A sold out audience of race drivers, crew members, race team business sponsors, family, and motorsports fans from across Minnesota packed the banquet conference center at Treasure Island Resort & Casino for the very last Raceway Park NASCAR Champions Banquet, held on Saturday, November 16th.
The historic Twin City stock car racing venue, located in Shakopee, closed its gates for the final time on September 1st, and the large group of supporters came together one more time to honor the 2013 Track Champions. Raceway Park was the very first asphalt paved banked speedway in Minnesota in the mid-1950’s, and one of the very first paved motorsports facilities in the Midwest.
The awards ceremony, MC’d by local resident Kevin Busse, who has been the track’s official event announcer for the past 18 seasons, handed out honors and awards to the top local drivers in each of the NASCAR race divisions.
Brody Wulf was awarded the 2013 Prestige Plumbing sponsored Bandolero Championship, going to a competitive class of drivers under 14 years of age.
In the Cheerios Great North Legends, Kyle Hansen picked up the Championship award with 448 points, 3 heat wins and 2 feature victories, just 2 points ahead of second place finisher Jason Michaud.
The Sunday night NASCAR Northern Racing Products Rookies of the Year awards went to Reed Lawrence in the Showcar Supply Mini-Stocks, Grant Brown in the Pepsi Cola American Short Trackers, Kyle Ansolabehere was named the Leo’s South/CF Moto NASCAR Hobby Stock Rookie of the Year, and Kyle Larkin picked up Rookie honors in the Impact Printing Bomber Division.
Chris Bonstand was honored as Raceway Park’s UNOH Mechanic of the Year, with Best Appearing Car & Crew award going to Rylee Michaelson.
The NASCAR Sunday night Impact Printing Bomber Championship went to repeat Champion Mike Stoer, with 1,014 points, 5 heat victories and 3 feature wins.
6 heat wins, 4 feature wins, and 1,022 points gave the Pepsi Cola American Short-Tracker Championship to Justin Schelitzche.
Jack Purcell picked up his second season Championship in the Showcar Supply Mini-Stock division with 1,056 points, 7 heat wins and 6 feature victories.
In the Turtle’s Bar & Grill Wild’n’Crazy Figure-8s, Ricky Martin has been at the Championship podium every year since 2008, a major motorsports racing achievement. In 2013 he took the title with 1,506 points and 15 feature wins on Sunday nights.
And in one of the closest local stock car racing battles of recent memory, Conrad Jorgenson took the Championship over Brent “The Freight Train” Kane in the Leo’s South/CF Moto NASCAR High Performance Hobby Stock division with 1,074 points, beating Kane by just 3 points. Jorgenson picked up 1 heat win and 5 feature victories over the 2013 NASCAR season.
In addition to the NASCAR awards, Hoosier Racing Tires presented Champions jackets to all the Raceway Park division Champions.
During the evening, the large group was treated to several video montages showing action highlights of the 2013 NASCAR season, including a closing video which featured historic photos and film covering the past 57 years of Raceway Park. At the end, there wasn’t a dry eye in the entire room, with many tears over the great memories of friends, family, and competition at Raceway Park.
Throughout the banquet and awards ceremony, many drivers and Raceway Park employees took the opportunity at the podium to state the benefits and challenges of constructing a new stock car racing facility somewhere in the south metro area. Raceway Park operators and other supporters are continuing to work to make that vision a reality for the growing group of NASCAR fans across the Twin Cities.