Four NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series mechanics have been honored by their peers with the 2006 NASCAR Craftsman Mechanic of the Year awards. The winners were selected through a ballot in NASCAR’s official membership publication and each receives $2,000, a 36-inch Craftsman Professional tool box valued at $2,500, plus travel and accommodations to receive their awards at the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series awards ceremony in Las Vegas Nov. 11.
NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series tracks are divided into one of four Divisions – I, II, III or IV. One winner from each track was named and the top vote-getting mechanic in each division received the divisional award and the trip to Las Vegas. The divisional award winners are:
Division I: Cliff Lawrence, 55, of Kansas City, Kan., a former driver and 11-year crew chief for his son, Allan, in the NDWS dirt Late Model division at Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City, Kan;
Division II: Wilmer Weiss, 62, of Hamburg, Pa., a former driver and crew chief for son Kyle in the NDWS dirt Modified division at Grandview Speedway in Bechtelsville, Pa.;
Division III: Harold Burton, 43, of Riverhead, N.Y., co-owner with his wife Debbie of a two car/two division effort for his step-son driver Rob Tribuzio at Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway; and,
Division IV: Howard Deitz, 46, of Westminster, Vt., a former track champion driver now serving as crew chief for Hersey Racing Enterprises and Mini Stock driver John O’Dea at Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, N.H.
At the ceremony in Las Vegas, one of these four divisional winners will also be announced as the national Craftsman Mechanic of the Year award winner. The national award winner is selected by a special panel and receives an additional $6,000 bonus from Craftsman, the Official Tools of NASCAR.
Lawrence is the lone first-time award winner in 2006. As a driver, he won five Kansas City-area dirt track championships in Mini Stock and Street Stock classes between 1972 and 1982. During that time he scored more than 100 feature wins and once drove a dirt Modified with a big block 440 Chrysler engine, that had never been seen before or since in the Kansas City area. Lawrence stopped racing on a full-time basis in 1988, and became known for his expert welding and repair talent. He and his son, driver Allan Lawrence, finished fourth in the NDWS Grand National division point standings at Lakeside Speedway in 2006.
Weiss won his NDWS Division II Craftsman Mechanic of the Year Award in 2004. A former track championship-winning driver, Weiss is crew chief for his son Kyle, who competes in the small block Modified class at Grandview Speedway. The duo scored a feature win and placed 11th in track points in 2006. The senior Weiss is an expert at engine and chassis tuning, as well as welding and sheet metal fabrication.
Burton was selected as the 2003 national Craftsman Mechanic of the Year Award winner and continues to work on the Charger and Late Model race cars driven by his stepson, Rob Tribuzio, at Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, N.Y. Both cars made it to victory lane in 2006. They placed 16th in the Late Model track points race and fourth in the Charger standings.
Deitz repeats as Division IV‘s top mechanic this year. An engine builder and former driver, Deitz guided his driver, John O’Dea, to a second-place points finish and Rookie of the Year honors in the Mini-Stock class at Monadnock Speedway. The Mini Stock track champion, Emerson Cayer, used a Deitz-built engine to take the title. Deitz has operated HAD Motorsports Racing Engines since 1995.
In addition to the four Divisional award winners, NASCAR and Craftsman recognized one local winner from each NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series track. Each local track award winner receives a $100 bonus and $350 credit towards the purchase of Craftsman Tools. The Craftsman Mechanic of the Year award winners from each track are:
Ace Speedway – Calvin Cook, Reidsville, N.C.
Beech Ridge Motor Speedway – Lisa Hennessey, Windham, Maine
Bowman Gray Stadium – Lee Jeffreys, High Point, N.C.
Caraway Speedway – Dewey Bowlin, Kannapolis, N.C.
Evergreen Speedway – Norm Ross, Arlington, Wash.
Greenville-Pickens Speedway – Joey Bishop, Ashland, Peidmont, S.C.
Lakeside Speedway – Cliff Lawrence, Kansas City, Kan.*
Langley Speedway – Bobby Sabatino Jr., Mechanicsville, Va.
Lanier National Speedway – Steve Whitehead, Lawrenceville, Ga.
Linn County Speedway – Jeff Fehr, Chanute, Kan.
Mansfield Motorsports Speedway – Tigh Schaffer, Columbia Station, Ohio
Motor Mile Speedway – Ronnie Kelley, Salem, Va.
Rockford Speedway (Sat.) – Ken Ellis, Roscoe, Ill.
Rocky Mountain Raceways – Mark Ith, Kamas, Utah
South Boston Speedway – Richard Johnson, Beaverdam, Va.
Southern National Raceway Park – Ryan Rouse, Wilson, N.C.
Adams County Speedway – Rex Haggerty, Corning, Iowa
Altamont Motorsports Park – John Philpott, Tracy, Calif.
Autodrome St. Eustache – Howard Romanado, Laval, Quebec
Concord Motorsport Park – Alvin Thomas, Monroe, N.C.
Edmonton International Raceway – Jim McIntosh, Edmonton, Alberta
Grandview Speedway – Wilmer Weiss, Hamburg, Pa.*
I-80 Speedway (Sun.) – Todd Goldsmith, Corning, Iowa
Lee USA Speedway – Joe Gunther, Kennebunk, Maine
Myrtle Beach Speedway – David Gooding, Conway, S.C.
Oglethorpe Speedway Park – Walter Sills, Bloomingdale, Ga.
San Antonio Speedway – Paul Horelka, Jourdanton, Texas
Shasta Raceway Park – Scott Haskins, Malin, Ore.
Spencer Speedway – Jan Leaty, Williamson, N.Y.
Stockton 99 Speedway – Tim Carr, Stockton, Calif.
Wall Township Speedway – James Carrig, Little Falls, N.J.
Colorado National Speedway – Jeff Campbell, Parker, Colo.
Columbus Motor Speedway – Troy Smith, Columbus, Ohio
Dubuque Fairgrounds Speedway – Kevin Pladna, East Dubuque, Iowa
Hickory Motor Speedway – David Mercer, Gastonia, N.C.
Holland International Speedway – Mae Urban, Cheektonaga, N.Y.
Kalamazoo Speedway – Danny Foote, Kalamazoo, Mich.
Kil-Kare Speedway – John Stroble, London, Ohio
LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway – Ryan Powell, LaCrosse, Wis.
Lake Erie Speedway – Jack Dudkiewicz, Sharpsville, Pa.
Magic Valley Speedway – Shane Prince, Gooding, Idaho
Old Dominion Speedway – Stephen Bacan, Broad Run, Va.
Peoria Speedway – Steve Rebholz, Sparland, Ill.
Riverhead Raceway – Harold Burton, Riverhead, N.Y.*
Rockford Speedway (Wed.) – David Hurd, Rochelle, Ill.
The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway – Thane Alderman, Las Vegas
Elko Speedway – Alexander Martin, Webster, Minn.
Farley Speedway – Jeffrey Davis, Dubuque, Iowa
I-80 Speedway (Sat.) – David Christensen, Ashland, Neb.
Irwindale Speedway – Rod Schmitt, Alta Loma, Calif.
Jennerstown Speedway – Don Saylor, Cairnbrook, Pa.
Monadnock Speedway – Howard Deitz, Westminster, Vt.*
Motordrome Speedway – Chris Mitchell, Bruceton Mills, W.V.
Music City Motorplex, Chris Scoggins, Woodlawn, Tenn.
Raceway Park – Mark Bronstad, Rockford, Minn.
Stafford Motor Speedway – Scott Ritter, Shelton, Conn.
Star Speedway – Jeff Douphinette, Groveland, Mass.
Thompson International Speedway – Jimmy Fuller, Boylston, Mass.
Tucson Raceway Park – Tony Williams, Tucson, Ariz.
Waterford Speedbowl – Steve McCann, East Haven, Conn.
* denotes Divisional award winner.