Bridgeport, NJ – During last year’s Bridgeport Awards Banquet, Doug Rose realized that only the top five or top ten of each division were being recognized when in fact, it took all of the competitors to make a race.
For this year’s awards, he decided to do something a little different.
On Sunday afternoon, the Bridgeport Motorsports Park celebrated the 2023 season just outside of turn two. A huge tent was erected by Matt Smith’s Party Central. The meal was catered by Danny Sommeling’s Danny’s Pizza Pizzazz. The cost was greatly reduced so that everyone could take part. Big screen TVs broadcast the final Cup race as well as the Philadelphia Eagles vs the Dallas Cowboys.
The weather was beautiful – warm and sunny on this November Sunday. Too bad we couldn’t have some of that on our lost race days throughout the season. People enjoyed their time both inside and outside. The Bridgeport family was here to celebrate the 2023 season. There has always been a sense of “family” among competitors and workers alike at Bridgeport. That was evident on Sunday as well.!
Jordan Watson, Danny Sommeling and the crew of the Danny’s Pizza Pizzazz No. 51 were celebrated as the Track Champions for th 2023 season – the No. 51 team in Bridgeport’s 51st season! This team was cheered by everyone because everyone knew what went into this Championship.
Jordan Watson has been a part of the track’s history. First, as a fan in the grandstands watching his uncle race. Then as a Sportsman competitor who won the first Bill Hill Memorial race. As a Modified driver, he was the winner of the 1000th race several years ago. On this day, he was the track champion driver.
Danny Sommeling is such a huge supporter of area stock car racing. Not only does he have his own team but he supports many other race teams as well. He sponsors races. He supports the race track. On this day, he was the track champion car owner.
The cheers were loud and long! Everyone knew of the work and dedication that went into this championship. And even if you were one of the competitors this season, you respected this accomplishment. “I knew what I had,” Sommeling said of the No. 51 team. “It was just a matter of putting all of the pieces together.” Others may have thrown in the towel but not Sommeling. He worked for this goal and this day.
There have been several drivers in the seat of the No. 51 throughout the last few seasons. When they won, the No. 51 team was there to offer their congratulations. When the No. 51 team won, they were there to congratulate them.
Team No. 51 is looking forward to the 2024 season.
The 2023 season produced some very tight point races – not the least of which was the 2023 Precision Hydraulic & Oil602 Sportsman Title.
It came down to the last race which turned out to be one week earlier than expected. Rose told the drivers at the Drivers’ Meeting one week before the end of the points, that that night, could in fact, be the final points race if the following week was rained out. That’s exactly what happened.
Travis Hill and Ethan Bill raced to the final checkered flag. Hill regained his position ahead of Bill in the final laps, heeding Rose’s warning and went on to capture his third Championship and his third in a different car with a different owner. For car owner, Brent Cogdill, it was his second championship – his first came during the 2013 season with son, Michael behind the wheel. It was the first Championship for both owner and driver on the High Banks.
Hill spent a few seasons racing a wingless 600 Micro Sprint and said that his 600 experience made his transition to the High Banks in a stock car much easier.
Both Hill and Bill finished outside the top ten in just one race and oddly enough, it was the same race. Brian Papiez led the field in feature wins but the consistency of Hill and Bill made for an exciting point race. All three look forward to renewing the battle for the 2024 season along with many other drivers.
Eddie Barber III was crowned as the DA’s Auto Body & Repair Rookie Champion for 2023. Barber dominated the win column and finished in the top five in every race. Barber shared the driving chores with Dan Hulmes who competed in the 602 Sportsman and Barber in the Rookies in a car provided by Tom and Scott Hulmes. In addition to Barber’s Championship, there was even more reason for the Hulmes team (family) to celebrate as Dan Hulmes had just passed his crucible and was officially a US Marine!
Tom Wills, Jr. celebrated his fourth Street Stock Championship, giving the credit to his dad, Tom Wills, Sr. who prepares the No. 856. Wills earned seven wins this season and fourteen top fives. This race team is truly a family affair. In addition to Tom Jr. and Sr. there’s Tom’s wife, Carolyn, who supports this racing effort. It was Carolyn who discovered that Tom always won the race before they left for vacation! Tom’s mother, sisters and niece are also big fans and seldom miss a race.
Sixty drivers competed in Bridgeport Motorsports Park Street Stocks this season.
Several special awards were presented. The 2023 Modified Rookie of the Year went to Sean Metz while Neal Williams was named as the Most Improved Modified Driver based on his upward movement in the point standings. Ethan Bill was named as the 602 Sportsman Most Improved Driver of 2023.
The 2023 4 Cylinder Champion is Tim Jones. This division has found a home on the 4/10th mile track, using every inch of the race track to
race, sometimes three and four wide. This division always produces plenty of racing action. Jone spoke about how all of the competitors in this division help each other. They may be competitors on the track but behind the scenes, everyone helps each other.
For the first time, the North East Wingless Sprintscrowned a Bridgeport Track Champion for the 2023 season. The first NEWS Bridgeport Champion is Brian Spencer. Spencer had a pair of victories and eight top ten finishes throughout the season. The wins in this division were spread over several competitors, making for some excellent racing.
There was plenty to celebrate on the Bridgeport Motorsports Park quarter mile – the Spirit Auto Center Speedway. The Friday night action faired much better with the weather, completing nineteen shows this season.
Jack Jarvis raced to the Junior Slingshot title with eleven wins and seventeen top tens during his first season of competition. The young driver from a Delaware racing family had a lot of success in his rookie season. He had plenty of practice but did well thanking everyone who supported him throughout the season.
In the Speedway Entertainment All Star Slingshots, a repeat champion was crowned as Michael Beckett earned back-to-back Championships in this division. In nineteen races, Beckett collected seven wins and seventeen top tens to pick up the title over PJ Bozowski. Beckett will move into the 602 Sportsman for the 2024 season. He got a headstart on the new season by getting in some seat time in Friday night
The JC Fabrication winged 270s raced in nineteen events this season with fifty-nine different drivers competing throughout the season. Alex Swift celebrated his fifth championship as the driver of the John & Amanda Blanda No. 15 with seven wins and just one race outside the top five. The Swift and Blanda team have been a good match. This is another division where the competitors work with each other behind the scenes and help to promote their division.
The Hyper Racing 600 Micro Sprints saw more than hundred drivers compete in the 2023 season with Matt Smith crowned as Champion for the fourth time. Smith went without a win this season but his fifteen top tens earned the driver from Delaware his second title in a row. Tommy Kunsman had the most wins with seven but did not compete on a weekly b
It is hard to comprehend how many people it takes to make racing possible at a track until you get them all up front and you can see them all standing in one place.
Sunday’s celebration was not just for the driver and teams, but Doug & Brittany Rose honored many of the great sponsors of the Speedway. The Rose’s recognize that all of Bridgeport’s Sponsor and Partners are a major part of the Speedway’s success.
Plans are underway for the 2024 season with all of the crowd favorites of this season. Stay tuned for forthcoming announcements as the schedule is confirmed for the new season.
Thank you to everyone that makes the Kingdom of Speed Possible…..
Church’s Auto Parts
Precision Hydraulic & Oil
Millville Glass & Door
Design For Vision
Rodota Trucking & Excavating
Scrappy’s Auto Service
Izzi Trucking & Rigging
Danny’s Pizza Pizzazz
Ellery’s Pub & Grill
Ice Less llc.
Hoffman Discount Parts
Spirit Auto Center
Bob Hilbert Sportswear
Triple R Truck Parts
John Blewett Scrap & Waste Recycling
Pioneer Pole Buildings
F&L Doors – FLDoors.com
EZ Work Trucks
Pro Tek Roofing
Beacon Building Products
KOA Camp Grounds
Amwell Auto Body
Prime Design Landscaping