DAWSONVILLE, GA – The NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series celebrated it 2012 Champions and Special Award winners amidst the special ambiance and atmosphere of the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame and Thunder Road USA Museum on Saturday night. Among the 200 guests were 27 of the 30 Top 10 drivers in the NeSmith Chevrolet DLMS Tour and Weekly Racing Series.
Dan Breuer of Troutman, NC picked up the NeSmith Cup and a $20,000 check for winning the 2012 NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series Touring Championship, while Jim McDuffie of Meridian, MS and Jimmy Elkins Jr. of Talladega, AL were honored as the NeSmith Chevrolet Weekly Racing Series West and East Region Champions respectively.
Both McDuffie, who won his second West Region title, and Elkins picked up checks for $5,000. Chase Edge of Lafayette, AL also received a $5,000 check for winning the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series Tour VP Racing Fuels Rookie of the Year Award.
After being awarded with the NeSmith Cup Championship Trophy and receiving a standing ovation, Breuer brought his entire AES Racing Crew to the stage, led by car owner and teammate Steve Cooke, who also finished seventh in the Touring points chase, and Crew Chief Nicky “Slim” Cochran, who was named the GM Performance Parts Crew Chief of the Year earlier in the evening.
“I’ve been racing a long time, and the 2011 season with the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series has been the most enjoyable experience I’ve ever had in racing,” Breuer said. “And it’s not just because we had a good year on the track, but it’s also because of the comrodary, sportsmanship, and professionalism with the other drivers and officials.”
Breuer said the road trips to the 17 NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series Touring events from North Carolina were well worth it, and he and the rest of the team were looking forward to the 2012 season to defend their championship.
“Our team had to travel a little further than most of the teams here to compete, but it was well worth it,” Breuer said. “We always looked forward to traveling to the races because we made a lot of new friends we enjoyed racing against and socializing with at the tracks. We’re all looking forward to doing it again in 2012, and in the years to come.”
Along with Breuer, McDuffie, Elkins and Edge, the Top 10 drivers in the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series Tour, the NeSmith Chevrolet Weekly Racing Series West Region, and the NeSmith Chevrolet Weekly Racing Series Old Man’s Garage East Region were also honored. Each driver received a trophy, a point fund check, and a Contingency Award package valued at $600.
Another standing ovation went to Matthew Turner of Dawsonville, GA, who received his fourth Ironman Award in front of his entire family and hometown friends to commemorate his 124 consecutive appearances in NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series events. Turner is the only driver to compete in every series event held since its inception in 2005.
GM Performance Special Projects Manager Bill Martens was named the recipient of the Bob Cross Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award. The award is named in memory of the late Bob Cross, who was the GM Racing Engineer who developed the GM Performance Crate Engines that power the race cars in the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series.
Martens worked with Cross for many years, took the finished product that Cross created, and made the racing community aware of the economical racing engine working with series like the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series.
Breuer also received the Hedman Husler Hedders Hard Charger of the Year Award and a $1,000 check from Hedman Husler Hedders, the Official Hedder of the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series.
Joe Garrison with GRT Race Cars of Greenbrier, AR accepted the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series Tour and the NeSmith Chevrolet Weekly Racing Series Chassis Manufacturers Challenge Awards. It was the first Touring Series Chassis title for GRT and the fourth Weekly Racing Series Chassis Manufacturers Championship.
For the second straight year, Wesley Washington and James Clolinger of Greenville Speedway in Greenville, MS were named the NeSmith Chevrolet Weekly Racing Series Promoters of the Year.
NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series Founder and Director Mike Vaughn delivered the annual “State of the Series Address” and reflected on the 2011 season, while also looking into the future of the seven-year-old series.
“The 2011 season was the most enjoyable season we’ve ever had in that we had close competition for the championships in the Touring Series and in both Weekly Racing Series Regions,” Vaughn said. “The competition was conducted with a spirit of sportsmanship like we have never seen before.”
Vaughn spoke of a refreshing spirit of competition among the drivers that competed for the top spots in the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series Tour and the NeSmith Chevrolet Weekly Racing Series.
“Instead of whining, crying and name calling, I think the drivers that competed for championships during the 2011 season actually liked each other and are friends after it’s all been said and done,” Vaughn said “So not only do I congratulate the drivers for what they’re accomplished on the track as racers, but I also give them praise as men for how they conducted themselves off the track.”
Vaughn also made two big announcements concerning the future of the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series that will keep the series moving forward as “America’s Leader In Affordable Dirt Late Model Racing.”
There will be a third series joining the Touring Series and the Weekly Racing Series for the sanctioning body in 2013 with a new Super Late Model Series where the race cars will be powered by the $7,000 GM Performance CT525 Engine that is based on the Corvette production engine. The series will feature a 22 to 24-race schedule and a point fund that will pay $30,000 to the Champion.
The GM Performance CT525 Engine is built and sealed at the factory to prevent any expensive modifications, and Martens announced that there will be a factory Rebuild Center to repair, refreashen, and reseal the engines for quality control and technical accountability.
The second announcement outlined a new Bilstein Spec Shock Program as an option for competitors in all three series. Competitors that choose to commit to using the $150 Bilstein Spec Shocks will compete in a “Series Within A Series” that will feature an additional point fund for participating drivers that will pay back five positions.
The Bilstein Spec Shocks will be sealed and serial numbered, and there will be 10 different Bilstein Spec Shocks for participating competitors to choose from. There will also be a single Rebuild Center for the Bilstein Spec Shocks.
To view the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series Annual Awards Banquet photos, visit the series’ Facebook page at NeSmith Racing.
The 2012 NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series Tour begins with three races at East Bay Raceway Park in Tampa, FL on February 2, 3, and 4. There will be an open practice night on Wednesday night, February 1. The races on Thursday night, February 2 and Friday night, February 3 will each be 40-lap $2,000-to-win races. The race on Saturday night, February 4 will be 50 laps and pay $3,000-to-win.
For more information about the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series visit the series web site at www.nesmithracing.com, or visit the series on Facebook at NeSmith Racing. Becoming a fan of the NeSmith Racing Facebook page will make you eligible for special prizes that will be given away each month. You can follow us on Twitter @NeSmithRacing.
NeSmith Chevrolet, Buick, GMC of Claxton, GA is the Title Sponsor of the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series. NeSmith Chevrolet, Buick, GMC is the nation’s number one GM Powertrain Dealer four years running, with free delivery anywhere in the Southeast. Chevrolet Performance Parts is an Official Sponsor of the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series. Hoosier Racing Tire is the Official Tire Sponsor of the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series. VP Racing Fuel is the Official Racing Fuel of the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series. Hedman Hedders is the Official Hedder of the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series and the Hedman Husler Award sponsor. RockAuto.com is an Official Sponsor of the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series. NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series Contingency Sponsors for 2012 are Dominator Race Products, Race Car Engineering, KRC, QA 1 Precision Products, Modern Images, Mike Custom Tanks, Shorty’s Shock Service, Schoenfeld Headers, Integra Racing Shocks, J.T. Kerr Racing Equipment, Kinser Air Filters, Trak-Star Race Cars, Warrior Race Cars, Rocket Chassis, GRT Race Cars, TNT Race Cars, and Stinger Race Cars.