Springfield, IL — POSITIVE VIBE: World Racing Group Chief Operating Officer Tom Deery delivered an uplifting speech to nearly 1,000 attendees of the 24th annual UMP DIRTcar Racing ‘Night of Champions’ Awards Banquet on Jan. 12 at the Springfield (Ill.) Crowne Plaza.
Asserting that “this is where the real racing is” during his remarks, Deery pointed out the $465,000-plus in cash that was distributed at the affair – “without a doubt, the largest point fund of a short track series, dirt or pavement, in the United States,” he said. “That’s something to be proud of.”
Deery also mentioned the marriage of UMP and its sister DIRTcar Racing Northeast circuit. Pro Stock and Street Stock racers from DIRTcar Northeast competed for UMP points-fund cash in the Sportsman and Street Stock divisions, respectively, in 2007.
“For the first time in 2007, we blended together two of North America’s biggest sanctioning bodies – UMP and DIRT MotorSports Northeast –creating without a doubt the biggest motorsports sanctionoing body in the country,” said Deery. “That marriage was a great success, and we look to continue to grow DIRTcar across the country.”
Deery closed by pledging that the World Racing Group will continue working hard to expand UMP DIRTcar Racing.
“The future – starting in 10 days (with the season-opening UMP DIRTcar-sanctioned Late Model event at Golden Isles Speedway in Brunswick , Ga. ) – and beyond is very bright,” said Deery. “We are here to stay. We intend to carry the tradition forward that (late UMP founder) Bob Memmer and a group of like-minded men started 24 years ago.
“Bob brought all the stakeholders together in hopes of strengthing dirt track racing, and with your help, your professionalism, and your support, the years to come will provide great memories and rewards.”
HUGE AFFAIR: The turnout for the UMP DIRTcar Racing Awards Banquet was so impressive that three giant video screens were spread across the ballroom so attendees at every table could easily see the activities happening on the stage, which was hosted by World of Outlaws Late Model Series announcer Rick Eshelman .
And UMP DIRTcar Racing director Sam Driggers shook plenty of hands during the gala, as in attendance were many of the 593 drivers who received at least one of the 990 points-fund checks from the 2007 season.
The breakdown of competitors sharing in the points fund cash included 210 open-wheel Modified drivers; 137 Late Model drivers; 76 Sportsman drivers; 71 Street Stock drivers; 60 Four-Cylinder drivers; 24 Limited Modified drivers; and 20 Factory Stock drivers.
Five drivers received money in two divisions: D.J. Cline, Jim Dale Jr. and Kevin Weaver in the Late Models and Modifieds; Jon Wix in the Sportsman and Street Stocks; and Randy Dickman in the Limited Modifieds and Street Stocks.
PRESTIGIOUS TROPHY: The third annual Bob Memmer Memorial Achievement Award was presented to Eldora Speedway’s Larry Boos.
Making the moment more special for Boos, he received the award from his old boss: legendary former Eldora owner Earl Baltes, who attended the banquet with his wife Berniece.
“Bob Memmer was a man with a vision, and I’m glad I got to work with him,” said Boos. “And this man right here (pointing at Baltes) has a great vision, and he taught me a lot. Now, working for (new Eldora owner) Tony Stewart, he’s allowed me to proceed with that vision for Eldora.
“I thank Bob (Memmer) for all he’s done for racing. Now his vision is being carried on by Sam (Driggers) and everybody else with UMP. In Bob’s eyes, everybody was a racer, not just the top dogs, and now with Sam bringing in all these other divisions (under UMP), everybody is here as a family like Bob would have wanted.”
Boos mentioned the points-season-ending UMP DIRTcar Racing Fall Nationals at Eldora Speedway is set for the first weekend in October once again, but will feature some new wrinkles in 2008. He said he’s hoping to make the weekend even more of a destination event for the UMP DIRTcar Racing set and will announce details in the near future.
TOP OVAL: UMP DIRTcar Racing members voted Fairbury ( Ill. ) American Legion Speedway as the organization’s ‘Track of the Year’ for the second season in a row.
A unique facility that is actually owned by the local American Legion, Fairbury is successfully operated by a team of volunteers. The 2008 campaign will mark Fairbury’s 62nd consecutive season of dirt-track racing.
NUMBER ONE OPERATORS: Terry and Pam Henricks were overjoyed to receive the 2007 UMP DIRTcar Racing Promoters of the Year Award for their work at Oakshade Raceway in Wauseon , Ohio .
“It’s been 30-some years for us at Oakshade,” an emotional Pam Henricks told the crowd. “My family built the track (in 1976), and I’ve missed one race (all those years) – when my daughter Christie was born.
“Running Oakshade has always been a family affair, and we’re thrilled to receive this award from UMP.”
MOVIN’ ON UP: Oakshade Bomber division standout Tom Ordway of Stryker , Ohio , is hoping that his 2007 UMP DIRTcar Racing Factory Stock national championship will serve as a springboard for his racing career.
A 34-year-old who has been racing for seven seasons, Ordway has purchased a UMP DIRTcar Racing open-wheel Modified and will advance to the division in 2008. Oakshade doesn’t run Modifieds, so he plans to compete on Friday nights at either Limaland Motorsport Park in Lima , Ohio , or Indiana ’s Gas City I-69 Speedway.
NICE WORDS: Coming off his first season as promoter of Winston Motor Speedway in Rothbury , Mich. , former dirt Late Model racer Tom Sprague spoke glowingly of UMP DIRTcar Racing when called to the stage for special recognition.
“I didn’t realize what kind of operation UMP was until I got involved with it,” said Sprague. “I will definitely be back (as a UMP-sanctioned track) again this year.”
For more information on UMP DIRTcar Racing, visit www.umpracing.com.