USAC Western Racers Celebrated At Las Vegas Awards Banquet


“The Demon” Damion Gardner. Photos by Mike Grosswendt of

The United States Auto Club’s western racers, champions, and special award winners were honored last Saturday in Las Vegas, Nevada. The 2017 Western Awards Banquet celebrated the accomplishments from thirteen divisions at the Orleans Hotel and Casino.

RJ Johnson

RJ Johnson.

The event was headlined by returning champions: “The Demon” Damion Gardner of Concord, California scored his fifth consecutive AMSOIL CRA Sprint Car crown for Mark Alexander. Laveen, Arizona’s R.J. Johnson claimed his fifth straight Sands Chevrolet Southwest Sprint Car title and Ronnie Gardner of Riverside, California, also earned his fifth consecutive Light Up The World Beverages Western States Midget crown for Six8 Motorsports. Anaheim, California’s Jake Swanson claimed his first West Coast Sprint Car championship.


Jake Swanson.

Jesse Love IV of Menlo Park, California swept top honors in the three Speed 2 Western Midget divisions by winning the Overall, Dirt, and Pavement championships.


Ronnie Gardner.

After another successful season, the USAC National Micro Sprint champions were Jimmy Leal (Coastal Clash), Dex Morris (Coastal Clash Restricted), Josh Ames (Non Wing 600), Trevor Years (Wing 600), Daison Pursley (Restricted 600), and Jade Avedisian (Junior Sprint).


Jesse Love IV.

The champions were also honored at the USAC “Night of Champions” in Indianapolis, Indiana on December 8th.


Matt McCarthy.

Drivers that earned Rookie of the Year honors were Matt McCarthy (AMSOIL CRA Sprint Car), Brandon Wiley (West Coast Sprint Car), Matt Lundy (Sands Chevrolet SouthWest Sprint Car), Mason Daniel (Light Up The World Beverages Western States Midget), and Blake Brannon (Speed 2 Western Midget).


Mason Daniel.

Western USAC special awards were presented to Steve Alexander (Bruce Bromme Jr. Mechanic of the Year), Brett Roa (Billy Wilkerson Memorial Award), and Steve Lafond (Evelyn Pratt Award).


Jimmy Leal.

Dick Woodland honored Damion Gardner (AMSOIL CRA Sprint Car), Jake Swanson (West Coast Sprint Car), and Ronnie Gardner (Light Up The World Beverages Western States Midget), for earning the most Woodland Auto Display Fast Time Awards in their division. It was announced that the Woodland program and series sponsorship will return in 2018.


Dex Morris.

Darren Hagen of Light Up The World Beverages presented Randi Pankratz with a sportsmanship award. In addition, Hagen announced increased sponsorship for the Western States Midgets in the upcoming season.

The USAC Western staff thanked Mike and Tim Truex of Loudpedal Productions for supplying their great videos and Mike Grosswendt for photographing the event. Special thanks also went to Woodland Auto Display, Light Up The World Beverages, All Coast Construction,, and ButlerBuilt Professional Seat Systems for their support.


Brandon Wiley.

The Western campaign opens on February 3rd at Canyon Speedway Park (Peoria, Arizona) with the “2nd Annual Steve Stroud Memorial” for the Sands Chevrolet USAC SouthWest Sprint Cars.

The USAC West Coast and SouthWest Sprint Cars will clash at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Las Vegas, Nevada) on February 28th and March 1st. The non-point “Outlaw Showdown” will pay $3,000-to-win each night.


Blake Brannon.

The AMSOIL USAC/CRA Sprint Cars will battle at Perris Auto Speedway (Perris, California) on March 3rd at the annual “So Cal Showdown.”

On March 17th, Bakersfield Speedway (Bakersfield, California) will host the season opener for the Light Up The World Beverages USAC Western States Midgets. The race will be the first of two co-sanctioned events with the Bay Cities Racing Association (BCRA).

For more information on any of the USAC racing divisions, visit the United States Auto Club (USAC) website at

About the author

Bobby Kimbrough

Bobby grew up in the heart of Illinois, becoming an avid dirt track race fan which has developed into a life long passion. Taking a break from the Midwest dirt tracks to fight evil doers in the world, he completed a full 21 year career in the Marine Corps.
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