One of the most time-honored traditions in northeast motor racing took place on Saturday evening as the Checkered Flag Fan Club (CFFC) conducted their 63rd Annual Banquet. Held at the Kutztown Fire Company Hall in Kutztown, nearly 250 guests were in attendance for the gala affair that pays tribute to regional track and touring series champions as well as number of special awards to very select individuals.
CFFC Vice President Bob Stull led the way from the podium as emcee and did an excellent job of calling up the 2014 respective titleholders. He personally recognized each one for their accomplishments. All champions, upon stepping forward, were awarded with a very unique driver’s helmet statue.
Following the accolades of the champions the special awards portion took place and as always the case the recipients are not aware of getting the deserving honors until hearing their name called.
The Anne Pouleson Award, which is named in honor of the late past president and longtime driving force behind the club, was given to Linda Batz. Batz is the promoter at Linda’s Speedway in Johnstown where the heart and soul of Micro Sprint racing lives and breathes quite successfully every Friday night during race season. She was quick to recognize her son, Mike Batz, who works tirelessly by her side as well as all of the teams that support the track.
The Bob Pouleson Memorial Award, sponsored by S & D Bodyline, is named for the late open wheel car owner and husband to Anne Pouleson, who together founded the club in 1951. The award was presented to Mahoning Valley Speedway promoter Floyd Santee. Santee, in just his third year at the helm of the paved quarter mile oval in Lehighton, has elevated the facility to a new level of prominence among the nation’s short tracks.
Daniel Shelbo, former standout with the URC and USAC during the 1960s and ‘70s, was recipient of the Johnny Thomson Award which was sponsored by Bob Miller.
The Tommy Hinnershitz Award was presented to dirt Late Model star Scott Haus. Over the past 30 years of racing, Haus has etched his name into the record books of tracks all over the northeast, recording over 218 feature wins.
The Lentini Auto Salvage Dick “Toby” Tobias Award awardee was a surprise to Jim Keppley. Keppley was a popular figure in stock cars during
the era of the ‘60s and ‘70s and competed at such tracks as Reading, Penn National, Nazareth and others. Keppley was the 1971 track champion at Penn National.
Sponsored by Area Auto Racing News, the Walt Chernokal Memorial Press Award went to motorsports media authority Ernie Saxton. Saxton is well known and respected across the country for his years of auto racing coverage. He is also a distinguished race announcer and public relations expert. Saxton is a past president of the Eastern Motorsport Press Association and continues to pen weekly race columns in a number of publications both regionally and nationally.
After a tremendous season of wheeling a dirt Modified, Billy Pauch Jr., received the Most Improved Driver Award for stock cars. The award was sponsored by R.S. Enterprises.
In the open wheel category the honor went to 600cc Micro Sprint hot-shoe James Morris.
Ron Totten, who was the top wrench for Pauch Jr., was selected as the Mechanic of the Year. The award was sponsored by Bernie Uphold Racing.
After reeling off seven consecutive feature wins in the Hobby Stock class at Mahoning Valley Speedway and finishing a solid second in points, Rich Mutarelli was named as the Roy Danner Paving sponsored Rookie of the Year.
The concept behind the CFFC is to promote the interest and welfare of auto racing, better and safer auto racing, better sportsmanship in auto racing and make awards to outstanding sportsmen in auto racing and for the appearance of cars, drivers and crews.