A crowd of 300 drivers, race team members, fans, staff and sponsors gathered at Port Robinson’s Club Castropignano where $40,000 in Cash and other awards were presented.
Former racer Don Spiece of Welland was introduced as the new owner of the Thorold facility that first opened in 1952.
Pete Bicknell of St. Catharines took home his 24th Merrittville Speedway Pinty’s Delicious Foods 358 Modified Championship in a storied career that began from a high school shop project.
Cody McPherson, also from St. Catharines earned his 4th Title in the Yager Bros Trucking Sportsman Division while for the 6th time in 7 years – Josh Sliter of Ridgeway was honored as Champion in the Rev’s Full Throttle Powersports Modified Lite Division.
Three drivers would be honored with their first career championship – Welland’s Tyler Lafantaisie in the Van Raine Construction 4 Cylinder and Dave Bailey of Hagersville in the Hoosier Stock Divisions respectively.
Merrittville’s Announcer Dana Curvin performed Master of Ceremony duties – presenting the points finishers from each division with point fund monies in addition to a wide variety of special awards.
From a runner-up finish overall in 2015, Bailey would best defending champion Mark Fawcett by 3 points in 2016 to win his first Hoosier Stock Championship earning Archer Truck Services Driver of the Year honours as well.
Bailey would take home 4 Feature Wins in his Jib’s Action Sports/Window Werx/Club 54 Motorsports #49. Bailey’s season also included Championships at Ohsweken and Humberstone Speedways in addition to a runner-up finish in the Duel on the Dirt Mini-Series involving his three home tracks and the Brighton Speedway.
One final accolade would involve Bailey as his Crew Chief – Mike Miller was awarded the Billy Matthews Crew Chief of the Year Award.
Pete Bicknell, who would finish in the runner up spot behind Chad Brachmann in 2015 would be one of 5 drivers who would take home 2 wins in 2016. Consistency has always been key for Bicknell’s now 24 Championships since his first title in 1984.
Driving the Lucas Oil Products/Bicknell Racing Products/Merrittville Speedway/Integra Shocks/Pete's Automotive/Hoosier Tire Canada/Alex and Helen Bruce Photography #42, Bicknell would total 1040 points from 17 Top 10 finishes in 19 events.
Ransomville NY’s Ryan Susice was the lone driver in the 358 Modified Division Top 10
without a Feature Win. A strong season would result in the second generation driver earning a third place finish and the 2016 Performer of the Year Award.
For the 4th time in his career, Cody McPherson would take home the Yager Bros Trucking Sportsman Championship. Another second generation driver – his 18 Top 10 Finishes in 18 Starts would include 5 Feature Wins.
2016 would also include another David Chevrolet King of the Crates Mini Series Title for McPherson in his St. Louis Bar and Grill/C McPherson Jr Trucking/Sommertyme Spray Foam Insulation/Brian's Tire Repair/Rosa Automotive/Hitch Man Trailers and Niagara Trailers #7.
Josh Sliter’s sixth Championship in the Rev’s Full Throttle Powersports Modified Lite Division in seven years saw him earn 796 points from 14 Top 10s in 15 starts.
The driver of the Niagara Falls Nissan/Tender Cuts/Dressel’s Steel Works/Thurston Machine/Young’s NAPA Port Colborne/Pro Fabrication/Jawzy Custom Paint & Graphics/Kelly Teeters and Teeters Motorsports #17 would take home 6 Feature Wins.
Tyler Lafantaisie’s first career Championship in the Van Raine Construction 4 Cylinder Division came from 16 Top 10s in 16 starts with 15 of them in the top 5 totalling 870 points.
Lafantaisie drove his Kyle and Lisa Rothwell owned Twisted Metal Racing/C&L Auto Wreckers/Luisa's Sweet Retreat/TC Decals #96 to 5 Feature Wins.
All 5 division champs earned traditional Merrittville Speedway Championship Rings and Jackets in addition to trophies and cash awards.
In addition to the Overall Point Awards, three Mini-Series Champions were also honored with Andy Imbeault of Welland taking home the inaugural Eataly Foods Triple Truck Championship by Tomaski Racing while Kyle Rothwell took home his first career 4 Cylinder Triple Crown Series Title. Cody McPherson also won the David Chevrolet King of the Crates Series for the Yager Bros Trucking Sportsman Division.
Vincent Pagnotta, (Van Raine Construction 4 Cylinder Division), Tyler Winger, (Rev’s Full Throttle Powersports Modified Lite Division), Tom Richau Jr., (Yager Bros Trucking Sportsman Division) and Gary Lindberg, (Pinty’s Delicious Foods 358 Modified Division) received 2016 Rookie of the Year Awards. There were no eligible Rookie drivers in the Hoosier Stock Division in 2016.
Lucas Oil Slick Mist Best Appearing Car Awards were presented to Kyle Miller, (Van Raine Construction 4 Cylinder Division), Tyler Winger, (Rev’s Full Throttle Powersports Modified Lite Division), Kyle Pelrine, (Hoosier Stock Division), Jay Mallory, ( Yager Bros Trucking Sportsman Division) and Tim Jones, (Pinty’s Delicious Foods 358 Modified Division).
Several history-laden awards were also presented during the event.
The Ed MacPherson Construction Kelley-Winger Sportsmanship Award was presented by the Merrittville Speedway Reunion Committee to Welland’s Kyle Rothwell of the Van Raine Construction 4 Cylinder Division.
The Begolo-Little Award for the most improved driver went to Brent Begolo, 2nd in both the David Chevrolet King of the Crates Mini Series and the overall point standings for the Yager Bros Trucking Sportsman Division.
It seemed fitting that for the first time the Most Improved Driver Award went to a driver not in the 358 Modified Division – the recipient is the grandson of the Award’s cofounder Jeno Begolo.
Rick Bellamy was presented the 3rd Annual Pete Cosco Car Owner of the Year Award.
Bellamy – a racer himself was instrumental in the efforts of fellow drivers Chad Brachmann, Darrell Farraway and John Babion as car owner.
The award initiated by former Cosco Racing Driver Chris Steele and his wife Sami honors the memory of Pete Cosco who passed away late in the 2014 season.
The Gordie Award named after former Merrittville Announcer and Wall of Famer Gordie Wilson goes to a person, or group of people who exhibit dedication to the sport.
The 2016 winner was Speedway Assistant General Manager Jim Irvine who has been involved with the facility for 30 years. Irvine dedicated the award to his dad Bryant – former racer, car owner, sponsor and Speedway Owner who is recuperating after recent surgery.
The Billy Matthews Crew Chief of Year Award went to Mike Miller who led Dave Bailey to the 2016 Hoosier Stock Championship.
Pinty’s Delicious Foods 358 Modified Division Top 12 in Points.
Pete Bicknell – 1040, Gary Lindberg - 995, Ryan Susice – 962, Chad Brachmann – 956, Chris Steele – 920, Mike Bowman – 974, Mark D’Ilario – 898, Tommy Flannigan – 880, Tim Jones – 868, Erick Rudolph – 840, Todd Gordon – 770,
Yager Bros. Trucking Sportsman Division Top 12 in Points.
Cody McPherson – 968. Brent Begolo – 892, Paul Gaboury – 890, Brad Rouse – 866 Jay Mallory – 858, Justin Sharp – 856, Rob Knapp – 793, Joey Mastroianni – 728, Chris Bellamy – 646, Darrell Farraway – 637, Tom Richau Jr. – 590, John Babion – 494.
Novice Sportsman Division
Trevor Wright 614, Sean Dominey – 572, John Babion – 400.
Hoosier Stock Division Top 12 in Points .
Dave Bailey – 900, Mark Fawcett – 897, Pete Reid – 862, Chris Crawford – 842, Jim Lampman – 810, Kyle Pelrine – 736 Billy Bleich, Jr., - 580, Chris Schneider – 524, Jack Myers – 408, Dave Small – 381, Robin Mortensen – 309, Mike Miller – 166.
Rev’s Full Throttle Powersports Modified Lite Division Top 12 in Points.
Josh Sliter – 786, Rob Misener – 734, Steven Beckett – 704, RJ Pietz – 672, Chris Watson – 666, Tyler Winger – 626, Jeffrey May – 610, Ray Sliter, Jr. – 576, Marty deMoel – 526, Ryleigh Sliter – 534, Craig Martin – 482, Paul Klager – 416.
Van Raine Construction 4 Cylinder Division Top 12 in Points.
Tyler Lafantaisie – 870, Kyle Rothwell – 861, Tony Kelly – 832, Jay Moulton – 673, Sam Iftody – 658, Mike Sadusek – 646, Jeremy Smith – 618, Alex Riley & Vincent Pagnotta (tie) – 599, Kyle Miller – 552, Kourtney Kocarik – 502, Brian ‘Go Fast’ Teeple – 479.
For a complete listing of the 2016 Points Standings – click on http://www.speednetdirect.com/points.php?track_id=8430&nav_step=results
For all the news on Merrittville Speedway’s 66th Consecutive Season in 2017 – visit http://www.merrittvillespeedway.com/ Race fans and Race teams alike can follow Merrittville on Face Book (Facebook.com/Merrittville Speedway) and Twitter (Twitter.com/Merrittville
Merrittville Speedway’s Winter Office is located in Bicknell Racing Products, 117 Cushman Road in St. Catharines and can be reached at 905-685-7223.
MERRITTVILLE SPEEDWAY SPONSORS The 2016 65th Anniversary Lucas Oil Weekly Racing Series for Merrittville Speedway’s 5 Divisions was brought to race fans and racers by division sponsors – Pinty’s Delicious Foods, Yager Bros Trucking, Rev’s Full Throttle Powersports, Hoosier Tire Canada and Van Raine Construction in addition to many marketing partners Visit them at . http://www.merrittvillespeedway.com/sponsors.htm and visit them when you require their products and/or services.
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