Vernon, NY – With the magnificent Turning Stone Casino as the backdrop, the ISMA Lucas Oil-Helping Hands of America Super Series members gathered to honor their newly crowned champions, Pat Abold and Paul Dunigan Jr. and more on Saturday, November 5. After a welcoming message of thanks by ISMA president Howie Lane, the proceedings began.
The winner of the 2005 ISMA driver title by six points, Pat Abold, and owner champ Paul Dunigan Jr., who had taken over the helm of Dunigan Racing after the passing of his father Paul Sr., received the top accolades in an evening of honors. For Dunigan it was his first ISMA title, after his dad has dominated the record books with seven titles since 1995. Dunigan Racing also took fourth place (Russ Wood) and eighth place (Jon McKennedy) in the 2005 point standings. Paul Jr. had commented after clinching the title at the World Series that he was very proud of his drivers and his team. “We had a great season, said the Lowell, Mass. car owner. “I want to thank all the guys. Everybody worked real hard. I had a great driver who waged a great battle with Chris (Perley). Hats off to those guys. I don’t know what else to say. This one goes to my dad I guess.”
Abold, who returned to supermodified driving full time only a year ago, had claimed two straight titles in 1992 and 1993 driving the family-owned car 05. In his acceptance speech he acknowledged the support of Don Baker of Lucas Oil and Mike Jarret of Helping Hands of America, the major ISMA sponsors, as well as his car sponsors Sweet Mfg., A&P Auto, Glenn Shanks, Doney Paving, Power Mist, Red Devil Brakes, Landmark Video and Tower News. He also commented on the professionalism and dedication of the ISMA officials, officers and Board of Directors. “I’ve had the chance to be associated with several other racing organizations during my career,” said Pat, “And ISMA is among the best.”
Pat went on to thank his crew, Jerry Martel, Big Stevie (the hauler driver), Bob Bouchard, Bill Furey, and especially the two masterminds behind Dunigan Racing – Brian Allegresso, and Doc Hathaway. But it was Paul Jr. and Helen Dunigan that Abold gave special praise for continuing the Dunigan legend after Paul Sr.’s 2004 death. “This championship means a lot. The competition level is as tough as it’s ever been. And, with all that’s happened with the Dunigan team, it’s good to bring the title back home again. It just means a lot. This title is dedicated to Paul and Helen,” said Pat. “The Dunigan name was been a huge part of ISMA for many years and will be for many to come. Thanks for keeping it going.”
He also, kiddingly, donned a giant hat mimicking Chris Perley’s trademark floppy hat. “When I got back into ISMA after working with my son’s quarter midget career, Chris was a force to race against that I hadn’t really encountered before. I was chasing Chris and the Vic Miller team last year, finishing second to them eventually. This year Chris picked up five features and was running great all season. Thanks for letting me win this title at Thompson and making it easy on me at Thompson,” he chided, after Perley decimated the World Series ISMA field with Abold finishing a distance away in second.
Another Dunigan Racing teammate, Jon McKennedy of Chelmsford, Mass., garnered the Ed Shea sponsored-Randy Witkum Memorial ISMA Rookie of the Years honors with a fine eighth place in points. A check for $500 and a jacket went to Jon.
Tony Sammut of Sammut Racing was honored as the Slice N Go Deli ISMA Mechanic of the Year and also the prestigious Jim Soule Memorial Award, as voted upon by the ISMA membership.
Vern Romanoski won the BS&B Radiator by luck of the draw while Dave McKnight picked up a new helmet from Bob Seymour and Seymour Enterprises.
The 2005 ISMA Most Improved Driver award went to Joe Petro while the ISMA Support Award was given to Brad Lichty. ISMA’s Achievement award went to Nokie Fornoro who claimed three feature wins on his way to a top three in the point standings driving the Soule Racing 32. Soule Racing, in turn, was voted the Race Threads Crew of the Year, receiving new crew shirts and hats for next season.
For the fifth straight year Chris Perley received the Gater Racing News Fans Choice Most Popular Driver.
The traditional memorial awards were presented last. The AJ Michaels Memorial award went to Clyde Booth, owner and builder of the Mike Ordway-driven 61. Tony Sammut, as aforementioned, picked up the Jim Soule Memorial Award. The Jim Shampine Memorial Award went to Judy McKnight and last by not least, the Paul Dunigan Outstanding Service award went to Jack Murphy, who is 80, has served as ISMA president, Board Member, on various committees and still can be seen on his four-wheeler heading up the ISMA tech staff.
New 3-year Board Members were announced in Ray Chesbro, Mark Sammut and Joe Petro Sr. and new ISMA secretary will be Marcia (Dr. Mom) Gadzera. Howie Lane was re-elected ISMA president and Jerry Kritzman ISMA vice-president. Delores Murphy ran unopposed as Treasurer and Membership officer.
A 17-race 2006 ISMA schedule, consisting of 11 weekends of racing, was released with some possible additions. A return to Berlin Speedway after a several year hiatus and a return to Delaware (Ont.) Speedway for the first time since 1984 are among the races slated at Waterford, Toledo, Mansfield, Seekonk, Jennerstown, Stafford, Sandusky, Lee USA, Oxford Plains, Oswego, Star and Thompson.
The evening was concluded by MC Roy Sova, with a drawing for the $5,000 raffle, which was won by race director Jerry Kritzman, and his wife Mary Lou. Dancing to the music of DJ Brian Oddo continued on into the wee hours of the morning.