2014 Season Celebrated!

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On February 7, 2015, Chicago Region held its Checkered Flag Banquet to celebrate the 2014 season. The event continued its year-over-year growth with a packed house and well over a hundred attendees. All were treated to the sights afforded by the automobile elite on display in the beautiful showroom of Lake Forest Sports Cars.

The evening began at 5:00 PM, with open bar and appetizers. Goose Island’s Chicago signature brew, 312, was again a staple, but last year’s pale ale was replaced with a tasty IPA. Once again wine and soda were also served. A tasty selection of toppings for pita chips, to include a delicious olive spread and hummus, provided the appetizers, later to be followed by a buffet dinner featuring a winter salad, tasty pierogies, garlic mashed potatoes, chicken and beef entrees, and vegetables. The food selection concluded at the end of the evening with a tasty selection of cookies, as well as stout-infused raspberry glazed brownies. If anyone went home hungry or disappointed by the meal, it was likely their own fault!

Rick Bentson, 2014 Chicago Region Regional Executive, welcomed the group and made special mention of Division Director Bruce Lindstrand, Blackhawk Valley Region Regional Executive Jeff Kulawinski, and Blackhawk Farms owner Paul Musschoot. A selection of awards were presented at 8:00.

This year’s award recipients were:

  • Fred Wacker Driver of the Year: Rich Walke
  • Dave Morell Workers of the Year: Jim and Janet Schmuck
  • Soloist of the Year: Adam Hritz
  • Founder’s Award: Mike Smith
  • REcognition Award: Andrea Lacis
  • REcognition Award: Toby Schuster
  • REcognition Award: Erik Vandermey

Chicago Region was also honored to have two people who were chosen for SCCA National awards, and Bruce Lindstrand, Area 5 Director, was on hand to present them.

The Kimberly Cup is presented to one driver in the nation who is chosen by the National Club Racing Board as demonstrating the greatest improvement in that year. Former winners are like a who’s who of racing legends. Names like Augie Pabst, Mark Donahue, and Roger Penske are but a few of the great drivers to receive this honor. This year the National Club Racing Board chose Daniel Bender as the recipient of this prestigious award.

The SCCA Mechanic of the Year was also presented to Al Varacins. Bruce described Al’s long support and involvement in the club, as well as his willingness to share his talents with friends and competitors alike. This was even documented as having happened shortly following an extensive surgical procedure (and against his doctor’s orders!) To highlight how long Al has been a great mechanic in the SCCA, Bruce even noted that he had taken an FV to Al to work on back in the day! (I think you could probably still buy a swing axle VW from a showroom at that point!)

Claire Ball offered to keep the bar open (until he said it was time to close it!) and many people took advantage to continue socializing well past the advertised 9:00 PM published conclusion. When this writer left, there were still a good number of people talking and laughing – it seemed that it might take an executive action to clear the building!

A special thank you must be extended to Rick Mancuso and the staff at Lake Forest SportsCars, for providing the exquisite venue for this year’s Checkered Flag Banquet. Rick was on hand this year and stayed quietly in the background, but hopefully he felt the joy and gratitude that welled from the crowd!