DIVISION: Late Model Sportsman
TRACK: Hagerstown (MD) Speedway (www.hagerstownspeedway.com)
HOMETOWN: Littlestown, Pennsylvania
Will came through with the perfect end to an already great season. Racing with stout competition in the Late Model Sportsman class, Will prevailed on November 3, 2002, for that coveted first win. The victory gave him a third-place finish in the final point standings. This came in a class that sees an average of 35 cars each Saturday night at Hagerstown. Will was also named Most Improved Driver in the class at the season ending banquet.
TRACK: Hagerstown (Maryland) Speedway
HOMETOWN: Barnesville, MD
After back-to-back Second-Place finishes, Hans Stamberg's time was coming. On June 8, 2002, Hans took the lead from defending series champion Bruce Leibowitz on the last lap of the feature race to score his first Pro Stock win. This win moved Hans into the top spot in the point standings that night. It was a position he would never relinquish, going on to win the title. In July, he started 11th and won his second race. In the first 14 races of the 15-race season, his worst finish was 7th, his only time out of the Top 5. Going into the last race, his car experienced some problems and a fellow competitor allowed Hans to climb into his car. His 10th place finish in that race using borrowed equipment was just enough to win the overall crown, which he will defend in 2003. When he's not racing, Hans is a structural engineer by trade. (Thanks to Barbara Woodward of Saltville, Virginia for providing the information).
NAME: Al "The Tiger" Fradette
DIVISION: Limited Late Models
TRACK: Charlotte County (Florida) Speedway
After several years of trying during his early racing career in Massachusetts and Connecticut, Al Fradette finally broke through to Victory Lane--but it took relocation to make it happen. Fradette came to Charlotte County (Florida) Speedway, and the bad luck followed him until November 9, 2002. The night was positive from the start. He qualified second fastest of the cars in the division. At the end of the heat race, it was a win, but the big event still loomed. This time, Al won the feature, and the smiles in the photo tell the story. It took 10 years, but his first win is now in the record books.
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TRACK: Thunder Valley Raceway, Central City, PA (www.thundervalleyraceway.com)
HOMETOWN: Hollidaysburg, PA
HOME PAGE: www.hometown.aol.com/Raceteam6/index.html
This may have been Vallery Johnson's only appearance in Victory Lane at Thunder Valley Raceway in Central City, Pennsylvania, in 2002, but she will be the defending division champion when the 2003 season opens. In addition to the win, there were six runner-up finishes, 12 Top-5 runs, and a perfect 17-for-17 in Top-10 finishes. There were also five heat wins on the record. Vallery started racing in 1997 and has been in the Top 5 in the final point standings for the last three years. She has started every feature at TVR for the last three seasons and has become the first woman to win a feature and track championship at Thunder Valley. She has also raced Limited Late Model at Bedford Speedway and Late Model at Dog Hollow Speedway. She shared a Late Model ride at Latrobe Speedway with her fiance Paul Carnell. Vallery plans to go into the Late Model ranks full-time in 2003.
NAME: Missy McAllister-Kerr
TRACK: Kennedale (Texas) Speedway Park
HOME PAGE: http://pages.prodigy.net/thebestmissy/index.html
After starting her racing in the Hot Stock class, Missy McAllister-Kerr moved into the Modified class in 2002--and it was a good move. In a competitive field of cars at Kennedale (Texas) Speedway Park, Missy prevailed in June to log her first feature win. It wouldn't be her only victory, though, as she closed with a win at Abilene, winning the Ladies Cup event in October. In the final standings at Kennedale, Missy was 10th in overall points. With the help of husband Martel, who serves as crew chief, the team got plenty of attention with their on-track results in 2002. As a side note, on the night of her first win, her brother Casey also won a race in Oklahoma.
SERIES: Baer Field Speedway Late Model Division
The honor is overdue. Terry Fisher, Jr. competed in the Street Stock division in 2000 and 2001 before graduating to the Late Model division for 2002. While contesting as a Street Stock racer, Terry was piling up the honors. After his start in Go-Karts at the age of 10, he moved on to stock cars in his teenage years. His first year in Street Stocks saw a Third Place finish in points and Rookie of the Year honors. In 2001, he did even better. After a rough two weeks to start, he put it all together and started the climb to the top. Along the way, he became the youngest racer in Baer Field Speedway's 40-year history to win a race. At the end of the year, his name went in the record books at the age of 15 as the youngest driver to win a track championship. Other honors included the Sportsman of the Year (second consecutive award) and Top Qualifier honors.