By Bob Finan
Friday evening December 13th the twelve champions of the just completed 2019 race season at Riverhead Raceway will be honored for their championship season at the 2019 Awards Ceremony hosted by track owners Eddie & Connie Partridge and Tom Gatz at Giorgio’s of Baiting Hollow. Aside from their 2019 championship plaques the seven champions of the NASCAR Whelen All American Series will receive Riverhead Raceway championship rings with Kyle Soper of the Manorville leading the 2019 “parade of champions” after securing his second straight NASCAR Modified championship for car owners Wayne & Joette Anderson. The top five drivers in the seven NASCAR & INEX classes will also receive point fund checks along with a plaque.
In route to his second consecutive NASCAR Modified title 23-year old Kyle Soper got off to a fast start in 2019 winning a majority of his season total seven wins in the first two months of the campaign. Aside from his championship plaque and ring Soper will again be presented with the perpetual Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Long Island Driver’s Cup. Among Kyle’s 2019 triumphs was the $7,000 to win Islip 300 in June and for the second year in a row Soper and his Eastport Feeds team won the 2019 New York State championship in the NASCAR Whelen All American Series. Over the past three seasons at Riverhead Soper has won four championships. Aside from his 2018 and 2019 NASCAR Modified titles Soper won the 2017 & 2018 Late Model crown for car owner Rob Pelis.
The Rob Peiis streak as a championship Late Model car owner continued in fine fashion in 2019 with his driver Jeremy McDermott of Riverhead narrowly edging out Chris Turbush of Wading Riverhead by 4 markers. Much like Soper in the Modifieds, McDermott got off to a fast start in the Late Models winning most of his 8 races on the year prior to the 4th of July. The 2019 crown is the fourth of Jeremy’s career who with his eight wins on the year set a new standard for Late Model wins in a single season at the track. For the third time in four years “The Fancy Farmer” Dave Brigati of Calverton won the Crate Modified championship utilizing a formula of consistent finishes during the summer to capture the title. Dave won once during the championship run.
One driver who stayed hot throughout his 2019 championship run was Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead who for the third year in a row won the Figure Eight championship with car owner Keith Repp, Tom’s sixth career title in the class. Tom dominated the action winning 10 of 13 race contested and he will also be presented with the Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Long Island Figure Eight Driver’s Cup. Rogers is also a four time NASCAR Modified and one time Late Model champion at Riverhead Raceway. Another driver basking in the light of a sixth career track championship is 2019 Blunderbust kingpin “Slick Pick” Tom Pickerell of Huntington. Tom, a second generation driver tallied four victories in 2019. For the second year in a row Mark Stewart of Riverhead captured the Super Pro Truck championship for he and owner Andre Vega notching four wins along the way. “Big Money” Richie Davidowitz of East Moriches became the all time leading winner in the INEX Legend Race Car ranks during his 5 win season that produced the soft spoke driver’s first career track championship. Richie and his father Wally are a two man low budget effort that win more often than not.
Batting .500 during the 2019 Street Stock season Eric Zeh of Selden and his Frank Curtis Motorsports team captured the 2019 Street Stock championship on the strength of 5 wins in 10 races for his first career title in the three year old division. Having enjoyed success in various forms of Enduro racing in years prior Joe Warren Jr. of Ridge burst upon the Mini Stock scene in a big way winning 7 times to secure the 2019 championship. Warren is now also the all time leading winner in the class that started in 2017. Phil LaManna of Smithtown notched his first career Truck Enduro championship while Jared Halsey of Southampton won the 8-Cylinder Enduro crown for the second year in a row while Christian Conklin of Riverhead repeated his 2018 Gut & Go Enduro championship again in 2019.
In addition to the 2019 champions the top five drivers from each of the 12 racing divisions will be presented plaques for their accomplishments with the 2019 Rookie of the Year drivers names for the NASCAR Whelen All American Series and INEX classes. In the days to come the 2nd annual Most Popular Driver voting will begin at www.riverheadraceway.com with the winners to be recognized at the 2019 Riverhead Raceway Awards Ceremony.
The 4th annual Riverhead Raceway Awards Ceremony will start with cocktail hour at 7:00 pm with an open bar continuing throughout the affair that concludes at midnight.. Once the staff of Giorgio’s have taken entree orders at 8:00 pm the awards ceremony and dinner will commence. The band Noiz will be back to provide the musical entertainment for your listening and dancing pleasure during the course of the festive night.
Tickets are $90 per person and are now available for purchase. To obtain tickets please make a check payable to Riverhead Raceway Inc. and forward it to PO Box 1743, Riverhead, NY 11901. Please note how many tickets you require and the race team or driver you are aligned with. Tickets can also be purchased in person Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm by visiting track GM John Ellwood at Riverhead Raceway.