CHARLOTTE, NC- Two of the weekly competitors at the Lee USA Speedway were honored on Friday for achievements during the 2011 season at the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Banquet in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Small Block Supermodified drivers Wayne Helliwell Jr. from Dover, N.H. and Dave Sanborn of Tilton, N.H. both spent a few days in the Charlotte area as part of champions week for the more than 50 NASCAR weekly tracks across North America.
Helliwell was honored as champion of the headlining division at Lee. It was his third consecutive headline division NASCAR title. He also won the New Hampshire State Championship for a second time.
“We’re finally getting the hang of it down here,” Helliwell stated as the awards ceremony concluded. “It’s an awesome time to come down here. The event is inbelievable. All of the stuff that they put on down here is top notch. It would be foolish not to come. We skipped it one or two years previous. We finally came down and boy I’d never miss it again.”
For Dave Sanborn it was disappointing to come up short on a championship season, but he was all smiles on Friday night as he stood tall with Helliwell, posing for a Rookie of the Year photo. It was an award Sanborn didn’t know he was in the running for until the season was nearly over.
“At 43 years old I never thought I could be a Rookie of the Year,” he told the Lowell Sun on Friday night from the awards stage at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte. “With two or three races to go I was looking on the NASCAR home page at the New Hampshire state standings and I saw that I was the top guy with an ‘R’ by my name.
“This is an incredible event. The whole past few days. They started us at nine o’clock this morning with breakfast and awards. This afternoon it was rehearsal and awards, and then tonight dinner and awards. They just kept giving. I really hope we can get back here next year.”
For Sanborn, getting back on stage next year would require a Lee USA Speedway Championship, but for Helliwell a change in the state of N.H. could mean the pursuit of an even bigger award.
Last week the Canaan, N.H. Speedway announced that they would be a NASCAR track for 2012. Helliwell is looking at options to possibly run both Canaan and Lee to have the chance at not only a N.H. State Championship, but with extraordinary success, he could be in the running for a top five in the national standings of NASCAR.
“The only thing that is 100 percent for next year is that we’re going to be running the Supermodified again,” Helliwell added. “Right now we’re in talks about what we’re going to do for Saturday’s and Sunday’s. Maybe ACT Tour. Maybe another NASCAR track.”
Keith Rocco finished second in the national standings for 2011 by competing at three Connecticut tracks on a weekly basis. He won the National Championship in 2010 by running those same three tracks of Thompson, Waterford and Stafford.