VERNON, NY – The Hambletonian Room was filled to capacity Saturday night at the luxurious Vernon Downs Casino and Hotel as it hosted the 28th Anniversary Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints (ESS) awards banquet. While 17 different drivers split the overall point funds and contingencies that totaled over $61,000 it was the night for first time champion Chuck Hebing.
The Ontario, NY driver known as the “Cobra” bested a spirited dual with three-time champion Steve Poirier to claim his first ever ESS title. Hebing now joins the elite group with the likes of Woodring, Lane, Button, Poirier, Yonge, Keel, Lutz, Bergeron, Barger and Taylor.
Hebing with his overall Lucas Oil championship as well as sharing the Cobra Coaches Dash Series title took home a little shy of $8,000. Also during the night he received the Malcolm Lane Award of excellence with Lane himself presenting the award to the driver of the Wilkins RV #45.
For Poirier, he too received many accolades during the evening by capturing the Northwood 2 Construction/Lasalle Motorsports Canadian Sprint Series championship, the SUNY Canton Series title, co-champion with Hebing for the Cobra Coaches Dash Series title, won the WestFront Construction Hard Charger Series as well as the Gater News Lap Leader points. His banquet take was over $7,500.
It was also a special night for Edinburg. NY’s Cory Sparks as he claimed the Fondations 4 Saisons Quebec Super Star Series and the Coffrage Daniel Lampron RPM Challenge. He was chosen the Empire Super Sprints Most Improved driver of 2011 with his total take home over $5,400.
Other special awards that were handed out included Matt Tanner named the Lane’s Yamaha Rookie of the Year for a $500 cash award. Other $500 cash awards went to Tyler Rand who was named the Brodix Cylinder Heads Hard Luck driver of 2011 and Mike Stelter claimed the first ever Finish Line Web Design Best Appearing Car Award.
The annual and very prestigious John Zentner Memorial Award went to Mike Stelter which was well received by the jam packed banquet room. The Webster, NY driver has been a fixture with ESS since 1995 and also is chairman of the board of directors.
The mechanic of the year award voted on by the race teams had a different twist in 2011 as an entire team was named. The six-man crew for Chuck Hebing was picked for the award. Hebing proudly handed out plaques to each crew member and a group photo with their driver was a must.
Drivers that had perfect attendance and won A-Main’s during the course of the season were also honored with a nice applause from the crowd.
It was a fun filled night with harness racing under the lights as the back drop for the Hambletonian banquet room all night and DJ Pat LaPage keep all on the dance floor to last call well into Sunday morning.
The Empire Super Sprints would like to thank the following for contributing to the cash point fund awards: Lucas Oil, Northwood 2 Construction/Lasalle Motorsports, 730 Truck Stop, SUNY Canton, Fondations 4 Saisons, Cobra Coaches, WestFront Construction, Les Constructions Ultra, Coffrage Daniel Lampron, Hoosier Racing Tires, Brodix Cylinder Heads, Lane’s Yamaha, Finish Line Web Design and Gater Racing News.
The annual Lucky 21 Giveaway Program was backed by Brodix Cylinder Heads, JE Pistons, Simpson Racing Products, DMI, M&W Aluminum Products, MAC Tools and Pete Lewandowski, Weld Racing, TI22, Fast Axle, Speedway Motors, Maxim Racing, Design 500, Area Auto Racing News, Zemco Speed Equipment, Top Flight Wings and Schoenfeld Headers.
Other contingency sponsors for the night included Saldana Race Products, SBI Performance Fuel Systems, Rod End Supply, Lawson Products, DSR Fuel Systems, XXX Race Co., Usherwood Copy Products and ATL Fuel Cells.
Also recognized for their contributions during the season were Mohawk Racing Parts, Riverside Bar and Grill, Westward Painting Corp., Car Mate Custom Built Trailers, Ohsweken Speedway, Engine Research, JPS Sport, Camara Slate, Herrington Farms, ASI Racewear, HG Associates, FX Chevy, MRE Productions, Racing Electronics, Grampa’s Garage Appraisals, Rt. 37 Building Supply, Dover Brake and Clutch, Schneider Packaging, Wilkins RV and the official supplier of the banquet awards S&W Awards.
The annual rules meeting preceded the banquet with Hoosier Tire voted in for the next three years with all four tires now mandated to be the Hoosier brand. The worst two finishes for the full point shows will be dropped at seasons end with 2/3rds attendance still the requirement for the overall point fund. The sideboards on the top wings will now have the maximum turnout on all four corners of 1 ¼ inches instead of 2 inches. This rule however will be grandfathered and in effect for 2013.
The 2012 season planning stages are underway with many races booked and a long list of new teams already having intentions of running the Lucas Oil Tour for the upcoming season. For the latest up to date news please log on to www.empiresupersprints.com where the 30th season of showcasing the very best of “America’s Race Cars” is fast approaching!
2011 Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints Banquet Totals
Chuck Hebing – $7,922
Steve Poirier – $7,562
Shawn Donath – $5,202
Kevin Ward Jr. – $4,225
Cory Sparks – $5,425
Jeff Cook – $3,675
Lance Yonge – $3,250
Matt Tanner – $3,725
Michael Parent – $3,780
Alain Bergeron – $3,520
Mike Stelter – $3,750
Tommy Wickham – $2,320
Dylan Swiernik – $2,230
Tyler Rand – $3,025
Patrick Vigneault – $885
Devin Caron – $760
Dale Gosselin – $685
Banquet Total – $61,991
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, Westward Painting Corporation, 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, Riverside Bar and Grill, Coffrage Daniel Lampron, Jasmin Peloquin Sport, FX Chevy and many, many associate sponsors.