KALWASINSKI: Chicago Chips
CHICAGO — Nick Allen, Eddie Hoffman and Kevin Weaver were among drivers that enjoyed very successful racing seasons in 2012 at speedways in and around the Chicago area.
Allen, the Wheatfield, Ind. speedster, won a total of 29 feature races during the season in DIRTcar UMP modified stock car action, finishing second overall to “national” champion Devin Gilpin of Columbus, Ind. For the fourth straight year, Allen was the Modified track champion at his “home track” — Shadyhill Speedway in Medaryville, Ind., giving the 29-year-old racer a total of six Shadyhill Modified crowns.
Allen came close also to winning the track championship at the Kankakee County Speedway, where he finished second in the standings. The season saw Allen win 16 of his features from mid-July through the early-October, including one stretch of seven consecutive victories.
Veteran Mike Kingma became a four-time champion at Shadyhill as he won the I-Mod Association (I-Mods) title at the quarter-mile dirt raceway. Other Shadyhill champions include Jerrad Krick (UMP stock cars), Cam Bales (pure streets) and A.J. Miller (Teen fours).
Eddie Hoffman won a total of 18 feature races during the season, 10 of them coming at Illiana Motor Speedway in Schererville, Ind., where Hoffman won his first Illiana super late model track championship. The Wheaton resident joins the Illiana championship roster with his dad, Ed, who won seven track titles at the half-mile paved oval during his career.
Illiana’s quarter-mile track saw Bill Serviss win his fifth turbo stox division championship while Alex Arelano recorded his third Legends title.
Kevin Weaver of Gibson City, a veteran of Midwest dirt-track racing, was the DIRTcar UMP late model champion at the Kankakee County Speedway, winning a total of 11 feature races during the season on the three-eighths-mile dirt track. Indiana’s Jamie Lomax won six feature races in 2012 to win the track’s DIRTcar UMP modified championship.
Other Kankakee champs include Don Hilleary (stock cars), Tim Provenzano (pro late models), Mike Kingma (I-mods) and Skylar Antonelli (sport compacts).
The name Kelly was heard loud and clear numerous times during the year at the Grundy County Speedway in Morris. The third-of-a-mile paved oval saw Pat Kelly win his third late model track championship, while Kelly’s son, Nathan, grabbed top honors in the track’s street stock division.
Pat Kelly captured five features during the campaign on his way to his title. Young Nathan Kelly rang the victory bell in 11 feature races during the season. Another second-generation racer Kevin Gentile won Grundy’s Mid-American sportsman division championship while Rich Dearborn was the pure stock division champ for the second year in a row.
LaSalle Speedway saw Scott Schmitt win the DIRTcar UMP late model title — the first of his career at the quarter-mile dirt track. Repeating his Kankakee effort, Lomax was also LaSalle’s UMP modified division champion. Mike McKinney (street stocks) and J.R. Brown (four cylinders) were other LaSalle champions.
Another area dirt track Sycamore Speedway saw Reno Markham win the super late model division title. It was Markham’s first Sycamore title. Other Sycamore champions include Tim Ludke (late model), Cory McKay (spectator), Megan Decker (powder puff) and Mike Cunz (compact).
The NASCAR-sanctioned Rockford Speedway again saw Jerry Gille win the late model track championship. The veteran Gille became a three-time Late Model champ at the high-banked, quarter-mile paved oval. Doug Bennett was the sportsman champ. Joe LaMarca took top honors in the American Short Tracker division while Bobby Frisch was the roadrunner class titlist.
The two-year-old Short Track Auto Racing Series group crowned Jimmy Anderson as its midget driving champion. It was the second consecutive STARS midget title for the Joliet resident, who won two feature races during the year at the Grundy County Speedway — the association’s “home track.”
Andy Jones, son of longtime Chicago area stock car favorite Tom Jones, was the STARS Legends division champ for the second year in a row. Young Jones won six feature races. Other STARS titlists were 15-year-old Erica Ensor (classic modifieds) and 13-year-old Austin Kunert (mini cup).
The Illini Racing Series sanctioned midget racing on both dirt and paved tracks throughout the area with Patrick Bruns winning the overall IRS driving crown.
The Midlothian-based Roulo Brothers Racing team with driver Chris Buescher won the Automobile Racing Club of America Racing Series presented by Menards championship. A Texas native, Buescher won four times in ARCA stock car action in 2012 for Rusty and Gary Roulo.
Jeremy Spoonmore was this year’s Mid-American Stock Car Series champion, winning two feature races during the season on the Midwest stock car tour. It was Spoonmore’s first Mid-American title. Jeremy Miller won two main events on his way to the Big 8 Late Model Series title.
For an amazing fifth straight year, Bill Balog was the champion of the Interstate Racing Ass’n Bumper-to-Bumper Outlaw Sprint series. Joe Swanson won the Hoosier Outlaw Sprint Series championship for paved track, winged sprint cars.
Other paved track series champions include Jonathan Eilen, who won the ASA Kwik Trip Midwest Tour title and Michigan driving ace Johnny VanDoorn, who won the Championship Racing Ass’n Super Series crown for the third time. Winning eight races, North Carolina’s Daniel Hemric dominated the competition as he won the JEG’S CRA All-Stars Tour championship.
The year was not without sorrow as a number of members of the racing community passed away including former drivers Larry Jackson, Burt Weitemeyer, Jim Partipilo, Mike Oldenberg and Frank Slabenak and former car owner Marv Hixon. Rest In Peace, gentlemen.
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