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Racing-fans group honors champions

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The nation’s most active motorsports fan club could be Hoosier Auto Racing Fans.

Bartholomew County farmer Gilman O’Neal was one of the club’s founders and was active in the club until he died in 1977.

Dave Foist of Columbus has been active in the club for many years and currently represents HARF in the national association of racing fan clubs. Although Foist generally winters in Florida, he can be depended on to be back in Indiana in time for the opening activities at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

HARF arranges for their members to be admitted free or at reduced admission cost at tracks across the state. At these events they generally present a HARF T-shirt and a complimentary membership to the feature winners.

The annual HARF Awards Banquet was Jan. 26 in Brownsburg. Track champions and others involved in motorsports were honored for their accomplishments during

the season.

Track champions honored were Brady Short (Bloomington Speedway sprint cars), Kenny Carmichael Sr. (Bloomington Speedway UMP modifieds), Scotty Weir (Gas City I-69 Speedway sprint cars), Derek Losh (Gas City I-69 Speedway UMP modifieds), Josh Owens (Gas City I-69 Speedway thunder cars), Wes McIntyre (Kokomo Speedway sprint cars) and C.J. Leary (Lawrenceburg Speedway sprint cars).

Awards also were presented to series champions including Scott Dixon (Izod Indy Car Series), Brady Short (King of Indiana Sprint Series), Jon Stanbrough (Midwest Sprint Car Series), Nick Speidel (UMRA TQ Midgets), Aaron Pierce (USSA Sprint Car Series), Spencer Baston (USSA K-Car Series), Christopher Bell (USAC National Dirt Midgets), Bryan Clauson (USAC National Sprint Cars), Clauson (USAC Indiana Sprint Week), Bell (USAC Indiana Midget Week) and Speidel (MTQRL TQ Midgets).

Bell of Norman, Okla., won his midget championships driving the Bullet house car for Pete Willoughby and Keith Kunz of Columbus. In addition to dominating midget competition, Bell was named non-winged sprint car Rookie of the Year and winged sprint car “Wild Card” award driver by the National Sprint Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Iowa.

He will be back in the Bullet house car this year. Depending on scheduling conflicts, Bell may also compete for the POWRi midget racing world championship. The series consists of three races in New Zealand, two races in Australia and several races in Illinois.

Another dominant driver plied his trade in the true grass roots level of racing. Speidel dominated competition in both UMRA and MTQRL. He might have made it a clean sweep by winning the King of Indiana TQ Series as well. However, a three-race suspension took him out of contention for the King of Indiana championship.

HARF Award Winners were:

Billy Marvel, Jr. Hoosier Sprint Car Rookie of the Year — Bradley Sterrett.

Gene Powlen Fan Appreciation Award — Andrew Quinn (Quinn who was originally from Norway, Maine visited Indiana decades ago and was so impressed by racing here that he moved to Indiana and attends upward to a hundred races a year.|

Jimmy Caruthers Memorial Most Improved Driver Award — Chad Boespflug of North Vernon. Boespflug’s performance in both the famed Paul Hazen-owned No. 57 and in his own car made him particularly worthy of

this award.

HARF Sportsmanship Award — Kenny Carmichael Sr. Carmichael is a regular competitor in both the modified and super stock divisions at both Bloomington Speedway and Lincoln Park Speedway. He is known as being willing to help fellow competitors even though he may be battling with them in the

next race.

HARF Media Award — Sean Buckley. Buckley received the award for his work on Flip the Switch and MAVTV. He was given a similar award by the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame.

HARF Mechanical Achievement Award — Steve and Carla Phillips. The Phillips won this award on the strength of their car’s consistent performance in USAC Sprint Car competition.

HARF Driver of the Year — Dave Darland. Darland was named driver of the year on the strength of his second-place finish in the USAC National sprint car points and his win of the KISS series championship. In addition, Darland turned in consistent performance at local tracks across the state.

Jiggs and Nona Tomasson’s Promoters Option Award — The O’Connor Family. The O’Connor Family promotes racing at Kokomo Speedway, and they have made great strides in improving the track’s schedule including adding the “Sprint Car Smackdown.”

Jack Gladback Memorial Award — The Gladback Award went to Jim Dawson, a longtime photographer.

Emma and Joie Ray Award for Courage — This award went to Jerry Burton and family for the courageous manner in which they handled the loss of their son, Josh Burton, who lost his life in a crash of his sprint car at Bloomington Speedway.

Pat O’Connor Award — Ed Carpenter received this award in honor of his earning the pole for the Indy 500.

HARF Hall of Fame — Jason Leffler. Jason Leffler’s career got a jump start when moved from California to drive a midget for Pete Willoughby and Keith Kunz. He won the USAC National Midget championship in his first season. He went from there to race Indy Cars and NASCAR. He lost his life in a sprint car crash in Connecticut.

HARF Hall of Fame — George Seats. Seats became a race fan when he started selling the Chicago Tribune at the Speedway. After he sold his papers, he would climb a tree in the first turn and watch the race from there. For many years he represented HARF at various racetracks across the state.

HARF President’s Award — Courtland Cottle. She is the 13-year-old daughter of Shane Cottle, a noted open wheel racer. She was given the award in recognition of her work for Riley Hospital for Children. She collects toys at tracks where her father was racing to be given to patients at Riley.

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