2012 Award Winners
(Photos courtesy of Dave Gehman and Deb Smith)
2012 Rookie of the Year
Shoemakersville, PA driver, Brett Wanner moved into the ranks of the ARDC midgets for the 2012 season and quickly became a favorite among fans and competitors alike.
Brett’s dad, Dale, was a racer himself and took the family to 410 and 358 Sprint Car and World of Outlaw shows. Brett’s sister, Marilyn says, “We love racing. It’s in Brett’s blood! He always wanted to follow in our father’s footsteps.”
The Wanner’s surprised Brett with a micro sprint and Brett’s introduction to racing came at age fourteen.
Brett raced micros at Lanco and got to know Steve Buckwalter and Jeff Fetterolf. It was Steve’s urging that led Brett to give the midgets a try.
Trying something new can be intimidating and scary under the best of situations and Brett admits to being “nervous” at first but his fears quickly transformed into a love for the new competition. Preseason concerns about how officials would communicate with the non-hearing driver and crew both on the track and in the pits, quickly disappeared as the 2012 season got underway. While the Wanners had a lot to learn about midget racing, they also had a lot to teach and offer everyone in the ARDC pit area and ways to adapt were quickly discovered. On many nights, Brett found his restart positions with greater ease than the drivers who could benefit from the instructions given over the in-car radios!
So when the 2012 season rolled around, the Wanners came to the track with a Stealth, Sesco-Mopar powered #44. There were some mechanical issues at first but by the second race of the season, Brett had collected his first top ten with a tenth place finish at Williams Grove.
It was the club’s second trip to Potomac and Winchester Speedways where the Rookie Wanner came into his own.
Brett won his first heat race of the season at Potomac on Friday with a win in the third qualifier. Then he came out for the feature and promptly took the lead on the first lap. Brett was still the leader when the heavens opened up and dumped enough rain to force the cancellation of the rest of the show. Some creative planning with the cooperation of track management and the remaining fourteen laps of the feature would be completed the next night at Winchester.
Brett led two more laps when the race resumed on Saturday night before Parker Evans took over the lead. Tim Buckwalter went on to take the win but Brett’s sixth place finish was a season best. Not for long.
A complete show of ARDC midgets was run at Winchester. Brian Gilmore was the early race leader but a determined Brett Wanner raced his way out front to take the lead on lap number six. With the checkered flag waving, Brett went on to take his career first ARDC win ahead of Brett Arndt, Tim Buckwalter, Brian Gilmore and Shawn Jackson.
It was a Victory Lane like as not been seen before! Victory Lane announcer, Doug Watson, had the fans stand to show their appreciation to the race winner since he was unable to hear their cheers. The only thing missing was Brett’s sister, Marilyn who had not made the trip. She learned of Brett’s win by text messaging when he got back to the pits.
In addition to his win, Brett also had four other top ten finishes and a heat win during the 2012 season.
The crew on the Wanner #44 includes Brett’s dad, Dale Wanner, sister, Marilyn Wanner, Jeff Fetterolf and Richard Fisher. Sponsorship comes from Berks Deaf & Hard of Hearing Services, Vollmer Patter Inc., Keystone Homes and the Council of the United Foods & Commercial Workers International Union.
While the Winchester Speedway is one of Brett’s favorites for obvious reasons, his very favorite track is Williams Grove because “it is a big track and faster!”
Brett is thankful to Steve Buckwalter for directing him to midget racing. “I’m glad to be a part of the ARDC family,” Brett says. “It’s really been a great experience for me.”
Brett plans to return to ARDC competition in 2013 and hopes to win another race. This time, with his sister there to see him do it!
Best Appearing Car Award winner
Brett Arndt on left – for his car number 46
Award sponsored by BDB Graphics, Bruce Buckwalter, Jr. on right
For the first time ever, the ARDC Best Appearing Car Award was decided by a vote taken through the Internet on the ARDC Website. Each email address was entitled to one vote in this year’s competition. When the votes were tallied, the ARDC Best Appearing Car Award in 2012 goes to the Arndt #46. This year’s award is sponsored by BDB Graphics.
The number forty-six has been the Arndt family number for years. Scott used the number during his days in the cockpit and now Brett has taken over the driving chores in the family owned midget. The #46 is a Bullet chassis powered by a Gaerte engine.
The Scott Arndt owned and Brett Arndt driven #46 is a familiar sight when ARDC is in town. While Brett got his start with ARDC in 2006, the Arndt #46 made its ARDC debut in 2007. (During the ’06 season, Arndt drove for Bryan Kobylarz and earned a third place finish in points.) And what a debut they had — winning the first race they ran! In 2009, Brett finished out the season second to ARDC Champion, Frank Polimeda.
You can be sure that on race day or when the points are tabulated at the end of the season, this father and son team will be in the thick of the hunt. Mechanical woes sidelined the #46 team on a number of occasions in 2012 but when Brett was on the track, he could never be counted out. On many nights, the #46 would “appear” in the heat of the battle as the final laps were run. After being sidelined from his qualifying heat at the New
Egypt Speedway, Brett raced his way from a twentieth place start to finish 8th at the checkered flag. For the first three races of the season, Brett’s was three for three in heat race wins.
Scott defers to Brett when it comes to the car’s look and color combination. Brett may be inspired by something he has seen on a sprint car or other race car and want to give it a try on the Arndt #46. Kevin Nouse of Nouse Signs & Graphics in York, PA is responsible for producing Brett’s vision on the race car. Sponsors displayed on the #46 are E Schneider & Sons Recycling, DMI, Ely Fabrications, Keizer Wheels, GME Steering and Kelly Racing Fuels.
But the Best Appearing Car Award goes further than how the car looks when it’s new. Weekly care and maintenance play an important role on the impression that is made when the car comes to the track for every race. Brett pays a lot of attention to detail. He makes sure that the race car and trailer are thoroughly cleaned after every race. He dedicates whatever time is necessary to doing the job right.
And he takes care of his equipment. While incidents on the race track cannot always be avoided, it is rare that you will find the Arndt #46 involved in an on the track incident. Brett tries to avoid putting himself in compromising situations and has saved a lot of repair bills as a result.
Congratulations to the entire #46 team – Scott, Louise and Brett Arndt and crew members Bobby Barclay, Tyler Carl, Kasey Jo, Timmy Burnish and the Hartlines for a job well done!
Most Improved Driver
Rick Buckwalter on left
Bryan Kobylarz on right
Left to right – Carey Becker, Trevor Kobylarz (center) and Dyke Becker
2012 ARDC Champion
In three short years, Tim Buckwalter advanced from his Rookie of the Year status to the 2012 ARDC Champion!
2010 was the first full season of ARDC midget racing for Tim who joined his cousins, Steve and Bruce Buckwalter, Jr. in the wingless midget ranks after making a single start in 2009. But racing wasn’t anything new to Tim Buckwalter who had started racing quarter midgets at the age of seven. After more than three hundred wins in quarter midget races at tracks lilke Phoenixville, Blackbird and Honeybrook, Tim moved into go-karts – then champ and caged karts. Mini-cup cars were next and then micro sprints, running 270s and 600s. Tim found success at each level, winning several races and championships at each step along the way.
The second generation driver grew up watching his dad, Rick, race stock cars at tracks like Grandview, Reading, Penn National and Bridgeport. His win in the fall 2010 Thunder on the Hill show at Grandview was very special to Tim who spent many Saturday nights at the Grandview Speedway, the track that Tim and many ARDC competitors consider to be their home track.
Behind every success story is a supporting cast and Tim Buckwalter is no exception. His parents, Rick and Nancy Buckwalter have supported Tim’s racing since those early days in quarter midgets. Rick continues as the owner of the #52 midget and both he and Nancy are there to support Tim every step of the way. Tim’s girfriend, Amanda Ray, is also there to lend a helping hand and moral support. “You always need someone to support you like she does,” says Tim of Amanda’s contribution.
Former crew chief, Phil Rupert, introduced Daryl “Buck” Greenleaf to Tim Buckwalter several seasons ago and now Buck has become the righthand man in the Buckwalter midget operation. “He was a racing fan before he came to work with us,” Tim explains. “He went to a lot of races – including NASCAR – before he started helping us,” Tim continues. “Now he’s at the shop every night, working side by side with us on the car. The best thing is, Buck watches the car and what I’m doing. I can come in off the track and he”ll have noticed that I did something different in the car or changed the way I was running…he see’s everything!”
Rob Strawley, the father of two quarter midget drivers himself, fulfills the technical and fabricating needs on the #52. Gary and Donna Spotts, the owners of the 600 Micro that Tim races when he’s not behind the wheel of the midget, are also very supportive of Tim’s racing and lend a hand wherever possible. Bryan Ray is another set of helping hands as a crew member on the #52.
Tim’s hero in racing has always been his cousin, Steve Buckwalter. The 2010 ARDC Champion continues to play an important role in Tim’s midget racing. “It’s so much easier to get into something different when you have someone who’s done it before you,” Tim says of his transition to midgets from micros. “Steve has been a big help. I continue to bounce ideas off of him. We used to run pretty much the same set-ups.” Now, with several seasons of experience under his belt, Tim is making changes to adapt the car to his style of driving. “We were really struggling on slick tracks this year and Steve got us headed in the right direction there!” The Buckwalter #52 this season was the same car that took Steve to the 2010 ARDC Championship.
“BJ (Bruce, Jr.) and I worked together a lot this season too!”, Tim continues. They were able to share ideas and help each other throughout the season.
Tim has also been supported by several loyal sponsors – many who have followed Tim throughout his racing career. Sponsors on the Buckwalter #52 are Buckwalter Motorsports, TSL Shocks, Pete Motors, Gary Spotts Insulation, Gable Service Center, Tom’s Auto Body, Ultra Shield Seats, Pgatikin Powder Coating, Fagola Fuel Lines, F&K Rod Ends, Fastenal Specialties, Gaerte Engines, Elite Chassis and BDB Graphics.
After what Tim refers to as a “sophomore slump” in 2011, the Buckwalter team did their homework over the winter months. Finishing ninth in points but going winless during the 2011 season, fell short of Tim’s expectations for his second season in ARDC. “We went to the track to win this year,” Tim relates. Finding himself in the thick of the points chase came as a result of a strong start to the 2012 season. “Racing for points is very stressful. I think you tell yourself that you’re not going to let it effect the way you race but I think it still does on some level.”
Tim started off the 2012 season with a win on opening day at the Big Diamond Speedway. After many laps of exchanging the lead with 2011 ARDC Champion, Drew Heistand, Tim found himself in a one lap shootout with Nick Wean in the end. Wean slid by Tim going into turn one on the last lap but by the time the field came around for the checkered, Tim had driven back into the lead for the win. “That was definitely the most exciting race of the season for us,” Tim says. “That was all about getting up on the wheel and getting it done!”
The highlight of his championship season was winning at Williams Grove in early June. Winning at “the Grove” is a goal of every open cockpit racer. As a result of what Tim refers to as the “Buck setup,” Tim picked up his first win at Williams Grove.
Tim is never idle, jumping into his TQ or a micro sprint whenever the opportunity presents itself. By season’s end, Tim will have raced in more than seventy events this season. He has a total of sixteen wins for his efforts. Tim will travel to Oklahoma for the Tulsa Shoot-out and will compete in the indoor events at Baltimore and Rhode Island with the TQ before the curtain falls on 2012. Tim has traveled to the Midwest to compete in the heart of midget country. “That’s something everyone should do at least once,” Tim believes. “Everyone should experience the difference in driving styles!”
Racing has become a way of life for Tim Buckwalter. On any given race night, he can be found behind the wheel of the ARDC midget or TQ that are owned by his mom and dad or in the cockpit of the Spotts winged 600 or the wingless Pgatikin Powder Coating car. Tim has also made a name for himself with his work in building shocks. There are plans of a TSL shock to be introduced in 2013 as a result of the partnership between Tim and Afco Shocks. There is much to be gained in a midget as a result of good handling and handling is all about the shock package. “There’s a lot of speed to be gained or lost,” according to Tim and you can be sure that he’s on the leading edge of the gaining speed side of the things.
Tim’s championship season came as a result of fifteen top ten finishes in nineteen events. In addition to three wins – Big Diamond, Williams Grove and Winchester – Tim finished the season with one second, one third, three fourth place finishes and one fifth place finish. He had six more finishes from sixth through eighth and won three qualifying heats.
2012 has been a championship season for Tim Buckwalter and Buckwalter Motorsports. Stay tuned for what’s to come in 2013!