Senator Richard Lugar and Indiana Governor Frank O'Bannon as well as 1-year memberships in the USAC Motoring Division. Special recognition was given to ESPN for their long involvement in USAC racing through the popular "Thunder" telecasts, and to longtime USAC car entrant, mechanic and board member Glen Niebel, who passed away recently. Niebel's award was accepted by 1995 USAC Triple Crown driving champion Tony Stewart, who drove Niebel's Silver Crown and Sprint Cars to championships that season and Burke Magnus, Director of Programming for Motorsports, accepted for ESPN. Indy Racing League founder and Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Tony George accepted the annual Roger McCluskey Award of Excellence from Roger's son, Roger, Jr. and presented the USAC Race Organizer of the Year Award to Chris Pook, whose Memphis Motorsports Park and Gateway International Raceway ovals have hosted USAC events the past two seasons. George also distributed awards totaling $30,000 to top drivers in USAC's three primary National racing series as top competitors in the Indy Racing League's "Road to Indy" program. USAC President Johnny Capels presented distinctive awards to USAC Board Chairman Robert Moorhead and to Pennzoil Panther Racing. Moorhead accepted the prestigious Eddie Edenburn Award, while John Barnes accepted a special award for Pennzoil Panther Racing in appreciation for their continuing IRL driver testing program for USAC drivers. Longtime USAC chief starter Wally Scherer of Dayton, Ohio received the coveted USAC Winners Circle's Ross Hadley Award for contributions to the sport and USAC Vice President/Competition Director Mike Devin presented Kelly Drake with the Weld Racing Mechanical Achievement Award. Drake served as the crew chief for MCI WorldCom National Midget Car Champion Jason Leffler and teammates Dave Darland and Dave Steele, who racked up numerous feature wins in their Steve Lewis Beast Midget Cars. Turbines Inc. "Checkered Flag" Awards were presented to Dynamics, Inc. and Tracy Hines for their qualifying proficiency in the Stoops Freightliner Sprint Car Series, while Hoosier Racing Tires presented "Extra Mile Awards" to Snider/Foyt Racing (Coors Light Silver Bullet), BWB Racing (Stoops Freightliner Sprint Car) and Mike Nowicke Racing (MCI WorldCom National Midget Car) for their multi-car support of USAC pavement events during the 1999 season. Series "Rookies of the Year" included Paul White of Temple, Texas (Silver Bullet), Ryan Newman (Sprint Car) and A.J. Fike of Galesburg, Ill. (National Midget). White accepted his award from Turbines, Inc., while Newman received his award from True Value and Fike won the Bob Stroud Memorial Award from Wynn's. Series "Most Improved Driver" honors went to Brad Noffsinger (Silver Bullet), Robbie Rice (Sprint Car) and Clay Klepper (National Midget). Pennzoil presented the Noffsinger and Rice awards and Klepper's award was presented by Josten's, Inc. The annual Jim Blunk Award for contributions to Midget Car racing was presented November 25 in Irwindale, Calif. to longtime USAC Western officials Pat and Walt Johnson. Two awards usually presented at the National Awards Dinner have been slated for presentation at a later time and place, namely the Diana Fell Gilmore "Woman Behind the Scenes" Award and the Keco "Jimmy Caruthers Award" for spirit and determination. Stoops Freightliner Sprint Car Champion Dave Darland also received a special "Super License" from USAC President Johnny Capels in recognition of scoring the most feature event points in USAC's three National front-engined, open-wheel racing series. To be eligible for the license, entitling Dave to compete in all three series in the year 2000, a driver needed to start a minimum of four features in each 1999 series. Elaborate video presentations, produced by Lingner Group of Indianapolis, Ind., enhanced the evening's program.
Night of Champions Awards Banquet Scheduled
Sixteen Race Winners in Orlando Field