Shangri-La II Motor Speedway concluded its 2014 business with their annual Awards Banquet at the Best Western Grand Victorian Inn in Waverly, N.Y. Top drivers in the Four Cylinder, Sportsman Modified and Street Stock divisions were recognized, and many also picked up hardware for special achievements.
Following a cocktail hour and dinner, the focus shifted to the 2014 season. Long-time track announcer, Tom Cummings, emceed the banquet. The drivers, race teams, fans and sponsors were thanked for their support in 2014.
Gene Purvis, who backed up his 2013 Four Cylinder Stock Championship with another one, had a dream season in winning every points-paying event he entered. His impressive stats were realized even as he encouraged others to race there and build the division.
Others on hand included Nick Morich (2nd), Alan Blackwell (3rd), Duane Bailey (4th), Devon Bailey (5th), Joe Lane (7th) and John Maynard (9th). Purvis won Best Appearing Four Cylinder and Duane Bailey was the top rookie.
TJ Zacharias, the 2014 Sportsman Modified Champion, became the third member of the Zacharias family to earn the division title at Shangri-la II. His uncle Rick won in the inaugural season (2009), and his brother Jimmy won back-to-back titles in 2010 and 2011.
Others on hand included Paul Johnson (2nd), Nick Morich (3rd), Connor Sellars (4th), Tommy Rought (5th), and Jimmy Zacharias (9th).
TJ Zacharias thanked his family and sponsors and gave a special award to Josh Sinsabaugh, who has been with his crew for years. Zacharias will be back to defend the title, this year with a Ford power plant. Connor Sellars won Best Appearing car while Nick Morich earned the top rookie award.
The track’s Street Stock division took the championship chase down to the final week. Jason Duke, Sr. edged out Bill Frisbee, Jr. in the last point race for the title. He spoke of the good season and that he wouldn’t be there without the help of his crew and Brian Nalepa.
Other Street Stock competitors on hand to pick up their trophies included Bill Frisbee, Jr. (2nd), Gary Noe (3rd), Billy Coyle (5th), and Brad Knapp (6th). Billy Coyle took home the plaque for Best Appearing Street Stock.
Track-wide awards, given to one driver in any division, were also handed out. It was a bit of a sweep for Coyle Racing, as Billy Coyle’s misfortunes earned him the Hard Luck Award. Scott Coyle was named Crew Chief of the Year for wrenching the 94 of his brother, Billy, and the 49 of Frisbee, Jr. Coyle’s sponsor, Mid-State Basement Authority, was named Sponsor of the Year. The company is on the car, sponsored a night of racing, and has upped their involvement this year for the track’s July 4th Anniversary Special.
Sportsman Modified driver Tommy Rought was named Most Improved Driver at the track, while Paul Johnson, also from the Sportsman Modified division, is the track’s 2014 Driver of the Year.
The Al Robinson Sportsmanship Award was presented to Four Cylinder driver Alan Blackwell, who often put work on his own car aside to help others in his division. Blackwell is from Wayne, Oklahoma, but is in the area working in the natural gas industry.
Robinson, the former track announcer who is now recuperating from a second stroke, was on hand to present the award. He also found himself on the receiving end of some hardware from TJ and Jimmy Zacharias. They presented him with a Dedication to Motorsports Award.
Kesha Sinsabaugh, who came on board as the track’s chief scorer and handicapper, won the Shirley Zacharias Memorial Women in Racing Award. Sinsabaugh learned the job very quickly despite being in the late stages of pregnancy. Jim Zacharias, the family patriarch, presented the award.
Other track employees were also honored for their work last season. Jerry Sinsabaugh and Tom Bellinger picked up Employee Appreciation hardware.
Tom Cummings, who announced that the banquet was his final assignment for the track, received an award for being the Employee of the Year. Cummings has been the lead announcer since the track opened in 2009. In an emotion-packed speech he said it’s time to focus more on family. Co-announcer, Carol Houssock, is also leaving the track due to the physical strain of announcing two nights in a row. Both will help out from time to time, as needed.
Race teams should note that both the Sportsman Modified and Street Stock divisions have rule changes in effect this year. For the Sportsman Modifieds, three important changes: a 2901 intake not allowed; a Chrysler engine package not allowed; and 486 is the only allowable gear. Street Stocks are subject to one change in that they can now use Gen3 Camaros.
The schedule is out and includes a pair of open practice sessions (May 2 and 9) in advance of the season opener on Mother’s Day (May 10). The track is also hosting two (2) events on the Sunoco Race of Champions Series tour, including the RoC season finale as part of the track’s annual Fall Brawl. RoC dates are May 24 and Oct. 4. The Big 10 Super Stocks will compete four times this year (May 23, June 20, Aug. 15 and Oct. 3).
Race teams and fans are encouraged to check out Shangri-la 2’s website www.shangrila-2.com for more information on rules and race dates and times.