DAYTONA BEACH, Flordia -- For over 20 years, the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series has honored America’s finest weekly short track competitors. Since 1986, the series has also recognized the men and women who keep the cars running, with the Craftsman Mechanic of the Year Awards. These awards are determined by a vote of NASCAR members and provide more than $50,000 cash and prizes to talented mechanics, crew chiefs, engine builders and race team members across the nation.
"The Mechanic of the Year award enables Craftsman to recognize those who use our tools during competition in the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series," said Touré Claiborne, motorsports marketing manager for Sears. "We at Craftsman identify with these mechanics and crew chiefs - the unsung heroes of NASCAR - and we think the legions of fans do, as well. These local and regional winners should be especially proud because they were chosen by their peers."
At each of the 75 NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series race tracks, one local winner receives the track’s Craftsman Mechanic of the Year Award and a $250 credit towards the purchase of Craftsman Tools. NASCAR members also voted to choose eight regional winners, who each receive a $1,500 cash prize, a 36-inch Craftsman Professional tool chest and cart valued at $2,000 and a trip to the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series awards banquet, Nov. 1 in Nashville. >From the eight regional winners, a national Craftsman Mechanic of the Year Award winner will be announced at the banquet in Nashville. The national winner receives a $5,000 bonus. This year’s NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series Craftsman Mechanic of the Year regional award winners are:
ATLANTIC REGION: Arnie Arrington, Rocky Mount, Va.– Arrington, 37, is the crew chief for Late Model Stock Car driver Tink Reedy at New River Valley Speedway in Radford, Va. Reedy is the 1999 track champion at the .419-mile paved oval. With Arrington’s help, Reedy finished third in the track points race this year and recorded five victories.
HEARTLAND REGION: Bob Korn, Miamisburg, Ohio – Korn, 76, was the national Mechanic of the Year Award winner in 2002. The veteran car owner shows no signs of slowing down and has already set a goal for 2004: to contend for the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series Late Model track championship at Kil-Kare Speedway in Xenia, Ohio, where he has fielded cars for many years.
MIDWEST REGION: Eldon Stone, Kansas City, Kan. – Stone, 43, works on three race cars owned by Lowell Christy, that compete at Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City, Kan. With Stone’s mechanical support, Darren and Scott Christy drive in the Factory Stock division, while Jim Whisler drives in the track’s Grand National division.
NEW ENGLAND REGION: Harold Burton, Riverhead, N.Y. – Burton, 40, has worked with several race teams at his home track, Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway, since the 1980s and has most recently served as crew chief for Charger division driver Rob Tribuzio, who is also his stepson.
NORTHEAST REGION: Dave Green, Farmingdale, N.J. – Twenty-two year-old Green is an aspiring mechanic who works on the No. 55 Pro Stock entry, driven by his brother, Rob Williams, at Wall Township (N.J.) Speedway. With Green’s guidance, Williams drove to four victories in 2003 and a runner-up finish in the Pro Stock point standings at Wall Township Speedway.
NORTHWEST REGION: Michael McGregor, Scotts Valley, Calif. – As a break from his full-time mechanical engineering career, 24-year-old McGregor has worked on race cars at Watsonville (Calif.) Speedway since 1997. Most recently, this 2003 graduate of San Jose State University served as the crew chief on Mark Cooper’s No. 29 Street Stock team at Watsonville. The team is a family effort, with Michael’s brother, Joe, and father, Greg, also pitching in to work on the car and share driving duties from time to time.
SOUTHEASTERN COASTAL REGION: Dennis Morris, Bloomingdale, Ga. – Morris grew up in Ohio and has been working on race cars since the 1970s. In 1977, Morris relocated to Georgia and has been racing on the state’s dirt tracks ever since. Morris, 50, spent the 2003 season at Oglethorpe Speedway Park in Savannah, Ga., where he worked on two Late Model cars and his daughter Kim’s Pure Stock entry.
SUNBELT REGION: John Lester, Callahan, Fla. – Lester, 39, spent equal time behind the wheel and under the hood of Tim Rowell’s No. 67 Sportsman car at Jax Raceways in Jacksonville, Fla. As a driver, Lester recorded two victories this season but his expertise as a mechanic helped him win the Sunbelt Region Craftsman Mechanic of the Year Award by a vote of his peers in the pits.