National Midget Driver of the Year

National Midget Driver of the Year

The National Midget Driver of the Year (NMDOTY) began in 1999. Midget auto racing publicist, announcer and columnist Bryan Gapinski, of Wisconsin, had the idea to recognize midget racing drivers from all parts of the country in a unique point series. It didn’t matter which primary sanctioning body they had. He devised an annual series of awards for all midget races in the country and included all sanctioning bodies and open-competition events.

Gapinski created a sliding scale point system for main event victories and lower positions. The system used several key factors in awarding NMDOTY points. These factors were:

Midget car count at the event.

Total Midget Purse for each event.

Prestige of the midget event. For example, the Tulsa (OK) Chili Bowl, Belleville (KS) Nationals, Hut Hundred in Indiana, and Turkey Night GP (CA) award the most points per position.

The first NMDOTY champion in 1999 was Jason Leffler. He ran 31 races, had 10 wins and scored 1,737 points. Total events that awarded points—551; total drivers who earned points-224. Tracks – 85 (11 dirt and 113 paved) in 25 states.

National Midget Driver of the Year
Jason Leffler

In 2000 NMDOTY champion Kasey Kahne, from Washington, ran 27 midget races, won nine features and scored 1,531 points. Total events that awarded points—527; total drivers with points 213. Tracks 63 (110 dirt and 103 paved) in 27 states.

From 2001 on the NMDOTY champions were Tracy Hines, Aaron Fike (2002-03), Bobby East, Brad Kuhn (2005-06), Jerry Coons, Jr, Tracy Hines again, and Bryan Clauson (2009-10). Coons, from Tucson, compiled the highest point total during that period. He also ran the most races (47) and won the most features (14). The total number of races always topped 500 with 588 during 2008 being the most races in a year. Total number of drivers earning points in this national system varied from 179 to 226. Tracks varied from 63 to 83 with dirt tracks outnumbering paved tracks by three or four to one.

In 2001 the NMDOTY began to award points based on chassis manufacturers and engines. The winners each year through 2010 were: Stealth, Beast, Stealth for three years in a row, and Spike for four consecutive years. Gaerte was the leading engine for the first four years through 2004. Esslinger won the next five seasons.

The NMDOTY Rookie of the Year Award started in 2002. Some rookies honored went on to racing glory as you will notice in the names of NMDOTY honorees. They were: Indy 500 veteran James Chesson, Sean Caisse, Brett Anderson, Brad Loyet, Chase Barber, Brad Sweet, Nic Faas, NASCAR Cup driver Alex Bowman, Dalton Armstrong, and Jake Blackhurst.

The 2014-16 NMDOTY point seasons have produced two USAC-based champions—Christopher Bell (2014) and Tanner Thorson (2015-16). John Godfrey’s Spike chassis firm won the chassis manufacturer title each of the last three seasons and Esslinger engines did the same among engine builders. In 2014 Bell ran 16 races and won once while scoring 1,631 points. In 2015 Keith Kunz driver Thorson ran 30 times and won seven mains en-route to 1,232 NMDOTY points. Thorson’s 2016 totals were 50 races, 16 wins and 1,434 points. The most recent rookies of the year have been: Rico Abreu, Spencer Bayston, Kyle Schuett, and fast-rising 20-year old Carson Macedo, from central California in 2016.

National Midget Driver of the Year
Tanner Thorson

NMDOTY 2016 Season: It is interesting to review the most recent midget season that culminated with the running of the USAC National and Western Series Thanksgiving Night Midget Grand Prix at Jim Naylor’s Ventura Raceway. There were 177 midget races in 2016 and 505 drivers scored NMDOTY points.

The top ten in 2016 NMDOTY points by driver, with points races and wins in following columns were:

Pos.  Driver                        Points   Races Wins

 

1 Tanner Thorson (Nev.)         1434     50      16

2 Carson Macedo (Calif.)       1173     45        3
3 Spencer Bayston (Ind.)       1132     50        3
4 Zach Daum (Ill.)                  1058     37       4
5 Brady Bacon (Okla)              753     24       1
6 Bryan Clauson (Ind.)             744     21       5
7 Tyler Thomas (Okla)              685     28       0
8 Chad Boat (Ariz)                   656     22       3
9 Justin Peck (Ind)                   636     40       1
10 Ryan Robinson (Calif)           602     45        0

Other drivers of interest are:

11 Rico Abreu (Calif)                  574     12        4

14 Holly Shelton (Calif)              558      47        0
17 Ronnie Gardner (Calif)           493      15        6
22 Kyle Larson (Calif)                376        5        2
23 Shane Golobic (Calif)            374      16        1
43 Courtney Crone (Calif)           221      17        0
47 Maria Cofer (Calif)                 210      20        0
49 Robert Dalby (Calif)               202      17        1

The top ten car owners in 2016 NMDOTY points were:

1 No. 67 Kunz/Curb-Agajanian 1441

2 No. 97 Kunz/Curb-Agajanian 1323
3 No.71k Kunz/Curb-Agajanian 1222
4 No. 5 Dan Daum                   1053
5 No. 63 Joe Dooling                  694
6 No. 76 FMR Racing                 648
7 No. 71 Kunz/Curb-Agajanian     612
8 No. 91 Brian Thomas               591
9 No. 84 Boat/Tucker                  555
10 No. 7 Austin Brown                441

The top five in the manufacturers championship were:

1 Spike       58 wins

2 Bullet       31 wins
3 Beast       17 wins
4 Boss        17 wins
5 Drinan      11 wins

The top five engine builders were:

1 Esslinger   65 wins

2 Toyota       44 wins
3 Gaerte       17 wins
4 Stanton      14 wins
5 Fontana      10 wins

NMDOTY Rookie of the Year

1 Carson Macedo 1173 points

2 Holly Shelton      558 points
3 Courtney Crone   221 points
4 Maria Cofer         210 points
5 Robert Sellers       84 points

NMDOTY 2016 WESTERN POINT STANDINGS

Driver           Points       Races     Wins

1 Ronnie Gardner    467          14            6

2 Cory Elliott           394          20           1
3 Michael Faccinto  330          15            2
4 Keith Rauch         299            9            7
5 Frankie Guerinni   269           16           0
6 Alex Schutte        221             9           5
7 Courtney Crone    213           17            0
8 Maria Cofer          199           12            0
9 Robert Dalby        192           17            1
10 Tony Seidelman  170             8            7

WESTERN CAR OWNER STANDINGS

1 No. 68 Six8 Racing           364 points

2 No. 27 Petrauro Racing     299 points
3 No. 11 Cory Elliott             274 points
4 No. 35 Michael Faccinto    260 points
5 No. 28 Alex Schutte          173 points

The NMDOTY website is: www.NMDOTY.com.

About Tim Kennedy 7 Articles
Tim' Kennedy's RACING SCENE Column has covered motorsports since 1968. His race results stories and weekly column are avidly followed by racing enthusiasts nationwide.
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