Chip Brindle of Chatsworth, GA was the guest of honor at the Wednesday night banquet, as he picked up his $20,000 check out of the $50,000 point fund for winning the 2008 NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series National Championship. Brindle also collected a new GM Performance 604 Crate Engine and a new Mastersbilt Chassis.
Larry Boutwell of Baker, FL was the National Championship Runner-Up, and he told the gathering that he would be back in 2009 to try and move up one more spot in the point standings. Scott Knowles of Lanett, AL finished third in the National points chase, and won the Sunoco Race Fuels Rookie of the Year Award.
Knowles also received a special award and a new Warrior Chassis from Sanford Goddard of Goddard Performance of Knoxville, TN. Knowles said he would be trying to follow in Brindle’s footsteps. Brindle won the Rookie of the Year Award in 2007, and then followed that up by winning the championship the next year.
Bill and Debbie Edge of Penton Raceway in Penton, AL and Beverly Thompson of East Alabama Motor Speedway in Phenix City, AL shared the NeSmith Chevrolet Weekly Racing Series Promoter of the Year Award.
“These neighboring tracks, with Penton racing on Friday nights and East Alabama Motor Speedway racing on Saturday nights, have set the standard of working together and helping each other with their weekly and national events,” NeSmith Chevrolet DLMS Founder and Director Mike Vaughn said. “They have practiced what we’ve preached to our Weekly Racing Series tracks in all areas of operation.”
GM Performance Director Bill Martens addressed the gathering at the banquet announcing that despite all of the rumors floating around and news reports about General Motors’ financial problems, that the GM Performance Crate Engine program is not going anywhere, and that it remains strong within the corporation.
Martens also presented NeSmith Chevrolet Parts Director David Anderson with the GM Performance Top Seller Award at the Awards Banquet. In accepting the award, Anderson announced that NeSmith Chevrolet would continue its Title Sponsorship role with the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series in 2009.
Vaughn and Anderson also announced the NeSmith Chevrolet Rewards Program for NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series members in 2009. Series members that purchase engines, parts and vehicles from NeSmith Chevrolet will earn points that will give them a chance to win prizes from the Claxton, GA dealership, with the top prize being a full inclusive trip for four to Cancun, Mexico.
In his “State of the Series” Address to the banquet attendees, Vaughn said that 2008 was rough year for the series with the weather and the sluggish economy paying a key role. He said for 2009, the series schedule is being put together to involve more races with less travel.
“We will have multiple events at tracks on the same weekend, or events within 50 miles of each other on the same weekend,” Vaughn said. “Right now, we have 23 events booked over 12 weekends. We’re still booking races, and the 2009 schedule will be announcing the schedule next week.”
Warrior Race Cars produced by Goddard Performance of Knoxville, TN won the 2008 NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series National Chassis Manufacturers Award. Warrior was victorious in one-third of the NeSmith Chevrolet DLMS National events, having five wins during the 15-race season.
Sanford Goddard of Warrior Race Cars brought two special guests with him to the Awards Banquet, with National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame Inductee Ronnie Johnson of Chattanooga, TN and former Hav-A-Tampa Late Model Champion Dale McDowell of Rossville, GA joining Goddard at his table.
Matthew Turner of Dawsonville, GA received the Ironman Award at the banquet. Turner is the only driver that has participated in every NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series event since the series’ inception in 2005.
Adam Martin of Talladega, AL and Jim McDuffie of Meridian, MS picked up their awards for winning the East and West Regions respectively of the NeSmith Chevrolet Weekly Racing Series. Each driver received a $3,000 cash award and a new GM Performance 604 Engine. Martin won a GRT Chassis, and McDuffie won a Trak-Star Chassis.
NeSmith Chevrolet WRS Regional Runner-Ups Richie Stephens of Phenix City, AL in the East Region, and two-time West Region Champion Lucky Keeton of Toomsuba, MS in the West Region were also on hand to pick up their awards. Keeton spent some time with Martin before the banquet in preparing him for the PRI Show in Orlando.
“Since it was Martin’s first time on the National stage in winning the NeSmith Chevrolet WRS East Region title, it was good to see Keeton, who is a two-time champion, spend some time with a new champion,” NeSmith Chevrolet WRS Director Roby Helm said. “That’s the mark of a true champion when you can come back and give some good productive advice to a new champion.”