Several drivers and officials from various ARCA properties were honored Saturday night at the 52nd annual Michigan Auto Racing Fan Club awards banquet in Warren, Michigan. Drivers from 16 Michigan tracks and 16 touring series, as well as several Special Award recipients, were honored.
2017 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards champion Austin Theriault was the top driving champion honoree and the final driving champion called to the stage. Following recognition of a lineup of 97 track and series driving champions, Theriault addressed the audience of over 500 in recounting his 2017 ARCA Racing Series championship season with Ken Schrader Racing, his recovery from a serious spinal injury which cut short his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season driving for Brad Keselowski Racing in 2016, and encouraging the many youth racing champions in attendance to persevere and pursue their goals in racing and in life.
Michigan native Jim Hettinger, the 1984 and 1990 ARCA Midget Series champion and all-time winningest series driver with 38 victories, was presented the MARFC Eddie Sachs Memorial Lifetime Achievement award by USAC President Kevin Miller. His brief but moving acceptance speech drew the only standing ovation of the night from the crowd.
ARCA Gold Cup Late Model Series champion Frank Jiovani, ARCA Silver Cup Sportsman champion Jim Froling, Flat Rock Speedway Late Model champion Justin Schroeder, Flat Rock Street Stock A Main champion Ray Morneau and B Main champion Adam Jeszylo, ARCA Enduro Series champion Rob Remick and Toledo Speedway Factory Stock champion Craig Osenbaugh and Sportsman champion Howard Kelley were also recognized.
Dick Barker, 1978 and 1980 Flat Rock Speedway ARCA Late Model champion and ARCA Late Model Gold Cup champion car owner, received the Vito LoPiccolo Memorial Contribution to Motorsports Award. Barker’s driver Frank Jiovani has driven in ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards competition for long time team owner Wayne Hixson, and indicated he hopes to do so again in 2018. Other ARCA Racing Series drivers in attendance were Hylton Motorsports veteran driver Brad Smith and Rette-Jones Racing rookie driver Grant Quinlan.
Also receiving a MARFC Special Achievement Contribution to Motorsports Award was Gary Lindahl, long time PA Announcer at both Flat Rock and Toledo Speedways.
Brian Norton, the all-time winningest ARCA Street Stock driver at Flat Rock, was presented the MARFC Media Award in recognition of his efforts to document and preserve the photo history of local and regional stock car racing.
The Toledo-based McCune Family, with four generations of race drivers and counting, were also honored with a MARFC Contribution to Motorsports Award. Virginia McCune, widow of family racing patriarch, Irish Jim McCune, accepted on behalf of the family. Irish Jim won open wheel races at Toledo Speedway and throughout the Midwest and his grandson Jimmy McCune won 10 ARCA Midget Series races and drove in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards as well with a career best finish of 4th at Michigan Int’l Speedway in 1996.