By: Paul Reichert

Everyone was wishing for the new season, which is only three months away, to start soon as the snow fell outside of the Stoney Creek Hotel and Conference Center in Onalaska. Before that could happen, the last event of 2018 took place as the LaCrosse Speedway recognized the champions of the season past during the 32nd annual Champions’ Banquet last Friday evening.

At the conclusion of the Budweiser Social Hour, a spa treatment was given away to one of the wives of the NASCAR Late Model drivers. Amber Clements, wife of driver Nick Clements, was the lucky winner of the spa treatment. Following Pastor Andy Burhow’s invocation and a delicious buffet dinner from C&C Catering, it was time to hand out trophies and accolades.

KQEG-TV live streamed the banquet on their web site. It will be shown as a special edition of the Knights of Thunder soon, plus you can view the banquet often on the 7RiversRacing YouTube channel.

Over 100 awards were handed out throughout the night, capped off with the prestigious “Sportsman of the Year” award. Among the big winners on the night were Street Stock champion Matt Moore, Hornet driver Jimmy Bjorkman, Sportsman driver Tom Luethe and Eckelberg Racing. Pastor Andy’s annual Racing Family of the Year award was given to the Howland family. This year’s recipient of the “Sportsman of the Year” award was John Gilbertson. John was recognized for his many years of involvement in racing locally, plus his work in vintage racing. You may remember John helped bring Tom Reffner back to racing, running with the Upper Midwest Vintage Racing Series during the Oktoberfest Race Weekend.

A complete gallery of award winners will be available in the coming weeks on track photographer Mary Schill’s web site, fortedesignsite.com.

The 2019 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season kicks into high gear with the annual ‘Frostbuster’ race on Saturday afternoon, April 20th. Weekly racing will start up on Saturday evening, May 11th.

For more information about the LaCrosse Speedway and the upcoming 2019 season, please call the office at 608-786-1525 or visit lacrossespeedway.com. LaCrosse Speedway is proud to be a NASCAR Hometrack, part of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.

La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway 32nd Annual Champions’ Banquet Winners

Tobacco Outlet Plus Grocery NASCAR Late Model Champion—Steve Carlson

Dean’s Satellite Sportsmen Champion—Steve Bachman

Auto Value Thunderstox Champion—Mark Challet

ANT’s Complete Pest Control Hornets Champion—Brandon Lemoine

Auto Value Street Stocks Champion—Matt Moore

Mountain Dew Mini-Vans Champion—Rob Stanfield

Chase Champions—Nick Pantizke (Late Models), Chris Weber (Sportsmen)

Rookies of the Year—Melissa Rusch (Late Models), Jesse Green (Sportsmen), Brandon Gallagher (Thunderstox)

Best Appearing Cars (Driver Vote)—Justin Mullikin (Late Models), Sam Niles (Sportsmen), John Grosskopf (Thunderstox), Cheyanne Stanfield (Hornets), Tristan Drazkowski (Street Stocks), Rob Stanfield (Mini-Vans)

Best Appearing Cars (Fan Vote)—Nick Clements (Late Models), Tom Luethe (Sportsmen), Taylor Dobbs (Thunderstox), Jimmy Bjorkman (Hornets), Jonathan Burbach (Street Stocks), Ian Zimmerman (Mini-Vans)

Novelty Champion—John Huebner

Social Media Award—Eckelberg Racing

Outstanding Performance Awards—Michael Beamish (Late Models), Tom Luethe (Sportsmen), Taylor Dobbs (Thunderstox), Jimmy Bjorkman (Hornets), Tristan Drazkowski (Street Stocks), Ian Zimmerman (Mini-Vans)

Community Award—DZR Racing and Eckelberg Racing

Budweiser Dash Champions—Steve Carlson (Late Models), Tom Luethe (Sportsmen), Mark Challet (Thunderstox)

Most Improved Drivers—Carter Christenson (Late Models), Tom Luethe (Sportsmen), Mark Challet (Thunderstox), John Huebner (Hornets), Clayton Haessig (Street Stocks), John Clauson (Mini-Vans)

Showmanship Award—Nick Clements and Brandon Lemoine

Competition Achievement Awards—Al Bartels, Jesse Green, Ryan Brown, Jaydin Schock, Don Turner, Justin Iverson, Sam Niles and Family

Racing Family of the Year—The Howlands

Sharing Award—Ken Christenson, Jr.

Good Luck Awards—Jerimy Wagner (Late Models), Mandi Eckelberg (Sportsmen), Jacinda Pfaff (Thunderstox), Zack Liebsch (Hornets), Kendon Thurk (Street Stocks), John Clauson (Mini-Vans)

Mechanics of the Year—Craig Johnson and Steven Brasda

Most Popular Drivers—Nick Panitzke (Late Models), Steve Bachman (Sportsmen), Adam Moore (Thunderstox), Jimmy Bjorkman (Hornets), Matt Moore (Street Stocks and Mini-Vans)

Sportsman of the Year—John Gilbertson

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