by Keith Courson
Barton Honored As Northeast's Top Dirt Late Model Winner
The Ashville late model pilot was honored at the three-day extravaganza for the impressive season he and the Ron Nielson Motorsports team turned in last summer.
Barton racked up 18 feature victories and grabbed a trio of point championships at the Ace High, Stateline, and Eriez dirt ovals. Barton and Scott Haus, who runs in the Bedford, PA area, were recognized as the northeast's top divisional winners in dirt late models as Haus also had 18 feature wins.
"This ranks right up there," Barton said of accepting the award in front of some of the nation's best drivers. "It's just a shame that the team can't be recognized. Like I've always emphasized, this sport is team-oriented. I was out there on behalf of the team."
"We worked hard for our accomplishments last year," he added. "In this instance, we were honored for that hard work. My job is easy. I just turn left."
Among other drivers on hand at the expo center - all nationally known - were NASCAR Winston Cup drivers Ricky Rudd and Chad Little, All-Pro pilot Mike Cope and sprint car driver Fred Rahmer, to name just a few.
The 275,000-square-foot floor exhibited everything from Winston Cup Series cars and transporters, Busch Series cars and dirt late models to speedboats, dragsters, sprint cars, go-carts and nostalgia cars. Over 150 cars were on display, plus many vendors.
"It was just fabulous," said Barton, who was also picked to be a judge in the Ms. Miller Motorsports competition.
One of the other highlights of the trip for Barton was the opportunity to sit down and sign autographs for fans with some of the drivers mentioned above and other lesser known dirt and asphalt modified drivers from the northeast.
"I don't know if I'll ever be able to again accomplish what we were able to put together last year," Barton said. "If we ever have another season like the one we had and I'm asked back, I'll be there in a minute."
Barton, who anticipates beginning the 1997 season in March with a trip to Hagerstown (MD) Speedway, now has 81 career late model victories on the Stateline - Eriez circuit since he began driving in that division in 1985. In that span, that win total triples what any other driver has done.
Barton has now won 15 track late model points championships in his career, plus six circuit titles on the Stateline-Eriez Circuit.