From Gared Tennyson
MILWAUKEE, WI (November 23, 2019) — The 52nd annual Interstate Racing Association Awards Banquet was held Saturday in the Grand Ballroom of the Hilton Garden Inn honoring the accomplishments of teams of the Bumper To Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprint Series, and IRA’s AutoMeter Wisconsin wingLESS Sprint Series. A full house of enthusiastic attendees filled the large room with forty-one teams reaping cash and contingency benefits for being an 80% participation driver, (and 80% participation owner too in 410 class). Bill Balog and Chris Dodd were honored as IRA’s respective champions.
IRA’s comedic and edgy Ray Underwood emceed the event, which IRA proudly boasts as a party. Photographer extraordinaire Dave Olson, of Studio 360 Photo, opened the awards portion with a highlight video of the 2019 IRA season. Bill Balog was honored for winning his 9 th Bumper To Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprints championship, tied now with Joe Roe for the most in IRA’s long history. Led by 9 feature wins, Balog and car owner Mike Urner split the $10,000 championship check. Balog received a spectacular metal print from Studio 360, a lasered medallion from HRP, and “another” championship jacket from Hoosier. Urner picked up the owner’s Championship Cup, and his Rhine Auto #17b team the Crew of the Year Award. The Balog/Urner team’s night got even better later as they won a Maxim chassis, and other contingencies including a Weld Wheels package.
Chris Dodd picked up his first IRA championship, by being the 5 th different driver in the series first five years, to earn the AutoMeter Wisconsin wingLESS Sprint Series championship. Dodd combined consistency with 3 A-main wins to claim his popular first championship. Dodd also claimed a gorgeous metal print, and championship jacket to go with his first place check and contingencies. Dodd’s father, Roy Dodd, was honored as well being named series Mechanic of the Year Award.
IRA President Steve Sinclair, who was putting on his 26th IRA Banquet, spoke of his pride of the two series and admiration for all those who support them. He also presented several special awards.
Oz Motorsports (Ozzie & Fran) who are the 410 car owners of the #73 driven by Ben Schmidt and Jake Blackhurst, and #73AF of Joey Moughan captured IRA’s version of Outstanding Contribution To The Sport Award by being the named the honorees for this years Rick Schmidt Memorial / IRA Member of the Year Award. Both cars always came ready, looking good, and competed for wins on a nightly basis earning the respect of all those within the IRA.
Joey Moughan (410), and Charlie Spoonmore (wL) were the respective Rookie of the Year winners. In addition to his RoY check, Moughan also won a HRP wing combo for his owners (Oz Motorsports #73). Jeremy Schultz (410) who moved back to the comforts of his own team in late June and roared back to claim 4 overall A-main wins highlighted by a 16 th to 1 st run in the season finale, which was good enough to tie him with Scotty Thiel for second place in 410 points, was honored as the Perseverance Award Winner. And 2018 wingLESS champion Tim Cox fought off the health issues of his beloved father, plus a few uncharacteristic DNF’s, to storm back to 4 th in series points to claim the wingLESS Perseverance honor.
Most Improved Driver Awards went to Russel Borland who elevated himself from a top five competitor to that of a winning threat, and 2 nd year driver Hunter Custer who picked up his first IRA checkered flags with a couple of B-main wins were honored as 410 recipients. Most Improved in the wingLESS category went to Zach Raidart who picked up his first A-main win which led to his series leading 5, Greg Olsen who scored his first A-main win, and Jordan Paulsen who led many A- main laps in just his second year in a sprint car.
The Wiese Trucking #23 & #45 of drivers Russel Borland and Matt Wiese won the Studio 360 Photo Best Appearing 410 Car Award, while the #91 of Jimmy Sivia was awarded the Jeff Burba Photography Best Appearing Car Award in the wingLESS class.