Myerstown, PA – His very first victories and championships are “still sinking in”, but Whitehall Pa.’s Mike Bednar delivered a well prepared champion’s speech at the Speedway Entertainment Awards Banquet on Saturday night at the Bear Creek Resort.
“First and foremost, I’ve got to thank my smokin’ hot wife,” Bednar smiled as the crowd of more than 220 roared its approval. “And I want to thank John Kovatch for asking me to drive one of his cars three years ago.”
Bednar was referring to the way he got involved in the USAC All Pro SpeedSTR division – it was Kovatch who made him part of the KME Fire Truck Parts team – as he stood at the podium with his 2015 National SpeedSTR Tour Championship trophy.
“I didn’t think we could come from behind on that final weekend – I thought we were too far behind – but after I won Saturday’s race I started to believe we could do it,” said Bednar as he recalled the Fall Jamboree weekend at Grandview Speedway on October 31st & November 1st.
Bednar then pulled off his second triumph in two days, winning the Sunday portion of the Jamboree and, in the process, clinching the National Tour point crown.
“During the season, I purchased the car from John and I guess I finally didn’t worry about the cost of fixing it if I crashed,” he laughed. “I got more aggressive and it paid off with this championship”
Bednar continued, “It’s amazing to me that I could win this title when I have to run against guys like Billy Pauch – both of them – and the caliber of all the drivers in this class. And I love the SpeedSTRs; the racing is great and the return on investment, compared to other forms of racing, is tremendous.”
Bednar’s two wins at Grandview were his only victories of the 2015 campaign, but they couldn’t have come at a better time. They allowed him to leap frog over Canada’s Pierre Hebert, who was a five-time winner on the RevStar series north of the border. The 2014 National Tour Champion, Billy Pauch Sr., finished third in the standings in ’15. Kris Graver wound up fourth in points and Canadian Patrick Manny was fifth.
Bednar also captured the USA Regional Championship over Tim Buckwalter and Pauch Sr.
Brett Bieber, from Oley Pa. is in the midst of completing a multi-part CPA exam, which might hamper his 2016 racing plans a bit. In the meantime, though, he can put his accounting degree to good use after taking home a wheelbarrow full of cash and Speedway Entertainment shop credit for winning multiple point titles in All Star Slingshot competition in 2015.
“The Oley Jet”, a veteran of the Slingshot division despite the fact that he’s just in his mid-20’s, produced an incredibly successful season, highlighted by his fourth National Slingshot Tour Championship. No other driver has more than one National title in the division’s 16-year history.
Bieber earned three National Tour triumphs during the 2015 slate of events, winning at the Reading Fair’s Nostalgia Nationals, Selinsgrove Raceway Park, and at Hamlin Speedway. The 2009 National Champ, Cody Kline, and 2014 titleholder Dylan Hoch remained in the hunt all season long, with Hoch earning four victories on the National Tour and Kline authoring a single triumph.
On the final weekend of competition, at Grandview’s Fall Jamboree, Bieber did what he had to do in order to secure his fourth National title. He finished second and third in the two races, and he was in front of Hoch and Kline on both occasions. That was enough to wrap up another championship and wear the crown once again.
Hoch, Kline, Dillon Steuer, and Louden Reimert finished second through fifth in the National Slingshot standings.
What made Bieber’s season even more sensational was the fact that he also captured a pair of Regional Tour championships, the Mid-Atlantic Gold and Silver, as well as the Slingshot Speedweek crown. During the season, he also achieved a significant milestone…he won the 100th Slingshot feature of his storied career.
Other drivers who earned Regional Tour titles in the All Star Slingshot division were Jim Chisholm (Great Lakes Region) and Joe Krum (Empire Region).
Lake Ariel Pa. hotshoe Tyler Peet was recognized at Saturday’s banquet as the Junior Slingshot National Champion for 2015. Wheeling the Schneider Auto Service, Royal Purple, Edwards Logging No. 12t, the “Lil’ Tornado” won the Junior National Tour’s opener at Hamlin. He also picked up the victory at the Reading Fair in August, then finished third and fifth at the Fall Jamboree to lock up his point title.
In addition to his impressive run to the Junior National crown, Peet also produced a terrific campaign at his Saturday night home track, the Hamlin Speedway. An 11 feature win effort enabled Peet to chalk up the Junior Slingshot point championship at Hamlin, his second consecutive title in that division at the Pearl of the Poconos.
Finishing second through fifth in the 2015 Junior National standings were Cole Stangle, Hunter Lapp, Kyle Smith, and Alex Yankowski.
Speedway Entertainment Rookies of the Year included Kris Graver (SpeedSTR); Austin Silfee (All Star Slingshots); and Jared Silfee (Junior Slingshots).
Named as Drivers of the Year for 2015 were Mike Bednar (SpeedSTR); Brett Bieber (All Star Slingshots); and Tyler Peet (Junior Slingshots).
Speedway Entertainment President Rich Tobias addressed the crowd after all the awards were presented. Tobias informed the banquet attendees about a change in venue for the 2016 Fall Jamboree that traditionally ends the National Tours for the SpeedSTRs as well as the All Star and Junior Slingshots. On November 4, 5, and 6, the Jamboree will be held at the all new Silo Speedway in Felton, DE.
Silo Speedway is currently being built by promoter Ron Faison, and Saturday’s banquet attendees were treated to a video showing the progress of the construction. Tobias was involved in the design of what will be a banked quarter-mile clay oval, with a schedule of Friday night events beginning in April. The track’s weekly divisions will include the SpeedSTRs and All Star Slingshots along with Mod-Lites, Delmarva Chargers, and Super Trucks. For additional information on the new track such as rules and classes to be run there, visit www.SiloSpeedway.com.
Tobias also revealed that several well known drivers in other forms of racing are planning to buckle into SpeedSTRs when the outdoor season begins in the northeast in a few months. Steve Buckwalter, Ricky Elliott, Keith Prutzman, Joe Mooney, Steve Drevicki, and Eric Ankiewicz are among those drivers coming from Sprint Cars, Modifieds, Midgets, and 600’s while a couple of successful Slingshot racers, Dylan Hoch and Louden Reimert, are also set to mash the accelerator pedal in SpeedSTR action.
Linda’s Speedway in Jonestown, Pa. will host the SpeedSTRs on five occasions this season, and each of the five events will carry USA Regional points. The first race at Linda’s is slated for a Thursday night in April, while the remaining four events will be held on Friday nights.
A couple of tracks will present weekly Slingshot racing for the first time in 2016, according to Tobias. The Flowmaton Speedway in Flowmaton, Alabama and Jamestown Speedway in Jamestown, North Dakota join Silo Speedway as venues that will host the Slingers as the spec class that began its existence in 1999 continues to grow and flourish.
-Barry Angstadt Press Release. Photo Credit: Tim Krysiuk Photo