By: Paul Reichert
January 18, 2020
When it is time to celebrate the season just completed at the LaCrosse Speedway, it is customary to have a January snowstorm try to ruin all the fun. Despite the white stuff falling outside, a packed house gathered in the banquet hall of the Stoney Creek Hotel and Conference Center in Onalaska for the 33rd Annual Champions’ Banquet. This would be the final event of a very memorable 2019 NASCAR season, which was one of the more memorable seasons in quite some time in LaCrosse Speedway history.
After the Budweiser Social Hour, the fourth through tenth place finishers in all the racing divisions at LaCrosse were recognized for their achievements. After a delicious buffet meal was provided by C&C Catering, the significant others of several drivers gathered on stage for the drawing of a day spa treatment. The final two survivors had to compete in a dance-off to decide the winner. Track manager Chuck Deery showed off his best dance moves to encourage the final two to put their best foot forward. After an entertaining conclusion to that contest, it was time to give out awards and recognize accomplishments.
Once again KQEG-TV 23 live streamed the banquet on their web site for those who could not be in attendance. Watch for the replay of the banquet on a special edition of the Knights of Thunder coming soon. The banquet will also be posted soon on the You Tube channel for 7 Rivers Racing.
Over 100 awards were handed out on the evening. Among the big winners on the night were NASCAR Late Model Rookie of the Year Steve Bachman (4 awards), Hobby Stock runner-up Kaleb Hardy (4 awards), Street Stock champion Jake Schomers (4 awards), Mini-Van and Novelty champion Rob Stanfield (5 awards), and veteran quarter-mile racer Al Bartels (4 awards). As always, the evening would wrap up with the handing out of the illustrious Sportsmen of the Year award. The list of recipients given this award over the past 23 years is a veritable who’s who of the local racing scene. Joining this elite group of honorees this year is LaCrosse fixture Mike Niles. Niles started racing at LaCrosse in the Hobby Stock class in the mid 1970s, then moved up to the CWRA Late Models in the early 1980s. He has seen the Niles name continue to be prominent at LaCrosse with his sons Andy and Bill racing, and now his grandson Sam competing here. Niles continues to be an important part of Saturday nights at LaCrosse as one of the tow truck drivers.
A complete gallery of all the night’s award winners will be available soon on photographer Mary Schill’s web site, fortedesignsite.com.
The 2020 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series will kick off at LaCrosse with the Spring Fling Season Opener on Saturday afternoon, May 16. Weekly racing will run through August 15, with champions crowned at the 51st Oktoberfest Race Weekend on October 8 through 11.
For more information about the LaCrosse Speedway and the upcoming 2020 racing 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.
LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway 33rd Annual Champions’ Banquet Winners
Tobacco Outlet Plus Grocery NASCAR Late Model Champion–Nick Panitzke
Mountain Dew AMP Game Fuel Sportsmen Champion–Chris Weber
Auto Value Hobby Stock Champion–Jason Bolster
ANT’s Complete Pest Control Hornets Champion–Mark Bornitz
Auto Value Street Stock Champion–Jake Schomers
Mountain Dew Mini-Van Champion–Rob Stanfield
Novelty Champion–Rob Stanfield
Chase Champions–Steve Carlson (Late Models), Chris Weber (Sportsmen)
Rookies of the Year–Steve Bachman (Late Models), Henry Vian (Sportsmen), Alex Rud (Hobby Stocks)
Best Appearing Car Award (Fan Vote)–Steve Bachman (Late Models), Tom Luethe (Sportsmen), Brandon Gallagher (Hobby Stocks), Jaydin Schock (Hornets), Jake Schomers (Street Stocks), Rob Stanfield (Mini-Vans)
Best Appearing Car Award (Driver Vote)–Nick Clements (Late Models), Jeff Thompson (Sportsmen), Taylor Dobbs (Hobby Stocks), Cheyanne Stanfield (Hornets), Jonathan Burbach (Street Stocks), Al Bartels (Mini-Vans)
Social Media Award–No Limitz Motorsports
Outstanding Performance Award–Steve Bachman (Late Models), Tom Luethe (Sportsmen), Kaleb Hardy (Hobby Stocks), Kris Berg (Hornets), Al Bartels (Street Stocks), Rob Stanfield (Mini-Vans)
Community Award–Eckelberg Racing and Henderson Motorsports
Budweiser Dash Champions–Nick Panitzke (Late Models), Chris Weber (Sportsmen), Kaleb Hardy (Hobby Stocks)
Most Improved Driver Award–Nick Clements (Late Models), Mandi Eckelberg (Sportsmen), Kaleb Hardy (Hobby Stocks), Jaydin Schock (Hornets), Zach Liebsch (Street Stocks), Clayton Haessig (Mini-Vans)
Showmanship Award–Eckelberg Racing
Competition Achievement Awards–Justin Mullikin (by Tim Pierce), Justin Berg (by Andy Barney), Tom Carlson (by Jim Compton), Jerimy Wagner (by Wayne Nolte)
Sponsor Appreciation Award–Christenson Racing
Sharing Award–Steve Brasda
Special Recognition Awards–Pastor Andy Burhow and KQEG-TV’s Rick Wilson
Good Luck Award–Randy Humfeld (Late Models), Brian Hesselberg (Sportsmen), Taylor Dobbs (Hobby Stocks), Dakota Clauson (Hornets), Tristan Drazkowski (Street Stocks), Katie Deicher (Mini-Vans)
Mechanic of the Year–Brian Johnson (Nick Panitzke’s Team)
Most Popular Driver Award–Nick Clements (Late Models), Mandi Eckelberg (Sportsmen), Kaleb Hardy (Hobby Stocks), Jaydin Schock (Hornets), Zach Liebsch (Street Stocks), Clayton Haessig (Mini-Vans)
Sportsman of the Year–Mike Niles