CONCORD, N.C. – Mike Harrison and Bobby Pierce shared the spotlight at the 32nd Annual DIRTcar UMP ‘Night of Champions’ Awards Banquet in Springfield, Ill. earlier this month.
In front of nearly 1,000 competitors, family and friends in the ballroom of Springfield’s Crowne Plaza Hotel, almost $360,000 was distributed to competitors in recognition of their success during the 2015 DIRTcar season.
Harrison accepted awards for the Summit Modified Nationals championship, the DIRTcar UMP Modified National championship and Southern Illinois region championship.
Harrison, a native of Highland Creek, Ill., put together a season for the record books. In all, he recorded 36 wins as well as 11 top-five and three top-ten finishes in 60 starts. Harrison’s fourth modified national championship ties Jimmy Owens’ four titles.
Perhaps more impressively, Harrison’s Summit Modified Nationals championship was his fourth in five years. He scored nine wins during the grueling mid-summer schedule, including the second-to-last feature at Fairbury American Legion Speedway. He beat out Tyler Nicely for the Modified Nationals championship by 75 points.
In all, Harrison collected $27,000 from his three 2015 titles.
For Pierce, the season was one to remember. In addition to back-to-back DIRTcar Late Model National Championships he became the youngest ever driver at 18 years old to win the Summer Nationals title. He also joined his father Bob Pierce in becoming the first father-son duo to win Summer Nationals titles. Pierce joined esteemed company in winning both titles during the same season.
Throughout the season, the Danville, Ill.-native picked up 16 wins including eight straight to wrap up the season. With his win at Eldora Speedway’s UMP Fall Nationals, he locked up the national title over Rusty Schlenk by 121 points.
For sweeping the national late model and Summer Nationals titles, Pierce claimed $45,000.
Jose Parga, of New Berlin, Ill., was the 2015 DIRTcar Pro Late Model Champion and took home the night’s third largest prize of $10,000. He stood in victory lane at DIRTcar sanctioned events 15 times during the season.
Eldora Speedway, was named the 2015 DIRTcar UMP Track of the Year for its commitment to drivers, teams and fans and its advancement of DIRTcar and grassroots racing. The track plays host to The World, “The Biggest Dirt Race In The World”™, and the $100,000-to-win Dirt Late Model Dream® – “The World’s Richest Dirt Race”™. Eldora is also home to the season ending DIRTcar UMP Fall Nationals. This is the first time Eldora has won the award under the ownership of Tony Stewart and stewardship of track General Manager Roger Slack.
Ken Dobson was honored as the 2015 DIRTcar UMP Promoter of the Year. Dobson is the promoter and track operator for Jacksonville (Ill.) Speedway and Quincy (Ill.) Raceways and a longtime promoter of DIRTcar events. This was Dobson’s first DIRTcar UMP Promoter of the Year award.
Adam Webb, of Decatur, Ill. was the DIRTcar Sports Compact National Champion as well as the top driver in the west region. Webb won 20 features during the season and took home a combined $1,200 for his two titles
In the DIRTcar Factory Stock national points standings, it was Jacob Rexing of Brighton, Ill. who came out on top. Rexing had 14 wins during the season. He received $1,000 for his championship.
With 22 wins on the year, Lukes Gash was the winner of the DIRTcar Stock Car national title. The Chebanse, Ill.-native was also the top driver in the North Region. His combined points fund award was $3,200.
Robbie Eilers was honored for his DIRTcar Pro Modified Series national title. Eilers had 12 wins throughout the season and received $1,000 from the points fund.
With 19 wins, Tyler Cain was the top driver in the DIRTcar Sportsman National points standings and Sportsman East points. For his top finishes in both he received $3,200 from the points fund.
State and regional champions recognized during the banquet included:
* Late Models ($2,000 each): Michael Kloos (Southwest), Eric Spangler (Michigan), Justin Reed (West), Rusty Schlenk (East) Kevin Weaver (Midwestern) Tony Jackson Jr. (Deep South), Jeff Decker (Northwest) and Caleb Ashby (South).
* UMP Modifieds ($2,000 each): David Mielke (Michigan), Patrick Lyon (Carolina), Shawn Valenti (East), Chad Evans (Central Illinois), Southern Indiana (Joe Godsey), Todd Sherman (Indiana), Mike Harrison (Southern Illinois), Clayton Miller (South) and Jay Ledford (Northern Illinois).
* Pro Late Models ($500 each): Jose Parga (North) and Evan Taylor (South).
* Sportsman ($200 each): Troy Medley (West) and Tyler Cain (East).
* Stock Car ($200 each): Lukes Gash (North) and Terry Reed Jr. (South).
* Sport Compact ($200 each): Austin Burton (East), Adam Webb (West), Richard Ashby (South) and Kenny Butterfield (North)
Several other special awards were handed out during the banquet.
With 157 wins throughout the season, Donnie Jumper was honored as the Modified Chassis Builder of the Year. Rocket Race Cars, which had 94 wins throughout 2015, was honored as the Late Model Chassis Builder of the Year.
Performance Race Engines and Bill Faust Engines received the Modified Champion Engine Builder Award. Pro Power was the Late Model Champion Engine Builder.
Bob Pierce, a decorated racer in his own right, was awarded the Late Model Mechanic of the Year award and Brett England and Brent Harrison received the Modified Mechanic of the Year award.
Nick Kurtz, of Greenville, Mi., won four times during the 2015 season, placed third in the Michigan region and 23rd in the DIRTcar Late Model national points on his way to being named the 2015 Rookie of the Year.
T.D. Burger received the 2015 Modified Sportsman of the Year award while Daren Friedman received the 2015 Late Model Sportsman of the Year award.
STLRacing.com’s Jimmy Dearing was honored with the Bob Memmer Achievement Award. Dearing has built STLRacing.com into one of the premier racing news sites in the Midwest and helped to promote grassroots racing in the region.
The 2016 DIRTcar UMP Modifieds kick off their season on Jan. 28 at East Bay Raceway in Gibsonton, Fla. Following four nights at East Bay, the series takes on Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Fla. and North Florida Speedway in Lake City Florida. The series wraps up its Florida swing Feb. 9 to 16 at the 2016 DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park.
The DIRTcar Late Model Series begins 2016 at North Florida Speedway in Lake City, Florida on Feb. 7. The Late Models then head to Screven (Ga.) Motor Speedway on Feb. 12 and 13, Bubba Raceway Park on Feb.14 and DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park Feb. 15 to 20.
For more information on DIRTcar Racing and to see the complete final points standings for all DIRTcar UMP-sanctioned divisions, visit www.dirtcar.com.
-DIRTcar Press Release. Photo Credit: Jim Denhamer Photo