Columbus North grad instrumental in racing industry

Joe Janowski will never forget Christmas morning 1979 when his first racecar was sitting under the tree. It was a go-kart that Tony Stewart’s father, Nelson, and Joe’s dad, Don, had put together to give to the bright-eyed youngster.

Ever since then, racing has been a huge part of the younger Janowski’s life.

Joe began his racing career in 1980 at the age of 8. He would follow in his father’s footsteps and race with the Columbus Kart Club at the Bartholomew County Fairgrounds. He won his first feature event that same year.

Janowski would go on to a spectacular career racing go-karts. He’s won many championships in karts with hundreds of wins. He raced midgets briefly in 1999. He finished third in a USAC Midget race at the world-famous Winchester Speedway in Winchester. That would be his best midget finish.

Janowski is the CEO of the National Karting Alliance (NKA), which was founded in 1985 by his father. The NKA provides products and support for karting facilities, clubs and events across North America. It is the largest small-vehicle sanctioning body in the United States with almost 300 member facilities and process more 4,000 events per year from their Noblesville office.

Janowski, 42, is a 1991 graduate of Columbus North High School. He attended Purdue University and graduated in 1995 with a degree in political science. He then moved to Greenwood for a few years before settling in Carmel where he resides with his wife, Autumn.

In 2007, he got his chance to drive a dirt late model. The ironic thing about it was that he had never seen a late model race live in person until that night at Kamp Motor Speedway in Boswell.

“I drove a backup car for Zach Carney and finished 12th in a 20-car field that night,” Janowski said. “I thought I did terrible. But it was an incentive for me to get better racing a late model, so that’s when I decided to get a car.”

For the past couple of seasons, Janowski has driven both a super and crate late model. In 2016 that will change.

“Next year we are going to just run the super late model,” Janowski said. “It’s too much work to keep both cars for me and my teammate, Alan Magner, going. This year was a struggle in the crate, lots of wins just seem to evaporate in the last few laps of a race. In the open motor car I just couldn’t get the car to work for me. We did OK, but nothing great.”

For 2016, Janowski will again be teamed with Magner and Steve Vawter of Columbus and the Bad Medicine Racing Team with a MasterSbilt Race Car and Pro Power engine. This year, Janowski wound up seventh in the late model points standings at Brownstown Speedway. He finished 13th in the final Indiana Late Model Series standings.

“We have a lot of aspirations as a race team,” Janowski said. “I’ve always had the philosophy to always improve. I want to help Steve keep improving his team’s program, and be able to be a threat at any race we show up to.

“I’ve had a blast racing with those guys,” he said. “At the end of the day, that’s what’s really important. Steve is a great guy to drive for. He’s really hands-on and wants to make sure we have what we need. It’s been a lot of fun helping him learn about having ‘a team.’”

Sponsors this year on the Bad Medicine Team were CS Prototyping, National Karting Alliance, Thirty-One Auto Group, Vawter Properties, Car Shop, Borgman Farms, Janowski Motorsports, Magner Racing, Inc. and Brad Erwin Customs.

Janowski’s crew this year included his car owner Vawter, Magner, Andy Wienhorst, John Schulte, Mason Janowksi and Corey Phillips of Advanced Racing.

Racer takes crate title

Mike Bechelli of Elizabethtown had a successful season at Twin Cities Raceway Park in Vernon. The veteran racer, who turned 75 back in May, captured the Crate Late Model points championship and finished third in the super late model points at Twin Cities, as well.

Bechelli drove a MasterSbilt Chassis sponsored by McDonald’s, Ind-Sol-Tech, M&M Recycling, O’Reilly Auto Parts and MainSource.

Final Twin Cities Crate Late Model Points Standings: 1. Mike Bechelli 368; 2. Trent Low 355; 3. Cody Clarkson 329; 4. Remington Gill 320; 5. Chad Fields 299.

Driver wins for Stewart

For the second year in a row, Joe Godsey of Edinburgh has won the modified track championship at Brownstown Speedway. Godsey drives for Tony Stewart Racing. The 36-year-old Godsey drove a Larry Shaw Chassis powered by a Mike Maiwald engine and sponsored by J.D. Byrider, Mobil 1, Bass Pro Shops and Rush Truck Centers.

Final Brownstown Modified Points Standings: 1. Joe Godsey 2310; 2. Jared Bailey 2013; 3. Dennis Boknecht 1707; 4. Webb Lee 1609; 5. Jarod Fleetwood 1563.