BY DAVE GRAYSON

The Lucas Oil Modified Racing Series, presented by 1 800 Loan Mart, will gather on January 12th for their annual championship banquet to celebrate a very exciting 2012 season. The gala affair will be held at the Blue Water Resort and Casino in Parker-Arizona. 

The history of this outstanding racing series began in late 2006 during the course of a conversation between three close friends and former race drivers. Well aware of the rising interest in open wheel modified racing, Greg Scheidecker, Bill Rozhon and Alan "Brownie" Brown found themselves engaged in what could only be described as a "what if" discussion. They asked each other "what if" a special racing series was created that would specifically spotlight modified racing? "What if" this concept was turned into a regional series that races at different tracks located in different states? "What if" a title sponsor could be found that would make the series both viable and lucrative for the participating race teams? 

The final result of this "what if" exchange of ideas led to a presentation to Lucas Oil who loved the concept. From that point "what if" became reality. The first green flag fell on the new Lucas Oil Modified Racing Series on April 28, 2007. In a simple case of "time flies when you have good duty," Scheidecker, Rozhon, Brown and Lucas Oil has created a critically acclaimed racing series that just completed its sixth season. 

The 2012 edition of the Lucas Oil Modified Racing Series, presented by 1 800 Loan Mart, was another season that compiled some very impressive numbers. The nine race series, with three different winners, visited four different speedways in three states. Each one of these events had rock solid car counts supported by an equally strong fan base. 

The series also offered some very lucrative incentives to its race teams during 2012. Five of the scheduled races were backed with $10,000 plus purses that paid $1,500 to win and $300 to start the main event. The championship race, held last month at Las Vegas, paid $2,500 to the winner. The series' total pay out for the 2012 season will top $160,000. That includes the purse money for the races, the bonus incentive programs and the post season pay out of $16,500 from the Hoosier Tire West Points Fund. 

When the Lucas Oil Modified Racing Series, presented by 1 800 Loan Mart, gathers at the Blue Water Resort and Casino for the January 12th banquet, the focal point will, of course, be on newly crowned series champion Austin Barnes. The Escondido-California high school student had an incredible 2012 season that was backed by the hard work from one of the better teams in the series. Barnes won four races this year and, at the same time, racked up eight top five finishes. When it came down to the serious business of qualifying, Barnes was on fire. During the 2012 racing season he set the Budweiser Fast Time six consecutive times. Each one of those qualifying efforts earned him $100 in Budweiser bonus money and, of even greater importance, two championship bonus points each from the E 3 Spark Plugs Bonus Point Program. Those bonus points played a pivotal role in Barnes' championship run. 

The strong effort by a highly organized and efficient race team, combined with Barnes' natural driving talent, are, the reasons that Barnes Racing will be collecting $2,500 from the Hoosier Tire West Points Fund at next month's banquet. The post season awards also includes $1,000 in highly valued products provided by Lucas Oil. 

However, the Lucas Oil Modified Racing Series, presented by 1 800 Loan Mart, extended its post season accolades a giant step further in 2012. Barnes earned the right to accompany Lucas Oil officials to Indianapolis, the other corporate headquarters of the famed oil company, where he received VIP status at the IMIS, International Motorsports Industry Show, where he got an early looking at upcoming innovations in the racing industry. 

Barnes also received the opportunity to enjoy an Indianapolis Colts football game held at the Lucas Oil Stadium. That sports adventure included watching the game from the luxury of the Lucas Oil VIP Suite. During the third quarter of the game, Barnes was invited to visit the Colts' sideline area of the field. That's an opportunity that most football fans can only dream about. 

The champion's tour package also included an invitation to attend the awards banquet for the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series, one of the premiere regional touring shows in the country often seen on national television. This event was also held in the massive Lucas Oil Stadium. The entire Indiana VIP package was a sterling example of how Lucas Oil takes care of its racing champions. 

The series' awards banquet will present post season bonus checks and trophies to the top 15 in the final 2012 points standings. The post season awards for the series' contingency bonus programs will also be distributed on this night. That includes $500 checks for the Optima Batteries Hard Charger, the Budweiser Fast Time award, the GEICO Clean Pass award and the MAV TV-American Real Trophy Dash award. 

However, beyond the serious business of honoring drivers and passing out post season awards, this banquet evening is also about having fun with a group of racing people who are experts at having fun. The loyal fans of the series are invited to join them for this fun evening at the Blue Water Resort and Casino. Banquet tickets, which includes dinner and the social hour, are $35 each and can be paid for that evening at the door. However, advance reservations are a must and need to be made no later than December 28th. Call series General Manager Greg Scheidecker at1 800 342 2512 extension 1101, or send an email togreg@lucasoil.com, to secure reservations. 

The Blue Water Resort and Casino is offering special rates of $79.95 plus tax for banquet attendees. When making a reservation mention the group rate code: Lucas Oil Modifieds. Call 1 888 243 3360 or 928 669 7000 for information and reservations. 

The 2012 edition of the Lucas Oil Modified Racing Series, presented by 1 800 Loan Mart, was powered by a highly potent marketing concept known as "Team Lucas." Team members include: Lucas Oil Products Inc, E 3 Spark Plugs, General Tire, GEICO, CANIDAE All Natural Pet Food, MAV TV-American Real, Speedco Truck Lube and Tires/Firestone, Optima Batteries and 1 800 Loan Mart. 

The series is also strongly supported by the presence of associate sponsors featuring Eibach Springs, Hoosier Tire West, Budweiser, Blue Water Resort and Casino, Sunoco Race Fuels, Frank's Radio, Racing Plus, J E Pistons, Roush Yate Performance Parts and Go Pro Cameras.

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