Grand Rapids, Michigan (Tuesday, December 4, 2018) - Drivers, crew members, family and friends were all invited to the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in downtown Grand Rapids, MI on Saturday for the American Ethanol Tours Championship Awards Banquet Presented by Zeigler Ford. There, over $61,000 in cash and awards were received by drivers or their representatives, from both the American Ethanol Late Model Tour (AELMT) and the American Ethanol Modified Tour (AEMODT) Presented by Allstar Performance. A great crowd filled the prestigious Pantlind Ballroom within the plaza.
The night started with a buffet dinner prepared by the staff of the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel. From there, Rich Frantz welcomed everyone in attendance before introducing Nth Moto’s Aaron Miller for a special presentation. Miller explained to those in attendance the work that his Minnesota based company has been doing to produce high powered performance engines that run on Ethanol fuels. From there, Carbon Green BioEnergy CEO, Mitch Miller, was welcomed to the stage to explain why Aaron Miller was in attendance.
Mitch Miller explained that Carbon Green BioEnergy had been the parent company to the current American Ethanol powered engine that competes with the AELMT, however, Mitch Miller explained that his team was not happy with the engine’s performance and had asked the team at Nth Moto to reimagine the small block engine - and that’s just what they’re doing. The new engine will also find a new home among the AELMT. During his speech, Mitch Miller announced that eligible drivers could have their name entered into a drawing for the American Ethanol powered engine. He also explained that the drawing will take place sometime over the next month. For more information, teams should contact Tour Management.
American Ethanol Tours Director and President of Motor City Racing Promotions (MCRP) Scott Menlen was the final representative to speak before the awards presentation. With his time, Menlen expressed his thankfulness to John Berglund, representative of AEMODT title sponsor Allstar Performance, as well as thanking his MCRP staff for their work during the 2018 season and congratulating both champions.
“Our entire officiating team has enjoyed our continuous work with the race teams of the American Ethanol Racing Tours”, offered Tour Director, Scott Menlen. “Congratulations to Brandon Thirlby and Jacob Poel on their successes this season. Both Tour Champions are great ambassadors of the sport and we’re privileged to have them apart of our expanding tours”, he added.
Menlen also used his time to announce that several tracks would make their first-time appearance to the American Ethanol Tours Schedule, including southern Ohio’s Atomic Speedway. He also confirmed that several tracks from the 2018 season, would be returning in 2019, including the host of the new season opener for both tours, LaSalle Speedway in LaSalle, IL as part of the 8th Annual Thaw Brawl. One of Michigan’s signature events for UMP Modifieds will return to the AEMODT calendar in 2019, the 4th Annual Tommie Bauer Memorial Race on Friday, August 9th at Mt. Pleasant Speedway. More schedule details will be released in the coming weeks.
Finally, the voice of the American Ethanol Tours, Zach Hiser, was introduced onto the stage as the Master of Ceremonies to welcome the award recipients in attendance. Scott Menlen, Mitch Miller, and John Berglund were welcomed back on stage to present the awards for the AEMODT. Drivers thanked family, friends and sponsors for their season, some expressing disappointment with their season, vowing to come back stronger in 2019. 2018 Champion Jacob Poel accepted his awards as Tour Champion and winner of the Allstar Performance Hard Charger point standings. Poel began by thanking American Ethanol and Allstar Performance for their support of UMP Modified Racing in Michigan. He went on to thank his fellow competitors for their continued support and respect throughout the years.
For the AELMT drivers in attendance, crystal awards, artfully crafted by A-Frame Awards, were presented by Mitch Miller and Scott Menlen. Dona Marcoullier, who was awarded the Allstar Performance Hard Charger award, thanked everyone who has supported him throughout, what he called, a humbling season. The former two-time AELMT Champion, Marcoullier, said that while his 2019 plans are not finalized yet, he plans to continue seeing the reasons why he loves the sport. The 2018 Champion of the Tour, Brandon Thirlby, finished the night’s awards presentation by first and foremost, thanking his family and poking fun at his brother Collin Thirlby. He then went on to thank everyone behind him including the employee’s of his family owned business, Thirlby Automotive. After receiving his award, he returned to the microphone to thank his girlfriend, Leah, however the crowd heckled him, saying he had already missed his chance. Thirlby also received the season-overall Motul Motor Oil & Lubricants Fast Qualifier Award.
After the over $61,000 were presented, many drivers made verbal commitments to the 2019 season, which will feature a season opener for both Tours at LaSalle Speedway. Complete schedule details, as well as more off-season news and content will be released throughout the off-season. Stay up to date, by following the Tours on social media, including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Photos By: Jim Denhamer