by Gregg Paul
The 2012 banquet for the Midwest Tour presented by SCAG Power Equipment and Lester Buildings was one of great significance as is honored the ending of the era of the tour’s affiliation with ASA and ushered in the Tour’s highly anticipated partnership with ARCA. Champions were crowned and a season’s worth of accomplishments were celebrated throughout the evening on Saturday, February 2nd.

Early on in the evening’s festivities at the Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin Dells, WI, Tim Olson, ARCA Midwest Tour President gave a very emotional speech chronicling the Tour’s history of involvement with the American Speed Association.

“I just wanted to thank all of you for allowing Steve (Einhaus) and I to be part of one of the country’s premiere Super Late Model and Truck programs in the nation,” said Olson. “It’s been an honor to have been a part of the ASA and it’s because of each one of you, through your dedication, your skills and honesty, that this family has been created.”

ARCA Vice President Mark Gundrum spoke briefly on ARCA’s decision to become partners with the Midwest Tour.

“It’s all for good reasons and all for good business sense,” said Gundrum. “It’s about sustainability and long term survival. The sport is tenuous at times and the economy can throw us curves left and right, but we need to stick together and work together. That’s why ARCA wanted to do this with the Midwest Tour.”

Jonathan Eilen bookended the ASA era by capturing the final season championship under that banner. Eilen had previously opened the ASA era by winning the very first event in Midwest Tour history at Elko Speedway in 2007.

Eilen’s road to the 2012 title included one win (Marshfield), seven top five finishes, and ten top ten finishes. Despite a strong showing all season long, it still took a valiant effort at the final event of the year at LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway, where Eilen climbed 21 positions to finish the race in fifth. At the end of the 43rd annual Oktoberfest weekend, Eilen was on top, holding off former Tour Champion Nathan Haseleu by a mere 17 points. The top four drivers were separated by only 46 points.

Aside from the Championship trophy, Eilen also pocketed $6,000 in cash, $1,000 cash from Crane Ignitions, a $6,500 SCAG Freedom Z mower, and a free year long engine lease from B&B Race Engines.

Matt Tifft was crowned Rookie of the Year and scored a brand new motor from McGunnegil Racing Engines, a chassis from Pathfinder Chassis, a body from Fivestar Race Car Bodies, a transmission from Roltek Transmissions, and free oil from Schaeffers, totaling over $38,000 in prizes.

Other honors given out included the following: The Race Team Gear Best Dressed Crew award was given to Iron Eagle Racing with driver Matt Tifft. The Appleton Rack and Pinion Most Laps Led Award was earned by Chris Wimmer. Wimmer also took home the Five Star Bodies Fast Qualifier Award and the Circle Track Tech Award. The Hard Charger Award, earned by Midwest Tour Champion Jonathan Eilen, won him a Lefthander chassis, a set of Hedman Hedders, and a brand new race ready 4412 carburetor from VDL. Jay Van Der Geest took home the Car Owner of the year honors, while Chad Wood was honored with the Miller Welders Crew Chief of the Year title. The Larry Detjens Sportsmanship Award was awarded to Nathan Haseleu. The Engine Builder of the year was given to Bruce Mueller of B&B Race Engines. Wood Brothers Racing was graced with the ECHO Dedication Award. Tim Haseleu, spotter for the #87 machine driven by Nathan Haseleu, was named the Racing Electronics Spotter Award.

James Swan captured the Truck series title in just his first year competing in the trucks. Swan, who has previously won multiple titles in the Mid-American Stock Car series and several track championships at multiple tracks, found continued success by setting fast time in six of the nine events. Coupled with three wins and nine top fives, Swan was able to capture the season title by 69 points over veteran Jerry Wood.

The Jorgenson Brothers Rookie of the Year title was earned by Jacob Van Wazer, who received a $1,000 bonus. Champion James Swan took home the Hard Charger Award, while Kaite Kostka won the Racing Electronics Spotter Award and Dann Barber was honored with the Bassett Wheels Good Guy Sportsmanship Award.

In addition to the special awards given out, prize money, trophies, plaques, and assorted gifts were given to the top twelve drivers in the Super Late Model points and top eight drivers in Truck points as their individual accomplishments were recognized.

The 2013 season for the ARCA Midwest Tour kicks off at Toledo Speedway on Friday and Saturday, April 19th & 20th. Visit arcamidwesttour.com for the full 2013 schedule.
Be sure to follow the ARCA Midwest Tour on Facebook (midwesttour) and Twitter (@midwesttour).

To learn more about the Automobile Racing Club of America Midwest Tour, log on to arcamidwesttour.com. For questions call the ARCA Midwest Tour office at (630) 212-6022 or Tim Olson at (612) 327-5831 or Steve Einhaus at (262) 729-4111 or e-mail Tim Olson at tim@arcamidwesttour.com or Steve Einhaus at steve@arcamidwesttour.com.

The ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards has crowned 30 ARCA national champions in 60 seasons since 1953, and has toured over 200 race tracks in 26 states since its inception. The series has tested the abilities of drivers and race teams over the most diverse schedule of stock car racing events in the world, visiting tracks ranging from 0.375 mile to 2.66 miles in length, on both paved and dirt surfaces as well as a left- and right-turn road course in its most recent season.

Founded by John and Mildred Marcum in 1953 in Toledo, Ohio, the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) is recognized among the leading sanctioning bodies in the country. Closing in on completing its sixth decade after hundreds of thousands of miles of racing, ARCA administers over 100 race events each season in four professional touring series and local weekly events.

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