UMSS Celebrates 2010 Champions At Awards Banquet
By: Greg Parent UMSS Media Director (1-23-11)
The Upper Midwest Sprintcar Series (UMSS) celebrated their 2010 season and honored the top drivers at its annual awards banquet at Running Aces Harness Track in Columbus, MN on Saturday night January 22. The beautiful new venue provided a great facility for the UMSS banquet with 115 in attendance. Several drivers were honored with various awards, and the evening was capped off with the crowning of the 2010 UMSS Champion, Cody Hahn. In just his second season behind the wheel of a sprint car, the young Minneapolis speedster improved upon his 2009 Rookie of the Year honors with a solid effort in 2010 to earn the point championship.
The travelling Barry Kettering Memorial trophy now includes the names of Leigh Thomas and Cody Hahn as the first two series champions. Cody thanked his family and sponsors and indicated how much they meant to him when he lost his girlfriend to cancer just before the start of the season. "After that happened, I didn't even feel like racing. Through their support and encouragement, the Hahn Motorsports team pulled through the pit gate at the first race of the season and never missed a show. It turned out to be a great year for our team in just my second season in a sprint car. I owe it all to my family, crew, sponsors and several other great people who assisted me along the way," stated a very humble and appreciative Cody Hahn.
Following the buffet dinner, UMSS announcer and emcee for the evening, Justin Zoch, got the awards portion of the gala affair underway. Series CDO Ron Bernhagen thanked the drivers, car owners, crew members, families, fans, track promoters and series sponsors for their participation and support of the UMSS. Ron provided an update on the upcoming 2011 season for both the winged and non-winged sprint car divisions. The name for the new non-winged series will be "Traditional Sprint Car Series" in keeping with the tradition and heritage of non-winged sprint car racing. Three contestants submitted the winning entries, and a drawing will be held amongst those three to determine the contest prize winner. Ron released the tentative 2011 schedule, announced that the series will once again use Hoosier tires in 2011, and briefed those in attendance on the status of the potential sale of the Kopellah Speedway. Technical Director Joe Kouba also spoke briefly about a few items including the 2011 Kouba Memorial race to be held again at North Central Speedway on Saturday July 23. Joe thanked North Central Speedway owner Cliff Sasker, who was in attendance at the banquet, for continually hosting sprint car racing at his popular Brainerd track.
The UMSS honored its top drivers and champion during the awards ceremony. Drivers outside of the top five were recognized and some received additional money from Hoosier Tire. Point fund checks from IMCA for the drivers finishing 6th through 10th in the points were also distributed. Appreciation awards were presented to John Morris, David Knutson, Mark Daniels and Stan Meissner. Ron Bernhagen handed out the certificate for a brand new Triple X Chassis for the four race Arlington vs UMSS Challenge series title won by Brad Barickman. Mark Daniels presented the Challenge race awards from Mastell Brothers Trailer Service and Bryant Heating and Cooling Systems.
Greg Parent, from GRP Motorsports, was then called upon to present his GRP Sweet 16 Bonus Award trophies and money to the the top three drivers. The Sweet 16 Bonus used the driver's 16 best point shows from the 2010 season. Brad Barickman defeated Jerry Richert, Jr. by a slim three point margin to earn the top prize of $1,500, as Barickman and Richert battled in the final laps of the final race of the season at Ogilvie for the top bonus prize. Richert, who was vacationing in Jamaica, was awarded second place money of $1,000. Jerry's sister, Amy Tatnell, accepted on his behalf. Cody Hahn rounded out the top three with a $500 bonus.
Greg Parent then continued with the 2010 GRP Motorsports/BP Trading Company Rookie of the Year Award. With money and trophies for the top three contenders, third place Andy Jones won $100 while runner-up Ronnie Erickson earned $300. The 2010 UMSS Rookie of the Year, Jared Goerges from Brainerd, was honored with a $700 bonus and the Rookie of the Year trophy. The battle for the top spot and rookie honors came down to the final race of the season with Goerges edging out Erickson in their best twelve point shows. Greg thanked Brian Madsen and BP Trading Company for coming on board in 2010 to help sponsor the award. Brian has been a long-time supporter of area sprint car racing as an owner, driver, mechanic and promoter.
Earning the 2010 UMSS Sportsmanship Award was Chisago City driver Kevin Nickel. Kevin can usually be seen with a smile on his face, never has a harsh word to say, and has been a tremendous supporter of the UMSS during the first two seasons. Kevin is a great example of those who seldom finish first but are still winners! In honor of his very first career heat race win in 2010, the Ron Olson Motorsports team also presented Kevin with an award.
Brandon Allen received the 2010 UMSS Dedication Award along with a trophy for his first-ever UMSS feature win at the Rice Lake Speedway last August. With the Rice Lake show being a late addition to the schedule, no feature winner trophy was available for that night. That has now been remedied. Along with car owner Jim Smith and crew, Brandon typically made several long tows to run with the UMSS in 2010. With an engine failure causing the team to miss just two races, Brandon and his #77 team were honored with the award and $200 bonus from GRP.
It was then time to recognize and honor the top five drivers in the UMSS 2010 point standings. Each driver received a trophy, a check for their share of the Hoosier Tire money, and their IMCA point fund check. Finishing in second place through fifth place in the final point standings were Brad Barickman, Jerry Richert, Jr, Brandon Allen, and Kevin Nickel. Jerry's sister, Amy Tatnell, accepted on his behalf and relayed several comments from her brother. Each driver commented briefly on their 2010 season and thanked their sponsors and families. Capping off the evening was the presentation of three trophies for 2010 Champion Cody Hahn. Cody received the Barry Kettering Memorial Trophy honoring a fallen champion and sprint car racing hero from years past. The Kettering Memorial trophy is the traveling UMSS champions trophy. Cody also received his permanent UMSS Championship trophy, a trophy from IMCA recognizing his accomplishment, and a champion's jacket from Hoosier Racing Tire.
With two solid season's in the books and a strong foundation in place to build upon, the outlook for 2011 for the UMSS and area sprint car racing is great. With the winged sprint car series entering its third season and the new Traditional Sprint Car Series about to embark on its maiden season, sprint car racing is once again gaining in popularity in the Twin Cities and surrounding areas. Continued efforts to develop the Micro Sprint League are underway, as this feeder series has great potential for young drivers to race and gain experience in this area. Several new drivers and some returning to winged sprint car racing will help bolster that division in 2011. The response to the new non-winged series has been exceptional with several cars scheduled to be ready by late April or early May. The UMSS is looking forward to another successful season in 2011. To view the tentative schedule for 2011 or obtain more information on the UMSS, please visit our website at www.umsprints.com or check out the UMSS Facebook page.
Photo courtesy of Stan Meissner.