Thunder Mountain Speedway Brings Down The Curtain On 2015 Season With Festive Awards Banquet At Marathon Civic Center

Mike Mahaney, Modified Champion, Leads Honorees And Receives $5,200-Plus For Car Owner Jim Shear

MARATHON, NY – The curtain was closed on the 2015 Thunder Mountain Speedway season in a festive manner Saturday night.

With the Marathon Civic Center providing the backdrop, more than 230 race enthusiasts gathered for the speedway’s annual Awards Banquet. The event concluded owner and promoter Karl Spoonhower’s second season back at the helm of the three-eighths-mile clay oval located in Center Lisle, N.Y., a successful campaign that produced increased car counts and larger crowds for Saturday night racing and special events.

Leon Andrus and Brett Deyo worked the microphone for the awards presentation following a delicious catered meal.

More than $21,000 in point-fund money was distributed, with the lion’s share going to ’15 big-block/small-block Modified champion Mike Mahaney of King Ferry, N.Y., and team owner Jim Shear. Mahaney received $5,200 cash, two free American Racer tires, a custom trophy, jacket courtesy of American Racer and Trackside Products and a photo collage produced by Scott Seward.

The title was Mahaney’s first on the Mountain in his second full season as a regular competitor at the track.

“I can’t thank Jim (Shear) and Cheryl (Brady) enough,” Mahaney said. “As car owners, they got me the first two Modified championships of my career: at I-88 (Speedway in Afton, N.Y., during the 2013 season) and now at Thunder Mountain.”

Mahaney went on to extend appreciation to the speedway management team and employees for a “great place to race” on Saturday nights and his long list of supporters, product partners and crew members.

During the season, Mahaney accrued 851 points during the season, edging runner-up Chad Cook by just 19 markers in the final tally. Mahaney visited Victory Lane on four occasions during the year.

Cook, of Deposit, N.Y., made a late-season rally to place second in the standings (832). He was a division-leading five-time winner during the year and nearly stole the show from invader Stewart Friesen in the season-ending Wade Decker Memorial Race, finishing a close second.

Brian Malcolm of Lake Ariel, Pa., finished third in points with 816 markers. Malcolm achieved a career highlight in June when he won the Short Track Super Series Fueled By VP ‘Lightning on the Mountain’ taking home more than $5,000.

Two-time champion Brent Wilcox of Binghamton, N.Y., placed fourth with 766 points and sophomore driver Ryan Jordan of Dryden, N.Y., completed the front five. He earned 755 points.

Finishing sixth through 10th, respectively, were Chris Stull of Virgil, N.Y. (686 points); Billy Spoonhower of Berkshire, N.Y. (667); Ken Titus of Kirkwood, N.Y. (644 points); Colton Wilson of Dryden, N.Y. (642 points); and Opening Night winner Nick Rochinski of Dickson City, Pa. (620 points).

Thunder Mountain competitors receiving recognition for their final finishing positions in the Lias Tire/American Racer Southern Tier Challenge Cup involving I-88 and Thunder Mountain speedways were Mahaney (fourth-place, $200 and two free tires), Cook (fifth-place, $150 and two free tires), Malcolm (sixth-place, two free tires), Jordan (eighth-place, one free tire) and Wilcox (ninth-place, $85 off a tire).

For the first time in his career, Eric Leet of Marathon, N.Y., was heralded as the Thunder Mountain Speedway Open Sportsman champion. Leet emerged from a spirited battle with veteran Kenny Hammond throughout the summer stretch. The ultra-consistent Leet took the title by a margin of 48 points over Hammond, with 897 markers.

Hammond was the runner-up with 849 points, followed by the brothers Jordan – Kevin (840) and Chris (750) – placing third and fourth, respectively. First-year Thunder Mountain regular Nick Mady, who made the tow from Milford, Pa., weekly, finished fifth with 741 points.

Larry Hillis (662 points), Geordie Decker (657), Dan Burman (641), Marc Goodwin (509) and Tommy Eiklor (393) completed the top-10 in the standings.

The Crate 602 Sportsman division was added to the Thunder Mountain lineup in ’15 and produced solid car counts and outstanding competition. Pat Jordan of Richford, N.Y., drove to the championship in his self-owned No. 25 car. Jordan, the former Afton Speedway promoter, returned to racing midway through the ’14 campaign after purchasing a car and crate engine. Jordan made the called Thunder Mountain “home” this season and edged Brian Mady in the race for the crown.

Jordan earned 883 points over Mady’s total of 837. Completing the top five were freshman driver Shayne Spoonhower, a first-time winner during the year, with 816 points, Street Stock graduate Daryl Krebs (753) and Four Cylinder transplant Isaiah Forward (667).

The remainder of the top-10 was as follows: rookie Dustin Jordan (652 points), Adam Hilton (624), Dan Pease (599), Joshua Underwood (378) and Randy Gates (375).

Utilizing a single victory and consistent performances, Shawn Davis of Berkshire, N.Y., took the Rookie Sportsman title. Davis, driving the No. 219, finished the season with a 53-point edge over leading winner Coty Bishop (804-751). Receiving recognition for top-five finishes were Kinser Hill (731), Dayton Coney (570) and Tyler Keener (551).

In a dominant performance, Steven Deinhardt of Deposit, N.Y., recorded his second consecutive title in the Barrett’s Race Cars and Components Street Stock division. Deinhardt, earning 923 points, took top honors by a massive 145-point margin over a tie for second in the standings involving Donald Russell and veteran Rich Sharpsteen, both with 778 points.

Trevor Dudley, moving up from the Four Cylinder division, finished fourth (708 points) and Jonathan Carpenter completed the front five (664). Earl Zimmer (650), Matt Spencer (647), John Cooper Jr. (584), Shane Wolf Jr. (509) and Rick Sinsabaugh (470) rounded out the top-10.

Another first-year division on the Mountain – Doug Borger’s XCel 600 Modifieds – found its home on the wide and racy facility. Will Eastman of Oneonta, N.Y., etched his name as the champion driving for Jim Loux. Eastman edged Brian Mady by 136 points (866-730). Doug Windhausen (686 points), Joe McCabe (648) and Eric Boyd (604) completed the front five. Lauded for their sixth-10th-place efforts were Tom Shiner (559), Bailey Boyd (520), Kamdin Maby (491), A.J. Miller (481) and Dana Davis (479).

The XCel 600 Modified drivers will receive their point fund money at the division’s upcoming Awards Banquet on Dec. 5.

Dylan Robinson of Harpursville, N.Y., made the decision to call Thunder Mountain his Saturday night stomping grounds for ’15 and walked off with the FWD Four Cylinder championship. Robinson won by a healthy 72-point margin over Guy Raymond Jr. (719-647). Drivers rounding out the top-10 in the order of finish were Gabe Forward (586), Nick Kennedy (543), Chris Taylor (541), Keith Potter (536), Willy Turner (388), Brian Nornhold (352), Mike Robinson (344) and C.J. Wheeland (312).

A number of special awards were presented in addition to top performers in the point standings.

Modified driver Brian Malcolm was bestowed with the track’s Sportsmanship Award for his positive attitude and contributions to the speedway throughout the season.

The Car Owner of the Year Award went to Mike Costello, the owner of Chad Cook’s potent No. 222 Modified.

Receiving the Hard Luck Award was Sportsman campaigner Larry Hillis, who persevered through numerous misfortunes during the season.

Best Appearing Car Awards went to Ryan Jordan (Modified), Kenny Hammond (Open Sportsman), Brian Mady (Crate 602 Sportsman), Coty Bishop (Rookie Sportsman), Matt Spencer (Street Stock), Doug Windhausen (XCel 600 Modified) and Dylan Robinson (FWD Four Cylinder).

Those recognized as Rookie of the Year recipients were Colton Wilson (Modified), Nick Mady (Open Sportsman), Shayne Spoonhower (Crate 602 Sportsman), Trevor Dudley (Street Stock), Eric Boyd (XCel 600 Modified) and Willy Turner (FWD Four Cylinder).

B&G Tunes provided music for dancing following the presentation of awards.

For Thunder Mountain Speedway general information and a complete schedule, visit www.thundermtnspeedway.com. The speedway office number is 607.657.8202. On race day, call 607.849.7899. The speedway e-mail is thundermtnspeedway@gmail.com.  “Like” Thunder Mountain Speedway on Facebook or follow @thundermtnspeed on Twitter.

Thunder Mountain Speedway is located at 91 Hunts Corners Road Center Lisle, NY 13797, approximately 25 miles north of Binghamton. The three-eighths-mile clay oval features hillside concrete seating, free parking and camping, a variety of concession items and novelties, a family environment and more.

THUNDER THOUGHTS: Karl Spoonhower thanked all those in attendance for their support and pledged bigger and better things for 2016. More than 100 loads of fresh clay have been distributed on the speedway with increased banking added to the corners to produce additional side-by-side racing….

It was announced that all divisions will return in ’16 with no rule changes planned. Opening Day is set for April 30, 2016 with a practice session planned a week prior on April 23….

Contributors to the speedway point fund included American Racer/Lias Tire, VP Racing Fuels and the weekly 50/50 raffles….

Champions received Trackside Products embroidered jackets, trophies and photo collages created by track photographer Scott Seward. Ron Hills of the Race Report filmed the night’s events….

OPEN SPORTSMAN TO RETURN TO WEEKLY COMPETITION AT UTICA-ROME SPEEDWAY IN 2016 WITH SOME MINOR RULE CHANGES

VERNON, NY- As the 2015 Utica-Rome Speedway season came to a close, many competitors in the Open Sportsman started to think ahead to the 2016 season and wondered if they would be part of the speedway’s weekly program.  After a rules forum with drivers on November 1, speedway has given the division a vote of confidence for the 2016 season as they will again be part of the weekly NASCAR Whelen All-American Series schedule.
Track owners Bill and Kim Shea, along with several of the track officials, were on hand to listen to the drivers concerns.  The decision has been made to align the rules to those being used at the Southern Tier tracks where car counts are stronger.  The Spec motor that has been allowed for the past several seasons will now not be legal for use next season.  Also, the 180cc or 200cc heads will be allowed with both having to weigh a minimum of 2,450 lbs.  Also, the only carburetor allowed will be the 2 barrel Holley #4412 with no alterations.  The Ultra or HP is not currently allowed.  For any technical questions, please call Bernie Lukas at (315)271-3068.  Full rules will be posted in the coming weeks.
“We really wanted to give the Open Sportsman guys a chance,” stated Bill Shea.  “The meeting was really positive and it showed they wanted to see the division succeed as much as we do.  Hopefully by getting back in line with the other tracks that run Open Sportsman, we can give more drivers an opportunity to race with us.”
The Utica-Rome Speedway will kick off their 2016 campaign on Sunday April 17.  To keep up to date on any off season news, please log on to www.uticaromespeedway.com or call the speedway office at (315)829-4557.

 

Earl Paules, Paul Koehler Jr., Zach Graver, Ricky Yetter, Cody Kohler and Cody Geist Honored as 2015 Track Champions at Mahoning Valley Speedway Awards Banquet

By DINO OBERTO

(NORTHAMPTON, Pa. 11-5-15) Mahoning Valley Speedway division champions, drivers, teams, fans and staff gathered on Saturday evening to celebrate the 2015 season which was held at the Northampton Community Center in Northampton.

While the focus was centered on the six class titleholders, drivers from the top 10 in each class also got their just rewards in terms of point fund money and trophies. There were also numerous special awards presented to deserving individuals.

Modified and Late Model titlists Earl Paules and Paul Koehler Jr., can certainly be considered the benchmark of champions. Between them they have nine Mahoning Valley championships and combined for nearly 150 feature wins.

Journeyman Dirt Modified driver Ricky Yetter vowed that with this being his final season of racing he was going all out as a champion. A tall order indeed but Yetter was a man of his word.

Zach Graver – Street Stocks, Cody Kohler – Pro 4 and Cody Geist – Hobby Stock, are the future of racing at Mahoning Valley. Each notched what could easily be the first of many more championships for this very talented group.

Paules’ title came on the heels of one of the closest point battles in years as five drivers went into the final race with hopes of securing the number one ranking. Runner-up Austin Kochenash was the one driver with the best shot of unseating Paules and he came oh-so-close, winning the final event but when Paules finished in fourth, which was his class leading 16th top-5, it was all he needed to claim his second Mahoning Modified title and fifth overall in the past four years.

The Late Model division was to a tale of two drivers. Koehler and Mike Sweeney. They would rack up 17 feature wins, seven going to Koehler. The real difference was eight runner-ups to Koehler as compared to three for Sweeney that helped cinch his fourth career title. Koehler also added to his all-time Late Model win list, taking the mark up to 47.

Since coming to race on Mahoning’s pavement in 2012 Yetter has been one of the stars of the Lehighton ¼-mile oval. He has also been in some of the close point bouts as well. This year he made it known that win, loose of draw, 2015 would be his final season of racing.

Everyone, including Yetter, knew that settling for anything less than number one would be an unfulfilling ending to a great career.

Yetter would start out the year winning his heat race and take the point lead with it. From that point on there was no looking back. He stayed atop the points for 20 consecutive weeks and in the process won a class leading seven times including a record four in a row. He capped off the year by winning the Octoberfast 50 lapper for a second straight time.

Mahoning Valley’s Street Stock division is arguably one of the best support classes in short track racing. Full fields every week and 19 different winners in 2015 can attest to that.

However, for the second time in as many years the point champion was not among the victors. None the less Graver put up a whale of a dogfight with runner-up Randy Schlenker, who was also win-less. Despite that they brought there title fight right down to the last lap of the last race. Graver would beat Schlenker by one spot in the final feature and it was just enough to garner his career first championship, a well-earned and deserving one at that.

Kohler won the Pro 4 title on the strength of three wins and 18 top-5s in 21 starts. He edged veteran Bobby Kibler Sr., by less than 20 points. He finished ever race in the top-10.

There is no doubt that 17-year old Kohler has made his mark as one of the rising stars of Mahoning Valley Speedway. In a short period of time he has matured into a well-polished stock car driver and can look forward to more wins and titles.

The Hobby Stocks finished out there third year of existence and by far the most competitive as a record nine different drivers visited Victory Lane and five different drivers led the standings.

Champion Cody Geist was one of them and although his older brother, Shayne Geist, led the way with five wins, it was the consistency by C. Geist that enabled him the bring another championship into the Guest household and follow in the footsteps of his famous dad, “Hollywood” Todd Geist.

  1. Geist had an unprecedented 18 top-5 and 20 top-10s in 21 starts. By reeling off finishes of fifth or better over the final half dozen events, it was the key to beating out his brother and everyone else in a most commendable effort.

Two special series events where held this past season. The Central States Modified Gamblers Series and the American Rental Street Stock Gamblers Series. Run under a poker card format, select races where held in which drivers earned cards and then tallied the best hand.

Eric Kocher reaped in $2000 for the Modifieds while veteran Street Stock campaigner Todd Ahner collected $800 for his winning hand.

Rookie of the Year honors where bestowed upon Paul Frantz, Broc Brown, Cory Edelman, Lorin Arthofer II, Johnny Bennett and Kyle Krempasky in the Modifieds, Late Models, Street Stocks, Dirt Mods, Pro 4s and Hobby Stocks respectively.

Most Improved Driver awards went to Jacob Kerstetter – Late Model, Gene Bowers – Street Stock, Ray Deemer – Dirt Mod, Cody Kohler – Pro 4 and Shayne Geist – Hobby Stock.

S & D Bodyline sponsored the Best Appearing Car Award. In the Modifieds it was the No. 01 of Kris Graver. The No. 98 of Jeremy Miller in Late Models. TJ Gursky’s No. 19 in Street Stock. The No. 615 Dirt Mod of Dave Gorbatuk. Nick Baer, Pro 4 No. 41 and the No. 19 Hobby Stock of Kyle Krempasky.

Checkered Flag Fan Club Vice President and Mahoning’s Chief Starter Bobby Stull presented race director Tim Santee with the club’s Service Appreciation Award.

Mahoning Valley Speedway has set Saturday, April 9, 2016 as its season opener which will feature a Race of Champions Tour event as the lid-lifter.

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