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Illini Racing Series Banquet; Story/photos by Stan Kalwasinski

Six-time Champ Koerner honored at Illini Banquet

By Stan Kalwasinski

New Lenox, Ill.—Posting an all-time high sixth series championship this past season, Scott Koerner was honored at the annual Illini Racing Series midget racing banquet and awards night here at Beggars Pizza Saturday evening.

Koerner became the first six-time champion of the Illini midget series, wheeling the LaVerne and Johanna Spencer-owned, GM Ecotec engine-powered, Beast chassis No. 1 to the title.  Koerner, who races out of Joliet, scored four feature wins during the circuit’s ten-race schedule, giving Koerner 22 career series main event victories.

Winning his fifth straight Illini crown, Koerner broke the tie for all-time series championships, breaking away from five-time winners Joe Knippel and Sue Spencer.  The 48-year-old Koerner, who began his racing career in go karts, also competes in the late model stock car racing on the pavement at the Grundy County Speedway in Morris, Ill.

Following Koerner in the final points standings were Doug Orseske, Tom Schnabel, Scott Shilkuski, Travis Mahoney and Michael Klein.  Rounding out the top 10 were Chris Adrien, Derek Bettenhausen, Jordan Caskey and Kourtnay Borman.

Illinois’ Rockford Speedway was the scene of three Illini racing programs with Indiana’s South Bend Motor Speedway hosting one series event.  The Grundy speed plant saw five visits by the Illini group which raced under the name of the Midwest Mayhem Midgets during the year at the third-mile oval.

Other feature winners in 2022 included Tom Schnabel with three victories and Travis Mahoney, Billy Hulbert and Jordan Caskey scoring a victory apiece.  Hulbert’s win was the annual Aaron Willis Memorial Race at Grundy.

A number of special awards were given out during the evening including Team Manager – Basil Hicks, Mechanic of the Year – Jerry Murphy, Most Improved Driver – Michael Klein, Best Appearing Car – Travis Mahoney, Sportsman of the Year – Scott Shilkuski, Rookie of the Year – Derek Bettenhausen, Hard Charger – Tom Schnabel and Promoter of the Year – Aaron Willis Jr.

Former open-wheel competitor “Racy” Bruce Field was the night’s guest speaker, sharing stories about his racing experiences that included USAC Silver Crown and midget victories.