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TPS Awards Dinner Held


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TPS Awards Dinner Held


Texas Pro Sedans mark their 35th Anniversary


The 2010 Texas Pro Sedans Series annual Awards Dinner was held at the Little Red Barn in San Antonio on Saturday evening, October 30. TPS was the exclusive occupant of the North Room which was filled with a large turnout of Texas Pro Sedans drivers and their families, crew members, TPS officials, TPS sponsors and TPS fans who attended the season ending event. The TPS Awards Dinner was co-hosted by TPS Race Director & Chief Inspector David Mackey and TPS Administrative Director Neil Upchurch.


During the Awards Dinner, 2010 Texas Pro Sedans Champion Mike Merrell of Kingsland, Texas, received his second consecutive TPS Champions Plaque. It was presented by 2008 TPS Champion Sergio Hexsel who was ill and unable to present the award at last years dinner. In his championship acceptance remarks, Merrell sincerely thanked his wife, car owner, crew and #70 VW Scirocco sponsors for their support. He thanked the Merrell Racing Team Owner George Merrell and the crew and expressed his appreciation for their help in winning two TPS titles.


The 2010 Texas Pro Sedans “Rookie of the Year” was Al Bushong. His award Plaque was presented by 2009 TPS “Rookie of the Year” Tory Christopher. Bushong delivered his acceptance remarks to the gathering.


Mike Merrell, Al Bushong and six time TPS Champion Bill LaBarge, who was the 2010 TPS Runner Up, all received embroidered Hoosier racing jackets. The jackets were sent to the TPS Awards Dinner by TPS sponsor Tom Lorenz, President of Hoosier Racing Tires Southwest in Mesquite, Texas and were presented by Jerry Spencer, the TPS Hoosier Tire dealer at Thunderhill Raceway.


For their 100% race participation during the 2010 season, cash awards were presented to TPS drivers #16 Al Bushong, #20 Sergio Hexsel, #22 “Ozzie” Osburn, #27 Bill LaBarge, #70 Mike Merrell and #73 Cody Limerick.


All former TPS Champions attending the TPS Awards Dinner were recognized. The past Champions were: Mike Merrell, Sergio Hexsel, Bill LaBarge, Donnie Moore, Paul Jett and Neil Upchurch.


David Mackey presented a narrative summary recalling the 2010, 35th consecutive TPS racing season. He thanked Mary Ann and H.E. Naumann of Thunderhill Raceway and Dan and Kandy Monroe of CC Speedway for hosting a total of seven 2010 TPS races. Dan and Kandy Monroe will receive a TPS Appreciation Plaque for their last two years of hosting Texas Pro Sedans races. It will be delivered by #73 Cody Limerick.


Tory Christopher was the keynote speaker at the annual TPS Awards Dinner. He compared TPS and California racing and quoted several humorous antidotes.


TPS Driver, Bruce Mabrito delivered his annual cleverly written TPS post season “Ode”. This year, Mabrito concentrated his presentation on reviewing what its like to have his car owner, Mike Knotts, 5,384 miles from TPS racing in Germany. Christopher’s and Mabrito’s speeches will be posted on www.texasprosedans.com which web master Charysse Knotts continues to maintain the site on line from Frankfurt Germany.


Several unique TPS Appreciation Awards were presented to Texas Pro Sedans sponsors, race officials and members. TPS appreciation plaques were presented to TPS sponsors: Patrick Limerick, owner of Janet's Cakery in Corpus Christi (who provided an excellently prepared TPS anniversary cake), Richard and Bea Villanueva and Nelson Skinner of San Antonio, Johnny Guerra of Guerra’s Lawn Service, Corpus Christi and to TPS Scales Sponsor, George Merrell of Kingsland, TX for his service to the Texas Pro Sedans.


TPS officials receiving unique TPS Appreciation Awards were Race Director & Inspector - David Mackey, Administrative Director - Neil Upchurch, Weight Inspector - Richard Adams, Technical Advisor & Judge -Cotton Sherland and long time TPS Drivers Bruce Mabrito and “Ozzie” Osburn. David Mackey announced the retirement Neil Upchurch’s car number 76 in which he won TPS Championship titles in 1980 and 1981 followed by 35 years of officiating TPS races. Bill LaBarge presented custom made appreciation awards to TPS Race Director & Chief Inspector David Mackey and TPS Administrative Director Neil Upchurch for their dedicated service to TPS.

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Here's Bruce Mabrito's 2010 Ode:




By Bruce Mabrito


It’s so hard to believe that 35 years of Texas Pro Sedan racing have now past

Since the many and diverse TPS super-competitors started to go really fast!

All the effort and passion the TPS teams continually exhibit is first class,

And sometimes when we’re going really quickly, it feels like driving on glass!


Wow! Thirty-five exciting seasons of racing the many colorful Texas Pro Sedans,

And the year 2010 of motorsports competition was absolutely great for the fans!

Checkered flag honors go to our Texas Pro Sedans Top Three,

Mike Merrell, Bill LaBarge, and Tom Johnson, with a loud glee!

They prepared, drove fast, drafted, dodged and took the waving checkered flag,

All the while passing a lot of other TPS racers who were left holding the bag.


Special cheers to Kingsland’s TPS Champ Mike Merrell and his very capable team,

Race-after-race they prepared and worked and won, and were fast like a laser light beam.

To Mike Merrell, we honor him because of his very substantial 2010 TPS Championship

And all the rest of us wish we had taken a few more of the fastest turns without a slip!


When TPS cars rolled out on the track, we often had the night’s largest field, bar none

And that’s a giant statement about the TPS popularity and what each of us has done.


We look back over this epic and competitive 35th season,

And we all are both pleased and saddened with good reason.

Some of we back-markers almost always saw the starter’s flag from the rear of the pack,

And a few of us are thinking how to level the playing field to put you leaders in the back.


Special thanks to Thunder Hill Raceway and Corpus Christi Motor Speedway,

For providing us good, safe race tracks on which to compete 10/10ths on any day.

Although there were the normal season high-speed racing incidents and heated spats

Between many of the TPS racers, we are now able to calmly sit down and chew the fat.


So, what is it like to have a nifty race car owner living about 5,384-miles away?

Because that’s how far away my team owner—Mike Knotts—continues to stay.

That’s correct, Mike and Charysse Knotts live in Frankfort, Germany to be specific

But even so, to know, to laugh, and race with Knotts Motorsports is super-terrific.


There are, to say the least, a few TPS/Knotts Motorsports issues that are really tough,

Such as Mike having to fly in from Frankfort to race and that can be pretty rough.

All that German and foreign travel leaves little time for Mike’s race car preparation,

So needless to say this season, both Mike and I had our highest “DNF participation.”


It’s really difficult for Bruce, when at the last Texas Pro Sedan race of the season,

And Mike and Bruce just finished practice and each of our race cars had a little demon.

So Mike walks up to his Number Two driver and says, “My No. 48 just broke,

And I’ll need to drive your No. 71 or I’ll look like a from-Germany Dope.”


But each of our racing lives are dealt from a fairly predictable stack of playing cards,

So Mike raced the No. 71 Scirocco as hard as he could until the engine turned to lard.

He only made it seven shaky laps out of a season-ending Texas Pro Sedan race of 35,

And Bruce watched from the sidelines until he saw that No. 71 engine take a dive!


We all wonder what will happen to this European-living Mike Knotts in our next season,

But the odds are that he will continue racing, and wheeling and dealing with good reason.

Maybe we should ask questions about where Mike is getting his Scirocco race car parts,

If in the 36th year both his cars begin to run really fast laps, right after the season starts.


When the 36st year of the Texas Pro Sedans starts and the engines are fired and the helmet visors are flipped down,

We will all look forward to frantic action and controlled thunder on the track, reacting as if Rowdy Kyle Busch is around.


These days, we Texas Pro Sedan drivers and teams take all this racing for granted,

But back in 1975 when the Texas Pro Sedans started, it was what drivers all chanted.

Quarter-mile Pan American Speedway was within two years of its long life being ended,

And the much bigger half-mile San Antonio Speedway grounds were just being tended.


When this all started, the Mini-Stock racing programs had come on hard times,

And finding a neat place to race our small hot rods was always on our minds.

Then this guy and gal named Neil and Terry Upchurch had an idea that really binds,

They would start the TIDA (now called Texas Pro Sedans), and that was super fine!

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