Story By: BARBARA PATTERSON / EMPIRE SUPER SPRINTS – VERNON, NY – The Empire Super Sprints celebrated their 40th season at the Vernon Downs Casino.
Over 170 people attended the awards banquet which was emceed by ESS announcer Adam Buchanan. The tour and dash sponsors were recognized first, and the Board of Directors, officials, officers, and volunteers were thanked for helping make 2023 a great season. Drivers with perfect attendance and feature wins were then acknowledged. Out of the 24 races, there was a record 16 different winners with three drivers earning their first win.
Sixteen drivers were recognized and the top ten took home over $21,000 in point fund money. Finishing 10th was Chuck Hebing (who ran a partial season), 9th Jordan Thomas (1st ESS win), 8th Paulie Colagiovanni (most wins at 4), 7th Danny Varin (3 wins), 6th Jeff Cook (1 win in his last year racing), 5th Matt Tanner (2 wins), 4th Dylan Swiernik (1st win in Canada), 3rd Jason Barney (3 wins at Fulton Speedway), 2nd Shawn Donath (1 win in his best season), and 1st Jordan Poirier (2 wins).
The 2023 champion, Jordan Poirier, was honored with his second championship in two years. Jordan had the best stats with 21 tops 10s and 14 tops 5s and placed 2nd in the Coffrage 4 Saisons Canadian Tour, 2nd CNY Speedweek, 3rd Rifenburg Contracting Fast Time Series, and 2nd in the PJC Spray Foam Hard Charger Series. In his championship speech, Jordan thanked his crew, especially Mathieu, family, and sponsors. He credited his consistency to the belief that 95% of your success on the racetrack comes from the work in the shop.
Numerous specialty awards were also handed out. ESS had two rookies that ran neck and neck throughout the season. With his 11th place finish on the tour, Logan Crisafulli earned the Lane’s Yamaha Rookie of the Year in the Mike Stelter owned #36. Trevor Years was honored with the John Zentner Memorial Award because he demonstrates the same qualities as the late John Zentner. Throughout his first year with ESS and in a 360, he displayed passion, humility, dedication, and perseverance. This year’s Cobra Coaches Dash Champion was Dylan Swiernik. As a dash tradition, Chuck Hebing awarded Dylan with snakeskin cowboy boots. With his top five finishes and win at Autodrome Drummond, Matt Tanner won the Coffrage 4 Saisons Canadian Tour award by just one point. Paulie Colagiovanni, with his win at the last Speedweek race at Brewerton Speedway, earned the CNY Speedweek Champion award. Shawn Donath accomplished an interesting feat by earning both the Rifenburg Contracting Fast Time Award and the PJC Spray Foam Hard Charger Award. The Mechanic of the Year award, which is voted on by the teams, was given to Briahna Donath, Chase Guptill, and Matt Pitre from the Shawn Donath race team. They were recognized for their efforts in keeping the #53 in the championship hunt all season.
Eight-time ESS Champion Steve “Fireball” Poirier was inducted into the ESS Hall of Fame. His outstanding career consisted of 77 ESS wins (tied for the most), 7 Canadian Series Championships, 5 Quebec Series Championships, 6 Dash Series Championships, 6 Interstate Series Championships, 4 US Series Championships, the Mal Lane Award of Excellence, Outstanding Newcomer Award, and the National 360 Rookie of the Year from the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum. In an emotional speech, Steve thanked his family, crew, and sponsors. He remarked on his success, the competition in ESS, and the friendships he formed over his 14 years in racing sprint cars.
ESS President Chuck Miller, who is retiring after 38 years, was honored with the Malcolm Lane Award of Excellence. Past President, Dick Carberry, presented the award and walked us through Chuck’s ESS career. A montage of videos was shown, from past and present drivers and officials, as a tribute and thank you to Chuck for his commitment and dedication to ESS.
Thank you to the tracks, drivers, teams, officials, and officers for a terrific race season! We will see you in 2024 at a track near you to watch “America’s Race Cars” in action.