Story By: ALEX NIETEN / WORLD OF OUTLAWS – CONCORD, NC – After the long grind of the 2023 World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car tour, drivers and teams gathered for the Awards Banquet to celebrate completing another year of The Greatest Show on Dirt.
Along with every full-time competitor honored for their performance this year and handed their point fund check, a handful of other awards were handed out to those who’ve made special contributions to the Series and Sprint Car racing as a whole.
Champion: For the fifth consecutive season, Brad Sweet claimed the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car championship aboard the Kasey Kahne Racing #49. Five straight championships equaled him with Donny Schatz for the second longest streak of all-time. Only Steve Kinser’s six consecutive titles between 1983-1988 outranks Sweet’s stretch.
“The Big Cat” proved to be the model of consistency yet again as he led the Series in top 10 finishes and posted no DNFs on his way to the title.
“Can’t do it without good people,” Sweet said. “Kasey Kahne gave me an opportunity dang near 15 years ago now. It was a USAC (United States Auto Club) car at the beginning in non-wing. And he helped me get some pavement opportunities. He’s been my best friend and stuck behind me through thick and thin and just kept working toward the same goal. We both have an immense passion for Sprint Cars and Sprint Car racing.”
Not only did winning the title include all the prestige of being a World of Outlaws champion, but it also came with a massive payday. Sweet and the KKR crew were presented a check for $350,000 for their efforts.
NOS Energy Drink Human Horsepower Awards: Series announcer – Johnny Gibson – and NOS Energy Drink’s Marketing Director Lauren Albano presented a pair of Human Horsepower Awards.
One went to Eloy Gutierrez, who was instrumental in the creation of the electronic timing and scoring system that has become a vital part of the sport. Not only did Gutierrez play that important role, but he’s also dedicated multiple decades of his life to working for the World of Outlaws.
The second was presented to Jason Sides. After many years of driving, the charismatic competitor from Tennessee has transitioned to a crew chief role over the last year and a half as he’s stepped out of the seat. Even with the different role, Sides has continued to show the passion and dedication that he exhibited behind the wheel.
Crew Chief of the Year: For the second time in his career, Eric Prutzman was awarded the Crew Chief of the Year. The Pennsylvanian has led the Kasey Kahne Racing #49 crew as they’ve collected five consecutive World of Outlaws championships.
Fan Favorite Award: Excitement is a way to get the fans on your side, and excitement is exactly what defines Sheldon Haudenschild’s driving style. And it comes as no surprise that the fans voted Haudenschild the Fan Favorite driver for 2023. The son of the legendary Jac Haudenschild also receives one of the largest cheers whenever he’s introduced at any World of Outlaws event.
KSE Hard Charger: Sheldon Haudenschild also used that exciting driving style to help him earn the 2023 KSE Hard Charger Award. The Wooster, OH native claimed the honor seven times this season, most notably making a memorable drive from 16th to the win at Skagit Speedway on August 31.
Jason Johnson Sportsmanship Award: One of the highest honors of the night belonged to Amanda Hoegsted as she was given the Jason Johnson Sportsmanship Award. Not only does she remain dedicated in being a vital piece of Bill Rose’s team, she’s also one of the pit area’s brightest presences this year. Even this year as Rose combatted injuries and multiple drivers had to help fill in, Hoegsted maintained her bright disposition all season long.
Social Ambassador Award: Donny Schatz elevated his social media to another level in 2023 and was given the Social Ambassador Award as a result. The 10-time Series champion maintained an active, daily presence on various social platforms.
Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year: One of the most anticipated rookie seasons in Series history came along this season when Giovanni Scelzi and KCP Racing committed to the tour, and Scelzi delivered.
“I didn’t really know what to expect,” Scelzi admitted. “I’d run a handful of Outlaw races, but hadn’t really run for a points championship since I was 15 years old racing for NARC (Northern Auto Racing Club). It was unbelievable for sure. I know it was definitely one of the hardest years I’ve had in my life on and off the racetrack. Driving up and down the road with you guys and really racing against the best drivers and best teams in the world.”
Consistency all year long led him to a fourth-place finish in the points, which equaled Jeff Swindell (1981) and Brad Doty (1982) for the highest finishing World of Outlaws rookie ever.
It was also the second time KCP fielded a Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year driver with the other being Ian Madsen in 2018. Only Kasey Kahne Racing, Dave Helm, and KCP have multiple Rookie of the Year drivers.
Ted Johnson Award: Every year the Ted Johnson Award is given as a way to recognize an individual’s outstanding contribution to the sport, and this year’s went to Brad Doty.
From driving to announcing to promoting and much more, Doty’s passion for Sprint Car racing is unparalleled, and he’s dedicated so much of his life to helping the sport he loves.
“I’m honored and humbled to win this award,” Doty said. “Probably not a lot of people in this building old enough to remember Ted. He was a character for sure. I got Rookie of the Year with the World of Outlaws in 1982, which was their fifth year of existence. I was just trying to get to the next race and never dreamt what the World of Outlaws would become and what it is today. I want to thank World Racing Group and the World of Outlaws for this award. I’m truly honored and humbled. It means a lot.”
Engine Builder of the Year: Cappetta Engines powered the championship winning machine driven by Brad Sweet, and as a result Rob Cappetta accepted the 2023 Engine Builder of the Year.
Chassis Builder of the Year: The 2023 Chassis Builder of the Year belonged to Maxim Chassis. Maxim has become synonymous with quality chassis in Sprint Car racing, and many of the top teams on the World of Outlaws tour go with Maxim.
Below is the list of the 14 full-time World of Outlaws competitors in 2023, where they finished in the standings, and the point fund check amount they received at the Awards Banquet:
- Brad Sweet ($350,000)
- David Gravel ($210,000)
- Carson Macedo ($140,000)
- Giovanni Scelzi ($122,500)
- Logan Schuchart ($113,750)
- Donny Schatz ($109,375)
- Sheldon Haudenschild ($105,000)
- Spencer Bayston ($100,625)
- Brock Zearfoss ($96,250)
- James McFadden ($87,500)
- Robbie Price ($70,000)
- Noah Gass ($52,500)
- Jacob Allen ($43,750)
- Bill Rose ($35,000)