Atlanta Dragway's finest enjoyed meeting again for their last event of 2011, the Atlanta Dragway Banquet of Champions, hosted by American Legion Post 127. The Jr Dragster families began the evening by crowning their champions and top performers in each class, followed by dinner and camaraderie.
Wesley Mayfield began the year in first place, and held that spot to the end of the season, earning the 2011 13-17 championship. After collecting his champion's jacket and trophy, he thanked God, his family and all his other supporters. For the second year running, Austin Carden earned the 10-12 year old Jr Dragster championship. Carden also thanked God, his family and Jeff Brown. He was especially happy to celebrate this with both of his Nanas. Another Austin, Austin Bowden, earned the top spot for winning the 8-9 year old Jr Dragster championship. All the hardware he won was so heavy Bowden was having a hard time lifting it up. He exclaimed, "this thing's heavy!"
After the Jr Dragster awards ceremony was complete, the "big car" racers then shared their place in the spotlight. After an invocation by the Racers for Christ chaplain Lloyd Shanks, everyone enjoyed a barbeque dinner, followed by track manager Ray Wilkings giving away door prizes donated by Atlanta Dragway supporters. Wilkings thanked each of these supporters, which included Summit Racing Equipment, Lucas Oil, Coca Cola, Year One, Mickey Thompson Tires, Leon Farmer and co., Banks County CVB, Tanger Outlet Mall, Competition Products, McDonalds, Comfort Suites Commerce, Fairfield Inn, Holiday Inn, Hampton Inn, Funopolis, K&N Filters, Insurance Quick-Allstate, Miller's Powder Coating, Hen's Nest and more. Sportsman racer Chris Moat was thrilled to be the winner of the Mickey Thompson tires.
Wilkings first handed out trophies for the top finishers up through second place in Super Pro, Pro, Sportsman, Motorcycle, 6.50 Index, 7.50 Index and Open Comp Full Body. He then called the champions in each class, and awarded each one a champion's jacket and trophy. They then had an opportunity to give a brief speech.
6.50 Index champ Stan Sinack thanked his wife Tammie for letting him race, along with all the help he received from his friends, including Bill Boomhower and Ed Nalley. 7.50 Index champion Woody Bryant said, "I watched John Norris, and then began doing what he was doing….and it works!" Bryant also thanked his wife Paula. John Norris, who won the Open Comp Full Body championship for the second year in a row, also thanked his wife.
Super Pro champ Jeremy Hancock had to work, but his wife Ashley and dad Mark attended to accept the awards. Hancock thanked his many supporters, including his beautiful wife Ashley (he really did). Pro champ Chad Brewer, picking up on the thanking wives cue, added, "I ain't got a wife, so Alan (Schaffer), I'm going to borrow Tracy for this one and thank her for letting me use her Firebird for the last three races." Sportsman champ Jim Burford added, "I'm fortunate to consider himself a part of this fraternity of racers." Motorcycle champion Tim Sutton thanked his wife, and also his mom for always being encouraging.
Special awards were then presented. Walt Mesik earned the Perfect Run award, for making a perfect run during the 2011 season. One of his friends called out, "Did you win that round?" He did. Ryan Johnson was voted Most Improved Driver. Winston Brooks was awarded the plaque for Most Inspirational Driver. The Sportsmanship award went to Bruce Wilson, and the Best Looking Helmet award was given to Michael Bruce. One of the more dubious awards went to Stacy Blanton, for Ugliest Pit Vehicle. However, that was followed immediately by the Best Looking Pit Vehicle, which went to Jeremy Hancock, and the Best Looking Race Vehicle, which was given to Bill Boomhower. The last award given out was for the Atlanta Dragway Employee of the Year, going to a very deserving Wayne Roberts.
Wilkings then closed the awards ceremony with some news about the 2012 season. He announced that Atlanta Dragway has a complete new fiber optic timing system, including "brand new everything". The fiber optic system will be a lot less susceptible to damage from lightning. He then announced there would be approximately 13 bracket races for 2012, along with a Chevy Show put on by Chevy High Performance magazine, a Nostalgia Drag event, an Outlaw event, an NMCA event, a three day Jr Dragster event, another Legion event, and more.
Wilkings also thanked Steve Adams of American Legion Post 127 for all of his help with the venue.
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