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The Bilstein Southwest RallyCup Series presented awards to recognize outstanding competitors and volunteers at its annual banquet on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014, at the Knotts Berry Farm Resort Hotel in Buena Park, Calif. Winners ranged from those in their first year of rally competition to long-time veterans of the sport.

Ray Piloto, of Las Vegas, Nev., won the coveted award as the overall top driver in the Racetech/Stage Track Cup championship series, saying he was honored to come up against some great drivers and to win out over second-place winner Tingwu Song; Song finished in second place. With his trophy, he also took home a set of Racetech seats, valued at $2,000.

Following in third place was Dave Henderson and only four points behind in fourth place, Brent Hercelinsky.

Song's co-driver, Martin Brady, who travels all the way from his home in Galway, Ireland to compete in U.S.-based stage rallies, took the honor of the overall top co-driver.

The second place overall co-driver was Terrence McDowell with Preston Osborn in third. Fourth place ended in a three-way tie between David Ault, Alex Orozco, and Ricardo Apolinar.

Racetech USA will continue to be a product sponsor for the overall division of the series championship through 2015. Visit their website at http://racetech-usa.com/shop/ to see all the accessories they offer competitors to assure rally vehicles are ready for competition.

Bilstein USA Cup Championship

Chelsea Bell, representative from Bilstein, was in attendance to give out all the awards for the Bilstein USA Cup Championship.

"We are so happy to have Bilstein USA on board with the series, who've continued as the title series sponsor since 2010," said Denise McMahon, the director of the BSWRC Series. "They have a discount program on any of their Bilstein products, so if you are interested to be in on this championship for 2014 you must have a Bilstein product in your vehicle," she told the banquet guests.

In the Drivers category, driver Matt Tabor, of Everett, Wash., won the prestigious Madonna Award for "Racing for Excellence." Tabor is the chair of the Oregon Trail Rally. Via telephone, he expressed his excitement and could not believe he could win this beautiful award along with contingency monies for his winning.

Chuck Wilson took second place with Jesse Babbitz taking the third place. Also recognized were fourth and fifth place, Kristen Tabor and Mark Tabor, respectively. Sixth place ended in a tie between Todd McAllister and Brent Hercelinsky.

In the Co-driver category, Leelyn Pritchard, of Tucson, Ariz., earned the first place award. Ben Bradley ended the season in second place and John Dillon in third place. Also acknowledged were Janice Tabor in fourth place, Kathryn Hanson in fifth place and Alex Orozco in sixth place.

Lucas Oil 2WD Championship

In his first year of rally competition, Jason Lightner, of San Marcos, Calif., took not only this championship but also earned the 2013 Rookie Driver of the Year award. His co-driver, Brent Ellzey, of Prescott, Ariz., was the first-place co-driver.

"We gave out over $800.00 in product and prize money over the course of the season coming totaling $3,000," McMahon said. "Lucas Oil will again be a presenting sponsor of the series and we will have a discount program for Lucas Oil products."

John Black took second place with Sarkus Mazmanian in third place. Markus Saarinen collected fourth, with Brent Hercelinsky picking up fifth place.

In the Co-driver category, Vahan Yessayan grabbed second place, followed by Alicia Saarinen in third place. Alex Orozco and Lori Stone tied for fourth place.

Wolf LED Systems 4WD Championship

The top six places in the Driver category not only received trophies, but each also was awarded a Wolf LED System light bar. Ray Piloto finished in the top spot, followed by Tingwu Song in second, Dave Henderson in third, Andy Kingsley in fourth, Kris Psara in fifth and rounding out at sixth position, George Plsek.

"We are very grateful to Wolf LED Systems for being a sponsor for the series and for generously donating over $2000.00 in product," McMahon said. "They will be onboard for 2014, working more closely with the national team."

Brent Ellzey took first place in the Co-driver category of the championship. Joey Yessayan grabbed second place, Alicia Saarinen in third place, and Alex Orozco and Lori Stone tied for fourth place.

The Bilstein Southwest RallyCup Series has traditionally given out specialty awards at the banquet to recognize individuals, teams and volunteers for their unique support.

The Toilet Award is selected by the banquet guests' show of applause for the competitor who comes forward to share the most compelling anecdotal tale of a DNF during the season. After hearing the adventures of both John Dillon and Cameron Steely, it was Steely's narrative of how he and his co-driver, Bill Irvin, watched their Ford Focus as it was destroyed in a major fire at the Ojibwe Forests Rally that earned a rousing round of applause, hoots and cheers—and the award.

Performance rally would not exist if not for its dedicated volunteers. The Gibeault Award is given to a volunteer who goes above and beyond in his or her duties. A look of sheer surprise crossed the face of Doug Nagy when he was named the recipient of this distinguished award.

The 2013 Team O'Neil Award was presented to John Truck. He earned a $2200.00 gift certificate, valued at $2,200 to attend the Team O'Neil Rally School in Dalton, N.H. "He is so thrilled to receive this honor," McMahon acknowledged. "We are looking forward to a report from him when he does go to the school."

A co-driver is the driver's most valuable asset in a rally team. John Dillon has taken this role for many, including some of the top national drivers as well as the rookie drivers in their first competition. He selflessly offers his skills to best accommodate whatever level best suits his partner, and this Co-Driver of the Year has assisted drivers not only win single events, but entire championships.

Rookie Team of the Year award went to the husband-and-wife team of Marcus and Alicia Saarinen. "They came back with such focus to finish," McMahon praised, "and they finished well in the last two events of the season in their Mini Cooper."

The Star Volunteer of the Year awards went to two people who McMahon said "have shown such exceptional above-and-beyond help for the events throughout the year." The first award went to Andy Andreason, for his efforts with Communications and Mike Munzon for Sweep.

McMahon also recognized others who came on board in 2013 to assist the Series including Steve and Christy Draper, SCD Designs, for designing and providing T-shirts. She also thanked photographer Sebastian Krywult of TurnDriverSide.com and Kevin Miller, President and CEO of USAC. Prior to finishing, McMahon added thanks to the Arizona Rally Group for its support throughout the 2013 season.

She next introduced guest speaker Bryon Linford, the Special Events Director from Cedar City, Utah. Linford shared that his city would be hosting Rally Utah in 2014, the newest event to be added to the BSWRC Series' 2014 calendar.

"He is very excited, along with the people of Cedar City, to have a motorsport event in their community," McMahon said. "They are looking forward to working with the series staff in making sure everyone comes away from the event excited and looking forward to have the event each year."

Cameron Steely presented the individual class championship awards:

2013 Group 5 Championship Awardees:
Dave Hintz and Natalie Blake

2013 PGT Class Championship Awardees:
Matt Tabor and Ben Bradley

2013 Production Class Championship Awardees:
John Black with co-drivers (tied) - Katianna Pihakari/Lori Stone

2013 Open Class Championship Awardees:
Tingwu Song, Driver; Martin Brady, Co-Driver - 1st
Brent Hercelinsky, Driver; Evan Davis, Co-Driver - 2nd
Brian Day, Driver; Dustin Hoffman, Co-Driver - 3rd

2013 Open Light Championship Awards:
Ray Piloto, Driver; Cameron Steely, Co-Driver - 1st
Brent Hercelinsky, Driver; Evan Davis, Co-Driver - 2nd
Agatino Fortunato, Driver; (Tied) Co-Drivers, Tyler Deal/Ricardo Apolignar - 3rd

Super Production Class Championship Awardees:
Andy Kingsley, Driver; John Dillon, Co-Driver - 1st
Jesse Babbitz, Driver; Terrence McDowell, Co-Driver - 2nd
Dave Henderson, Driver; Kathryn Hanson, Co-Driver - 3rd

Group 2 Class Championship Awardees:
Jason Lightner, Driver; Brent Ellzey, Co-Driver - 1st
Sarkis Mazmanian, Driver; Joey Yessayan, Co-Driver -2nd
Markus Saarinen, Driver; Alicia Saarinen, Co-Driver - 3rd
John Sundelin, Driver; Brock Palmer, Co-Driver - 4th
Brent Hercelinsky, Driver; Alex Orozco, Co-Driver - 5th

In her wrap-up, McMahon shared some announcements:
  • Bilstein and Lucas Oil, respectively, are back for 2014 as title and presenting sponsors of the series. Other returning sponsors who've committed are Team O'Neil Rally School, Racetech, Jim Beaver Down and Dirty Show, Brent Lee Motorsports, Cameron Steely Racing, Sun Devil Awards, K2 Awards, SCD Designs and Apparel, Rallygrafix.com, Subenet.com, Turndriverside.com, and Subaru Loyalist.
  • Three new sponsors have committed for 2014 and will donate product, through drawings, at each BSWRC Series event and also at the 2014 year-end awards banquet. Optima Batteries will donate high-performance batteries, valued at over $1,500 and Scrubblades is on board with their top-of-the line wiper blades. PR Lightning Solutions will be added as one of the 4WD Championship title sponsors with podium finishers receiving product at the year-end banquet.

"We are very excited have these three product sponsors on board and we hope that you will support these sponsors by buying their products throughout the season," McMahon said. "More information will be available at all the 2014 events.

She concluded by thanking the following staff members including Pat McMahon, Dave Belcher, Barry Colston, Tom Turner, Nicole Kates, Marni and Doug Nagy, Jim Robison, Sebastian Krywult, Ryan Keller, Andy Andreason, Bill Burkett, and Mike and Paula Gibeault.

Visit the series' website at www.southwestrallyseries.com to view a photo slideshow and other multimedia.


Bilstein Southwest RallyCup Series - 2014 Rally Schedule:

Desert Storm Rally, Blythe, Calif., April 4/5
Mendocino Rally, Ukiah, Calif, July 26/27
Rally Utah, Cedar City, Utah, August 2
Arizona Extreme Rally, Kingman, Ariz., September 12/13
Seed 9 Rally, Jean, NV, November 8
BSWRC 2014 Awards Banquet, January 10, 2015

About BSWRC (www.southwestrallyseries.com): The Bilstein Southwest RallyCup series was formed as a non-profit organization in 2004 to advance the sport of performance stage rally in the Southwest Region and to provide a growing awareness of attainable entry point into performance rally by providing a broader awareness and increasing participation. The series is recognized by Rally America; the sanctioning body for National and Regional rally events in the USA. This series supports the Southwest Region by fostering the growth of sportsmanship and competition in the Rally America sanctioned events.
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