Superior, WI — The combined efforts of the staffs of the AmsOil Speedway in Superior and Proctor (MN) Speedway resulted in an enjoyable 2015 racing season awards banquet at the Barker’s Island Inn in Superior on January 30.
After an excellent buffet-style dinner, Proctor Speedway co-announcer Nick Gima acted as emcee for the event. AmsOil Speedway promoter Joe Stariha kicked things off with an overview of the 2015 racing season there, expressing appreciation to the track’s work staff and sponsors for a successful campaign.
Stariha also offered a look ahead at plans for 2016 at Superior, which will include a two-day, $10,000-to-win WISSOTA Modified special on July 2-3, as well as visits by the WISSOTA OneMain Financial Late Model Challenge Series and the Advantage RV Mod Series. He also announced that the track’s Pure Stocks would run under WISSOTA sanctioning during the upcoming summer.
Proctor Speedway president Dennis McCauley also stepped up to the podium to extend thanks to his track’s staff for a job well done and to thank that race facility’s sponsors as well. McCauley went on to announce that the track will attempt to host some new events in 2016, including a mid-season WISSOTA Late Model special, a “Student Night” to lure area high school and college students to the Speedway, and a visit by the ABC Raceway Six-Cylinders. A second running of the popular Northland Super Stock Series, in cooperation with AmsOil Speedway, Hibbing (MN) Raceway and ABC Raceway in Ashland, is planned as well.
McCauley then presented jackets to Stariha, Jerry “Crash” Carlson, Lisa Walkowiak, Jessica Bellefeuille and Al Rapp, in recognition for their efforts and accomplishments during their many years serving in various capacities on the Board of the Lakehead Racing Association, which operates the Proctor Speedway.
As with AmsOil, Proctor will also run its Pure Stocks, as well as its Hornets, under the WISSOTA banner in 2016.
The drivers finishing in the top five in final points in the WISSOTA-sanctioned weekly divisions at each track were then presented with trophies. Also, the top ten in final points in the Pure Stock class at both tracks, and the top ten in Proctor’s Hornets class, were also recognized with trophies and plaques. Finally, all division champions received jackets commemorating their accomplishments.
At Superior, Darrell Nelson of Hermantown, MN, won his fifth career Late Model track championship in 2015, leading the division with five heat wins and five feature wins, including his first-ever A-main win in a Late Model Challenge Series event. The title was his 11th overall at the track.
Following Nelson in the final Late Model standings at AmsOil Speedway were Aaron Lillo of Proctor, Duluth’s Tim McMann, Harry Hanson of Eveleth, MN, and Terry Lillo of Duluth.
The 2015 Proctor Speedway WISSOTA Late Model champ was Hanson, for the fourth time in the past eight seasons there. Winning the title by just four points, Hanson had three heat wins and a pair of feature checkereds during the abbreviated season there.
The remainder of the top five in Proctor’s Late Model standings included McMann, Nelson, Cory Jorgenson of Hermantown, and Terry Lillo.
Receiving his sixth WISSOTA Modified track championship trophy from AmsOil Speedway was Superior’s own Al Uotinen. The track’s all-time leader in feature laps completed collected his seventh overall title at his home track, but his first since 2000, with the help of some consistently high finishes and his 40th career feature win.
Just behind Uotinen in AmsOil’s Mod standings were Kelly Estey of Kelly Lake, MN; Nelson, Duluth’s Jody Bellefeuille, and Neil Balduc of Bessemer, MI.
Over at Proctor, Deven Van House of Silver Bay, MN, was crowned WISSOTA “big Mod” track champion for the second straight season. Along with his three heat wins and lone feature victory, Van House scored a top-five finish at the season-ending Silver 1000. He claimed the title by just one point.
Following Van House in the Mod points at Proctor were Bellefeuille, Nelson, Brian Mikkonen of Iron River, and Balduc.
Superior’s Scott Lawrence continued his championship ways in the Twin Ports by capturing the WISSOTA Super Stock titles at both tracks in 2015. At AmsOil Speedway he led the division with eight heat wins, and his two main-event victories brings his career total there to 77, matching his car number, as he collected his third title in the Supers and 12th overall in Superior.
At Proctor Lawrence was nearly as dominant, earning six heat wins in seven shows there and two feature firsts, on his way to his fifth straight track title there.
Completing the top five in Super Stock points at AmsOil Speedway were Shane Kisling of Park Falls, Superior’s Dave Flynn, Nick Oreskovich of Mason, and Keith Kern of Superior.
The remainder of the top five in Proctor’s Super Stocks included Shawn McFadden Jr of Ashland, Kevin Salin of Iron, MN; Proctor’s Kevin Burdick, and Willie Johnsen Jr of Superior.
Hibbing, MN’s Tyler Kintner made the transition from Super Stocks to WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds pay off in 2015 with his first-ever track championship at Superior. The second-generation driver collected five heat wins and a feature victory, and he also topped the division at Grand Rapids (MN) Speedway.
Trailing Kintner in the Mid-Mods at Superior were Skeeter Estey of Kelly Lake, MN; Dan Kingsley of Superior, Iron River’s Tyler Luger, and Van House.
Van House pulled off another impressive double-championship trophy haul, as for the second straight season he collected titles in both the “big Mods’ and Mid-Mods at Proctor. In the Midwest Mods he led the division with four heat wins, won the track’s Race of Champions qualifier, and finished with eight top-ten runs in nine features entered in 2015.
Finishing 2-5 in Proctor’s Mid-Mods were Kingsley, Luger, Jake Gondik of Foxboro, and JR Anderson of Superior.
In taking his first-ever Pure Stock championship at AmsOil, Ryan Savoy of Superior won the first three features of his young career and topped the division with five heat wins.
Shaina Rapp of Saginaw, MN, claimed second in AmsOil’s Pure Stock points, ahead of Foxboro’s Ryan Madsen, Alex Smith of Solon Springs, and Superior’s Chad Carlson. Sixth through tenth were Andy Poll of Two Harbors, MN; Cloquet, MN’s Jon Hammitt, Tim Carlson and Jason Simonson, both of Superior, and Annika Hammitt of Cloquet.
Josh Loucks of Carlton, MN, was once again dominant in capturing his third Proctor Pure Stock title in eight seasons, with four feature wins, three runner-up efforts and one third-place performance in nine shows run.
Behind Loucks in the top five were Mike Sirois of Hermantown, MN; Rapp, Poll, and Ashland’s Matt Deragon. The second five consisted of Alborn, MN’s Eric Pederson, Jon Hammitt, Kevin Getchell of Cloquet, Duluth’s Mark Korte, and Annika Hammitt.
Duluth’s Craig Lofdahl made history in 2015 as the first-ever Hornet points champion at Proctor Speedway. His impressive season included wins in five of the nine heat races run and four of the track’s nine features.
Drivers finishing second through fifth in the Hornets were Duluth’s Kyle LeDoux, Ryan Lind of Cloquet, Wrenshall, MN’s Richard Loucks, and David Beckwith of Duluth. In sixth through tenth were Jordan Carlson and Sammie Pierson, both of Duluth; Derek Ament of Mahtowa, MN; Gavin Rowland of Oglivie, MN; and Kyle House of Cloquet.
The top qualifying rookie drivers at each track were honored as well. Those receiving this recognition at AmsOil Speedway included Duluth’s Spencer Sorenson in the Super Stocks, Mike Jacques of Thunder Bay, ON, in the Mid-Mods, and Smith in the Pure Stocks.
Proctor’s top rookies were Late Model driver Josh Johnson of Superior, Sorenson in the Supers, and Poll in the Pure Stocks.
Proctor Speedway also presented plaques of achievement for its Hard Chargers in each division, including Nelson (Late Models and Mods), Burdick (Supers), Kingsley (Mid-Mods), Andrew Hanson of Iron River (Pures), and LeDoux (Hornets).
Recognized as Sportsmen of the Year by AmsOil Speedway in 2015 were McMann (Late Models), Balduc (Mods), Oreskovich (Supers), Scott Herrick of Proctor (Mid-Mods), and Poll (Pures).
Receiving Sportsman of the Year honors from Proctor Speedway were Robbie Cooper of South Range (Late Models), Jeff Broking of Grand Rapids, MN (Mods), Sorenson (Supers), Gondik (Mid-Mods), the Hammitt family (Pures), and Richard Loucks (Hornets).
Each track also recognized individuals who have given selflessly to the tracks and to area short-track stock car racing in general with prestigious special awards. Stariha proudly presented the AmsOil Speedway’s Russ Laursen Award to Dennis Pattee, while McCauley honored Jon Schwartzkopf with the Proctor Speedway President’s Award.
A huge treasure trove of prizes were given away during the post-awards raffle. The list of generous contributors to the raffle included Accurate Auto, Advantage Automotive, AmsOil, Applebee’s of Cloquet, Auto Zone, Barker’s Island Inn, Dirt Race Central, FastLane Motorsports & Custom Powdercoating, Five Star Automotive, Holiday Station Store of Proctor, Interstate Batteries, Jackpot Junction Hotel & Casino, Kom-On-Inn, McDonald’s on Tower Avenue in Superior, Mike’s Place, Minnesota Wilderness, the O’Reilly Auto Parts stores of Duluth and Superior, Pike Lake Holiday, Prairie’s Edge Resort & Casino, Rivord Auto Repair, Southgate Pizza, Tires Plus of Superior, Twin Ports Entertainment, and Village Lanes.
Track photographer Tom Krob presented a slide-show tribute to the drivers and tracks, and many in attendance stayed afterwards to enjoy music played by Jason Smetke and Shauna Wood and share stories from the season.
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