Friday night’s 57th USAC “Night of Champions” National Awards Dinner held at the Indiana Roof Ballroom in downtown Indianapolis, Ind. sported a somewhat familiar theme to the previous two functions. Bryan Clauson of Noblesville, Ind. once again headlined the list of award recipients after claiming his third consecutive USAC National Drivers Championship. Clauson also earned a $300,000 scholarship from INDYCAR and won USAC’s 2012 AMSOIL National Sprint Car title.
Also accepting checks as top drivers in the National Drivers Championship were runner-up Tracy Hines of New Castle, Ind. and third-place Dave Darland of Lincoln, Ind.
Bobby East of Brownsburg, Ind. celebrated his 2012 USAC Traxxas Silver Crown title, while Darren Hagen of Riverside, Calif. was hailed as the 2012 Mopar National Midget champion.
Car owner champions for 2012 celebrated Friday were Rotondo Weirich/Curb-Agajanian for the 2012 USAC Traxxas Silver Crown title, Corey Tucker/BCI/Curb-Agajanian as the AMSOIL Sprint Car crown and Keith Kunz Motorsports/Curb-Agajanian as the Mopar National Midget kings. Accepting special trophies as the club’s first-ever National “Triple Crown” car owners were Mike Curb and Cary Agajanian.
Champions of USAC’s 2012 The Off Road Championship (TORC) series honored Friday included Ricky Johnson of Trabuco Canyon, Calif. (Pro 4×4), Bryce Menzies of Las Vegas, Nev. (Pro 2WD), Brad Lovell of Colorado Springs, Colo. (Pro Light 2WD) and Mitchell DeJong of Temecula, Calif. (Pro Buggy).
Keys to the City of Indianapolis from Mayor Gregory A. Ballard, who was in attendance, were presented to East, Clauson and Hagen in recognition of their 2012 National Championships.
Emcees Jim Tretow and Pat Sullivan orchestrated the presentations, which included driver and car entrant champions, Rookies of the Year, Most Improved Drivers and special award recipients.
Among items presented to the 2012 champions were trophies, plaques, Oakley timepieces, Hoosier jackets, medallions, Briggs & Stratton power washers and personalized remote-control TRAXXAS Trucks.
Driving champions in addition to the aforementioned included Mike Spencer of Temecula, Calif. (AMSOIL USAC/CRA Sprints), who established an all-time USAC record of five consecutive series titles. Tony Hunt of Lincoln, Calif. (Western Classic Sprints and Western Classic Dirt Sprints) accepted his ninth and 10th USAC titles, second all-time in USAC’s 57-year history.
Other 2012 champions included Shannon McQueen of Tehachapi, Calif. (Mopar Western Midgets), Chad Nichols of Colma, Calif. (Western Pavement Midget), David Prickett of Fresno, Calif. (Western Dirt Midget), Bud Kaeding of Campbell, Calif. (West Coast Sprint), Brian McClish of Santa Rosa, Calif. (Western Classic Pavement Sprint), Jim Anderson of Joliet, Ill. (STARS D1 Midget), Kevin Chaffee of East Orange, Vt. (DMA Midget), Ross Rankine of Willard, Ohio (Midwest Pavement and Dirt Ignite Midget), Garret Peterson of West Sacramento, Calif. (Western North Ignite Midget), Cory Elliott of Bakersfield, Calif. (Western Dirt Ignite Midget), Jared Irvan of Midland, N.C. (Eastern Ignite Midget), Jared Peterson of Stanwood, Wash. (Northwest Ignite Midget) and Bryant Dawson of Phoenix, Ariz. (Las Vegas Ignite Midget). Darren Hagen was also honored as the National Midget Pavement and Dirt champion.
Honored as USAC .25 Midget National Champions as a result of their “Generation Next Tour” titles were Neal Allison of Greensboro, N.C. (Junior Honda), Tyler Ankrum of Yucaipa, Calif. (Light Mod), Harrison Burton of Huntersville, NC (Light World Formula and Light 160), Connor Gross of Middleton, Mass. (Junior Animal), Carson Hocevar of Portage, Wisc. (Senior Honda, Senior Animal and Light AA), Kyle Lee of Mercersburg, Pa. (Heavy AA), Mark Miller of Mooresville, N.C. (Heavy World Formula and Heavy 160), Collin Olson of Maplewood, Minn.(Heavy Mod) and Wil Raber of Allegan, Mich. (Heavy Honda and Unrestricted Animal).
Nissan received the TORC Manufacturer of the Year honors and B.F. Goodrich earned the TORC Tire Manufacturer of the Year award.
Andrew Caddell of Graham, Wash. accepted the TORC TRAXXAS MAXX Award for posting the most “fastest laps” during the 2011 Pro Light 2WD campaign.
Nick Baumgartner of Iron River, Mich.., also a Pro Light 2WD participant, was named TORC “Rookie of the Year,” and Luke Johnson of Trabuco Canyon, Calif., also a Pro Light 2WD participant, was named the “Most Improved” TORC driver.
TORC Oakley Bomb awards went to Rob MacCachren of Las Vegas, Nev. (Pro 2WD) and Ricky Johnson (Pro 4×4).
The third annual “Jack Flannery Award” recognizing determination and perseverance went to Scott Douglas of El Cajon, Calif. The TORC “Crew Chief of the Year” honors went to Charlie Schlieve of Antigo, Wisc. of Team Red Bull.
A special USAC “Spirit of Youth Award” was presented to Aaron Likens of Maryland Heights, Md. for his many contributions to the sport of quarter-midget racing.
USAC President Kevin Miller presented USAC Special Appreciation Awards to IndyCar (corporate) and Buck and Betty Rice of Grand Saline, Texas (individual) for their contributions and dedicated service to the racing community. An additional USAC Special Appreciation Award was presented posthumously to Bob Newton of Hoosier Racing Tires.
Chris Economaki, who passed away September 28, was named as the recipient of USAC’s prestigious Roger McCluskey Award of Excellence, recognizing his commitment to the overall sport of auto racing and his numerous contributions to USAC and grass-roots racing.
USAC’s 2012 National “Race Organizer of the Year” award was presented to The O’Connor Family of Kokomo Speedway.
Kyle Hamilton of Danville, Ind. earned the 2012 USAC Silver Crown “Rookie of the Year” honor. C.J. Leary was honored as the National Sprint Car “Rookie of the Year” and the Bob Stroud Memorial National Midget “Rookie of the Year” Award for the National Midget Series went to Rico Abreu of Rutherford, Calif.
Chase Stockon of Sullivan, Ind. was named USAC “Most Improved” National Driver of 2012.
USAC’s 2012 “Mechanical Achievement of the Year” award went to Mike Dutcher of Cicero, Ind. of RW Motorsports.
Long-time USAC Executive and Western Operations Director Tommy Hunt was honored for his long service to the club and presented with the Henry Ford Sweepstakes Award, emblematic of the National Ford Focus Championship which he was instrumental in founding.
Attendees were able to view a replica of the Poteet and Main Speed Demon Streamliner which established World Speed Records in September during runs at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah,
Second and third-place drivers and car entrants in USAC’s National racing series also received their year-end recognition and awards.
All USAC driving champions were also presented one-year memberships by the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Iowa.
Floral decorations were provided by Jockish Flowers of Indianapolis. Tim Spillman of Auto Racing Ministries delivered the invocation.