For many of his 44 years behind the wheel of a race car, Al Brewer has celebrated the ending of a local speedway’s season by being crowned a divisional track champion.
This past Friday was no different as Brewer emerged as the Street Stock season-point champion during Freedom Motorsports Park’s season finale.
Also earning Freedom titles this season are: Tony Pangrazio, Sportsman; Randy Hall, RUSH Late Models; Holden Heineman, Front-Wheel Drive Mini Stocks, and Nick Snayczuk, Rear-Wheel Drive Mini Stocks.
“It’s been a long time,” Brewer said regarding the longevity of his career. “Scott Bond called me up this spring and said, ‘Would you run my car for me up at Freedom?’ All he had to say was Freedom. I didn’t care what class it was. I love this track. It’s been great to me. We’ve had a heck of a good time this year. It worked out good for us.”
Brewer, of Belfast, came into Friday’s 15-lap Street Stock finale with a 68-point lead over Butch Zimmerman and only needed to start the Street Stock feature to clinch the title.
Brewer not only started the race but put the exclamation point on his season by winning the race despite his car showing smoke over the waning laps.
Brewer had won his heat qualifying race earlier Friday evening but his car began to show smoke during that race and the smoke re-emerged late in the 15-lapper.
“Last week they pulled the valve cover on us and we never got it back proper,” said Brewer. “The problem was that we thought we had it fixed and we didn’t. I was actually a few quarts low on oil in the feature. So the oil light came on the last two laps.”
Brewer, who turns 60 in two months, has won quite a few track championships at many tracks over the years.
Among them are three career titles at Freedom, including a Late Model Championship at Freedom many years ago when the track was known as Tri-County Speedway. Brewer also claimed a Freedom title in the Super Stock class in the 1990s to complement this year’s Street Stock championship.
Brewer claimed five Freedom Street Stock victories this year.
Pangrazio, who has raced for 11 years, capped his season Friday by placing second to Rob Pratt in the 20-lap Sportsman main event. Pangrazio grabbed the Freedom Sportsman point crown over both Kyle Inman and Ray Bliss.
“The championship was the big goal and I got it with my family all together,” Pangrazio said. “This is my first championship anywhere. This is very exciting and it feels great. Me and my father, Charlie Pangrazio, have been doing this since I was with him when he was racing. To actually win this championship with us all together feels great.”
The Sportsman point battle at Freedom turned into a dramatic flip-flop affair over the last two weeks of the season.
On Sept. 4, Inman came into the next to last point race at Freedom sporting an 11-point lead over Pangrazio. During the feature race that night, Inman crashed on the first lap and did not return to that race and finished 11th.
Meanwhile, Pangrazio was able to turn the points table by finishing second that evening and as a result came into this past Friday’s point finale holding a 12-point advantage over Inman.
Pangrazio won a pair of Freedom Sportsman feature races in 2015.
Heineman came into Friday’s competition as the Forward Wheel Drive Mini Stock point leader and eventually clinched the title but the task was far from easy.
Heineman dropped out of the heat qualifying race with issues while his closest point pursuer at that moment, Eric Canfield, won the heat race.
Heineman, who has won on five occasions this season at Freedom, pulled onto the track for his feature race Friday in his backup car with a 37-point lead and clinched the title when he took the initial green flag in a race won by Brad Shepard. Heineman finished far back in the pack in Friday’s feature race.
Heineman came to Freedom on Sept. 4 with a seemingly insurmountable 52-point lead over Canfield. Heineman crashed, however, on the front stretch on lap 17 of that night’s 20 lapper, finishing a disappointing ninth.
Heineman arrived at Freedom this past Friday with a slimmer 43-point edge, which was further shaved down to 37 before the feature race.
“I hit the wall pretty hard last week and destroyed the whole front right side,” said Heineman. “We came out tonight hoping the whole car would hold together and she didn’t hold. We blew up the transmission again. We went home and got the backup car and she pulled through for us.
“It’s pretty much just like everybody says. Races are won and lost in the pits, in the garage and all I do is drive the thing to Victory Lane.”
Dominance, pure and simple, was the story of Snayczuk’s season in the Rear-Wheel Drive Mini Stocks. Snayczuk came to Freedom on Friday with the title already clinched and then for good measure went out and won the feature race. The triumph was his eighth of the 2015 campaign at Freedom.
“This car has had a lot of championships on it and a couple of guys here have had difficulties with blowing motors and not showing up and that hurts them in points,” said Snayczuk. “I’ve been here every night of this season and I won just about every heat race but two and had the eight feature wins.
“It’s all about getting the car set up and the gears set up, working with the track and knowing the car. I’ve been in this car almost 10 years so I guess it’s all on learning.”
Randy Hall, who had his Freedom RUSH Late Model point title clinched two weeks ago, finished his stellar 2015 Freedom campaign by capturing his eighth Freedom feature race checkered flag in Friday’s 20-lap nightcap event.
“This has been a remarkable season here at Freedom for us,” said Hall. “To finish the year here at Freedom with another win is really great.”