Local drivers may not have the same nationwide recognition as many of the sport’s touring stars, but in their territory, they are often on top of the world. It is their home track fans that see their accomplishments week after week and ultimately help to carry on a driver’s name beyond their home.
Since debuting the 51 Award for Short Track Local Driver of the Year in 2012, the award has been held firmly by pavement drivers, particularly Lee Pulliam who won three straight from 2013 to 2015 after Ryan Preece won the inaugural award in 2012. But 2016 saw a shift as the first to run on dirt claimed it, with Northeast Dirt Modified driver Kenny Tremont taking the honors.
For 2017, it is another master of the dirt, this time from the Late Model ranks. Without further ado, the 51 Award for 2017 Local Driver of the Year goes to…
Best Actor in a Supporting Role
(Short Track Local Driver of the Year)
Pennsylvania driver Max Blair earned the award for the first time this year after a remarkable 36-win season throughout Pennsylvania and New York, both in Super and Crate Late Models.
“We saw the Local Driver of the Year deal going around social media a few weeks ago. It was pretty cool to see that my name was on the list,” Blair told Speed51.com. “We shared the information from our Facebook page to let our friends, family and fans know about it. We have been fortunate enough to have some really good seasons over the past few years. We’ve been able to win some big regional events as well as a World of Outlaw race this past year. It really feels good to know that we have the support to win something like this.
“I race because I love to race, not for the recognition, but it is nice to know that all the work we put into our program doesn’t go unnoticed. Thank you to Speed51.com for putting together the contest, and a huge thank you to all of you that voted for us. We can’t wait for the 2018 season to start, and we are looking forward to another successful season this year.”
At McKean County Speedway, Blair took one over the touring stars in the World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series Hamlin Lake 50. He also claimed wins in ULMS and RUSH sanctioned races, as well as a number of unsanctioned race wins.
The victories came at a number of tracks including Eriez Speedway, Freedom Motorsports Park, Little Valley Speedway, and Stateline Speedway.
The top two was a clean sweep for the dirt world, as Millbridge Speedway Outlaw Kart ace Carson Kvapil finished in the runner-up spot. Supermodified champion Dave Shullick, Jr. got strong representation from the fans at Oswego Speedway to finish third. Midwest Outlaw Late Model racer Tyler Roahrig and Wisconsin Super Late Model driver Casey Johnson rounded out the top five.
-Text by Speed51.com Staff
-Photo credit: Adam Fenwick