IRA Sprints Celebrate 2013 Season
WISCONSIN DELLS, Wis. – The Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprint Series celebrated their 2013 season with their annual gala Saturday night at the Crystal Room at Buffalo Phil’s, part of the Great Wolf Lodge complex in the popular Wisconsin Dells.
A crowd in excess of 200 attended to honor champion Bill Balog and 17 of his fellow IRA teams. Over $63,000 in cash awards were distributed, which was followed by IRA’s popular prize package drawing in which all eighteen teams are winners as a variety of products, such as chassis, cylinder heads, wings, wheels, safety gear, shocks, etc, etc are presented. Host Ray Underwood and IRA President Steve Sinclair shared the microphone with all eighteen participation eligible teams present.
Following cocktails and dinner, the comedic Underwood welcomed the enthusiastic gathering and then introduced Jeff Fischer of Grandstand Video who provided a truly spectacular twenty-two minute music video highlighting the 2013 season.
Sinclair then addressed the group, thanking them for their support and reminding them how special and unique of a series they have, and pointed out the dedication and loyalty of many are what help make IRA the long time success story they are, specifically emphasizing the dedication of secretary/treasurer Kim Tennyson, and that of long time title sponsor Bumper to Bumper Auto Parts & Service Centers. Sinclair then proceeded to hand out IRA Appreciation Awards to Bill Modjeski (Car Owner), Chad Tessman (Driver), Randy Westphal (Team(s) Sponsor), Lee Smith (Safety Team), Kevin Spease and Gered Tennyson (IRA Staff), and TW Metals, Carriage Auto Body, and Osborn & Son Trucking (Sponsors) who exemplify the characteristics that make IRA what it is.
Renae Schmidt, daughter-in-law of the late Rick Schmidt, then presented the prestigeous Rick Schmidt Memorial IRA Member of the Year Award to Rick Lemanski. Lemanski has spent over two decades supporting IRA as a driver, co-owner, sponsor, and for the past twenty years most notably as the crew chief of perennial IRA front runner Scotty Neitzel.
Next up was the Maxim Chassis / Gleason Equipment Top 10 Giv-A-Way which is a drawing among teams which either finished in the top 10 in points, or had 100% participation and do so utilizing a Maxim car. Phillip Mock was the lucky recipient a new 2014 Maxim chassis of the nine teams drawing, specifically thanking IRA’s Maxim & Hoosier Tire dealer Howie Gleason for his tremendous support of both him, and the IRA series as a whole. Additionally, J&J Auto Racing in a nice gesture recognized their top IRA team, Russel Borland (5th), with a set of their new bird cages.
Underwood with the help of trophy presenter Jennifer Schmidt then handed out the checks and hardware to the eighteen eligible teams. Some special awards handed out in conjunction with the point fund presentation, including the Behling Racing Equipment B-main Award (Most B-Main wins in 2013 – three) to Bill Wirth.
Jeremy Schultz was honored as the R&H Enterprises Rookie of the Year, in addition to his finishing a solid 2nd in overall points and picking up a pair of feature wins. Schultz was awarded a $1250 bonus for being Rookie of the Year plus received a complete front-end assembly (from R&H), and a jacket courtesy of Hoosier.
Schultz thanked his many supporters in attendance including his father, crew, and engine builder, plus the team of Neitzel whom he mentored with for years prior to starting his driving career. When all said and done, Schultz took home just shy of $6000 in cash awards, plus the front-end, a MSD ignition box, and several other smaller contingencies.
Bill Balog was honored with an unprecedented 6th consecutive Frank Filskov Memorial IRA Championship. Balog took the $10,000 IRA championship check, plus also received the $500 Fast Timer Award courtesy of TW Metals and Osborn & Son Trucking for garnering the most qualifying points throughout the season.
Balog led every statistical category enroute to a spectacular seventeen IRA feature win season. The Alaskan transplant thanked his crew, sponsor & friend Ryan Buesser, and of course his family for their support as his wife, young son, and sister (who traveled in from Alaska) were all in attendance. Prior to Bill being seated, Sinclair stepped up and awarded the Mechanix Wear Mechanic of the Year Award to Balog’s crew member & engine tuner, Dave Ramthun.