Several regional racers were the top rookies in their respective divisions of racing at local area tracks.
Tyler Collins, of North Vernon, was the top rookie in the Indiana Late Model Series final points standings for 2017. Jaden Mayhan, of Elizabethtown, competing in his first season with the super stocks class, took Rookie-of-the-Year honors at both Brownstown Speedway and Twin Cities Raceway Park in Vernon, and Lucas Wehmiller, of Brownstown, was the top rookie for the modifieds division at Brownstown Speedway.
Collins, 24, was a true rookie this year in the Indiana Late Model Series. He had never raced in any other type of race car until this season. In the ultra-competitive late model series, which ran weekly at Brownstown Speedway and at several other venues on a special-only basis, Collins wound up fifth in the final ILMS points standings.
Collins drove a MasterSbilt Race Car with a 604 GM crate engine. His car was sponsored by Iron Valley Barbell, Valvoline, Tri-County Machine, Right Auto Parts, New Edge Auto Detail, Tailfeather Farm Market, Earl’s Garage and LulaRoe by Debbie Collins.
His pit crew this year consisted of his father Trent Collins and Tyler’s uncle, Tory Collins. The rest of the crew who helped during the year were Alex Taylor, Toby Taylor, Zach Taylor and Jacob Miller.
Mayhan, 17, moved up from the local hornets division to the super stocks and finished 10th in the final Twin Cities points standings and 11th at Brownstown Speedway.
Mayhan’s car is sponsored by Adams Trucking, Wedan Street and Performance, Victory Circles and Paul’s Columbus Auto Salvage. His pit crew consists of Jerry Adams, Trent Adams, Benjamin Amburgey, Shannon Walp, Stephanie Barnett and Makayla Swim.
Wehmiller, like Collins, was competing in his first year of racing without having any previous experience behind the wheel. Wehmiller, 29, drove a former Devin Gilpin modified.
Wehmiller’s car was sponsored by L&L Lumber Inc., Battle Wagon Trailers, Bane Logging, Booker Company Enviroheat, Cooper Concrete, Goecker Building Supply, Hall Bail Bonds, ShowBound Trucking, Wilson Equipment, Mighty Oaks, M&M Wischmeier, Parker Dental, Bishop Repair, Stahl Insurance, Dasco Race Supply, The Rugged Company, Rykel Media I, Hacker Sawmill and Trucking, PNA, Bob Poynter and CPC Printing.
Wehmiller drove an Impressive Chassis with power from a SPEC Racing Engine to a fourth-place finish in the Brownstown modified points standings. His crew consists of Kara and Larry Wehmiller, Ben Givens, Eric Roll and Chad Henry.
Daniel Hobbs was the oldest of the drivers to earn Rookie of the Year honors this year. He raced in the hornet division at Brownstown, where he finished second in the points to Seymour’s Donnie Modesty.
Hobbs’ great-uncle Don Hobbs was one of the legendary dirt-track drivers in the area for several years, from the 1950s into the 1990s. The 35-year-old dedicated the 2017 racing season to his nephew Liam, who was battling cancer, but has now been determined in recent weeks by doctors to now be cancer free.
Bell wins Turkey Night race for Kunz
Christopher Bell won the annual Turkey Night Grand Prix on Nov. 23 at Ventura Raceway in Ventura, California, driving for the Columbus-based Keith Kunz Racing Team.
It was the fourth straight win for the Kunz/Curb Agajanian Motorsports entry in the Thanksgiving Night classic. The event drew 50 USAC Midgets.
Bell, 22, who just clinched the 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series title, won the race over fellow NASCAR driver Kyle Larson and Shane Golobic. Tanner Thorson and Zeb Wise completed the top-five drivers. The rest of the top-10 finishers were Carson Macedo, Justin Grant, Ryan Robinson, Brad Sweet and Michael Faccinto.
Back on Nov. 18, the USAC National Midgets raced at Bakersfield Speedway in Bakersfield, California, with Brady Bacon coming home the victor.
Bacon took home the win over Spencer Bayston, Tanner Thorson, Tyler Courtney and Justin Grant. The rest of the top finishers were Shane Golobic, Ryan Robinson, Alex Schutte, Michael Faccinto and Tanner Carrick.
Current USAC National Midgets points standings: 1. Spencer Bayston 1,477; 2. Shane Golobic 1,416; 3. Brady Bacon 1,413; 4. Tanner Thorson 1,392; 5. Justin Grant 1,316; 6. Tyler Courtney 1,290; 7. Chad Boat 1,154; 8. Holly Shelton 1,055; 9. Tanner Carrick 995; 10. Jerry Coons Jr. 849.
Eldora announces 2018 schedule
Tony Stewart’s Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, has announced its 2018 race schedule.
The opening race will be April 21 with the NRA Sprint Invaders plus modifieds and Eldora stocks. On April 28, the late model lid lifter will be conducted, paying $5,000 to win.
The 24th annual Dirt Late Model Dream will take place from June 7 to 9, paying $100,000 to win. The 34th annual Kings Royal for sprints will be July 12 to 14, and the date for next year’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race will be July 18.
The Baltes Classic will be conducted Labor Day weekend on Sept. 2, followed the next week by the 48th annual World 100 from Sept. 6 to 8. The 37th annual Four Crown Nationals will take place Sept. 21 and 22.
For ticket information on these events and to check out the rest of the 2018 schedule, go to eldoraspeedway.com.
James Essex writes a motorsports notebook for The Republic. Send comments to email@example.com.