By Ralph Smith
MIDDLETOWN November 21, 2003 Kauneonga Speedway ended its sixth season of racing with the annual Awards Banquet hosted by track owners/promoters David and Joanne Rocket on Saturday November 15 at the Brookside Manor in Middletown.
Speedway announcer Fred Mulharin served as master of ceremonies as a crowd of over 250 people, including race drivers, crew members, track officials, sponsors, fans and their families celebrated the occasion. A delicious buffet dinner, music, door prizes and awards ceremony highlighted the spirited occasion.
Paul Martin of Beach Lake, Pa. was presented with the 2003 champions trophy in the IMCA Asphalt Modified Division. This marks the second consecutive year that Martin has been crowned IMCA champion at Kauneonga Speedway. He scored seven wins, including the Fire Kracker Klassic title in July and the Kauneonga Klassic championship in November, on his way to the championship.
Denis Pierce of Danbury, Ct. took home the second place trophy in the IMCA Asphalt Modified Division. The racing veteran captured six wins during the 2003 season. Pierces asphalt experience has spanned many years, not only at Kauneonga Speedway, but also the historic Danbury (Ct.) Fair Race Arena.
Another Connecticut resident, John Cote of New Milford, finished third in the IMCA Modified division with seven regular season wins to his credit.
Jeff Richardson was fourth in the final point standings, with Bob Van Wagenen in fifth place. Rounding out the top 10 were Charlie Howe, Wayne Kirkpatrick, Bradley DuBois, Steve Galgano and Gary Lane.
The 2003 Street Stock Division championship trophy was presented to Jesse Hilger of New Milford, Ct. Three years ago, Hilgers racing debut at Kauneonga Speedway was dramatic, as his car landed upside down after a race. But with consistent finishes and two wins this year, Hilger is the Street Stock champion.
Mike Dutka of Gardiner placed second in the Street Stock division and won twice this season. The third place trophy went to Central Valleys John Bailey, who also had two wins during the 2003 season. The other top five finishers were Bob Policastro and Roy Johansson. The next five, rounding out the top 10, were Duane DePalma, Gary Borrell, Tom Jones, Marty Novick and John DeMarmels.
The Eight Cylinder Hobby Stock Division championship was won by Gary Van Orden of Hawley, Pa. in a closely contested battle with second place finisher Todd Gadoury. Van Orden led the win column in all divisions this season with 10 victories.
Gadoury, a Ferndale resident, had two feature wins to back up his second place trophy. Kevin Olver of Honesdale, Pa. picked up five wins on his way to third place in the final point tally. Beryle Herman was fourth and Les Quick Jr. finished fifth. The sixth through 10th place finishers were Mike Hyzer, Kenny Atkins, Ken Engle, Glenn Aumick and in a tie for 10th Jeff Daub and Jim Anzalone.
Eric Andresen of Modena was presented with the 2003 Four Cylinder Senior Division championship trophy. Andresen won three feature races on his way to the title.
Ken Miller of Harris picked up the second place trophy. The final standings showed Miller only three points behind Andresen. John Clarke of Walden won three feature races during the month of July and took home the third place trophy. John Hughes and Woody McGibbon finished in the top five, with Bert Long, Ray Houghtaling, Jim Hughson, Mike Houghtaling and Patty Falkena rounding out the top 10.
The Four Cylinder Junior Division Championship was won by John Aumick of Highland Lakes, N.J. Aumick topped the field with eight victories during the season.
Stephanie Babich of Livingston Manor finished the season in second place, as she drove her car to five checkered flags. Dan Curry of Neversink won two features on his way to picking up the third place trophy. Chris Hardenburg, Mike Herman, Jason Chevalier, Paul Curry, Shawn Tyler, Martin Chevalier and Bill Curry rounded out the top 10.
Brian McElearney of Babylon was presented the 2003 Legends Championship trophy.
Rookie of the Year honors were bestowed upon Mike Hyzer (Eight Cylinder), Mike Dutka (Street Stock) and Gary Lane (IMCA Modified).
Trophies for the Best Appearing Cars were given to Patty Falkena (Four Cylinder Senior), Stephanie Babich (Four Cylinder Junior), Kevin Olver (Eight Cylinder), Gary Borrell and Marty Novick (a tie in Street Stock) and Jeff Richardson (IMCA Modified).
The Fans Choice Most Popular Driver Award was presented to Bob Policastro. Fans voted throughout the season and in a close final tally between Street Stock drivers, Policastro edged Mike Dutka for the award.
David and Joanne Rocket proudly awarded custom-designed leather jackets to the 2003 Kauneonga Speedway Champions. The Rockets designed the jackets to give their top drivers a unique look that stands out among their peers. The colorful jackets are black, with a trim of orange across the shoulders and a splash of Kauneonga Speedways trademark purple and white colors wrapping around the bottom to the waistline.
Each jacket is embroidered with the drivers name and division championship. The left sleeve has a checkered flag motif with their car number at elbows length. The leather jackets were individually handcrafted by the same folks who supply NASCAR teams with quality apparel.
Twelve-year-old Ryan Rocket was surprised when his parents, David and Joanne Rocket, presented him with a leather jacket matching those of the champions. The Rockets gave Ryan the jacket for his dedication and time spent away from home helping them at the speedway.
Special plaques were given to Stephanie Babich and Alvera Pacer by Ralph Corwin Photography. In addition, special recognition was given to Popps Trophies for sponsoring the Four Cylinder division trophies in 2003.
Other special plaques and awards were presented to the following:
Amber McGibbon, who is the Little Miss Kauneonga Speedway trophy princess
Ralph Corwin Photography
Tonya Van Orden of Tonyas Videos
Lisa Andresen of Photos Plus by Lisa
Michele Gannon of MAG Motorsports
Lias Tire jackets Denis Pierce, Mike Dutka, Todd Gadoury, John Cote, John Bailey, Kevin Olver
Lias Tire Certificates Paul Martin, Jesse Hilger, Gary Van Orden
Track Officials and Staff Bryan Patterson, Todd Lovelace, Phil Geib, Jonathon Lovelace, Gene Thomas, Bob Brink, George Van Arsdall, Ryan Rocket, Fred and Nancy Mulharin, Ralph Smith
Concession Staff Heather Martin, Stephanie MacMullen, Mary Chevalier, Adelyn Falkena, Darla Jo Penney, Jamie Dymond, Melissa Dymond
Perfect Attendance Awards Paul Martin, Denis Pierce, John Cote, Bob Van Wagenen, Wayne Kirkpatrick, Jesse Hilger, Mike Dutka, Bob Policastro, Tom Jones, Jim Helt, Marty Novick, Tom Salony, Gary Van Orden, Les Quick Jr, Todd Gadoury, Beryle Herman, Mike Hyzer, Kenny Miller, John Aumick, Dan Curry, Mike Herman
$50 Gift Certificates from Les Quick Logging Glenn Aumick, Mike Dutka
2004 Promotional Package from Track Reporter Ralph Smith Gary Lane
Drum of Racing Fuel Eric Andresen
Race Car Paint Job and Lettering by David Rocket Tom Salony
The evening program concluded with David and Joanne Rocket thanking all in attendance for their support during the 2003 racing season.
It was announced that the next event on the Kauneonga Speedway calendar is the 2004 season rules meeting, which is scheduled to be held at 7 p.m. on Saturday, December 20 at the Wallkill Community Center in Middletown. For more information, please call the speedway office at 778-7487.