I-37 Raceway at Newsome Motor Park hands out the hardware
J.M. Hallas is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or wilsoncountynews.com.
San Antonio, Tx.(Feb., 11, 2012) With the start of the 2012 racing season literally just around the corner, Pleasanton’s I-37 Raceway wrapped up the 2011 season with their annual Awards Banquet held at Jourdanton’s Community Center.
Track announcer, Milton Hope, served as master of ceremonies/ring master, providing the night’s entertainment and his own brand of offbeat humor.
Track owner, Joe Gonzales, was excited about going into his fifth season as track owner, looking for the best year of them all. Gonzales thanked the staff, drivers, crews and fans for helping maintain a family environment at the track, which has always been his main goal.
Track Promoter, Jim Knudtson, related several of the newimprovements made over the winter that included remodeling the snack bar and restrooms, and reconfiguring the track. Other projects on the slate are a soft wall in turn 4 and more protection for the hot pit area along with adding concrete around the concession stand.
Knudtson also introduced the new Enduro class for 2012. Any size, shape, make, model, street car/truck is legal in the class with the only rules being a four-point roll cage with door bars and removal of all glass. Races will be run in either direction with obstacles placed around the track. Any winning car will be available for claim price of $1,500.
In the IMCA modified division, Kerrville’s Greg Dinsmore took home his third IMCA Modified track title, second at I-37 Raceway. TeamDinsmore had a big year, not only adding another track championship and numerous winning trophies to his collection, but he and wife/crew chief, Candace, celebrated the birth of their daughter, Mackenzie, during a mid-season lull in racing.
Dinsmore Racing has big plans for the 2012 season with Greg getting a new 2012 Harris Chassis during the off season and picking up a ride in a Limited Late Model, out of the Wallace Racing stable. Dinsmore brings in a ‘hired gun’ for the 2012 Icebreaker in Abilene at months end with 2010 IMCA Super Nationals champion, Jimmy Gustin(Marshalltown, Ia.) breaking in his new car.
In the Go-Kart division, youngest son, Cameron, joins his brother, Logan, on the track for 2012.
“It took consistency, a good car, a good crew/family, and lots and lots of hard work for this championship,” said Dinsmore. “We’re looking for an even better 2012 season with the new car. The old car was twisted a bit when I went airborne over the hill last year.”
“The 2012 Harris Chassis has a more design changes on the car and Jimmy(Gustin) will be bringing down some new ideas to try out and it should be fast out of the chute.”
Johnny Torres(San Antonio) grabbed his 4th IMCA Southern Sportmod Championship using consistency along with multiple wins to capture the title. Torres has also upgraded his ride for 2012 picking up a new Vato Chassis, while handing his winning Driveline Chassis over to younger brother Alan for 2012.
Torres looks for bigger and better things this coming season with plans on running for the Lone Star Series championship. Torres also kicks off his year at Abilene Speedway’s Icebreaker, running Robert Williams car before dialing in his new ride.
“Patience, lots of hard work and money helped me with this title,” replied Torres. “Hopefully our new Vato Chassis will be fast right out of the box. We have a good baseline to go by and some things to try after that.”
“I’ll be running Robert Williams’ car at the Icebreaker. Since we’re going to run for the Lone Star Series champion, it’s a proven car and it would be hard shaking down the new car for a big show like that.”
Trey Votion returned to the Limited Late Model ranks with a vengeance picking up numerous wins on his way to the 2012 track championship. After short hiatus, Votion flexed his muscle early and often nearly locking up the title before years end. On the final night Votion needed only to take the green to lock out defending champion Richard Bartosh. Not being satisfied with that, or running second, Votion made a late charge to steal the win in the final corner.
In 2012 Votion looks to keep his 2011 momentum and mojo in the Limited Late Model class adding a new sponsor, ZDT Amusement Park.
“Preparation and hard work paid off for us this year,” stated Votion. “We were very pleased with our season after being out of racing for a while. The car I got from Kelly Racing was awesome, and I learned where it worked the best.”
“I hope we can carry all that over to this year. I think I’ve earned the respect of all the other drivers out there that they run side by side with me and not worry about having their car torn up.”
Three-time Street Stock champion, Wade Jones had the battle of his career in 2011 for his title with AJ Dancer. The duo swapped wins, points leads and paint throughout the 2011 season, but in the end Jones, who also took home top honors in the South Texas Street Stock Shootout, prevailed adding another track championship to his young career.
Jones will again be the man to beat in Street Stocks for 2012 while trying to defend his South Texas Street Stock Shootout crown as well.
“It was dedication and lots of work to take this championship,” said Jones. “My mom videos all my races, and like a football player I go over all the videos to look for my mistakes. Hopefully I never make the same one again, but that isn’t always true. Winning the South Texas Street Stock Shootout title was big for me with the added level of competition in that series.”
“My uncle Donny(Horelka) had a winning tradition at San Antonio Speedway and helps me with good tips, keeping me focused and motivated. We’re looking for another successful season and backing up the Street Stock Shootout championship.”
After falling a little short to two-time Pure Stock champ, Marc Roy in 2010, Frank Okruhlik finally scored his elusive track championship. Okruhlik, who also picked up a ride in a Street Stock from Wernette Racing, pretty much beat his competition into submission early, leading easily on the final point’s night to lock up the title.
2012 has Okruhlik again multi-tasking, running in three classes, driving for Jim Watson in Pure Stocks, Wernette Racing in Street Stocks and campaigning his own IMCA Southern Sportmod.
“I was really determined this year after losing a close point’s battle to Marc(Roy) last year,” replied Okruhlik. “We put in a lot of time and money and had some hardship along the way, but finally winning this year was awesome.”
“I had to give up some things to make every race, but it was all worth it, and paid off in the end. Next year I’ll be running several classes, mainly for points in the Street Stocks and some big shows in my Sportmod.”
Recovering from a season filled with mechanical problems, Cody Earnhardt captured his first ever track championship in the Front Runner class. Earnhardt, a distant relative of NASCAR’s Earnhardt’s, battled year-long with the elder statesman off the class, Jimmy Carroll. In the end it was Carroll with trouble on the final night and Earnhardt taking the victory and track title.
Both the Earnhardt boys move up to Pure Stocks for 2012 with Cody picking up the championship winning car of Okruhlik, while Charles III begins his season in a former pavement car from Miss Mindy Racing.
“I try to teach my boys to be humble about their racing success,” stated proud father, Charles Earnhardt. “Both boys will be looking to get some experience in Pure Stocks this season and maybe be able to pick up a couple wins.”
“We were lucky to be able to pick up the championship car of Frank Okruhlik for Cody and Charles III will be driving my old Thunderhill Raceway pavement car from Miss Mindy Racing that has a lot of sentimental value to me.”
**Cody, on call from TxDOT, was called in after the Winter Weather advisory was issued for the area and was unavailable.
The Go-Kart champion in the 9 and under class was Duell Arnold, while Aaron Trevino scored the title in the 10 and over group