Following a successful season that saw lots of highs throughout the year, the OSCAAR Modified and Super Late Model drivers and teams came together on January 17th to celebrate the memorable season.
Over the course of the evening, both champions were honored for their accomplishments.
For Gary McLean, it marked his third straight OSCAAR Modified Championship. McLean would have success throughout the whole year, scoring five feature victories, highlighted by the Rick Woolner Memorial Sauble Speedway. Though the whole year was about being resilient and determined as he overcame unfortunate incidents that struck him and his entire team throughout the year.
For Andrew Gresel, it marked his first career OSCAAR Super Late Model Championship. The Sauble Falls, Ontario driver entered the year as a favorite in just his sophomore season, backing it up cross the province as he finished no worse than sixth all year. With five wins on the season, including three in a row, there is no doubt that it was a memorable season for Gresel all the way around.
Beyond the champions being celebrated, each of the top 10 drivers for both divisions received their congratulatory banners and trophies. The year-end points for the Super Late Models can be viewed here, with the year-end points for the Modifieds viewed here.
There were also a couple of specialty awards handed out throughout the evening to drivers.
Best Appearing Modified – Matt Barton – The clean white appearance, highlighted with the blue and yellow accents, with the stunning, shiny gold rims caught the attention of both fans and his fellow competitors each weekend.
“That’s pretty cool,” Barton commented on the award. “We just came to party; we weren’t expecting this. That’s an honor, and big considering what the car looked like when we picked it up three years ago. Shoutout to Matt at Octane Graphics – he was easy to work with in doing the graphics on the car this year. Kelly Hallett hooked us up with him, which I’m very appreciative of as Matt is a pleasure to work with. He was at my house the night before Corey’s wedding putting a new wrap on my nose after I tore it off at the Biederman. That’s pretty cool. Got to thank everybody who works on it – the entire group. That’s pretty special guys. Thank you very much.”
Best Appearing Super Late Model – Shane Gowan – One of the most eye-catching super late models, the orange and blue certainly helped the No. 39 SLM stand out throughout the year. Though even more attention drawing was silvery toned shiny numbers that pushed the car over the extra edge.
It was also recognized by OSCAAR series president Dave Gainforth that when Gowan completely destroyed the car at Kawartha Speedway early in the season, he repaired it to brand-new looking appearance with the fenders straightened and wrap fully done.
Hard Luck Award – Modified – John Harper – Throughout the year, it seemed that no matter what the veteran did, he couldn’t stay of trouble. It was a common sight to see his No. 79 Modified caught up in wrecks, not of his doing.
Hard Luck Award – Super Late Model – Shane Gowan – As mentioned above, Gowan had the hard wreck at Kawartha Speedway early in the season. On top of that, he would find himself involved in a couple other incidents throughout the rest of the year.
Modified Rookie of the Year – Max Beyore – After running a partial schedule last year, Beyore came out for the full deal in 2014 and impressed in each turn. He would capture a pair of victories on the year, including the Chase for the Colors, en route to finishing second in points to McLean.
Super Late Model Rookie of the Year – Kelly Balson – In his first season behind the wheel of a super late model, Kelly Balson would face his battles in finding his groove. Though once he did, the veteran was able to post a couple top-fives throughout the year, highlighted by a podium finish at Barrie Speedway in June. Balson would finish the season sitting fifth in the points standings.
“It was a good 2014,” Balson commented. “I supposed I should thank my mom and dad, my assassin future wife Amanda, Grant Flett, Graham Annis – both helped me a ton this year. I want to thank Mike from London Recreational Racing, and Rod Corcoran from Corcoran Automotive for building me a big power plant.
“Tonight, we’re missing a good friend of ours, Dan Price. He lost his father in law on a ski hill so we have two empty seats over there, so just think of him.”
Most Improved Modified Driver – Ryan Dick – In his second season of competition, Ryan Dick has proven that he rightfully so belongs behind the wheel of a modified. Posting a couple top-fives throughout the year, Dick proved that the work that he and his father have been putting in is paying off. He would finish the season fifth in points.
“It was a pretty good season,” Dick said. “We did a lot of work during the off-season. Can’t thank my dad enough; without him, I wouldn’t be at the track – that’s for sure. Thanks to Gary and everyone who races with me. It’s an honor to race with these guys; it’s amazing as to what they’re able to do on the track. Thank you, guys.”
Most Improved Super Late Model Driver – Corey Jones – At the beginning of his super late career, Jones struggled in trying to reach the front of the field. However, as we got into the 2014 season, Jones continued to get better and made it to the front, picking up some heat victories. The added success would also propel him to a 10th place points finish.
“I want to say thanks to everyone from OSCAAR, and congratulations to Gary and Andrew on a great season,” Jones commented. “Thanks to all the staff for putting in all the hard work and dedication in behind the scenes, and thanks to my family for supporting me through the year.”
Most Sportsmen Modified Driver – Gary Elliott – A gentleman on and off the track, Gary Elliott races you clean at each turn, while offering respect and fair conversation off of the track. He also goes out of his way to promote the series, displaying his modified a various number of events throughout the season.
“I wasn’t expecting this at all,” Elliott commented. “It’s great. I love racing. A lot of times over the years I’ve been accused of not driving hard enough because I back out when I should go in harder, but it is because of two reasons. One, if I go in harder, I wreck my car. If I don’t wreck my car, I wreck the guy in front of me and then the next week he’s looking for me so it’s better not to do that. Anyway, I love racing and will be back next year for our 47th season. Congratulations to Gary and Andrew –w hat a great club this is. I’m so thankful that I joined OSCAAR. Thank you.”
Most Sportsmen Super Late Model Driver – Tyler Hawn – Tyler Hawn has always been the gentlemen, never finding himself in the midst of controversy as he also is the master of showing respect on track. Outside of the car, Hawn is always a true ambassador for the series, and has served as one of the directors for the past couple of years.
“I just want to thank everybody on our team as if it wasn’t for everybody, we wouldn’t be out there,” Hawn said. “So thank you.”
The banquet also revealed that Jesse Kennedy is going to take a step back from racing after 30 years behind the wheel. Kennedy will retire from full-time competition, but could make an appearance or two in 2015, most notably at Delaware Speedway.
Despite finishing second in points, Kevin Cornelius shared that his primary sponsor Halton Crushed Stone will not be back for the upcoming season. Though don’t expect that to slow them as the Don Biederman Memorial Champion plan to come out and contend for the championship, again.
Most of the drivers have confirmed that they will be back to contend once again, with even more signing up during pre-season registration to be part of the show. J.R. Fitzpatrick and Shawn Chenoweth are among the super late model additions, while Dan Price is among the modified additions.
With a class of drivers this talented, along with the additions and the expansion of the OSCAAR Midgets, the 25th season of OSCAAR competition promises to be one of the best years yet. Who knew that four guys sitting around a table looking to save super late model racing could create something that’d grow into the biggest Canadian backed series.