Speedway Digest Staff
Follow us on Twitter @SpeedwayDigest
Travis Downey Races From the Desert to Stafford's R.A.D. Auto Machine Street Stock Rookie of the Year
When the 2021 season kicked off at Stafford Speedway, Street Stock driver Travis Downey made the move into the world of asphalt oval track racing after coming from a background in desert trophy truck off-road racing. The Barkhamsted, CT native and driver of the #42 P.J. Ladola & Sons Electrical Contractors, Inc. Chevrolet made the transition from the deserts of Parker, Arizona and Las Vegas to the asphalt of Stafford Speedway a smooth one as he scored 3 top-5 and 13 top-10 finishes in 18 starts to claim the R.A.D. Auto Machine Rookie of the Year title.
“Being Rookie of the Year feels pretty good since this was my first time ever racing on asphalt,” said Downey. “Rookie of the Year was my goal. I would have liked to have won a race this season but that turned out to be a little bit harder than I thought it would be. My team, myself, and my family, were all happy and the sponsors were all excited. I’ve already gotten a couple of commitments for next season so it feels really good to be the Rookie of the Year. Honestly I would give ourselves an A for the season. We didn’t have any mechanical failures this season and my crew gave an A+ effort every week. I really appreciate all my guys and how we handled things this season. We pretty much dominated the rookie race, we led right from the beginning of the season.”
Making the transition from the wide open sands of the desert to a closed oval track can be a daunting task for any driver but Downey took steps to ensure that he could make that move as easy as possible for himself. Downey purchased a former race winning car car and enlisted some experienced help as he prepared for his rookie campaign.
“I wasn’t really sure what to expect this season because I had never done this before,” said Downey. “I took the effort to make sure we bought a good car, we have Meghan Fuller’s old car, and Rick Fuller would always give me a truthful answer any time I had a question for him. I also had a guy named Rick Levin that used to work on Rick’s car when he raced at Riverside who helped me out all through the year. Towards the end of the season, I started talking with Bob Fill and we made a few changes to the car and that’s when we really started running good. We ended up getting a podium finish and we finished 4th or 5th one night so I was pretty happy with that. The last race of the season I was behind Frank [L’Etoile] and I just stayed behind him for the last 8 laps or so because I didn’t want to be that guy who did anything to jeopardize him for the championship.”
Downey kicked off his rookie season with a mid-pack 13th place finish in the season opening race, but after that, he scored 7 consecutive top-9 finishes heading into the July 16 Midstate Site Development 30, a race that Downey had circled on his calendar, but would ultimately lead to a disappointing finish.
“The night of the MSD Firecracker 30, we had a really good car but we got wrecked out on the first lap of the race,” said Downey. “The last few races going into that race we had been the fastest car on the track on the last lap of the race so we thought we really had something for the extra distance race. After that we fell apart a little bit but I think we bounced back pretty well in the end.”
Downey’s MSD 30 misfortune led to a dismal month of July, with a best finish of 19th. Aside from not being able to start the September 3 feature race due to a mechanical issue, Downey closed out his 2021 season with 6 top-8 finishes in 7 races, including his season best finish of third on September 24. For the season, Downey was the highest finishing Street Stock rookie driver in 13 of the 19 feature events held.
“We had a good setup in the car, we didn’t have a top-5 car, but we had a top-10 car and I managed to stay out of some wrecks and that allowed us to get some really good finishes,” said Downey.
With a successful rookie season under his belt, Downey is now looking forward to the 2022 season where he will look to add his first career Street Stock feature win to his racing resume.
“We’re all super excited for next season,” said Downey. “If I was a little more familiar with how these cars drive, I might have been able to sneak out a win this season, but we’ll definitely be going full bore for a win next season. The car is already all dismantled, the chassis is heading to BFR, and we’re ready to get after it. I had the car at this time last year but I didn’t start working on it until January, so we’re way ahead of where we were last year and I know more about the car and what to do with it so I think we’re in pretty good shape. Everyone who helps me on the car lives pretty much within a mile or so and the Mutch Family, Bob and Chris, those guys are super. The night we rolled the car, by 10 o’clock Saturday morning there wasn’t one single body panel on the car and it was ready to get fixed. Two weeks later we got t-boned and we did the same thing and the car was tore apart and was at Bob Fill’s place at 1pm on Saturday afternoon getting fixed. Big thank you to The Mutch Family, Mutch Nicer Enterprises, Valley’s Lawn and Landscape, P.J. Lodola & Sons Electrical Contractors, Squid Decals, G.P. Fence, my father and Jeffrey Codere for owning the car and always being there for me, Northern Fabrication, BFR Chassis, Sullivan Automotive Group, and my wife and daughter for putting up with me and letting me always work on the car.”
For more information, visit www.staffordspeedway.com, checkout Stafford Speedway on Facebook or Twitter, or contact the track office at 860-684-2783.
Stafford Speedway PR
World Wide Technology Raceway attracts rush of fans from across North America for NASCAR Cup Series Race in June 2022
In the first months since its announcement, the June 5, 2022, NASCAR Cup Series race at World Wide Technology Raceway has earned significant fan and sponsor interest, generating thousands of ticket deposits and more than 500 inquiries for hospitality suites and on-site camping experiences. More than half of the available tickets for race have been claimed by existing ticket holders with the balance available for public sale on December 15, 2021.
Further, improvements outside the venue will upgrade the driver, race and fan experience as Ameren Illinois makes critical enhancements to bolster the local electric grid that serves customers in and around the track, including upgrading the two circuits currently feeding the venue and adding a third circuit. “The technology that drives modern racing, coupled with on-site attendance from broadcast media outlets and more than 60,000 fans requires significant power, and Ameren Illinois is helping ensure we host a seamless event for all,” said Curtis Francois, owner and CEO of WWTR.
"We know the NASCAR Cup Series race is going to have a tremendous economic impact on the region," said Richard J. Mark, Chairman and President, Ameren Illinois. "This upgrade, which is part of our overall statewide plan to build a cleaner, greener, more resilient grid, plays a role in making WWTR a premier motorsports venue."
The strong response is indicative of what the sporting world knows – the NASCAR Cup Series with its 80 million fans delivers millions of dollars each year to host communities. An economic impact study by the Rawlings Sports Business Management Department at Maryville University projects this race will produce at least $60 million in economic impact for the St. Louis market annually.
The WWTR team is managing many improvements to the venue. There is a heavy focus on the highly desirable infield experience including premium camping sites, a large interactive fan entertainment area adjacent to the garages and upgraded driver and team owner access. The hospitality suite tower is undergoing renovation as well, with updated interiors and an enhanced VIP entrance.
More than $40 million in improvements are underway for the 2022 racing season which will include the inaugural NASCAR Cup Series race at WWTR. “We are receiving strong interest in naming rights for the race, and will unveil our sponsor and related fan opportunities soon,” said Francois.
Martinsville Speedway’s 27th Annual Christmas Toy Drive Raises over $17,000 & Collects Nearly 2,000 Toys from Martinsville Community
Martinsville Speedway held the 27th Annual Christmas Toy Drive to benefit the Grace Network of Martinsville and Henry County on Saturday, Dec. 4. The traditional holiday event raised over $17,000 in donations and collected nearly 2,000 toys that will be distributed to families in need this Christmas season.
“We are always humbled by how our Martinsville and Henry County community comes together each year for the Christmas Toy Drive to touch the lives of others in our community,” said Clay Campbell, Martinsville Speedway President. “Thanks to our valued Martinsville Speedway partners, race fans and community for donating to support the Grace Network’s efforts to support families this Christmas season.”
The Christmas Toy Drive welcomed the greater Martinsville region to donate an unwrapped toy or $25 for the opportunity to drive laps around the iconic track in their personal vehicles. In addition to hundreds of members of the community, AEP, Bassett Furniture, Campbell Family Foundation, Patrick & Henry Community College all made significant contributions to the Christmas Toy Drive.
“Once again, we are so grateful to Martinsville Speedway for hosting the 27th Annual Christmas Toy Drive. Last year with all of the challenges the community and the country faced, we were so grateful for the success and didn’t think it could be surpassed, but this year was amazing. The dedication of all of the Speedway staff and Grace Network volunteers along with such a supportive community made this year a record breaker! The weather was great for the folks to drive on the track and everyone had a wonderful time,” said Tracy Hinchcliff, Executive Director, Grace Network of Martinsville and Henry County. “Kids are still struggling with getting back to normal and parents are too, so to bring joy to some of these families is the gift we all want to share. We are so grateful for all of the ‘Santa’s Helpers’ because without them, this would not be possible. May all of our community have a very Merry Christmas!”
The donated toys and monetary donations will be distributed to 600 area children through the Grace Network of Martinsville and Henry County, which is a faith-based, first-stop center for resources for families in crisis. The organization supports those in the community who need support to keep a roof over their heads, homes warm and lighted, and food on the table with short-term assistance and long-term solutions. To learn more about the Grace Network of Martinsville and Henry County, visit gracenetworkmhc.org.
Martinsville Speedway Pr
Eddie Tafoya Jr. concluded a successful 2021 sprint car season by racing in the “54th Annual Western World Championship” at the Arizona Speedway in November. Despite missing four races during the year, the handsome driver ended up eighth in the USAC/CRA Sprint Car Series championship standings.
Tafoya qualified well each night on the 3/8 mile “Copper State” track. On Friday he was eighth fastest in his flight with a time of 15.170. On night number two, he went two spots better to sixth with a lap of 15.049.
After his qualifying effort on Friday, “Mr. Smooth” placed sixth in his heat forcing him to the B main event. A fifth-place finish in the B sent him to the A main where he started 19th. Racing against the best cars and drivers in the USAC/CRA and USAC National Series, he passed seven of his competitors to finish 12th.
The Saturday finale for the “Western World” would mark Tafoya’s last ever event at the track as it was closing for good at the end of the season. In his 10-lap heat race, he brought the beautiful #51T home third and that put him into the starting field for the final race of the 2021 season. Not only did it put him in the main, but it also locked up the eighth-place finish in the championship standings.
For the main, the Chino Hills, California resident started inside the seventh row in the 13th spot. The fast way around the track was on the wider line and Tafoya got trapped on the bottom. When all was said and done, he ended up 21st.
To get to his impressive eighth-place finish during his sophomore season in the tough USAC/CRA Series, Tafoya contested 17 of the 21 races on the schedule. Of the 17, he made the A main event 15 times. He had one top three finish, five top fives and he was in the top 10 six times.
In addition to being on the track for nearly all of the USAC/CRA races, he took advantage of breaks in the schedule to hone his skills by heading back to Indiana three times during the year. In the “Hoosier State,” he raced 12 times, on seven different tracks against the best traditional sprint car drivers on the planet.
While the 2021 season has just ended, an early start to the 2022 campaign is just around the corner. To be exact, the first three nights of the new campaign are only seven weeks away! They will be at the Cocopah Speedway in Yuma, Arizona on January 27, 28 and 29. Tafoya and the team will be primed and ready for the new campaign and have their sights aimed on what is destined to be the young driver’s best season to date in a 410-sprint car.
Fans can follow Tafoya on Instagram @eddietafoya51. The same contact point can be used to purchase his great looking shirts via mail.
Tafoya and his team would like to thank the following sponsors for making the 2021 racing campaign possible. Specialty Fasteners, BR Performance, DRC Chassis, Ryder Racing Engines, Benic Enterprises, Simpson, and Bell.
Eddie Tafoya PR
Nearly three seconds separated leader Ross Bailes from Cory Hedgecock on Lap 9 of Saturday’s 40-lap Drydene Xtreme DIRTcar Series Feature at I-75 Raceway. When the flagman gave the two-to-go signal, that gap was gone.
Hedgecock, the 29-year-old standout from nearby Loudon, TN, dropped back to third on the initial start but was able to get around polesitter Ben Watkins for second on Lap 9. At that point, Bailes was almost three seconds ahead, deep in lapped traffic.
But with two previous wins in five starts at the track this season, Hedgecock let his home-track experience drive him all the way to Bailes’ rear bumper in under 30 laps. Using a lapped car as a pick, Hedgecock moved up to the middle groove, drove around both Bailes and the lapper to snag the lead out of Turn 4 and led the field back around to the checkers to score his first career Xtreme Series victory in front of a hometown crowd.
“We’re literally 15 miles away,” Hedgecock said. “You get off the exit, and I’m only five miles off it. So, it’s awesome.”
At the drop of the green, Bailes, the current Xtreme Series points leader from Clover, SC, got a great jump on the field and began to open up a sizeable advantage on the field. Which had Hedgecock concerned at first.
“He worried me there at the beginning of the race,” Hedgecock said. “He spurred out there really, really far. I struggled with [Ben Watkins], but I got by him and it seemed like we’d start reeling him in, then I’d catch a lap car. I couldn’t decide who was quicker.”
Once he made the move past Watkins, it was game-on. Hedgecock began ripping around the favored inside line and matched Bailes’ pace through traffic. Lap-by-lap, he shaved down the gap to the leader. When he finally reached Bailes’ rear bumper, he was ready to make the move.
At the head of the field, Bailes had seen enough of the slower cars and was looking for a breath of clean air.
“I guess I really needed a caution,” Bailes said. “Because I think if I could have stayed out front, I would have had a way better shot.”
With six laps left, Hedgecock first tried the top-middle side in Turns 3-4 to get around Bailes but was unsuccessful.
‘[Bailes] messed up with that lap car that one time, kinda got pinched-off there, and I got a run on the outside,” Hedgecock said. “I tried it again in Turn 3, but I barreled-off in there way too hot and heavy, and just got in the fluff.”
Bailes continue to hold the bottom lane, where he’d been all race long, as he worked past the slower car of Tim Vance with three-to-go. Hedgecock had reeled them back in when he decided to take one more shot at the leader and made the top side work as he drove on by for the lead.
“Going through lapped traffic, as I’ve always said – I’ll live and die by it – I’d still rather be running second,” Hedgecock said. “This particular time it paid off, and I’m happy to get it.”
“That’s just one of those cases where it’s better to be second than in first when we got in lapped traffic like that,” Bailes said.
At the end of the day, Bailes still grew his points lead in the Xtreme Series standings up to eight points over Carson Ferguson, who finished directly behind him after a charge from ninth. Though second place is the strong finish he needed, it still stung a bit to do so after leading 38 of 40 laps.
“It’s good, but it’s not good enough,” Bailes said. “One position ain’t gonna cut it. There’s only seven races, so you might get to the final race and have a two or three-position lead. You gotta get every position you can.”
Ferguson, in his third Super Late Model race, capped the podium after a great run from inside Row 5. Making most of his passes in the middle groove, the young hot-shoe turned heads once again in the Donald Bradsher-backed Longhorn Chassis #93F.
“We were able to steer around ‘em in dirty air,” Ferguson said. “Just run that middle groove.”
The 21-year-old from Lincolnton, NC, now has three Xtreme Series finishes, all inside the top-four, seeding him second in the points standings.
“Everything fell our way, and the car was right where it needed to be,” Ferguson said. “I caught lapped traffic at the perfect time. We just need to Qualify better, hopefully keep that same luck and we’ll be up there.”
The Drydene Xtreme DIRTcar Series next breaks for the holidays before heading back to South Carolina for Saturday-Sunday visits to Lake View Motor Speedway and Cherokee Speedway on Jan 15-16. Buy a ticket or stream all the action to your personal device with a subscription to DIRTVision presented by Drydene.
ABBREVIATED RESULTS (click for full results)
Feature (40 Laps) 1. 23-Cory Hedgecock; 2. 79-Ross Bailes; 3. 93F-Carson Ferguson; 4. 16-Ben Watkins; 5. 109-Eli Beets; 6. 83-Jensen Ford; 7. 16S-Sam Seawright; 8. 15-Christian Hanger; 9. 101-Forest Trent; 10. 44D-Dalton Cook; 11. 97-Bobby Giffin; 12. 18E-Ethan Wilson; 13. 56-Michael Asberry; 14. 421-Anthony Sanders; 15. K7-Gary Dillon; 16. 93-Cory Lawler; 17. 6C-Clay Coghlan; 18. 17V-Tim Vance; 19. 86-Jeff Neubert; 20. 03-David Yandle; 21. 6-Jonathan Ingram; 22. 156-Andy Standridge
DIRTcar Series PR
Brody Roa wrapped up his 2021 racing season in the USAC West Coast Sprint Car Series’ “80th Annual Turkey Night Grand Prix” at the Ventura Raceway last Saturday night. It will now be five weeks before the veteran driver opens his 2022 campaign at the “36th Chili Bowl Midget Nationals” in Tulsa, Oklahoma in January.
For one of the few times since the race began in 1934, “The Turkey Night Grand Prix” was not contested on Thanksgiving night. This year, in an effort to accommodate more fans, the finale of the race was switched to the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The move worked to perfection as the race attracted a complete sellout crowd. In addition, it was shown live to fans around the world on Flo Racing.
Garden Grove, California based Roa was back behind the wheel of Jayson May’s new #8o sprint car for “Turkey Night.” The previous week, he steered the same car to a main event victory at the Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield.
The TNGP opened last Friday night and the sprint cars got in two nights of action on the track that is affectionately known as “The Best Little Dirt Track in America.” For the first night, Roa drew a pill that put him on the inside of the third row for the initial 10-lap heat race. He advanced one spot and finished fourth. Up next for the 31-year-old driver was a qualifier and that was to be followed by a 15-lap dash. Unfortunately for Roa, he never got to the dash. Starting 7th in his qualifier, he was fighting to get into the top five on the third lap. That is when the car in front of him got sideways in turn four and nearly came to a full stop. With nowhere to go, Roa clobbered the car. He was able to continue, but when he got to the next corner, he went to turn, and the car spun to the infield with front end damage. That knocked him out of the qualifier, eliminated him from the dash and meant he would have to race in Saturday’s B main just to get into the “Turkey Night Grand Prix” final.
The B main on the second night featured 16 cars. Fourteen of them would transfer into the 30-lap A main event. Garnering one of the transfer spots proved no problem for wily veteran Roa as he placed seventh.
For his last race of 2021, Roa started in the 16th spot, but he did not stay there for long. By the end of the second lap, he had passed six cars and was up to 10th. Racing in heavy, wild traffic most of the way, he was ninth by lap nine and moved as far forward as eighth on lap 16. The see-saw battle in the middle of the pack saw Roa slip back to the 11th spot on the 19th go around before advancing back to ninth at the finish.
After a quick vacation where the water is warm this week, Roa will begin preparing for January’s “Chili Bowl” that will take place in the SageNet Center, which is one of the largest free standing clearspan (no columns) buildings in the world. As was the case the last few years, he will be wheeling the Kevin Ramey/Taylor Courtney #7M in Tulsa. Squaring off with more than 300 other stars from all disciplines of racing, Roa will compete in one of the five qualifying nights and the Saturday finale in Tulsa. Fans from all over the world can look in on the action on https://www.floracing.com/.
In BR Performance team related news, congratulations are in order for Roa’s longtime crew chief Zac Bozanich and Lacie Price on their engagement earlier this week.
. Brody Roa merchandise is available online and will make great Christmas gifts for his fans. You can see it all in his online store that is packed with great items including t-shirts, sweatshirts, caps, beanies, baby onesies, plush blankets, jigsaw puzzles, stickers, notebooks, tote bags, wine tumblers, mugs, bandana pet collars and more. To check it out, please visit the following website https://www.brodyroa.com/shop/.
Roa and the team would like to thank the following for being part of the 91R’s 2021 campaign. HD Industries, Biker Bruce Fischer, Inland Rigging, Burris Racing, Sander Engineering, ALR Virtual Services, Caltrol, Competition Suspension, K-1 Race Gear, Molecule, Rod End Supply, Baldwin Filters and Jambo BBQ Pits. In addition, the veteran driver offers thanks to Fastenal, Coopers Propane, Total Lubricants, Marina Pools, TJM Oilfield Distribution, Certex, and Biker Bruce for sponsoring the #8M.
If you or your company would like to jump on board and receive recognition throughout the 2022 racing season, please give the two-time USAC champion racer a phone call or drop him a note at the contact information at the top of this release. You can also contact him if you would like to put him in your car in a USAC National Series race when his west coast schedule permits.
To view Roa’s online portfolio and learn more about the team, please click on the following link https://www.teamwithbrody.com/. Fans can also check out the team website at https://www.brodyroa.com/ and Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/br91r/. To keep up with May Motorsports, please check out and “like” its Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/MayMotorsports8M
RSS Racing has officially announced the signing of rising phenom Parker Retzlaff for a limited NASCAR Xfinity Series schedule throughout the 2022 season.
Retzlaff, 18, graduates to the Xfinity Series after spending the last two years competing in the ARCA Menards Series East tour where in 12 starts, the Rhinelander, Wisc. native delivered one top-five and nine top-10 finishes, including a career-best fourth place finish in June at Southern National Motorsports Park (SNMP).
Retzlaff is scheduled to compete in a minimum of 10 Xfinity Series events beginning with Phoenix (Ariz.) Raceway on Sat., Mar. 12, 2022, as a teammate to RSS Racing mainstay driver Ryan Sieg.
Additionally, Retzlaff will drive a second RSS Racing as a teammate to Ryan Sieg at Richmond (Va.) Raceway, Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, Dover (Del.) International Speedway, Nashville (Tenn.) Superspeedway, Atlanta (Ga.) Motor Speedway, Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, Kansas Speedway, Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway and the season finale at Phoenix on Sat., Nov. 5, 2022.
Current marketing partners Ponsse, Eco-Tracks and Iron Horse Loggers will also make the leap with Retzlaff to RSS Racing.
“This is an incredibly humbling opportunity for me next season,” said Retzlaff. “I realize this is a huge next step for my career, but I believe with the support of RSS Racing and the Sieg family, the transition can be seamless and I can help the organization build their second car into a top-notch program.
“I feel very confident in my ability as a race car driver and with the tracks that we have laid out for my rookie season. I believe that we can turn some heads and make significant gains start to finish that can help us build on hopefully a full-time program in 2023.”
RSS Racing announced in late October that the team will remain a Ford Performance race team next season with horsepower from Roush-Yates Engines but will have enhanced support from Stewart Haas Racing providing technical support for the family-owned race team.
"We are excited to welcome Parker and his partners to the RSS Racing team in 2022,” offered RSS Racing team owner Rod Sieg. “We feel we have all the resources in place to run a competitive multi-car team in the Xfinity Series and look forward to building our program for the future."
Outside of the cockpit, Retzlaff is an accomplished iRacer with 1,589 poles, 1,633 wins, 3,251 top-five and more than 68,400 laps led.
Additional details on Retzlaff’s program with RSS Racing, including car number, crew chief and further marketing partners will be announced at a later date.
RSS Racing PR
Stu Grant, general manager for global race tires at The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, was awarded the 2021 Buddy Shuman Award by the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) at the organization’s annual awards celebration this week in Nashville, Tennessee.
The Buddy Shuman Award is one of the most prestigious honors in the sport, and it recognizes individuals whose efforts and contributions help advance the sport of stock-car racing. In its 65th year, it is named for pioneering driver Louis Grier “Buddy” Shuman, who was a popular driver in the early days of NASCAR and an ardent promoter of the sport. He died tragically in a hotel fire in 1955 and was honored by the creation of this award in 1957.
Grant has now led the Goodyear Racing program for 25 years. He has overseen the company being named NASCAR’s official tire supplier for its top three national series (NASCAR Cup, Xfinity and Camping World Truck) since 1997. He is also leading the current project of moving the Cup Series to an 18-inch tire from the 15-inch tire it has run throughout its 60-plus year involvement in the sport.
“This prestigious award is well-deserved recognition for Stu. He has done Goodyear proud in the racing world throughout his long career,” said Rich Kramer, Goodyear’s chairman, CEO and president. “Stu loves NASCAR, and his dedication to both the sport and our company is unequalled – he bleeds Goodyear blue and gold. The Shuman Award is an enormous honor for a remarkable person, and we’re thrilled that his contributions have been recognized with this award.”
Grant also serves as a member of the board of directors with the NASCAR Foundation, which is a leading charity that works to improve the lives of children in NASCAR communities.
Grant graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in chemical engineering and joined Goodyear in 1972. After a year in aircraft tire development, he moved to Goodyear’s racing division as a race tire engineer in 1973. He was elevated to chief compounder in 1978 and then to manager of racing tire development in 1983. After a stint with passenger and light truck tires between 1991 and 1993, Grant returned to racing as Goodyear’s director of race tire sales in 1994, before being promoted to his current position in 1996.
Grant joins an impressive list of recipients of the annual Buddy Shuman Award, which includes NASCAR Hall of Fame members like NASCAR founders Bill France Sr. and Bill France Jr.; driver Richard Petty; crew chief Dale Inman; track operator Bruton Smith; broadcaster Ken Squier; and team owners Rick Hendrick, Richard Childress and Jack Roush, among other top contributors to the sport.
Pioneering motorsports broadcaster Bob Jenkins is the posthumous winner of the 2021 National Motorsports Press Association’s Myers Brothers Award, the NMPA announced on Tuesday.
Presented annually since 1958, the award, named in honor of former NASCAR competitors Billy and Bobby Myers, recognizes individuals and/or groups who have provided outstanding contributions to the sport of stock car racing. Each year, the NMPA Myers Brothers Award winner is selected by a vote of the NMPA membership.
Jenkins, who passed away in August of 2021 at age 73 after a battle against brain cancer, was a fixture in ESPN’s NASCAR broadcast booth from 1979 through 2000, Initially, he teamed with Larry Nuber and later with NASCAR Hall of Famers Ned Jarrett and Benny Parsons to form one of the sport’s most revered broadcast teams.
A native of Richmond, Indiana, Jenkins got his start in motorsports broadcasting as an IndyCar pit reporter on radio and television. When ESPN debuted in 1979, Jenkins was one of the first anchors for the new sports network, where he worked until 2003.
After leaving ESPN, Jenkins joined the staff at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, filling roles as a public address announcer and press conference emcee. Subsequently, he returned to the IndyCar broadcast booth with Versus and retained the role as chief IndyCar announcer when Versus was acquired by NBC Sports Group.
In 2019, Jenkins was inducted into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum’s Hall of Fame, along with driver Dan Wheldon.
Myers Brothers Award Winners
2021, Bob Jenkins; 2020, Jimmie Johnson; 2019, Darrell Waltrip; 2018, Jim France; 2017, Martin Truex Jr., Sherry Pollex; 2016, Betty Jane France; 2015, Darlington Raceway; 2014, Dale Earnhardt Jr.; 2013, Tony Stewart; 2012, Jeff Gordon; 2011, Drs. Joseph & Rose Mattioli; 2010, Jim Hunter; 2009, Barney Hall; 2008, T. Taylor Warren;
2007, Bill France Jr.; 2006, Benny Parsons; 2005, Rusty Wallace; 2004, Kyle and Patti Petty; 2003, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.; 2002, Mike Helton; 2001, Dale Earnhardt; 2000, Kyle Petty; 1999, Junie Donlavey; 1998, T. Wayne Robertson; 1997, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.; 1996, Rick Hendrick; 1995, TNN: The Nashville Network;
1994, Brickyard 400/Indianapolis Motor Speedway; 1993, Goody’s Manufacturing Co.; 1992, Richard and Lynda Petty; 1991, Harry Gant; 1990. Dick Beaty; 1989, Bill France Jr.; 1988 Richmond International Raceway; 1987, ESPN; 1986, Hayride 500; 1985, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.; 1984, Charlotte Motor Speedway;
1983, CBS-TV; 1982, MRN; 1981, Junior Johnson; 1980, STP & Champion Spark Plug Co.; 1979, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.; 1978, Busch Beer; 1977, First National City Travelers Checks; 1976, Junior Johnson; 1975, Bill France Sr.; 1974, H. Clay Earles; 1973, Wood Brothers;
1972, Winston Cigarettes; 1971, Richard Petty; 1970, Richard Howard; 1969, David Pearson; 1968, Wood Brothers; 1967, Richard Petty; 1966, Norris Friel; 1965, Ned Jarrett; 1964, Richard Petty; 1963, Marvin Panch; 1962, Hank Schoolfield; 1961, Ned Jarrett; 1960, Russ Catlin; 1959, Lee Petty; 1958, Bob Colvin.
Chase Elliott continues to follow his family tradition, both on the race track and in the eyes of NASCAR Cup Series fans.
For the fourth straight year, Elliott has been named NMPA Most Popular Driver present by Hooters, the only major NASCAR award determined solely by the vote of race fans. Elliott easily outpolled the competition to win the 2021 honor.
Since 1990, drivers named Elliott or Earnhardt have monopolized the award. Chase’s father, Bill Elliott, won the honor a record 16 times, with Dale Earnhardt Jr. a close second as a 15-time NMPA Most Popular Driver.
Now Elliott is building his own tradition as the decisive winner of the award.
Historically, the NMPA Most Popular Driver presented by Hooters has honored the giants of the NASCAR Cup Series, from seven-time champion Richard Petty to David Pearson to Bobby Allison to Cale Yarborough to Darrell Waltrip—all Cup champions and all early selections to the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
The award was first presented in 1953, with Lee Petty earning the honor for the first of two consecutive years.