NMRA-TQ MIDGETS 2017 SEASON AWARDS – By Tim Kennedy
Moorpark, CA., Feb. 17 – NMRA-TQ Midget Series competitors gathered Saturday evening at the Moorpark Country Club for the annual championship awards banquet. Honorees included 2017 NMRA championship driver Chuck West, from Clovis, and his car owner West Evans, of Moorpark. Sixteen drivers and 15 TQ Midgets earned 2017 NMRA points.
West, a 59-year old self-employed machinist, earned his sixth NMRA-TQ midget driving championship by winning ten of 14 main events. He tallied 895 points with 14 top five feature finishes (ten wins), eight heat race victories a a series leading 63.93 points per event. He drove the No. 38 Evans Motor-sports Spike chassis with a Bob Wirth-built 750cc Suzuki engine.
Two third-mile clay speedways—Bakersfield Speedway and Santa Maria Speedway—hosted the TQ series that started racing in 1957. West won his other TQ championships in 2002, 08, 11, 12, and 15. He drove to all of his TQ championships in cars owned by his first cousin West Evans, the NMRA leader since 2002.
Championship car owner Evans drove his No. 36 Spike/Bob Wirth-built 750cc Suzuki. He placed second in final driver points (97 points in back of West) and one/two in car owner points. Evans tallied 798 points 11 top fives (one main event win), four heat victories and a 57.00 points per event average. Evans, a three-time TQ driving champion (in 2010, 11 and 13), became a nine-time NMRA car owner champion. His title years were 2006, 08, 10-13, and 15-17. His No. 38 beat his No. 36 TQ by 97 points.
Following the 5:00 to 6:00 no host bar and 6:00 to 7:00 catered dinner, veteran TQ owner-driver Don Kiefer emceed the 7:00 to 8:00 pm awards ceremony. Top ten drivers and car owners received their awards individually. Five of 16 drivers won main events. Other solo main event winners during 2017 included Chris Thomas,who raced four times, and Bruce Hiroshima, who raced in three events.
SPECIAL AWARDS/TROPHIES: Awards presented each season were presented as usual. They were:
> Curly & Cookie Merrill ROOKIE OF THE YEAR – Jason Arnolde, who won one main event at Bakersfield on September 30 and three heat races. He raced in 11 of 14 events and placed fifth in final points. There were three TQ rookies and all raced in at least seven events.
> MOST IMPROVED DRIVER presented by Cory Kruseman Racing School of Ventura – Kevin Kale, who finished sixth in points in 13 event appearances.
> Randy Faust HARD CHARGER AWARD presented by PAC Spring Co. - Scott Niven, who finished third in driver points with 11 top fives and a 54.93 points per event average.
> SPORTSMANSHIP AWARD presented by Ron Otto Family – Owner/driver Ace Kale, who had two heat race wins, finished five times in the top five and top ten 13 times in 14 events. He owns four TQs and gave rides to his son Kevin and two newcomers.
> “BIG” JOHN ESTOPELLAN TENACITY AWARD presented by Six R Apparel – Don Mosley, who raced seven times, had one heat victory, two top five and five top tens in features. He finished eighth in point standings. He is the son of owner/driver Doyle Mosley and nephew of the late CRA and USAC Sprint Car, and Indy 500 driver Mike Mosley.
Banquet Notes: Attendees at the banquet included Taelor Janes, of Santa Maria. She raced the Kale Racing No. 7 three times in 2017 and will compete for 2018 TQ rookie of the year in the same car. She has prior racing experience in stock cars at her home track in Santa Maria.
Anthony Lopiccolo, the 2014 NMRA driving champion, who raced the No. 36 John Springstead Chevy sprint car with USAC-CRA in recent years, will return to NMRA-TQ racing in 2018. He will race a No. 21 TQ for his father Paul, a two-time NMRA championship car owner. They recently purchased a Stealth chassis with 836cc Honda power-plant from Mike Bliffen. The car has been idle for several seasons.
NMRA leader Evans said he expects the series to have 16 or 17 TQs racing in 2018. He has a No. 37 Stealth/Bob Wirth 750cc Suzuki that could compete at times with a guest driver from another series.
The two speedway NMRA circuit of 2017 (Bakersfield and Santa Maria) has become a three clay speedway series in 2018 with the addition of the fifth-mile Ventura Raceway. Sixteen Saturday night race dates for NMRA are:
Bakersfield Speedway – 3/10, 4/14, 5/19, 6/23, 7/14, 8/11, and 9/8. (seven races)
Santa Maria Speedway – 4/21, 6/9, 7/21, 8/4, 9/22, and 10/6. (six races)
Ventura Raceway – 3/24, 8/25, and 10/20. (three races).
FINAL 2017 POINT STANDINGS:
Drivers Car Owners
1 Chuck West 895 1 No. 38 West Evans 937
2 West Evans 798 2 No. 36 West Evans 840
3 Scott Niven 769 3 No. 59 Steve Parke 811
4 Ace Kale 664 4 No. 77 Ace Kale 706
5 Jason Arnolde ® 613 5 No. 07 Ace Kale 646
6 Kevin Kale 607 6 No. 2P Rick Poe 646
7 Scott Dodson 395 7 No. 70 Ace Kale 537
8 Don Mosley ® 375 8 No. 18 Scott Dobson 416
9 Don Brasher ® 315 9 No. 87 Doyle Mosley 402
10 Chris Thomas 255 10 No. 40 Ed Thomas 270