BETHLEHEM, PA – The Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series (STSS) Fueled By VP concluded its 2017 season on Saturday night by distributing a record $72,000 cash at its ‘Night of Champions’ Awards Banquet.
The Best Western Lehigh Valley Hotel & Conference Center served as the backdrop with approximately 200 guests on hand. Some 25 drivers were slated to share the huge cash payout plus thousands more in contingency awards and prizes.
STSS champions Andy Bachetti (Halmar International North Region), Ryan Watt (Velocita-USA South Region) and Corey Cormier (Sportsman) shared the limelight.
STSS announcer Jeff Ahlum served as master of ceremonies, with series organizer Brett Deyo handled the distribution of special awards and offered comments on the ‘17 season and future of the program.
Deyo outlined some astounding numbers from the recently completed campaign. A total of 445 drivers filed a registration at a series event in ’17, while racing for $498,065 in payouts, not including any certificates or bonuses distributed. The $72,000 point fund pushed that number upward of a half-million dollars.
The evening also marked the transition to Sunoco Race Fuels and Insinger Performance as prominent backers of the series. The Sunoco four-year partnership officially gets underway in 2018. Bruce Insinger addressed the attendees and expressed his enthusiasm for the new partnership.
For the third time in four years, Sheffield, Mass., driver Andy Bachetti was lauded as the STSS Halmar International North Region champion. Bachetti received $12,500 in point fund cash for his efforts.
Bachetti won two events on the STSS circuit in ’17, kicking off the season with a dramatic 20th-to-first drive at Orange County Fair Speedway in Middletown, N.Y., to garner the ‘Hard Clay Open’ event, and taking the checkered first at Woodhull (N.Y.) Raceway in August.
The driver known as the ‘Wild Child’ was ultra-consistent on the circuit, placing inside the top-10 in eight of the nine events.
Two-time ’17 North Region winner Anthony Perrego of Montgomery, N.Y., was recognized as the North Region runner-up, collecting $7,000. Perrego drove for Brian Smith’s Superior Remodeling team, taking the checkered first at Accord (N.Y.) Speedway and Thunder Mountain Speedway in Center Lisle, N.Y.
Jeremy Smith of Triangle, N.Y., a first-year series regular, finished third and pocketed $4,000. Smith fielded a car for Sidney, N.Y.’s Billy Decker, fourth in points, earning $3,000. Danny Creeden of Wurtsboro, N.Y., capped another solid STSS season fifth in the standings, taking home $2,500.
Finishing sixth through 12th, respectively, in North Region standings were Stewart Friesen of Sprakers, N.Y., a winner at Afton (N.Y.) Motorsports Park and Orange County ($2,000); Tommy Meier of Waldwick, N.J., in the Jeff Behrent No. 3 ($1,750); Matt DeLorenzo of Cropseyville, N.Y. ($1,650); series newcomer J.R. Hurlburt of Otego, N.Y., driving for Jamie and Denise Page ($1,550); Nick Nye of Groton, N.Y. ($1,450); Craig Hanson of Johnstown, N.Y. ($1,000); and Jerry Higbie of Newburgh, N.Y. ($1,000).
For the second time, Boyertown, Pa., driver Ryan Watt was lauded as the STSS Velocita-USA South Region title winner. Watt, driving for Ron Roberts, received $10,000 for his efforts.
Watt won twice on the series – at Delaware International Speedway in Delmar, Del., in June and his home track of Bridgeport (N.J.) Speedway in September – and finished second on three other occasions.
Five drivers entered the season finale at Georgetown (Del.) Speedway with a shot at the title, but a runner-up effort was enough to bring home the crown.
Like Watt, runner-up Ryan Godown was a two-time winner on the series. The Ringoes, N.J., driver won at Big Diamond Speedway in Minersville, Pa., the series’ annual North-South combo event, and ended the season in Georgetown Victory Lane. He received $5,000 in point fund cash.
Duane Howard of Oley, Pa., won his first STSS event at Georgetown in August driving for Norm Hansell and placed third in points, worth $3,000. David Van Horn of Harmony, N.J., was fourth and took home $2,000, while Georgetown Opening Day Melvin L. Joseph Memorial winner Jimmy Horton of Neshanic Station, N.J., finished fifth, receiving $1,500.
Drivers completing the top-12 were Billy Pauch Sr. of Frenchtown, N.J. ($1,400); Jordan Watson of Milford, Del. ($1,300); Rick Laubach of Hellertown, Pa. ($1,200): Billy Pauch Jr. of Milford, N.J. ($1,100); Jamie Mills of Milford, Del. ($1,050); Craig Von Dohren of Oley, Pa. ($1,000); and Stewart Friesen of Sprakers, N.Y. ($1,000).
Jim Britt of Broomall, Pa., attended every South Region event but wasn’t able to crack the top-12. He received a $300 Attendance Bonus.
Corey Cormier of Otisville, N.Y., utilized consistency to win the STSS Sportsman title, with top-10 finishes in four of the five races. Cormier received $1,500 for the crown. Runner-up Larry Mekic of Moscow, Pa. ($750) and third-place Shayne Spoonhower of Berkshire, N.Y. ($500) were also present at the Awards Banquet.
The Outstanding Contribution to the Series Award went to Jamie and Denise Page, the former promoters of I-88 Speedway in Afton, N.Y., who were instrumental in the series’ early years. After exiting the track promotional role at the end of the 2016 season, they took on a car owner role in ’17, running the STSS circuit with driver J.R. Hurlburt.
Jeremy Smith was recognized as the Car Owner of the Year for his efforts chasing the STSS North Region as a driver and owner for Billy Decker, while entering many South Region events as well.
The Speed51.com Most Popular Driver Award went to Ryan Watt. Thousands of votes were cast online via the Speed51.com website. Daryl Canfield presented the award and announced Speed51 would be handling the pay-per-view live streaming of all STSS events in ’18.
Sportsmanship Awards went to David Van Horn Jr. (South) and Nick Nye (North). Both were assets to the series in ’17, presenting a positive attitude.
The unfortunate recipients of Hard Luck Awards were Billy Pauch Jr. (South) and Craig Hanson (North). For Pauch Jr., on-track incidents derailed his efforts, while Hanson suffered persistent engine issues that hindered his season.
DJ Jammin’ Jimmy Payne provided music for dancing after the awards presentation was completed.
BANQUET BITS: A number of drawings were held for prizes and certificates. Two custom race suits from Velocita-USA (min. $999 value) went to J.R. Hurlburt and Rick Laubach. Craig Hanson won a Henry’s Exhaust System ($600 value). Bob Hilbert Sportswear $300 certificates went to Craig Von Dohren and Jimmy Horton. Laubach won a radiator from Flach Performance Products worth $550. Ryan Godown and Hurlburt won drawings for two HyperCoil Springs each….
Series promoter Brett Deyo looked ahead to the 2018 season which will open with the 50th STSS event March 16-17 at Georgetown. Thanks to sponsor Chesapeake Paving, the Melvin L. Joseph Memorial will now offer $6,949 to win, while the Friday night small-block race tops out at $4,049 to win….
Series title sponsor Bob Hilbert attended the event and joined champions in photos. Bob Hilbert Sportswear returns to the leading partnership role again in ’18….
Champions and car owners received embroidered jackets courtesy of American Racer/Lias Tire….
Video highlight reels prepared by Speed51.com and GSP Video preceded the North and South Region point presentations, which included slide shows….
Despite NASCAR Camping World Truck commitments that led him to miss four events, Stewart Friesen was the only driver to earn top-12 positions in both the STSS North and South regions…..
– Speed51.com Photo