WILTON, California — The FLASHCO SRL Southwest Tour Series celebrated in grand style at the Bakersfield landmark Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace. The top ten teams of 2008 were all represented, as they sat with family, sponsors and members of the media.
The afternoon presentations began with tenth through fourth place in the championship standings taking the podium.
Tenth place Justin Westmoreland was the first to hit the stage, followed by; Joe Farre’, Larry Collins accepting for eighth place Todd Bammer, 2007 series champ Dave Byrd and Rookie-of-the-Year Josh Combs. Following Combs, fifth place driver Troy Ermish was next to take the stage. During his acceptance, Ermish announced he would team up with car owner Bob Strandwold for 2009. Troy was followed by Loren and Keith Spangler who accepted their awards for their fourth place finish in the championship standings. While each driver stepped to the podium, they took the opportunity to express their appreciation to their team members, sponsors, SRL officials, their fellow competitors and their families.
The first of three newly introduced awards was presented next. Larry Collins stepped to the podium to present the Ron’s Rear End Perseverance Award, which he explained is presented to the driver and team who exemplified a “tough, never say die” approach to their racing. Collins then presented the “2008 Ron’s Rear End Perseverance Award” to driver Craig Raudman and his team.
Former Mesa Marin Raceway track announcer Steve Hughes acted as the event’s master of ceremonies and invited the top three in the final qualifying championship standings to the stage, where he presented Raudman with a check for $1,000, Jim Pettit with $1,500 and John Gideon who accepted $2,500 on behalf of Qualifying Champion Greg Voigt. Voigt was not able to attend the SRL Banquet due to his sister’s wedding.
Series Executive Director Steve Fensler was up next to present the “2008 Victory Circle Rookie-of-the-Year Award” to eighteen year old Josh Combs. Combs was awarded the Rookie-of-the-Year Silver Cup Trophy and an Elite chassis from Victory Circle Chassis and Parts.
Brian Olsen was next at the podium to thank all the SRL Southwest Tour contingency and series sponsors for their support in 2008.
Bob Elliff from Motor Racing Outreach was presented the 2008 SRL Inspirational Award, for his valued service as Chaplin of the series.
During a brief intermission from the presentations, a random drawing was held where each race team in attendance received a prize, ranging from $200 cash from Bill McAnally Racing to a complete body package from Five Star Racing Bodies, which was won by Rookie-of-the-Year Josh Combs.
Steve Fensler then announced another newly introduced award that memorialized the 2002 SRL champion, the late Jeff Anthony. The recipient of the “2008 Jeff Anthony Spirit of 76 Award” was Bob Strandwold for his “unparalleled support and dedication” to the SRL Southwest Tour Series.
As at every motorsports banquet, it was time to talk about plans for the upcoming season. Larry Collins first addressed the positive statement the SRL Southwest Tour Series made by its performance in 2008. Collins touched upon the strength of the series and the high level of competition the series had brought to each race track and their fans in 2008, which has opened the doors for the series in 2009.
Collins then went on to share the progress on the 2009 SRL schedule of events, which currently includes; the series opener with the NASCAR Camping World Series West at All-American Speedway on April 4th, two events at Las Vegas Motor Speedway">The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway - May 3rd and October 31st, the “Holiday Classic Series presented by Performance Electrical” at Madera Speedway on May 23rd, July 4th and September 5th and Stockton 99 Speedway on October 3rd. The 2009 SRL Southwest Tour Series schedule is planned for ten events. Tracks currently under consideration to create the balance of the schedule include; Toyota Speedway at Irwindale, Rocky Mountain Raceway, Altamont Raceway Park, Douglas County Speedway and Shasta Speedway.