November 5th, 2017
Chemung Speedrome Honors Drivers at 2017 Banquet
by Carol Houssock
It was an evening of awards
and celebration. The event was Chemung Speedrome’s 2017
season-ending banquet, held again this year at Tioga Downs
Casino in Nichols, NY.
Jimmy Zacharias earned his sixth Speedrome championship in the headline
NASCAR Sunoco Modified division. Zacharias picked up a
division-leading seven feature wins and his performance also
earned him NASCAR’s NY State title again this year. He took
time to thank those who helped him get started as a young
boy and ended with the tremendous support from his family
and sponsors. He said he’ll be back for title number seven
Other award winners in the Sunoco Modified division included Garry Coon,
Rookie of the Year; Zack Knowlden, Most Improved Driver; and
Connor Sellars, Hard Charger. Curtis Cowles, who was at the
Speedrome when it reopened in 2001 and periodically since
then, was there every week in 2017 and earned Car Owner of
the Year honors.
The track’s coveted Sportsmanship Award also went to a driver in the
headline division. Paul Johnson, whose family operation
recently suffered a tremendous hit in the loss of his
father, represents his own family and the Speedrome racing
family extremely well.
Nick Robinson successfully defended his Super Stock title in a tight
battle that went down to the final laps run. Robinson’s
prepared comments indicated his plans are to run weekly and
hit as many NYSS events as possible. Robinson’s father,
Jeff, accepted on his behalf as Nick had already made plans
to attend the World Finals in Charlotte when the banquet
date was announced.
Jeff Robinson was also named Mechanic of the Year. John Lane won the
Super Stock Determination Award for a fight that earned him
a win in 2017. Tim Gullo’s #M37 Super Stock won the Best
Appearing Car award for his tribute to his exclusive
sponsor, Ithaca Gun Company.
Jacob Gustafson was the overall champion in the 4 Cylinder division,
running a front wheel drive car. In addition to his five
overall feature wins, he also picked up two more for best in
the FWD category. Gustafson, who hit 10 different tracks
this year, said the commute from Webster, NY every week was
tough and he hopes to make a few appearances at Chemung in
2018. Kevin May, who finished fifth overall, won the RWD
Other award winners in the 4 Cylinder division included Tyler Harbst,
Rookie of the Year; Triston Kline, Determination; Ben Perry,
Most Improved; and Zack Bennett, Hard Luck.
Kevin Youngs, who was unable to attend, was the track’s INEX Legends
champion. John Bowen accepted his award. Race Director, Ray
Hodge, thanked John Bowen for stepping up to sponsor the
Bandolero division this past year. Teddy Bowen, a former
Bandolero champion who finished the season third in points,
was named Rookie of the Year.
Garrett Zacharias successfully defended his Bowen Racecars Bandolero
title in a season that included six overall wins and four
more as the top Outlaw. His animated speech included a
message to everyone to ‘make racing great again’. Evan
Rygielski was the track’s Bandit champion. He earned two
overall and two division wins in 2017. Seth Zacharias, third
in points, was named the Most Improved Driver in the
Kathy Grodski, Track Manager, presented several awards to track employees
for excellence in their respective areas. She and Race
Director, Ray Hodge, noted the Speedrome’s growth in recent
years and thanked the race teams, sponsors and fans for
making that happen.
Hodge addressed head-on the various rumors of his 2018 plans by saying
nothing has been decided and he has yet to discuss the
upcoming season with track owner, John White. For now, he
urged people to avoid the rumor mill and to wait for
official word on the 2018 season.
Finally, the track remembered two special friends of the Speedrome, John
Flock and Vern Johnson, who passed away recently. Hodge said
John Flock was a tough but fair Race Director when he was
hired five years ago to announce. He mentioned Flock’s wit
and his days sharing space in the tower. Track announcer and
event emcee, Carol Houssock, said she first met Vern Johnson
several years ago at another track and always enjoyed her
conversations with him about racing and life in general. She
said she was impressed by his dedication to his son, Paul,
and appreciated his focus on family.
Race teams and fans are encouraged to watch for the 2018 schedule on the
track’s website www.chemungspeedrome.net, and also on the
Facebook page ‘Chemung Speedrome – Racing at the Drome’.
Anyone having questions regarding the schedule, rule changes, or track
operations can call John White at 631-722-3800.