BETHEL, NY – In front of several hundred of their fellow drivers, crew members, fans, and friends, Bethel Motor Speedway’s 2014 points champions were honored during the track’s annual awards banquet. There were four first-time champions in the mix. Numerous special awards were also given out.
Middletown’s Bob Morris collected his second consecutive championship in the Sportsman division, in just his third year of racing. Prior to hitting the track in 2012, Morris had never raced in a full-sized car, but he quickly became a force to contend with, picking up his first career win in just his first year of competition.
For the second straight year, the race for the championship in the Sportsman class boiled down to a battle between Morris and 2012 division champion Jerry Curry. With eight wins to his credit, Morris claimed the crown.
Morris was additionally presented with the Best Appearing Car award, while his mother, Doris, was awarded the 2nd Annual Sherri Barnes Memorial Women’s Dedication in Racing award. Attendees at the banquet voted for Morris for the award in recognition of the support she has provided for the several members of the family who all race.
Dan Dulin was named Sportsman Rookie of the Year.
In a championship tie-breaker that came down to the number of feature wins each driver had, Danbury, Connecticut’s Joe McCarthy claimed his first career championship in the BMS Modified class. McCarthy, who was a rookie in 2013, grabbed the title over George Rudinas, Jr., by virtue of five feature wins versus Rudinas’ four wins. McCarthy claimed his first win of the season in June, and he wrapped up the season with a win in the final event of the year, catapulting him to his title.
Rudinas, who resides in Bethel, Connecticut, picked up awards for both Best Appearing Car and Rookie of the Year.
John Cote of Danbury, Connecticut, who has collected numerous championships and racked up over more than 100 wins at the speedway in the BMS Modified division, was named by attendees as the recipient of the 2nd Annual Dick Crumley Memorial Sportsmanship Award, in recognition of the support and guidance he has offered to fellow competitors and the speedway throughout his career.
In the Legends Pro/Masters division, Richie Coy of Haskell, New Jersey added to the generations of titles earned in his family when he notched his first career Legends title. With two feature event wins to his credit during the season, Coy claimed the crown over Matt Evans, who was the defending division champion.
Coy’s championship brings the well-known racing family’s total to 20 championship in nine different series over the course of eight decades. Coy was also awarded Best Appearing Car in the class.
Joseph Graf of Mahwah, New Jersey was crowned champion in the Legends Young Lion/Semi Pro championship, becoming the second generation of drivers in his family to collect a Legends title. Graf’s father was the 2012 Legends Pro/Masters champion. The younger Graf was the 2009 Bandolero champion at Bethel.
Graf spent nearly the entire season atop the point standings, beginning with a feature win on Opening Night. Graf’s closest competition came from Collin Hoeffner, who was the division’s 2013 Rookie of the Year. By the time the season ended, Graf had racked up five feature wins.
Teddy Hodgdon of Danbury, Connecticut was presented with the Best Appearing Car award. Middletown’s Christian Eckes, who scored ten wins in spite of only running at the track on a part-time basis, was named Legends Rookie of the Year. Eckes finished second overall in national Young Lions points.
Rome, Pennsylvania’s David French collected his first title at Bethel in the Bandolero class, while also claiming the title at Chemung (NY) Speedrome for the second straight year. French spent the season at Bethel battling with Nicholas Harnage, but with 12 wins to his credit, French earned the title. In addition to his two track championships, French ended the season third in national Bandolero Outlaw points.
Jessica Ricci of Kingston was the recipient of the Best Appearing Car award. Swan Lake’s Bryan Chirico, who finished tenth in Bandolero points after moving up from the Beginner Bandolero class, was named Rookie of the Year.
Mark Sylvester of Tafton, Pennsylvania captured a very emotional championship over Kenny Atkins. It was Sylvester’s third title in the class, with the last one coming in 2012. Sylvester scored a total of six wins on his way to the crown, which he accepted in the memory of his long-time friend Les Quick, who passed away during the offseason.
Sylvester also received the Best Appearing Car award. Sylvester’s crew chief, Joe Kalt of Carbondale, Pennsylvania, was named Crew Chief of the Year. Kalt displayed an incredible amount of dedication, and was recognized for taking an entire week off of work to repair Sylvester’s car after a nasty wreck late in the season that had the potential to eliminate Sylvester’s chances at winning the title.
In spite of driving in the 4 Cylinder Advanced class early in the season, Greg Cohen accumulated enough points in the Pro Stock division to earn the Rookie of the Year award.
Amber VanOrden of Honesdale, Pennsylvania, accepted her second consecutive championship in the Street Stock class after finishing ahead of her father, multi-time champion Gary VanOrden Sr. The younger VanOrden, who was the division’s 2011 Rookie of the Year, notched a total of 14 wins in her quest to defend her title from the previous year.
Walt Henry of Circleville claimed his second title in three years in the 4 Cylinder Advanced class. With six wins to his credit, Henry grabbed the championship by a slim margin over Kody Welsh, who was the 2011 4 Cylinder Novice champion. In addition, Henry collected the title in the Twin Cam 4 Cylinder class, which ran a limited schedule in 2014.
Henry also received the Best Appearing Car award.
Jeffersonville’s Brian Bauernfeind grabbed his first career championship in the 4 Cylinder Novice class. Over the course of the season, Bauernfeind notched six feature event wins, putting him ahead of Mike Bryant in the final standings. Bauernfeind also finished second in Twin Cam 4 Cylinder points.
Bauernfeind was the recipient of the Best Appearing Car award.
Felicia Reichenbaugh of North Branch was named Most Improved Driver for the 2014 season. Reichenbaugh began driving in the 4 Cylinder Novice class during the 2013 season, and she showed significant improvement during 2014, including several top five finishes. At just 16 years old, Reichenbaugh is the youngest driver in the division.
Plans are already underway for the 2015 season at the speedway, which will mark the track’s 55th anniversary. Two preseason practice days are scheduled for April 11 and 18, with Opening Night set to take place on April 25 (rain date April 26). To kick off the celebration of the speedway’s anniversary, management has announced that grandstand admission for the first five weeks of the season will be $5. The promotion will run from April 25 through May 23. A complete schedule of events for the 2015 season is expected to be available in early January.
More information can be obtained online at www.bethelmotorspeedway.com, or by calling (845) 319-7908, Tuesday through Friday from 10 am until 6 pm.
Gary VanOrden Sr.