I attended the CASCAR Super Series / Sportsman banquet on Saturday night in London.
Near the end - after bragging about his health and libido - Tony Novotny predicted that 2006 will be the greatest year in CASCAR history.
Click here to listen to an MP3 of Novotny's speech.
Novotny's tone was markedly more upbeat and less frustrated then when I spoke to him before he went on WindTunnel a few weeks back. I believe the situation regarding the sale of CASCAR to NASCAR has taken a positive turn.
While Novotny's speech was short on specifics - as humorously noted by emcee Todd Lewis (who did a great job, btw) - there was an optimistic tone to the evening.
NASCAR's Canadian point-man Richard Buck was in attendance. And although he didn't speak publicly, he was busy all night discussing the NASCAR situation with any and all comers. The fact that Buck was away from his family for the U.S. Thanksgiving Day Weekend was very much appreciated. I spoke briefly with him after dinner and I feel better about things based on that chat.
I cannot offer specifics about the NASCAR situation, because I don't know them. But I continue to believe that NASCAR has done its due diligence on CASCAR, and that is not what is holding things up. Everyone agrees that it would have been better to announce the sale months ago, but that didn't happen.
There were several strong indications that the situation holding up the sale is very close to being resolved. It sounds like something could happen before the end of the year. I hope that is the case.
Other than that, the night got off to a slow start because a light scaffold fell over while everyone was in the outer room, during the cocktail party. The delay in getting the presentations started cut down on the length of speeches, which was a bonus.
Don Thomson made fun of himself offering the same speech every year.... as he delivered the same speech again. He did a great job and received a few standing ovations from the crowd. Five National championships in a row against such tough competition is an awesome accomplishment.
The most enthusiastic applause was given to Christina Hughes (Chrissy), who resigned from CASCAR in early June to pursue other employment. I had the pleasure of working with her for over a decade and although I will miss her, I wish her nothing but happiness and satisfaction in her future endeavours. She is a great person and she did a great job. It was very nice for her to see that everyone in that room holds her in such high regard.
Everyone was also very happy for the DaimlerChrysler / MOPAR / Dodge contingent, who were on hand to accept their first-ever Manufacturers' Award. They have been one of the series' strongest supporters and they paid out $120,000 in contingency money to their teams in 2006. Wow.
Ron Beauchamp Jr. was smiling as he confirmed that he has extended his contract to drive under the MOPAR banner for another three years. Ron's timing in winning two events in 2006 was impeccable! Congratulations to all involved. Scott Steckly, it was announced, will be switching to a Dodge Charger in '06.
Dion Verhoeven was on hand to accept the 2005 Sportsman Series championship, as was series rookie Ron Lethbridge. TV star Tara MacLeod gave a thoughtful speech as the '05 Super Series rookie winner.
Joel Robinson's video was great once again, summarizing the season and offering lots of smiles. Joel said he'll send me the video to put on the site once he gets a few minutes. He also ran a short clip on Thomson's five championships, which he also might pass along.