KALWASINSKI: Chicago Chips
– Winning track championship honors for the second year in a row, Scott Schmitt was again the top man in UMP late model action at the LaSalle Speedway. No stranger to championship honors at LaSalle, Vince Cooper won the UMP Modified title for the fifth time. Mike Hughes was the UMP Street Stocks champion and Allen Provenzano won the UMP Hornets class title.
– Charlie Olson earned his second Super Late Model championship at the Sycamore Speedway. Racing on the dirt saw Tim Ludke claim the Late Model crown. Other Sycamore champions for the year include Scott Vetter (Spectator), Mallory Jackson (Powder Puff), Mike Cunz (Compact), Ryan Decker (Demolition Derby) and Eddie Brown (Compact Demo).
– Tom Bell became a UMP Modified track champion for the first time, claiming the honors at the Shadyhill Speedway in Medaryville, Ind., and stopping Nick Allen’s track championship string at four in a row. Jerrad Krick won the UMP Stock Cars title with Brad DeYoung being named the track’s I-Mods division titlist. Other Shadyhill champions were David Hurst (Pure Street) and Joey Iliff (Teen 4s).
– Jimmy Anderson notched another midget racing championship, winning his third Short Track Auto Racing Series (STARS) title. The veteran Anderson now has three straight STARS titles. With STARS racing taking place mainly at the Grundy County Speedway, the association also named these champions: Erica Ensor (Classic Modifieds), her second consecutive title, Brian Tedeschi (INEX Legends) and Mike Harrold (Super Cup).
– Local open-wheel midget racing also saw Patrick Bruns claim his second driving title in a row as Bruns won the Illini Racing Series midget crown.
– For an amazing sixth straight year, Bill Balog, a native of Alaska, was the champion of the Interstate Racing Ass’n (IRA) Bumper-to-Bumper Outlaw Sprint series. Balog scored 17 feature wins, giving him a series-high 62 career IRA victories. For the second straight year, Joe Swanson won the Hoosier Outlaw Sprint Series (HOSS) championship for paved track winged sprint cars.
– Other paved track series champions include Minnesota’s Dan Fredrickson, who won the ARCA Midwest Tour title and West Virginia’s Travis Braden, who won the ARCA/Championship Racing Association (CRA) Super Series crown for the first time. Cody Coughlin won the JEGS CRA All-Stars Tour championship and Casey Johnson the Big 8 Series title.
– Illinois’ Brandon Sheppard captured the DIRTcar UMP Summer Nationals ‘Hell Tour’ and national weekly-racing Late Model championships, becoming the youngest racer, at 20 years old, to win each title and just the fourth to sweep both points crowns in the same season. Sheppard won a total of 14 feature races at nine different tracks during the year.
– For the second year in a row, Indiana’s Devin Gilpin won the overall championship for DIRTcar UMP Modifieds. Gilpin scored an impressive 31 feature victories during 2013.
– The year was not without sorrow as a number of members of the racing community passed away including former stock car drivers Gil “Skippy” Michaels, Bill Brown and George Hill, along with midget racers George Kladis and Bob Kammerer. Best known for his Indianapolis 500 exploits, Andy Granatelli passed away on Dec. 29. Early in his speed career, Granatelli, who along with his brothers, operated a ‘speed shop’ in Chicago and introduced hot rod and stock car racing to Soldier Field in the late 1940s. Rest In Peace, Gentlemen.