---- — By The Daily Item
HERSHEY -- Selinsgrove Speedway and Raceway Park wrapped up the 2012 season, which marked the track's 50th consecutive year of operation, with the 12th annual awards banquet, recognized and celebrating the year's top performing race teams in the track's 358 sprint car, late model, pro stock, roadrunner, micro sprint car, and go-kart classes.
Track champions Pat Cannon of Etters (358 sprint cars), Jeff Rine of Danville (late models), A.J. Hoffman of Richfield (pro stocks), Bob Bussey of Northumberland (roadrunners), and Tyler Snook of Beavertown (micro sprint cars) each received championship rings from Foss Jewelers of Selinsgrove.
Cannon clinched his third career Selinsgrove title in the A&A Auto Stores 358 sprint cars. He joins Chad Layton of Harrisburg and Blane Heimbach of Selinsgrove as the only three three-time 358 sprint car champions at the track. This season Cannon won 10 races at Selinsgrove, including seven in 358 sprint competition, two in 360-powered sprints, and one in 410 sprint car racing. In 358-360 sprint car action, Cannon recorded 20 top-5 finishes out of 23 races. He ended the season as the track's all-time winner in 358 sprint racing with 41 career victories.
In addition, Cannon clinched the Hoosier Tire Mid-Atlantic Overall Central PA 358 sprint car title and edged out Eric Tomecek of Abbottstown for this year's 358 sprint car title at Williams Grove Speedway.
In the Jeff's Auto Body & Recycling Center late model division, Rine recorded his eighth career title with 17 top-five finishes, including seven feature wins, in the division's 21 races. With this year's championship, Rine tied Nescopeck's Richie Jensen for the most consecutive titles (six) and Nescopeck's Bobby Croop for the most career titles (eight) at the track. He enters next season on top of the division's all-time win list with 79.
Hoffman became the second driver to win three Salem RV Center/Byer's Built Engines pro stock titles, joining Troy Miller, and the first to win all three consecutively. With his move to the late model division in 2013, Hoffman ended his last season of pro stock racing with five wins and 17 top-5 finishes in the 19 races. He is the division's all-time career leading feature winner with 41.
In the Collier Paving & Construction roadrunners, Bussey was honored for his second straight title in the division. The second-generation driver nearly doubled last year's five-win season with nine victories in 2012. He competed in all 21 races and posted 18 top-5 finishes.
Special recognition awards were also presented in the following categories: most improved driver awards went to Derek Locke (sprints), Jim Bernheisel (late models), Pete Lauver (pro stocks), and Matt Lawrence (roadrunners). Sportsman Of The Year plaques (in memory of Joe Whitcomb) were awarded to Jason Shultz (sprints), Dave Zona (late models), Nathan Long (pro stocks) and Larry Alvord (roadrunners). Rookie Of The Year honors went to Hayes Mattern (pro stocks) and Curtis Lawton (roadrunners). There were no 358 sprint car and late model rookies in 2012.
For the Selinsgrove Raceway Park portion of the awards ceremony, there were nine first-time champions this season. Tyler Snook of Beavertown was honored for his first career championship in the Selinsgrove Ford 270cc micro sprint car division. Snook, a former go-kart champion, recorded 13 top-five finishes, including four feature wins, in the division's 20 events.
Jessica Miller of Sunbury won her second career title in the 125cc micro sprint car division with 11 victories during the season.
Go-kart champions were recognized in their respective divisions as follows: Timmy Bittner (kid karts), Gannon Steimling (rookie cage 5-8), Grace Long (rookie cage 9-12), Neil Kitner (jr. restricted lites), Tyler Feltman (rookies 2), Drew Trego (jr. cage), Tyler Brown (lites), Andrew Yoder (mediums), Dale Barge (heavies), Chuck Paige (extra heavies), Dalton Benner (adult cage animal), Matt Miller (flat 350) and Darian Trego (senior clones).
The annual motorsports show at the Susquehanna Valley Mall, Hummels Wharf, will be held Sunday, March 3 through Friday, March 8. Teams interested in placing their race car on display may contact public relations director Steve Inch after Jan. 1.
Selinsgrove Speedway will open the 2013 season at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 10, with 410 sprint cars.
The sixth annual Icebreaker Weekend for Modifieds is slated for Friday, March 15, at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, March 16, at 4 p.m. Friday night's show will feature the 358 modifieds, while Saturday afternoon's program will mark the sixth running of the Icebreaker 40 for big block modifieds.
The 358 sprint cars, late models and pro stocks will make their season starts at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 23. The season's first four-division show of 358 sprint cars, late models, pro stocks and roadrunners is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday, April 6.
Selinsgrove Raceway Park will open its 13th season of go-kart racing at 7 p.m. Friday, March 22. The micro sprint cars will join the go-karts beginning Friday, March 29.
Big Diamonod Speedway sold
MINERSVILLE -- For the first time in its history, the Big Diamond Speedway will open the 2013 season under new ownership.
The sale of the 3/8th-mile oval track to Jake Smully and his wife, Jasmine, finalized nearly two weeks ago, marked the end of an era for promoter and founder Fritz Roehrig and his wife, Krista.
Fritz Roehrig cited health reasons for making the move after more than 40 years of operating the facility.
Plans are already underway for the 2013 schedule, which will include the headlining 358 modifieds, sportsman and roadrunner divisions. The 358 modifieds will continue to race for $2,750 to win a regular 25-lap feature. Sportsman will be racing for $600 to win a regular 20-lap event, while the roadrunners will compete for $225 for their weekly 20-lap feature. Plans for several visiting divisions to complement the Friday evening shows, along with several other special races are in the works. Already in place is an eight-race Friday night Street Stock series. Opening day will be Sunday, March 24.