A Night to Celebrate Another Decade of Champions in the Books
Mohnton, Pa – This past weekend was the perfect ending to the 2019 season and a jump start to the upcoming year.
Saturday morning started with the 2020 Money Trail Racer Meeting. The management team stood in front of the eager racers and explained changes for the season. Changes included entry fees, dates, Money Trail memberships and points. Other topics like safety equipment, racer incentives and bracket finals were also discussed. The meeting ended with about 20 minutes for questions from the racers. Some of the questions raised were regarding run times, buybacks, run order and the status of the track being for sale.
The racers reconvened a few hours later for the start of the 2019 Annual Money Trail Awards Banquet. During cocktail hour, racers, family, staff and sponsors socialized and mingled around the over 55 raffle items. The items were graciously donated by our sponsors, local businesses and racers. All the proceeds raised from the basket raffle went directly to Team Maple Grove.
Everyone was asked to find their seats in order for Pastor Mark Beideman to give the invocation. He also made a moment of silence to remember those lost in 2019. The next hour guests enjoyed a tasty buffet that included turkey and prime rib.
After dinner, Andy Anderson, the master of ceremonies for the evening took to the stage to officially begin the awards presentation. He opened up by announcing the return of the class sponsors, Scott’s Transmission, ATI Performance Products, PCRichard.com, Reading Standard Motorsports, SRS Fitness and Quantum Acquisitions. Over 300 racers joined the 2019 Money Trail program and the top 65 racers were awarded with over $50,000 in cash, trophies and awards.
Ken Hall, Director of Sales and Sponsorship, went on stage to award the Champions and top finishers of the Top Challenge Series. Ron Reigel of Fairless Hills, Pa. took home his third consecutive Top Sportsman track championship by finishing 27 points ahead of John Tiniakos. Next up was Top Dragster, where Michael Morris racked up 126 points during the season.
Ken Hall passed the microphone to weekly Maple Grove Raceway Announcer, Roger Leister who began to introduce the awards for the Sunoco Race Fuels ET Series, starting with the Junior programs. Each of the top five juniors in the Junior Street class and the top ten in the Junior Dragster class each received a racing jacket courtesy of JEGs Performance. First time track champion, Taylor Zajac had a successful season by not only earing her first track championship but also claiming her first ever career win. The 16-year-old, Miss Zajac held off second place finisher Nicholas Bealer by seven points and third place finisher, Layla Gockley by a solid 19 points.
Continuing with the Junior program, Leister took a moment to recognize the Juniors for their accomplishments during the 2019 season. Chris Smolenski, won the Race of
Champions at the Junior Drag Racing League Divisional. Smolenski was recognized for his accomplishment during the NHRA Northeast Division banquet in January at the Hershey Lodge. Third place finisher, Matthew Witkowski held a dominant stand as the points leader most of the season. At the last points race is was down to the wire and the “Stealth” Richie Fluck came out of the blue and stole the lead away from Witkowski. Not only did Fluck walk away with the Championship in Junior Dragster. He finished with a 41-point difference between second place finisher, Chris Smolenski.
Leister proceeded with the awards by introducing the SRS Fitness/ Custom Chassis & Performance Pro Dial finishers. Both third place finisher, John Seiverling and second place finisher, Don Garloff both went on stage to accept their awards. The Pro Dial Champion, Dan Walleigh went up and graciously accepted his award by giving a heartwarming speech thanking his team, most importantly, Louie Battle.
As the night continued Leister announced the top five finishers in Top Bike. Danny Boyer of York, Pa, finished the season with 373 points, being named champion over second place finisher, Shane Hartman and third place finisher and Savage61 Ram Top Bike Incentive Winner Kevin Twardowski.
The father and son duo of Paul and Adam Werner drove to a one-two finish in the PCRichard.com Sportsman eliminator. The Sinking Spring resident, Paul dominated this season with a 100-point finish over his son and winning the Sportsman ET Bracket Finals in September.
In the ATI Performance Products Pro eliminator, Brock Moshier of Reinholds, Pa had himself a busy year by not only opening his own restaurant in Schafferstown called The Franklin House Tavern, but also earning a class Championship. Second place finisher, Jake Knarr had a consistent year which earned him a solid finish above third place finisher, Jayme Colon.
The last set of racer awards to be presented was the Scott’s Transmission Super Pro eliminator. Bob Murphy of Dowington, Pa., kept his head in the game all season to claim the championship with 492 points. But Kevin Robb of Denver, Pa. didn’t let him have that championship easily. Robb kept knocking on the first-place door all the way until the end.
Leister handed the microphone over to Ken Hall, who promoted and presented the 2019 Racer Incentive Programs. He started by explaining the T.P. Trailers & Truck Equipment, Inc. Bonus Incentive. How it started in 2019 and that it will continue for the 2020 season. He then recognized and congratulated Sportman racer, Brandon Wentzel on his winning the Super64. Wentzel not only earned himself a check for $2,500. He also was presented with a Christmas Tree trophy engraved courtesy of S&W Race Cars.
Hall introduced Betsy Witmer, Assistant General Manager to the stage to recognize the staff and present the 2019 Walk of Fame award. Witmer asked all the staff to stand, then the racers and finally the sponsors. She went on to express her gratitude to each and every one of the individuals standing. She said, “It is because of each and every one of you that the management team was able to accept the 2019 NHRA Northeast Division Dragstrip of the Year award. So, thank you!” Witmer went on to single out one person in particular who has been influential at Maple Grove Raceway for over 20 years. She described this person as a family man, passionate about the sport and racers, extremely funny, a loving husband, father and grandfather. Witmer said, “With that being said, Maple Grove Raceway would like to present the 2019 Walk of Fame award to the Voice of Maple Grove, Roger Leister.” Leister, was completely surprised with this award and was absolutely humbled as he walked to the stage as all the guests erupted in cheers.
Tricia Gockley, Race Director, was the next to the stage to present the Appreciation and Ambassador Awards. Gockley presented Austin Youndt and Paul Werner each with a custom Maple Grove Raceway award designed by S&W Performance. Youndt was awarded with an Appreciation award for his 2019 Summit Racing ET Bracket Finals Win Pro Eliminator. Werner’s Appreciation award was for his 2019 Summit Racing ET Bracket Finals Win in Sportsman Eliminator. Maple Grove Raceway employee, John Miller was awarded with an Appreciation award for his countless years of service on the Maple Grove Raceway Safety Truck. Gockley went on to surprise one young man in attendance with the 2019 Ambassador Award for his continued support and dedication to Maple Grove Raceway. He is also an exemplary individual at prompting the motorsports industry, Maple Grove Raceway and the weekly racers. Billy Kleinspehn, has worked at Maple Grove Raceway for nine years. He can be found down at Tech, Staging Lanes, the Office and has been known to make an appearance or two at the Top of the Tower. Kleinspehn was stunned when his name was announced and there was not a quiet person in that room as he made his way to the stage.
Andy Anderson, then announced the Safeco Insurance Best Appearing Car for 2019. This year Maple Grove Raceway decided to change up the Best Appearing Car selection. There were four categories, meaning there were four different Best Appearing Car winners. The four groups included: Overall Best Appearing, Junior Street, Junior Dragster and Top Bike. The two nominees for Junior Street were, Sarah Jo Hankinson and Layla Gockley. The two nominees for Junior Dragster were Paisley Anderson and Bethany Fluck. The two nominees for Top Bike were Shane Hartman and Cory Stuebner. And finally, the two nominees for Overall Best appearing were Marty Flegal and Randy Krause. Layla Gockley won for Junior Street, Paisley Anderson in Junior Dragster, Cory Stuebner in Top Bike and the Overall Best Appearing was Marty Flegal.
Anderson continued presenting awards with the balloted awards portion which is voted on by the 2019 Money Trail Members to determine the 2020 All Star Team. Drivers were selected from each class of the Sunoco Race Fuels ET Series and recognized as Tree Sniper, Finish Line Magician and Ticket Printer for the 2019 season. The results were, Super Pro Tree Sniper — John McClure, Finish Line Magician — Brock Moshier, Ticket Printer — Randy Krause, Pro Tree Sniper — Jake Knarr, Finish Line Magician — Dan Walleigh, Ticket Printer — Austin Youndt, Sportsman Tree Sniper – Dave Raser, Finish Line Magician — Adam Werner, Ticket Printer — David Sciarretta, Bike Tree Sniper — Joe Stuebner, Finish Line Magician — Bruce Gockley, Ticket Printer — Kyle Gockley, Junior Dragster Tree Sniper —Matthew Witkowski, Finish Line Magician — Richie Fluck, Ticket Printer — Kelsey Brinckman. Junior Street Tree Sniper —Layla Gockley, Finish Line Magician — Ava Werner, Ticket Printer — Austin Youndt. Other awards were, Fastest Wrench at the Grove — Shawn Sweigert, Breakout Season — Rory Weney, Leading Lady — Kimberley Youndt, Track Kingpin — Paul Werner.
The Maple Grove Raceway Management team took the stage to switch up the night with a fun ending to the awards program. Ken Hall put on his auctioneer hat for a second year and conducted a live auction to benefit Team Maple Grove. A half scale replica of a Christmas Tree created by S&W Performance was the item up for auction. A couple hundred dollars was raised as a result of this action, which all that money went to go help Team Maple Grove during the 2020 season.
The night concluded with everyone socializing, dancing and checking their tickets to see if they won one of the fantastic raffle items in the back of the room. Overall it was one busy day for Maple Grove Raceway racers but one that is definitely looked forward to during this off season.