Third Time A Charm As Justin Haers Cops 3rd Consecutive LOLR Big-Block Crown
First-time titlist Hutton joins repeat champs Sobotka, Grant & Minutolo to end 70th Anniversary
Geneva, NY – January 5, 2023 – Steven Ovens, Land of Legends Raceway PR
Promoter Paul Cole staged the season-ending Land Of Legends Raceway awards banquet at Legott's Club 86 for the third consecutive season on Friday, January 5. It was a big night to celebrate the 70th Anniversary season at the historic Ontario County Fairgrounds oval and the accomplishments of many, including Pepsi Big-Block Modified track champion Justin Haers. “T-Bone” as he is known on the track became just the fourth driver in LOLR history to score three Big-Block titles in a row, joining Bob McCreadie, Steve Paine and Matt Sheppard.
Lead track announcer Steven Ovens joined Cole as the master of ceremonies in the celebration of seven decades of motorsports in Canandaigua, also honoring fellow track titlists Zach Sobotka, Jordan Hutton, Jimmy Grant and Marc Minutolo, as well as a handful of deserving drivers and speedway supporters that shared in receipt of special awards presented throughout the three-hour gala.
The 2019 DIRTcar Northeast Promoter of the Year opened the awards portion of the program with his annual “State of the Speedway” address. With plans for 2024 well underway and the tentative schedule published on Christmas Eve, Cole shared his thoughts on the sport as a whole.
“I can’t stress to drivers enough how important it is to take advantage of all the tools we provide you to promote your team’s efforts and the support you get from your sponsors,” Cole stated. “Use the video resources we have and share the upcoming posts we will be making to highlight your great seasons. Reach out to our video crew to help. Our goal is to bring fresh faces to the races as we continue to focus on creating new fans to join our loyal fan base for the future.”
Cole offered that the schedule for 2024 is similar with several tweaks as he once again will place focus on special events geared toward the divisions that compete at the track weekly. Signature events include two Super DIRTcar Series shows, a pair of DIRTcar Sportsman Series dates and three tour stops for CRSA Sprints, plus two Empire Street Stock Series showdowns, a full-fender/vintage car tripleheader during the 181st Ontario Co. Fair and traditional Top Gun Shootout Weekend in September.
A project in the works and nearing completion will be a VIP suite in the Turn 1 area of the frontstretch after demand was so high for nightly sponsors in both 2021, '22 and '23. This area will offer a unique viewing area for sponsors and dignitaries to entertain employees, customers and advertisers.
Cole addressed Land of Legends TV, which entertained an average viewing audience in 2023 of 10,000 fans by continuing the free streaming video model put into place just prior to the '21 season. The addition of the DIRTVision simulcast of Land of Legends TV on their platform saw viewership increase by 40% and will continue to grow in 2024.
In terms of division sponsorships, Cole offered tokens of appreciation for support in 2023 to Geneva Club Beverage/Pepsi (Modified), Stirling Lubricants (Sportsman), MighTea Boba (305 Sprint), Eldredge & Son’s Scrap Recycling (Street Stocks, Lloyd’s Contracting (Hobby Stock), Maguire Ford of Canandaigua (New Legends Sportsman).
Cole confirmed that prices for both the pits and grandstand admission will not be increasing for 2024. Pits will remain $40, while General Admission will remain at $15, $13 for Seniors and Kids under 16 free of charge with paid adult.
LOLR Director of Marketing & Operations Tana Robinson organized a fantastic celebration, welcoming 218 drivers, owners, crew members, track officials, corporate partners, family and friends of racing. When it came time for the awards presentation, Haers took home the lion's share of more than $25,000 in point fund cash and contingencies distributed to drivers in both open-wheel and full-fender competition during the season. Top drivers were recognized for their accomplishments with personal interviews and high-speed video highlights further enhancing the annual event for all in attendance.
Door prizes and ticket/pass giveaways were distributed during dinner. Hand-made trophies from Artistic Media Design, owned by LOLR TV Executive Producer Art Rorick, were presented to the Top-3 point-getters in all five headline divisions as well as special award recipients. The track champions were also honored with race shop banners commemorating their 2023 success.
The Big-Block celebration was a special one for the Haers family as their daughter Emma was able to attend her first banquet since Haers started the three-peat. Two years ago his immediate family could not attend so Justin joined the banquet via Zoom, while Emma had to sit out last year due to illness. The third time was the charm as Haers was able to invite both of his children to the stage to accept and share in his championship moment. The Brothers Johnson, runner-up Alan and third-place finisher Danny, were included in the Top-3 video highlight package.
Car owner Tim Gibson and Team 27J were honored with the “Crew Chief/Team of the Year” for their continued support of “The Doctor” Danny Johnson. Johnson logged his first full-time season at the fairgrounds facility in several years behind the efforts of Gibson, George Shakelton, Malcolm Lane and a small but extremely dedicated pit crew.
Sobotka celebrated his second-straight Land of Legends Raceway track title with more checkered flags this season than in his previous championship run that included just a single victory. Consistency was key along with his three wins as he didn’t finish outside the Top-10 in 2023. His season was highlighted by a landmark Big-Block Modified victory in June, driving the Tom Coar-owned No. 32. Sobotka was joined by former Sportsman champion Matt Guererri as well as 1999 and 2000 Sportsman champion Karl Comfort in the top three spots.
Recent high school graduate Jordan Hutton enjoyed the spoils of his first Land of Legends Raceway 305 Sprint Car track championship. He was flawless in 2023, winning five out of ten races he entered on the season. Not to be outdone there, he also took home the CRSA Sprints overall title and both Mini Series championships put on by CRSA and their marketing partners. Hutton was welcomed forward by multi-time champion Darryl Ruggles as the youth movement made their voices heard this season. Youngsters James Layton and Matt Rotz completed the podium and were featured in the 305 Sprint highlights.
Jimmy Grant locked up his second Land of Legends Street Stock championship in 2023, claiming nine of 12 features on the year to make it a clean .750 win percentage. The winning didn’t stop after the points season as Grant took the checkered flag to win his first Les Whyte Memorial Top Gun Shootout in September.
The second-generation driver from Penn Yan plans another run at a LOLR title with a new piece, while the '23 car will be reserved for the 11-race Empire Street Stock Series planned in 2024. C.J. Guererri and Mike Welch were honored as podium finishers in the division highlight reel.
The energetic showman “Mr. Smooth” Marc Minutolo did not disappoint in acceptance of his fifth overall track title at the Canandaigua speedplant. Minutolo walked to the stage with a dollar bill shooter that made it rain in fake currency all the way to the stage.
Minutolo bested last year’s track champion Frank “Bubba” Burnell Jr. and noted that the difference in the title was the timing of bad luck as he struggled early in the season while Burnell faced hardships in the home stretch. Three generations of Kerricks made the Hobby Stock highlight reel as Danny Kerrick completed a breakout season to fill the full-fender podium.
Cole closed out the program by calling Minutolo up to the microphone to present the 2023 Employee of the Year to lead announcer and social media staff member Steven Ovens. Minutolo noted many of the catch phrases and excitement that Ovens has brought to the announcer’s booth since 2019 at LOLR. He also shared during the presentation several occasions this season where the second-generation announcer stepped back into the producer’s role for LOLR TV while Rorick and other back-up producers were not available to assure that the video livestream would continue as scheduled.
Since joining the crack Canandaigua staff, Ovens has spearheaded track announcing duties, handles all social media posts during the week, operates the track’s podcasting efforts as time allows and creates and coordinates video content for all of LOLR’s social channels. Son of former LOLR stock car feature winner Stu Ovens, Steve shared the honor with his wife Keegan in attendance and accepted the award stating it was an honor to share another special honor in racing with his late brother Brad, who was honored as a co-Employee of the Year in 2021 shortly after passing away from COVID in November '21.
First-year Big-Block racer Dalton Martin, first-year Sportsman chauffeur Greenley George and first-year 305 Sprint Car pilot Dillon Paddock earned 2023 LOLR Rookie of the Year awards, with each receiving commemorative trophies on Friday.
Justin Eldredge was the reluctant recipient of the annual 'Hard Luck' award after a season where bad luck struck numerous times. More faulty fuel pumps than one should have to endure as well as a major crash in Turn 1 in July were unwelcomed ‘highlights’ of Eldredge’s season.
A pair of 'Best Appearing Car' awards were handed out to open-wheel drivers Bobby Parrow and Daniel Johnson Jr. Parrow’s black 305 sprint car highlighted with fluorescent red was a fan-favorite all season while Johnson’s car, prepared and supplied by the late Doug Dulen and his Honeoye Auto Parts team featured a patriotic red, white and blue theme.
Loyal LOLR Big-Block Modified pilot Derrick Podsiadlo from Penn Yan, NY and Dundee, NY’s Aksel Jensen received special 'Sportsmanship' awards.
Long-time Modified and LOLR fan, now turned Sportsman racer Brad Sawyer from Spencerport, NY was honored with receipt of the 5th Annual Spirit of Racing award. Sawyer claimed his first win in the Maguire Ford of Canandaigua New Legends division in September, after slowing on the final lap thinking the race was already over. As cars sped by, Sawyer accelerated again and made a thrilling pass off Turn 4 to win by a scant 0.023-second as witnessed on the final timing and scoring sheet.
Sawyer’s victory lane was filled with emotion and told a great story of fulfilling a dream to race without the help of sponsors at a track he’s been a fan of for over 20 years. The room was electric while Sawyer accepted the award and answered a few questions from Paul Cole. Touched by the legendary story of Sawyer’s victory, fellow Sportsman competitor Matt Guererri offered an entire race car wrap for the 2024 season courtesy of ImageX Graphics.
OPEN PRACTICE KICKS OFF '24 CANANDAIGUA CAMPAIGN APRIL 20
With stock cars debuting at the Ontario Co. Fairgrounds in 1953 and now on the brink of launching the 61st season of oval track racing, the 2024 Land Of Legends Raceway schedule leads off with 'open' practice sessions on Sat. April 20. Any type of race car is welcome for the evening event that runs 6:00-9:00pm with pit gates unlocked at 3:30pm and grandstand seating offered free of charge.
Howell Properties presents the first race action on Sat. April 27 when the mighty Pepsi Big-Block Modifieds headline a fast-paced five-star show of Stirling Lubricants Sportsman, MighTea Boba 305 Sprint, Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling Street Stock and Lloyd's Contracting Hobby Stock classes. Maguire Ford of Canandaigua New Legends Sportsman make it an even half-dozen beginning in May.
Pit gates swing open weekly at 3:30pm, grandstands at 5 o'clock, hot laps at 5:30pm and racing at 6:30pm. Grandstand Admission is $15 for adults and $13 for senior citizens while those 16 yrs. & under and accompanied by an adult are FREE. Pit admission for all ages is $40.
Check out www.landoflegendsraceway.com often as further information for the upcoming season will be posted right up to raceday. To discuss marketing opportunities available at the track in 2024, please contact Director of Marketing & Operations Tana Robinson via phone 716-799-5669 or e-mail email@example.com.
2023 Land Of Legends Raceway Point Leaders & Award Winners
Pepsi/Geneva Club Beverage Big-Block Modified: JUSTIN HAERS-Champion, Alan Johnson-2nd, Danny Johnson-3rd, Kyle Coffey-4th, Kevin Root-5th, Pat Ward-6th, Alex Payne-7th, Peter Britten-8th, James Sweeting-9th, Zach Payne-10th. Rookie – Dalton Martin, Sportsmanship – Derrick Podsiadlo, Crew Chief/Team of the Year – Tim Gibson/Sunrise Insulation-Shakelton Auto-Johnson Racing #27J Team, Best Appearing Car – #27JR Daniel Johnson Jr. 2023 feature winners: Britten (3), Erick Rudolph (3), Matt Sheppard (3), D.Johnson, A.Payne, Sweeting, Z.Payne, Zach Sobotka, Tim Fuller.
Stirling Lubricants Modified Sportsman: ZACH SOBOTKA-Champion, Matt Guererri-2nd, Karl Comfort-3rd, Nick Root-4th, Frank Guererri Jr.-5th, Paul Guererri-6th, Kane Bristol & Kasey Coffey-7th(tie), Nick Cooper-9th, Tim Lafler-10th. Rookie – Greenley George, Spirit of Racing – Brad Sawyer. 2023 feature winners: Sobotka (3), Cooper (2), Andrew Buff (2), Comfort, Root, Bristol, Greenley George, Kevin Ridley, Matt Janczuk, Cameron Tuttle, Gavin Eisele.
MighTea Boba 305 Sprint Car: JORDAN HUTTON-Champion, James Layton-2nd, Matt Rotz-3rd, Bobby Parrow-4th, Johnny Kolosek-5th, Ethan Gray-6th, Dan Craun-7th, Darryl Ruggles-8th, Randy Years-9th, Dillon Paddock-10th. Rookie – Dillon Paddock, Best Appearing Car – #80 Bobby Parrow. 2023 feature winners: Hutton (5), Parrow (3), Kolosek, Gray, Dalton Herrick.
Eldredge & Son Scrap Recycling Street Stock: JIMMY GRANT-Champion, C.J. Guererri-2nd, Mike Welch-3rd, Marc Minutolo-4th, Nick Dandino-5th, Aksel Jensen-6th, Carl Cleveland-7th, John Burritt-8th, Patrick Hobbs-9th, Chris Beyea-10th. Sportsmanship – Aksel Jensen. 2023 feature winners: Grant (10), Guererri (2), Minutolo.
Lloyd's Contracting Hobby Stock: MARC MINUTOLO-Champion, Frank 'Bubba' Burnell Jr.-2nd, Daniel Kerrick-3rd, Tyler Burnell-4th, Nathan Peckham-5th, Brighton Grant-6th, Justin Eldredge-7th, Blane Smith-8th, Dan Korpanty-9th, Justin Jacoby-10th. Highlight of the Year – Brighton Grant, Hard Luck – Justin Eldredge. 2023 feature winners: F.Burnell (4), Minutolo (3), Kerrick (3), T.Burnell (2), Peckham.
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Live Stream: https://landoflegendstv.com/
Along with recognizing its weekly 50/50 raffle fund beneficiaries, Land of Legends Raceway is proud to salute several sponsors and corporate partners that continue to help bring its fans the best Saturday night racing show in the Northeast. Listed alphabetically are 2023 division sponsors Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling, Pepsi Geneva Club Beverage, Lloyd's Contracting, Maguire Ford of Canandaigua, MighTea Boba, Stirling Lubricants; event sponsors Admar Construction Equipment & Supply Company, Auction Direct USA, Auto Value Parts Stores, A-Verdi Storage Containers, Busch Light, DC Rauscher Contractor, Ferris Mowers, Genesee Beer/Coors Light/Twisted Tea, Geneva Club Beverage/Pepsi, Honeoye Auto Parts, Jack Howell Properties, iFreeze Storage & Distribution Center, Maguire Ford of Canandaigua, Nardozzi Companies, Phelps Cement Products, Prouty's Bar & Grill, Regional Truck & Trailer, Ryan Phelps Auto Sales, Seneca Auto Sales & Service, Seneca Meadows Landfill, Sherwin Williams Paint, Tradition Automotive Group, VP Racing Fuels; promotional partners Always Locked Self Storage, American Woman Designs, Auto Wash Car Wash, Baker's Externinating, Champion Power Equipment, Disbatch Brewing Company, Elab Smokers Boutique, Emerson Oil Company/Castrol, Enertech Global, FLX BBQ Company, Geneva Club Beverage, Hoosier Racing Tire, IndyKart Raceway, LSI Solutions, Legott's Club 86, Mac's Dairy Bar & Mini Golf, Maguire Ford of Canandaigua, Meyer's Finger Lakes RV, Mike Emhof Motorsports, Ontario County Fairboard, On The Rocks Bar & Grill, Phelps Community Center Head Start Program, The "Original" Red Osier Landmark Restaurant, Schultz Heating & Cooling, Spectrum, Stop DWI NYS, Superior Plumbing Service, Turn 5 Media, Vance Metal Fabrication, Weedsport Hall of Fame, Wicked Tees.