Even though most of the teams are already busy preparing for the 2018 campaign, there was still some left over business from last year as the OSCAAR Pro Midget drivers and crews gathered together on Saturday, February 3 to honor everybody for their accomplishments.
The second season for the series paid off in big ways, seeing a growth in competition from the beginning of the year to the end.
“I was really impressed sitting back watching the Pro Midgets,” OSCAAR president Dave Gainforth said. “It’s some of the cleanest, most high intense racing that you’re going to see. If you’ve never took the time to walk up to the fence and watch those guys race, they’re all over the place and they’re giving each other a lot of respect.”
After starting out the season with just eight cars at the season opener, by the end year the counts had doubled. The series also produced close races, with side-by-side battles to the checkered flag.
The success of the series in general has been a combination of work not only put in by OSCAAR’s staff, but as well as three of the competitors – Rob Summers, Glen Blaker, and Ted Greenwood – who were each recognized for their contributions on Saturday night.
“We had accolades given to us for the Pro Midget Series over the past two years, but really, this was not a minimal effort on our part solely by any means,” Jackie Francis said on behalf of herself and Charles Priestley. “This was a development of a lot of great racing minds and a lot of great racing senses of humor – which we’ve needed over the past couple of years.
“There are definitely people we would like to acknowledge that helped us with the development of not only the cars, but the series and the safety of the series, and the continued growth of this series. Our goal is to have one of the safest cars out there and one of the fastest mini sprints out there, and this is something that we work towards on a daily basis.”
With 10 heat wins and eight feature victories, it was Jordan Hanna leading the way for his fellow drivers over the year en route to being crowned the series champion.
“I just want to thank everybody at OSCAAR,” Hanna said. “This was such a great experience. I’ve been racing 18 years and coming from dirt, this is my first year on asphalt, and it was the most memorable. I’ve won a couple championships, but I will always remember this one. I’m going to take a year off – maybe more, we’ll see – with the new baby, but I will always remember this. I just want to thank my dad. He deserves all of this and if it wasn’t for him, this wouldn’t happen.”
Hanna wasn’t the only driver to visit feature victory lane on multiple occasions in 2018, as Daniel Hawn followed suit with six wins of his own. As the highest finishing rookie, he took home the Rookie of the Year Award.
“This season started out pretty good for us, and we won the first feature at Peterborough,” Hawn said. “I helped this 55 car get his fuel issue figured out, and thought no big deal, right? I went nine races following him around and that was the most uncomfortable experience. After the last race, we went back to Grand Bend and ever since then, ever since dad passed away, something just clicked and it was almost just effortless.
“I can’t thank my team enough for spending codeless amount of hours in the shop to get faster and faster. Coming up nine points short is painful, but nine points to Jordan is great as he’s a class act. He earned his trophy and congratulations to him on the championship.”
The accolades did not stop there, though, as he was given the recently named Don Hawn Sportsman of the Year Award.
“The Hawn family has been a part of racing in Ontario for close to 40 years – probably more,” Gainforth said. “This year, the racing community lost the patriarch of that team. Don throughout his racing career, raced hard, had fun, and most of all, with the respect of his fellow drivers. With his two sons Tyler and Daniel started their racing career, the first thing he did was instill those values on his sons. With the loss this summer, Tyler and Daniel continued to race and made their dad proud. Even when most would’ve stayed home, they raced, they succeeded. The family wanted to do something to ensure their dad’s name would be remembered by OSCAAR, and all the fans in Ontario. So OSCAAR proudly changed the name of this award to the Don Hawn Sportsman of the Year Award.
“This award is one of the prestigious awards a racer can receive as again, it’s voted by your peers, and it’s very appropriate that the first two recipients of this award, for the Pro Midgets is Daniel Hawn.”
Fifth-place points finisher Steve Belfry was also one of the many drivers on-hand to accept his awards, while also taking time to give back to the sport. He donated a set of radios to 2018 OSCAAR Pro Midget Rookie of the Year Contender Tyler Cullen. He also picked up an additional award, as his No. 3 Pro Midget was voted the best appearing by his peers.
The inaugural series champion Ted Greenwood certainly didn’t have the year he was looking for, which led to him being given the Hard Luck Award. He took the time to recognize all those involved in a successful sophomore campaign.
“I would like to thank everybody in OSCAAR,” he said. “It was a great season to watch you other classes run. I had a pretty rough season as far as racing, but had a pretty good year as far as watching the rookies come in and see this class grow. I appreciate everything that OSCAAR has done, along with Jackie and Chuck. They’ve done a great thing here, and given senior citizens like myself somewhere to run. I hope the series continue to grow, and I hope we push this series of OSCAAR for another 25 years, if not longer.”
On the flip side, Gary Triska was able to put together a great campaign, highlighted by five top-10’s. His success was rewarded, as he was given the Most Improved Driver Award.
The final award given out was the Ironman Award, which is presented by Gary Elliott each year “for the driver that overcame and faced adversity throughout the year to always be at the race track.” The requirement is you must have 100% attendance, and never give up despite any adversity faced.
“Everyone of us have an amount of bad luck throughout the year,” Elliott said. “But the key is to never give up, and try to get your car back. I’m so thankful that through the years, since 1987, my crew and I hit 800 consecutive nights, and you can’t do that by yourself. I owe a lot of thanks.”
For 2017, it was Brody Rickwood receiving the accolades after a successful rookie campaign with four top-fives and 13 top-10’s.
With a solid season, OSCAAR is now putting full focus towards the upcoming 2018 campaign, which should be filled with great racing, lots of competition, and fun across the entire province of Ontario based on early indications. As of right now, there are over 25 drivers registered for the Pro Midget division.
“The schedule for next year is going to be competitive for all classes as we travel all over Ontario to see who will be the OSCAAR Champions for 2018,” Gainforth said. “With the demand from tracks for dates, we are definitely on the right path and our future is secure.”
Be sure to stay tuned to the OSCAAR website for details leading into the season.
By: Ashley McCubbin