Korte & Hamstra Enjoy Spotlight As Nearly Half-Million Dollars Is Distributed At Saturday’s 23rd Annual UMP DIRTcar Racing Awards Banquet
SPRINGFIELD , IL – Jan. 20, 2007 – Randy Korte (Late Models) and Dan Hamstra (Modifieds) enjoyed standing in the spotlight during Saturday night’s 23rd annual UMP DIRTcar Racing Awards Banquet inside the Springfield Hilton’s Grand Ballroom.
The 2006 national champions of UMP’s two marquee divisions were feted for their accomplishments before a packed house of over 800 UMP enthusiasts, who looked on as nearly a half-million dollars in points-fund cash was distributed.
Korte, 41, of Highland , Ill. , departed the gala affair with a whopping total of $36,850 in checks from the $223,195 Late Model points fund, including the $20,000 he received for his second career UMP Late Model national title.
The fulltime professional driver confirmed during his acceptance speech that he’ll look to repeat as a UMP DIRTcar Racing national champ in 2007.
“We’re gonna try to win this thing again,” said Korte, who registered 25 UMP-sanctioned victories in 2006 en route to his first national points crown since 1997. “I enjoy doing this, and racing with these guys in this area, too much to do something else.”
Korte thanked several people for playing key roles in his championship run, including his car owner Don Goddard, Tim Manville, Terry Eaglin and his crew. He gave special mention to two members of his team: his 14-year-old son Dale and Dale’s teenage buddy Tony, who served as Korte’s only crewmen for a majority of the grueling, 26-race UMP DIRTcar Summernationals.
The veteran racer known as ‘King Kong Korte’ also mentioned a person who passed away several years ago but remains close to his heart.
“I lost my brother to a motorcycle accident,” said Korte, “but I know he helped make this (championship) happen.”
Korte’s points-fund take also included $5,000 for winning the North Region points race; $5,000 for finishing fourth in the ’06 Summernationals standings; $5,000 as the Northern All-Stars Late Model Series titlist; $1,000 for capturing the Illinois State points; $500 for placing second in the Iowa State points; and $350 for finishing eighth in the South Region battle.
The evening’s loudest cheer was reserved for Hamstra, who held on to win the 2006 UMP Modified national title despite having his season end three weeks early due to life-threatening injuries he suffered in a highway accident on Sept. 20 near his home in Wheatland, Ind.
One of the Midwest ’s most respected short-track racers, Hamstra was driving to a local hospital on Sept. 20 to see his daughter, who had given birth to a baby girl, when his vehicle reportedly struck a tree head-on. He suffered multiple injuries, including a lacerated liver, fractured vertebra, broken ribs, collapsed lungs, a concussion and numerous cuts.
Hamstra was still recovering from his injuries in the hospital when he officially clinched the Modified title following the UMP Nationals on Oct. 7 at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio . Denny Schwartz of Ashhmore, Ill. , and Mike Harrison of Highland, Ill. , did not finish well enough in that event to overtake Hamstra in the point standings.
The banquet crowd gave Hamstra, 50, a standing ovation when he walked on the stage to accept his first career UMP Modified national championship. He then thanked everyone for their prayers and good wishes following his accident and made an emotional announcement.
“At the urging of my family and doctors, I’m retiring from racing,” said Hamstra, his voice cracking.
Hamstra, who has made a remarkable recovery but continues to rehab, pocketed a total of $25,600, including $20,000 for winning the national title; $5,000 for capturing the North Region points race; $400 for finishing fifth in the UMP Midwest Modified Summer Series; and $200 for placing fifth in the Illinois State points.
Other 2006 UMP DIRTcar Racing national champions honored during the evening were Troy Naeger of Festus, Mo. , who scored his first Sportsman division title; Bobby Fehring of Belview, Texas, who became UMP’s first Limited Modified champ; and Jerrad Krick of Earl Park, Ind., who earned UMP’s first Street Stock points crown. Each driver received a check for $5,000.
Region and State champions were named in the Late Model and Modified classes. The Regional titlists received $5,000, while the State champs picked up $1,000 checks.
* Late Model Region champions were Korte (North), Brad Looney (South) and Rusty Schlenk (East).
* Late Model State champs were Korte (IL), Chub Frank (GA), Terry English (KY), Looney (MO), Rusty Griffaw (TN), Shannon Babb (IA), Richie Hedrick (IN), Alan Vochaska (MI), Schlenk (OH) and Brad Authier ( Canada ).
* Modified Region titlists included Hamstra (North), Clayton Miller (South), John DeMoss (East), Bobby Bittle (West) and Brooks Strength ( Deep South ).
* Modified State champions were Herb Donath (AL), Jason Kirkpatrick (CO), Tom Seets Sr. (GA), John DeMoss (IN), Shane Hebert (LA), Bittle (MO), Mike Roediger (OH), Rusty Covan (SC), Mark Smith (TX), Smoke Oakley (CA), Patrick Williams (FL), Jeff Leka (IL), Troy English (KY), Todd Feutz (MI), Strength (MS), Brian Poppa (OR), Charles Zimmerman (TN) and Jim Dale Jr. (Canada).
The Sportsman, Street Stock and Limited Modified State champions were presented $1,000 each. The Sportsman titlists were Dean Huss Jr. (CO), Greg Kimmons (IL), Mike Nicholson (MO), Rick Hufford (IN), Rocky DeGruy (LA) and Josh Steinacker (OH); Street Stock champs were Krick (IN), Terry Chiles (CO), Jacob Teal (LA), Ernest Haynes (TX), Josh Griffith (IL), Mike Watson (KY) and Mike Latsch (MI); and Limited Modified winners were Fehring (TX) and Brandon Buhler (LA).
Shannon Babb of Moweaqua , Ill. , was presented the remaining portion of the $30,000 he earned for winning the 2006 UMP DIRTcar Summernationals. It was the second straight Summernationals title for Babb, who had previously received half of his title award at the completion of the grueling, month-long Late Model tour.
Other UMP-sanctioned series titlists honored during Saturday’s festivities were Korte (Northern All-Stars/COC); Denny Schwartz, who earned $2,000 for winning the Midwest Modified Summer Series; and Mike Harrison, who pocketed $2,500 for capturing the Wolfpack Challenge Series crown.
A number of special awards were handed out during the banquet:
* UMP Mechanic of the Year honors were bestowed on Shannon Babb’s crew chief Jay Hunt (Late Models) and Jeff Leka’s head wrench Dave Rhodes (Modifieds).
* UMP Modified Chassis Builders of the Year were C.J. Rayburn (Late Models) and Bob Pierce (Modifieds).
* UMP Engine Builders of the Year were Pro Power Racing (Late Models) and Mullins Race Engines (Modifieds).
* UMP Sportsman of the Year Awards went to Kevin Cole (Late Models) and Tom Seets Sr. (Modifieds).
* Brian Dively was named the 2006 UMP Late Model Rookie of the Year.
* Fairbury ( Ill. ) American Legion Speedway was recognized as the 2006 UMP Track of the Year.
* Ray and Sue Marler, who operate I-55 Raceway in Pevely , Mo. , were celebrated as the 2006 UMP Promoters of the Year.
* Veteran Late Model driver and car builder C.J. Rayburn was the recipient of the second annual Bob Memmer Achievement Award, honoring the memory of UMP’s late founder. The plaque was presented by legendary former Eldora Speedway promoter Earl Baltes, the winner of the inaugural award, and his wife Berniece.
* UMP DIRTcar Racing director Sam Driggers was the surprise recipient of a special ‘Award of Recognition’ from the UMP drivers, who stood at their seats as Driggers was called to the stage.
Several promoters of UMP-sanctioned racetracks were presented special recognition plaques, including Bob and Gail Kamp (Kamp Motor Speedway); Bob Sargent (Paducah International Raceway); Pam and Terry Hendricks (Oakshade Raceway); Larry Rollo (Houston Raceway Park); Dan Adams (Soggy Bottom Speedway); Sherri Heckenast (Kankakee Motor Speedway and Kentucky Motor Speedway); Rick Heck (Mt. Vernon Speedway); Don Hammer (Farmer City Speedway and Lincoln Speedway); Larry Kemp (Eldora Speedway); Ray Marler (I-55 Raceway); Steve Schanter (Belle Clair Speedway); William Scogin (Clarksville Speedway); Kevin Gundaker (Tri-City Speedway); Rusty Allen (Fairbury American Legion Speedway); and Jeff Gotelaer (South Buxton Raceway).
For more information on UMP DIRTcar Racing, visit www.umpracing.com.