USAC's 2008 Western Racing Champions and special award recipients received their honors Saturday night at the USAC Western Banquet at the "Imagine That" banquet facility in Upland, California.
USAC Chief announcer Rob Klepper emceed the presentations and the distribution of door prizes during and after the affair.
The evening began with addresses by USAC President/CEO Kevin Miller and Vice-Presidents Tommy Hunt and Dick Jordan.
Driving champions honored included Lucas Oil USAC.CRA Sprint Car king Mike Spencer of Temecula, Calif., Western Sprint Car champ Tanner Swanson of Kingsburg, Calif., Western Midget champ Nic Faas of Huntington Beach, Calif., California Ford Focus champs Alex Bowman of Tucson, Ariz. (dirt) and Ian Miille of Pleasanon, Calif. (pavement) and Junior Focus champ Charlie Butcher of Santa Barbara, Calif.
Car Entrant Champions celebrated included Ron Chaffin Motorsports of Madera, Calif. (USAC/CRA), TK Motorsports of Kingsburg, Calif. (Western Sprint), Western Speed Racing of Fresno, Calif. (Western Midget), Bowman and Miille.
Hoosier Racing Tire announced the 2008 Rookies of the Year and Most Improved Drivers. They were rookies Bowman (Ford Focus), Faas (Midget and CRA Sprint) and Porter Smith of Aztec, NM (Sprint) and most improveds Miille (Ford Focus), Ernie Bartley III of El Cajon, Calif. (Midget), Eric Humphries of Chowchilla, Calif. (Sprint) and Tyler Brown of Norco, Calif. (CRA Sprint).
Special awards included the Curly Merrill "Let's Go Racing" Award presented to long-time USAC Western participants and supporters Jerry & Vivian Crowell, the Walt Johnson Memorial Award presented by Pat Johnson and Bob Pool to long-time USAC Official Jerry Guevara and the Joe Lynch Mechanical Achievement Award presented to Ron Josett.
Bruce Bromme of Templeton, Calif., who served as crew chief for USAC/CRA Champion Mike Spencer, received the 2008 Western Crew Chief Award, while Esslinger Engineering of El Monte, Calif. accepted the 2008 Calico Coatings Engine Builder Championship Award and Western Speed Racing was lauded as the 2008 Toyota Challenge Championship team.
Long-time USAC car owner Steve Lewis of Laguna Beach, Calif., whose 132 victories top the all-time USAC National feature victory list, accepted the 2008 Roger McCluskey Award of Excellence from USAC President/CEO Kevin Miller.
Young Automotive Rocky Mountain Sprint Car Champion JoJo Helberg of Rohnert Park, Calif. and Utah Ford Focus Champ Kipp Posey of Lehi, Utah were also acknowledged as 2008 USAC titlists.
USAC's working officials were also applauded and received distinctive appreciation certificates for their dedication and service.
Former USAC/CRA Sprint Car Champions Rip Williams (2004) and Jimmy Oskie (5-times) were also in attendance and were introduced to the crowd on hand.