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Celebrating Champions Past, Present and Future

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Everyone loves it when magazine writers dedicate their December columns to a recap of the year just past, right?

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Okay, maybe not.

Sure, if it’s been a great year for your favorite sports team, it’s awesome  to relive the good times (oops, sorry about that, Golden State Warriors fans), but it can sure stink if you’re on the other end (enough out of you, Chicago Cubs fans). But typically, looking back at the last 12 months isn’t very exciting because it’s just too fresh.

So I’m mixing it up and revisiting the past five years!

If you’ve never read Engine Builder magazine or seen this column before, you may not know that this marks the fifth year that we have partnered with some leading industry suppliers to support and celebrate the true unsung heroes of the automotive, and particularly racing, industry – the professional engine builder. As they say, to finish first you must first finish – and you can’t even start if the engine isn’t there.

In 2012, Driven Racing Oil helped us celebrate with Frank Honsowetz, of Ed Pink Racing Engines in Van Nuys, CA for his shop’s widely diversified engine emporium with clientele in motorsports venues that range from dirt track bullrings to sports car endurance courses and the wilds of Baja.”

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In 2013, Kevin Kroyer, from Kroyer Racing Engines in Las Vegas was able to join us between races to accept his award from Driven for being a champion race truck engine builder.

In 2014, Federal-Mogul Motorparts and its Speed-Pro brand took the program’s sponsorship to even greater heights. Tom Nickerson, of NVR Racing in Butler, WI, took first place honors in a PRI Show awards ceremony – made even more exciting by the presence and energy of drag racing champion John Force. With more than 40 years in the industry, Nickerson works with his wife Cindy on primarily Chevrolet builds, building mostly circle track and drag vehicle engines as well as other nameplate engines, with the occasional Ferrari job.

The 2015 grand prize was presented to Ray Field, owner of Dougans Racing Engines, in Riverside, CA. Ray joined Dougans in 1980, and has worked as a mechanic, machinist, engine builder, tuner, dyno operator and now owner. The business specializes in engines for off-road applications such as trophy trucks, Class 8, pro trucks, prerunners, short-course racing, Pro 2 and Pro 4.

And just this month, I had the pleasure to present the 2016 Performance Engine Builder of the Year prize on behalf of our partners at Federal-Mogul and the Speed-Pro, Fel-Pro and Sealed Power brands to Larry Pritchett, of Mid-South Racing Engines in Clarkrange, TN. This small, family-run company has achieved success  by effectively utilizing the philosophies of high quality, advanced techniques and customer service. You can read more about Larry’s philosophy and champion NHRA sportsman engines in next month’s issue of Engine Builder.

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The Engine Builder of the Year program was expanded this year to include vintage and diesel engine builders as well as strictly performance builders. You’ll read more about those winners in this space soon, and be sure to watch for some special news about the 2017 program.

Now, typically in these wrap-up columns, the last few paragraphs are when the writer sums up his or her summation of the past events with a pithy observation and neatly puts a bow on the year. I can’t do that because frankly, our segment of the industry – one that adapts to new regulations and other challenges on an annual basis – knows that there is no neat and tidy finish. As we’ve said before, there is no off season – just a breather before the next event.

As a participant in this industry, you’re still part of a race that continues to confound naysayers. To me, that makes all of you champions. Congratulations, and thank you for your continued support.  n

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