By Dean Reynolds
SYRACUSE, NY – It was a sold out Grand Ballroom at the Holiday Inn, Carrier Circle in East Syracuse, NY. The filled room was there to honor St. Mathieu de Beloeil, Quebec’s Steve Poirier on his third Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprint (ESS) championship. The Quebec star took home over $10,000 from the posted cash and awards that totaled over $70,000.
On the strength of strong mid-season run towards the stretch drive, the driver of the FM Industries #28FM narrowly beat Justin Barger and Lance Yonge in one of the most exciting point title fights in the 28 year history of ESS. Not only did Poirier win the overall Lucas Oil crown, but he also won the Northwood 2 Construction/LaSalle Motorsports Canadian Sprint Series, the SUNY Canton Series, the Fondations 4 Saisons Quebec Five Star Series, the Cobra Coaches Dash Series and the Gater News Lap Leader title. Only the WestFront Construction Hard Charger series eluded Poirier with Jeff Cook taking that crown.
“It was a great year for the entire team.” said Poirier after receiving a standing ovation from his fellow race teams. “We were not real happy with our finishes last year so we worked real hard to try and win the championship again. It was a good battle with Justin and Lance but we seemed to find something there at mid-season and started to get some wins and on to the championship.”
Poirier took home most of the hardware, Champion Jackets from ESS and Hoosier Racing Tires, nearly $7,000 in cash from the record $38,750 posted, a chassis from XXX Race Co. and many other awards that saw his banquet total top $10,400.
While the Lucas Oil, ESS crown is the main goal, there were many other special awards that were handed out on the night. Sixteen year old Kevin Ward Jr. won the Lane’s Yamaha Rookie of the Year title. The top talent from Port Leyden, NY received $500 cash as well as his rookie of the year jacket from Lane’s and ESS.
Picton, Ontario’s Chris Jones was a surprised recipient of the ESS Most Improved Driver. The fun Canadian enjoyed the banquet all night with his dad and he also took home $500 in cash as well as the most improved jacket from ESS.
Mike Stelter ended a frustrating 2010 campaign by taking the Brodix Cylinder Heads hard luck award. The $500 cash he said would be put to good use as it will help build a new motor for 2011 where motor woes haunted the Webster, NY driver all season.
It recognition of a true team effort Steve Poirier crew chief Real Douville won the ESS/Lucas Oil Mechanic of the Year. It’s an award voted on the other race teams that run the ESS tour. Champion Poirier was quick to acknowledge Douville’s hard work in his championship speech to the large gathering.
The two most prestigious awards on the evening were the John Zentner Memorial Award and the Malcolm Lane Award of Excellence. The Zentner Memorial winner was a very surprised and emotional Jeff Cook. Cook is the vice-chairman of the board of directors and a staunch supporter of ESS. It was a well received award after a trying year for Cook which including the loss of his father just before the racing season.
The Lane Award of Excellence drew a large round of applause when the winners of Mike and Lori LaSalle were announced to the crowd. The owners of Northwood 2 Construction have been major sponsors with ESS for several years which included the title sponsorship of the Canadian Sprint Car Series the last two seasons.
A total of 18 out of the 21 drivers that received cash and product awards during the banquet were on hand and provided speeches filled with emotion and laughter celebrating a very successful 27th Anniversary Tour. The 2011 season is already looking bright with the announcement of Lucas Oil returning to sponsors the Tour again with a new logo unveiled.
During the annual rules meeting held in the morning of the banquet found just a few changes for 2011. The most significant is that ESS will join the World of Outlaws in using double-file restarts which will add to the excitement of the shows for next season. Also, the re-draw for the A-Main will go from one pill to the entire top twelve redrawing.
ESS would also like to thank many sponsors contributing to the $70,000 night which include Lucas Oil, Northwood 2 Construction LaSalle Motorsports, SUNY Canton, Cobra Coaches, 730 Truck Stop, WestFront Construction, Fondations 4 Saisons, Le Groupe Ultra, Hoosier Racing Tires, Total Race Supply, Brodix Cylinder Heads, XXX Race Co., Coffrage Daniel Lampron, Engine Research, Lane’s Yamaha, JE Pistons, Simpson Safety, M&W Aluminum Products, J&J Auto Racing, Design 500, Maxim Racing, KSE Racing Products, Babe Design, ATL Fuel Cells, DSR Fuel Systems, Area Auto Racing News, Randy’s Racing Filters, Kinsler Fuel Injection, Weld Racing, Fast Axle, Leaf Racewear, Rod End Supply, Schoenfeld Headers, S&W Awards, Brake Man, Saldana Racing Products, Zemco Headers and Luther’s Way Out Grafix.
A big welcome to new sponsors that joined at banquet time which included Speedway Motors, TI22 Performance, Intense Fabrication and Lawson Products. Also special recognition to sponsors during the season that included Cook’s Contracting Services, Car Mate Custom Built Trailers, Ohsweken Speedway, Mohawk Racing Parts, HG Associates, FX Caprara, JPS Sport, Mohawk Valley Community College, Riverside Bar and Grill, National Parts Peddler Newspaper and ASI Racewear.
The preparation for the 2011 season and the Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints is already underway with new tracks and teams on board. It will be the 28th Anniversary season and it ESS tradition it will be excitement guaranteed!!
Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints Banquet Totals:
Kevin Ward Jr.
The Lucky 21 Giveaway Program:
Jeff Cook – Set of heads from Brodix Cylinder Heads
Kevin Ward Jr. – Set of Pistons from JE Pistons
Tommy Wickham – Devil Ray Helmet from Simpson Safety
Michael Parent – Steering pump from KSE Racing Products
Shayne Ely – Racing suit from Leaf Racewear
Justin Barger – Filter system from Randy’s Racing Filters
Jessica Zemken – Right rear wheel from Weld Racing
Brian McDonald – $500 gift card from Speedway Motors
Dan Kaszubinski – $500 parts package from M&W Aluminum Products
Zach Weigand – IRL High Speed Bypass from Kinsler Fuel Injection
Anthony Cain – Injection sleeve systems from Fast Axle.
Chris Jones – Certificate package from Maxim Racing
Other giveaways included a set of nomex underwear and racing shoes from Design 500 and Area Auto Racing news to Alain Bergeron. Steve Poirier won a set of brake pads and a case of brake fluid from Brake Mane and also a drill set from Lawson Racing products. Headers from Schoenfeld went to James Hanson, Devin Caron and Mike Stelter. Front axles from Intense Fabrication were won by Chuck Hebing and Jason Barney with a set of headers from Zemco Headers to Lance Yonge.
The Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints are brought to you by: Lucas Oil, Northwood 2 Construction/LaSalle Motorsports, SUNY Canton, 730 Truck Stop, Hoosier Racing Tires, Les Constructions Ultra, Cooks Contracting Services, Fondations 4 Saisons, Car Mate Trailers, The National Parts Peddler Newspaper, WestFront Construction, Cobra Coaches, The Ohsweken Speedway, Mohawk Racing Parts, Engine Research, Brodix Cylinder Heads, Total Race Supply, Riverside Bar and Grill, Coffrage Daniel Lampron, Mohawk Valley Community College, FX Chevy and many, many associate sponsors.