Another season of racing in the Northeast is complete, and drivers who battled weekly and on Series throughout 2023 were honored at the year-end banquet.
Four DIRTcar Series champions, Hoosier Tire Weekly Champions, and Number One Speed Rookies of the Year received their winnings for the season, with more than $300,000 in prize money handed out.
DIRTcar Northeast Series Champions
The four DIRTcar Northeast Series champions were honored Saturday, grabbing their trophies and point fund checks. Along with 10-time Super DIRTcar Series Champion Matt Sheppard, three other drivers celebrated before their peers.
Mat Williamson, DIRTcar 358 Modified Champion: Mat Williamson continues to add accolades to his racing career, winning the DIRTcar 358 Modified Series championship for the first time in 2023.
The St. Catharines, ON driver scored four wins along the way, finding Victory Lane at Albany-Saratoga Speedway, Brewerton Speedway, Fulton Speedway, and his first Salute to the Troops 150 win at Oswego Speedway during Super DIRT Week 51.
“Money Mat” ended the season with six top fives and seven top 10s in eight starts, winning the title by 89 points over Felix Roy.
“We had a really good 358 year,” Williamson said. “We kind of focused on traveling a little bit, and at the end of the year, obviously, we got lucky with Port Royal raining out. We transferred our focus to Brockville and put it all together.”
Andrew Buff, DIRTcar Sportsman Champion: After many years in the DIRTcar Sportsman ranks, Andrew Buff reached the top of the class by winning the 2023 DIRTcar Sportsman Series championship.
The Latham, NY driver won three of the nine championship trail races, scoring wins at Land of Legends Raceway, Glen Ridge Motorsports Park, and Albany-Saratoga Speedway. He finished the season with six top fives and seven top 10s in nine starts.
“It’s a lot of hard work,” Buff said. “There was a lot of hard work. A lot of time went into the garage during the week, and it was able to keep us up front and consistent. We had a really good year.”
DIRTcar Sportsman Regional Champions: Along with the DIRTcar Sportsman Series championship, Andrew Buff was one of four drivers who received $500 for winning their respective region on the Series. Buff won the Central region, while Nick Heywood (Eastern), David Rogers (Northern), and Cody McPherson (Western) were victorious in their region.
Luke Horning, DIRTcar Pro Stock Champion: Luke Horning had a dominant year in DIRTcar Pro Stock competition, culminating to his first DIRTcar Pro Stock championship.
The Gloversville, NY driver won four of the five races on the tour, including Albany-Saratoga, Glen Ridge, Brewerton, and his first Super DIRT Week win at Oswego Speedway.
He also capped off the season with a win in the All-Star Invitational Feature at the World Short Track Championship at The Dirt Track at Charlotte.
“We race as much as we can, and that helps,” Horning said. “We seem to do a good job keeping up with stuff. We got a shock guy. We look at what Rocky Warner and Marc Johnson are doing at Malta when it comes to tires. I think all of that helps.”
Hoosier Racing Tire Weekly Champions
Five champions were also crowned in the Hoosier Racing Tire Weekly Racing Championship—a weekly chase highlighting which drivers perform at their home tracks, taking their best 16 season finishes. Champions were crowned in the Big Block Modified, 358 Modified, Sportsman, Pro Stock, and 4-Cylinder divisions.
Marc Johnson, DIRTcar Big Block Modified: After struggling at Albany-Saratoga for most of the season, a win on Labor Day weekend was precisely what Marc Johnson needed to earn the Hoosier Tire Weekly Racing Championship for the Big Block Modifieds.
The Guilderland, NY driver finished the year with two wins – one at Albany-Saratoga and one at Lebanon Valley Speedway – 12 top fives and 21 top 10s.
Johnson received $5,000 for winning the championship and $2,500 from VP Racing Fuels.
“We really didn’t run up to par at our home tracks this year,” Johnson said. “On the way up to the races that night, (John Albanese, his crew chief) said this was the last night for the points, and you probably have to win. And it just so happens we won.”
Lance Willix, DIRTcar 358 Modified: North Country campaigner Lance Willix earned this year’s DIRTcar 358 Modified weekly championship, earning eight wins between Can-Am Speedway, Glen Ridge, and Airborne Speedway.
The Theresa, NY driver gets $3,000 for winning the title and $1,000 worth of VP Racing Fuel.
“I couldn’t do it without my wife,” Willix said. “We go up and down the road a lot. And like I said, it’s all for her.
“We’ll take eight wins. We lost a couple in the beginning. It’s just consistency. We did our homework; we were there every week and went up and down the road.”
Andrew Buff, DIRTcar Sportsman: Along with his DIRTcar Sportsman Series title, Andrew Buff was crowned the Hoosier Tire Weekly Sportsman Champion.
Buff earned three track titles in 2023, grabbing the championship at Albany-Saratoga, Fulton, and Glen Ridge. He received $1,000 from the point fund and $750 in fuel.
He also beat out his brother Zach to win the award, winning by 28 points.
Luke Horning, DIRTcar Pro Stocks: Like Buff, Horning also earned more hardware by winning the Hoosier Tire Weekly Championship for the Pro Stocks. “Cousin” Luke earned 10 wins on the season in weekly competition and received $1,000 plus $500 in VP Racing Fuel for his efforts.
Daniel Joubert, DIRTcar 4-Cylinders: Daniel Joubert is the 4-Cylinder Hoosier Tire Weekly champion for the first time in his career. With three victories at Glen Ridge, he beat Alex Riley by three points to earn the title and $500.
“It was a little bit difficult at the beginning and at the end,” Joubert said. “In the middle, we got a lot of traction and had a lot of backup and support, and it helped.”
Number One Speed Rookies of the Year
The champions weren’t the only drivers honored on Saturday, as four divisions also named their Rookie of the Year winners for the 2023 season.
Matt Caprara, DIRTcar Big Block Modified: In his first year of Big Block Modified racing, Matt Caprara earned Number One Speed Rookie of the Year honors.
The Watertown, NY driver started four Super DIRTcar Series races and finished the highest in Hoosier Tire Weekly Championship points out of the eligible drivers. Caprara received $1,000 for earning the award.
“I can’t thank everyone enough,” Caprara said. “I can’t thank my mom and dad enough for everything they do behind the scenes and keeping me positive for the whole year. I can’t thank them enough.”
Amy Holland, DIRTcar 358 Modified: Amy Holland moved into the 358 Modified ranks in 2023 and scored a monumental win in a successful first season. Her accomplishments include winning a Big Block Modified competition at Brewerton, while racing her 358 Modified. She also finished sixth in the points standings at Fulton.
“It was definitely a learning curve for us moving up,” Holland said. “I was racing against people I looked up to when I was coming up through the ranks, so it was definitely important.
“Brewerton is my favorite track, and to win against the Big Blocks with some of the people that race with the Super DIRTcar Series was absolutely phenomenal. It’s in the memory books for us, and we’ll never forget it.”
Randy Brokaw, DIRTcar Sportsman: Randy Brokaw is the 2023 Rookie of the Year in DIRTcar Sportsman competition, after earning three victories at Thunder Mountain Speedway this season, and finishing second in points.
“We had a really good year,” Brokaw said. “I don’t know if I’m young and upcoming, but we had a really good year. We had a lot of help and got a good track to run on.”
Fred Lee, DIRTcar Pro Stock: Fred Lee earned the Number One Speed Rookie of the Year for the DIRTcar Pro Stocks in 2023. Lee finished seventh in the points standings at his home track, Lebanon Valley Speedway.
“I’ve been going to [Lebanon] Valley my whole life,” Lee said. “It’s a big part of my life. I worked there. I was the pit steward there for many years and got the opportunity to drive this year. This is an honor, and I didn’t even know I was in the running for it.”
Chevrolet Performance Crate Engine Drawing: To give back to the weekly competitors, a Sportsman and Pro Stock driver each won a crate engine courtesy of Chevrolet Performance. The winners were Mike Coffey Jr. (Sportsman) and Dean Charbonneau (Pro Stock). The top 50 Pro Stock drivers and top 100 Sportsman drivers in Hoosier Tire Weekly points were eligible for the drawing.