posted December 09, 2002 08:28 AM
ECKERT HONORED AT UDTRA BANQUET; PRI NOTEBOOK
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - Rick Eckert of York, PA was honored Thursday night for
his second straight United Dirt Track Racing Association Pro DirtCar Series
championship during the Annual UDTRA Awards Banquet at the Radisson City
Centre Hotel. The Banquet was one of many activities for the UDTRA Pro
DirtCar Series at the PRI Show.
Eckert earned $50,000 out of the UDTRA point fund, a Champions Ring
featuring two diamonds representing his two championships, a lead crystal
replica of his #24 Raye Vest Rocket/Cornett Taurus that went to his car
owner Raye Vest, $2,500 from Edelbrock, $500 from Wrisco, a $500 Product
Certificate from CV Products, and an oil pan from Champ Pans.
Those awards combined with his season earnings that included six wins, 23
top fives, 34 top tens, and seven fast times brought Eckert's season total
to $371,795. That brings Eckert's career UDTRA earnings to $957,840 for
fifth on the all-time list. Eckert now needs to earn $42,160 to join the
UDTRA Millionaire's Club.
Eckert's crew chief Robby Allen was named the Ringers Gloves Chris Francis
Memorial Crew Chief of the Year, and picked up a jacket and a check for
$1,000 from Darin Stewart of Ringers Gloves and Rhonda Francis, widow of
Eckert drove the Allen-prepared machine to complete 2,337 laps out of a
possible 2,340 laps of UDTRA competition in 2002. This earned their engine
builder Jack Cornett of Cornett Racing Engines the $1,000 JE Pistons Measure
of Performance Award presented by Randy Gillis of JE Pistons.
"Winning this kind of money just goes to prove this is the best dirt late
model series in the country to run and we can actually make a living at
this," Eckert said. "I want to thank my car owner Raye Vest for giving us
what we needed to be here, and I also want to thank Robby Allen for
preparing some very durable race cars."
Eckert's success also helped his chassis builder Mark Richards of Rocket
Chassis win the $2,500 UDTRA Chassis Manufacturers Challenge for the third
straight year. Eckert said he hopes to carry the momentum for these past
two championship seasons into 2003 and make series history.
"Nobody has ever won three straight UDTRA Championships, and we're in a
position to try and accomplish this next season," Eckert said. "The UDTRA
Pro DirtCar Series just keeps getting better each year, and it sounds like
it is going forward again in 2003 with better money for the competitors,
better racing for the fans, and keeping it affordable for the promoters."
During the banquet, UDTRA President Mike Swims announced the 2003 UDTRA Pro
DirtCar Series Point Fund would be increased by $100,000, with $10,000 being
added to each top ten points position. The 2003 UDTRA Champion will earn
$60,000, while the tenth-place finisher will pocket $15,000.
Swims also announced that all UDTRA Pro DirtCar Series events paying
$10,000-to-win or more in 2003 would feature double-file restarts.
"We had a great meeting with the top ten drivers earlier today, and we gave
them a raise in the point fund, while they agreed to the double-file
restarts to give something more for the fans," Swims said. "The drivers
playing an active and positive role in helping us make this series better
for everyone concerned, and they have also been giving us their input into
scheduling for 2003."
The 1999 UDTRA Champion Dale McDowell of Rossville, GA was the 2002 UDTRA
Championship Runner-Up and earned $32,000 out of the point fund, $1,000 for
the Muddslinger Magazine Most Laps Led Award (McDowell led 524 laps of UDTRA
competition), a $400 Product Certificate from CV Products, and an oil pan
from Champ Pans.
McDowell's total season earnings came to $257,395, but McDowell had to give
up $2,500 of that amount for a fine earlier in the year for having an
unapproved part on his race car. The fine money was supposed to go into
points fund, and divided up among the top ten drivers, but McDowell had a
"I went to the other drivers in the top ten and asked them if the fine money
could go to the Chris Francis Memorial Benevolent Fund," McDowell said.
"All of them agreed, and that just goes to show you how great all of these
guys are that run in this series." UDTRA will donate the $2,500 to the
Chris Francis Memorial Benevolent Fund in the name of Dale McDowell.
McDowell's UDTRA career earnings are now at $1,137,420 and is second on the
all-time list. McDowell joined the UDTRA Millionaire's Club during the 2002
Driving the #17m Larry Shaw Race Cars Rocket By Shaw/Custom Grand Prix,
McDowell posted nine wins, 24 top fives, 30 top tens, and two fast times.
That effort helped earn his engine builder Larry Clark of Custom Race Engine
his third JE Pistons Engine Builders Championship in the last four seasons.
Randy Gillis of JE Pistons presented Clark with a $2,500 check.
Steve Francis of Ashland, KY took the third spot in points and picked up
check for $22,000 out of the UDTRA point fund, a $300 Product Certificate
from CV Products, and an oil pan from Champ Pans. For the season, the
Kentucky Colonel earned $171,330 to bring his career earnings to $804,605
for seventh on the all-time list.
Francis had two wins, 20 top fives, 30 top tens, and four fast times in 2002
driving the #1 Valvoline/Mopar Parts Rocket/Stanton Intrepid. Francis also
announced some changes for his Rocket Chassis "house car" team for 2003.
"We'll have another new number and paint scheme for Mopar in 2003," Francis
said. "We will be the number, or maybe I should say the letter, "M" for
Mopar with a new blue graphics package. Mark Kinser will have the same look
on his World of Outlaws Sprint Car."
Jimmy Mars of Elk Mound, WI pocketed a $12,000 check out of the UDTRA point
fund for his fourth place effort, along with a $200 Product Certificate from
CV Products, and an oil pan from Champ Pans. For the season, Mars earned
$136,770 with two wins, 20 top fives, 30 top tens, and one fast time driving
the #28m Jimmy Mars Racing Mastersbilt/Pro Power Monte Carlo.
Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, FL finished fifth in UDTRA points in 2002
and received $10,000 out of the point fund, a $100 Product Certificate from
CV Products, and an oil pan from Champ Pans. Pearson earned $104,685 during
the 2002 season and drove the #1p Lucas Oil/Dunn-Benson Ford Rocket/Eatmon
Taurus to one win, eight top fives, 22 top tens, and four fast times.
Freddy Smith of Knoxville, TN earned sixth-place honors and $9,000 out of
the point fund. The 1996 UDTRA Champion pocketed an additional $1,000 for
the Advance Auto Parts Hard Charger Award. Driving the #00 Christenberry
Trucking and Farms Warrior/Gaerte Monte Carlo, The Southern Gentleman had
one win, four top fives, 20 top tens, and $89,270 in 2002 earnings.
Smith's career earnings now total $962,195, and he needs another $37,805
join the UDTRA Millionaire's Club. Smith thanked his car owner Clayton
Christenberry for his help during the past seven seasons, and announced he
would be parting ways with Christenberry and forming a new team for the 2003
During the PRI Show, it was announced that Smith would be switching to Dodge
Intrepids for the 2003 season with Mopar engines built by Gaerte Race
Engines of Rochester, IN.
Randy Korte of Highland, IL was seventh in points and collected a check for
$8,000 out of the UDTRA point fund. That brought the season earnings for
the Highland Hustler to $80,602 and his UDTRA career earnings over the $100K
mark at $124,452.
Korte posted two wins, four top fives, seven top tens, and two fast times
2002 driving the #00k Mid-Continental Fuels Rocket By Shaw/Pro Power Grand
Prix. Korte's crew chief, Gator Branum earned the Rocket Chassis Crew Chief
Award and was presented a $500 check from Mark Richards and Steve Baker of
Ray Cook of Brasstown, NC earned $7,000 out of the UDTRA point fund for his
seventh-place showing in 2003. The Tarheel Tiger earned $57,475 during the
2002 season and drove the #53 Youngblood Concrete Mastersbilt/Cornett Taurus
to two top fives, nine top tens, and one fast time.
Billy Ogle Jr. of Knoxville, TN took home some big cash, as he was awarded
$10,000 check for earning the Lucas Oil Rookie of the Year honors, and
$6,000 out of the UDTRA point fund for ninth-place. For the 2002 season,
Ogle earned $49,980 and went over the $100K mark in career earnings with
Ogle drove the #201 Calhoun's Restaurant GRT/Clements Monte Carlo to one
five and two top tens during the 2002 UDTRA Pro DirtCar Series season.
Shane Tankersley of Morganton, GA rounded out the top ten in UDTRA points
and earned $5,000 out of the point fund, and also received a $2,500 check
for being the Lucas Oil Rookie of the Year Runner-Up. For the 2002 season,
Tankersley drove the Tankersley Motorsports Rocket/Custom Grand Prix to one
top ten and earned $30,500.
UDTRA PRI NOTEBOOK:
PROMOTERS MEET WITH UDTRA OFFICIALS: Several past, present and future
promoters of UDTRA Pro DirtCar Series events met with UDTRA officials on
Saturday at the Courtyard By Marriott Hotel in Indianapolis for an open
discussion on how to make the series better for the promoters and their
"It was a very productive meeting where the promoters shared ideas with us
and each other," UDTRA President Mike Swims said. "A number of topics were
discussed that ranged from track preparation to ticket prices to new and
innovative ways for promoters to present not only UDTRA events, but their
weekly shows as well."
During the meeting, Swims announced that UDTRA would be splitting the paid
entry fees for UDTRA events with the race promoter.
NEW 2003 PACKAGE FOR WENDELL WALLACE: Along with the new graphics for Steve
Francis, and the change to Mopar for Freddy Smith, Wendell Wallace of
Batesville, AR unveiled a new look for 2003.
Wallace will switch to Ford and carry the number 88 on the side of his GRT
"house Car" in 2003 in honor of his late father Hootie Wallace. A Kuntz
Ford engine will power the Taurus.