Southgate, MI—November 2, 2018: Race teams, officials, family and friends gathered Friday evening at the Crystal Gardens Banquet Center in Southgate, MI for the annual Flat Rock and Toledo Speedways Awards Banquet. Each of the champions received their championship jackets and banners from ARCA President and Flat Rock/Toledo owner and promoter Ron Drager. Over $30,000 in cash and contingency awards were distributed at the annual event.
Prior to dinner, sponsor Pat Moran and driver Greg Studt were honored. Pat, through his Moran Chevrolet business, was presented the ARCA lifetime membership Gold Card for his support of the Late Model division. Moran has served as the Flat Rock Late Model division title sponsor for the past 12 seasons, and has been a sponsor of the Late Model Gold Cup Series for 5 years.
The ARCA Late Model Gold Cup Series title went to Frank Jiovani, notching his second Gold Cup championship in a row. Frank also captured his first victory at Toledo in the process. The series is made up of races at both Flat Rock and Toledo. Brian Bergakker, Justin Schroeder, Jimmy Thiel, Chris Benson, Steve Needles, Craig Everage, Paul Pelletier, Dennis Strickland and Albert Francis were next in line for the top 10.
"Frank Jiovani is setting a fast pace at Flat Rock Speedway.
The Harrison Township native is the points leader for the Moran Chevrolet Late Model series at the quarter-mile track."
ATTENTION: Another Thursday is rolling around and that means another episode of the highly rated radio/podcast show "Racing With Big Sweat" Thurs 6/25 9:00-10:00pm EST presented by 110 Nation Sports. Along with your host Steve "Big Sweat" Billmyer and Mr CJ Sports sitting in, join this week's guests, asphalt late model driver Frank Jiovani and asphalt late model and road course driver Jesse Iwuji. The link is .......... and the call in number for questions and comments is 718-664-9861. And if you know anyone you think should be on my show, message me and let's talk.
Frank Jiovani having ‘blast’ in first late model season
By GEORGE POHLY
@GPohly (Twitter); GeorgePohly (Tout)
A wrestler in high school, Frank Jiovani is grappling with what for him is a new style of auto racing.
The Harrison Township native, who won the street stocks season championship at Flat Rock Speedway last year, is running the outlaw late model division at the quarter-mile oval in 2013.
The L’Anse Creuse High School graduate is fifth in driver points after the Joy Fair/Stan Yee Memorial, a 150-lap race that was run last Saturday.
“I’ve had a blast this year so far,” Jiovani said.
Jiovani started racing in quarter midgets when he was 5, and his race cars included U.S. Legends vehicles as he advanced through motorsports disciplines and divisions.
He won the 2010 street stocks Rookie of the Year award at Flat Rock. After winning the 2012 street stocks crown, Jiovani joined Moran Motorsports for 2013. He drives the No. 45 outlaw-bodied, 600-plus-horsepower late model that is owned by Pat Moran and Dick Barker.
Jiovani finished 16th in the Fair/Yee race, which had more than 40 entrants, and a starting field of 25 cars.
“This is definitely the biggest field I’ve seen at Flat Rock,” Jiovani said a few minutes before qualifying for the Fair/Yee race.
“If you can’t get amped for this, you’re in the wrong place. I’m really excited about driving against some of the best late-model drivers around.”
Flat Rock has had to revise its schedule this season due to multiple rainouts.
The speedway’s original schedule called for separate Fair and Yee races, but eventually the track combined the events into one, 150-lap event.
Jiovani has felt the impact of the shuffled schedule.
“It has been tough not getting all the racing experience in my (late model) rookie year,” he said. “I’ve missed out on a few of the bigger races.
“But we’ve definitely had the practice that we’ve needed. It’s been a tough year for all the teams here.”
Jiovani, who has logged practice time at the half-mile Toledo Speedway this year, hopes to run a full late model schedule at Flat Rock in 2014.
“That is the plan, but we’re not sure yet,” he said. “I’d like to run the whole 2014 (Flat Rock) schedule, and maybe a few other tracks, too.
“For the foreseeable future, (the late model division) is what we’re going to run.”
Championship night for late models at Flat Rock is Aug. 31.
Jiovani has a chance to take home the Rookie of the Year award.
Moran Chevrolet, Kee Realty, P&V Masonry, JV Auto Repair, 4th Street Auto, Gorilla Graphics, Gemini Electric, Raul’s Red Wing Shoes, Comfort Heating & Cooling, and Painters Supply & Equipment are sponsors on Jiovani’s car.
Trackside Tidbits, by Debi Domby
Winning the Street Stock A division championship, his first, is Frank Jiovani. We started off the 2012 season with high expectations after our first win at the end of 2011. The first few races went well and we maintained top 5 finishes all year, focusing on finishing every race. I want to first thank my dad and family for their support this year ... Long hours in the garage and spending their Saturdays in the stands is not easy. My sponsors kept tires on the car and fuel in it ... JV Auto Repair, Duvall Investigation Group, Gemini Electric, Real Living Reality Kee Group, Howard Racing, www.pizzamaker.com, Moran Motorsports, Senator Steve Bieda, and my awesome bowling fundraiser group! Because all of them I'm able to do what I love. I want to thank ARCA, all of the officials, and everyone at Flat Rock who helps put on the show for our great fans each week. Now I just can't wait for next year! said the driver who had finished every feature this season.
Trackside Tidbits, by Debi Domby
After many second place finishes, sophomore driver, Frank Jiovani, finally got his first victory (in the final race of the season). First off I want to thank my Dad for all of the time and hard work he has put into this team, my family and friends for all of their support this year, rain or shine. Also my 2011 sponsors JV Auto and Duvall Investigations. It was my first pole starting spot in a street stock and I knew I had to take advantage of the of it. And with Tim Moore breathing down my neck I knew I could not mess-up for one second. I also want to thank everyone at the track and behind the scenes for all their hard work, all year long, putting on great race programs every Saturday. Cant wait for 2012 to start already!
The Street Stock A division at Flat Rock had a first time Champion in Tim Moore. I would like to thank my dad Dow engines for building me a strong engine. My sponsors JT Motorsports, Northend Scrap Metal (in Wyandotte), A-lot Sealcoat and Striping, Yost Collision,Fastime Racing for the fast time sponsor, and DTS Drivetrain Secialist. You guys were a huge part of this championship. Also have to thank my family for putting up with me the last month of the season ... My pit crew who put a lot of hours on the car due to me working 12 to 14 hours a day and not having much time to keep up on the car myself. I really appreciate the hard work. I waited 21- years to get this championship and I finally did it not just because of me but because of all of the help from you guys. Including all the fans that come support us every week. I also have to thank all the guys that offered me their car if anything happened to mine the last three weeks of the season. Just shows the respect and sportsmanship out there. I know its been 21-years but I still never thought I would get a championship just because of the competition out there ... 24 cars in the a feature and there is only 4 tenths of second between first and last. It wasn't easy at all. Thanks to Ron Drager, Scott Shultz, and all the officials at Flatrock for keeping Flatrock Speedway and Toledo going because without this sport we wouldn't know what to do. Save the best for last. My grandfather started racing at Flatrock back in the day then passed it to my dad. Then the day I turned 16 passed it on to me and my brother. Ever since then we have had a blast. Crashed ... Bent frames ... Yelled at ... long nites ... Lots of money ... Losses ... Wins ... And now championships. All because of my grandfather who recently passed away. So I have to thank him for starting this whole racing thing. Even though he isn't here this year he was a huge part of this championship. So again thanks everyone for there support and hope to see you next season.
Frank The Shark Jiovani Takes Flat Rock Legends
By: Dave DeHem
Frank The Shark Jiovani took home his second career Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper Michigan Legends series feature win this past Saturday night at the Flat Rock Speedway. Jiovani bested 21 drivers on this cold night of racing.
The day started out sunny and warm as the drivers showed up at the speedway for some great racing action on this tight quarter mile bull-ring. Four heat races were run to begin the nights racing action.
The first heat saw Howell, Michigans Tom Lovern in the #34 machine lead from the drop of the green. Lovern was pressured all the way by teammate Jerry Warden in the #22. While all this was going on Levi Rouster in the #28 was working on Warden and the #54 of veteran Rick Kilbourn was working his way up from the rear of the field. Kilbourn stayed on the high side and on the last corner of the last lap, Kilbourn got a great run coming off the corner to just nip Lovern for the win at the line. It was a photo finish for second with Lovern holding off Warden for the spot.
The second heat saw Macomb Township Michigan driver Scott Menlen in the #86 take the win followed by Rick McColl in the Menlen Racing #186 and Frank Jiovani in the #23 machine. Jiovani and McColl went at it lap after lap for the runner up spot but McColl was able to hold off young Jiovani at the line by mere inches.
The third heat saw Livonia, Michigan native Ryan Meldrum in the #17 hold off a challenge by Howell driver Ben Rouster in the #21. Rouster tried to mount a challenge but Meldrum was just that little bit quicker in this race. Mussey, Michigan driver Randy Gallagher Sr. took third in the #24 machine.
Chance Rice, driver of the #38 out of Charlotte, Michigan took his first win in a legends car by taking the fourth heat over Tony Monge in the sharp looking #92. Rice and Matt Todd in the #8 battled for the lead until the last lap when Todd got a touch sideways and then looped his machine before recovering for third spot behind Monge.
21 cars took the green flag for the main event of the evening with Gallagher Sr. leading from the green flag with steady pressure from Jerry Warden. On lap 8, eventual winner Jiovani drove around the high side to take the lead pulling Meldrum along with him. Jiovani and Meldrum would battle to the end but Meldrum just couldnt get it done this night as Jiovani was flat flying and had the #23, Grand Slam Charters machine hooked up. There was great green flag racing through out the pack with dogfights right down to the checkers with no cautions in the event.
Jerry Warden took third followed by Ben Rouster and Scott Menlen rounding out the top five. Levi Rouster, Randy Gallagher Sr., Rick McColl, Dr. Ron Big Dog" Semlow in the 911, and Rick Kilbourn rounded out positions 6 through 10.
This is the second career feature win for Jiovani, who is a student at Lanse Creuse High School and makes his home in Harrison Township, Michigan. Jiovani has been racing in the Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper Michigan Legends Series for 3 years with this being his fourth in this ultra competitive series.
Next up for the Legends Series is Saturday night; May 26 at the 3/8 mile high banked Kalamazoo Speedway. Check out the Legends website at www.michiganlegends.com and well see you at the races.
The 15-year-old Harrison Township resident gets seat time behind the wheel of a racecar.
Jiovani has begun his second season racing Legends cars on tracks in places like Flat Rock, Toledo, Flint and Kalamazoo.
Legends racing -- drivers have to be at least 14 -- is a step up for Jiovani, who started competing in Quarter Midgets when he was 5.
"His long-term goal," said Ron Jiovani, Frank's father, "is to race professionally."
NASCAR is on the Jiovanis' radar.
Frank drove Quarter Midgets against sons of Nextel Cup veterans Bobby Labonte and Mark Martin, so he has had brushes with racing's elite organizations.
But son and father are pragmatic.
"We realize," Ron Jiovani said, "that we don't have a major name behind us."
Wherever the dirt and asphalt tracks lead him, Frank Jiovani is on a learning curve.
Ron, a marine technician, said his son is gaining knowledge about non-driving elements of the racing industry.
Frank is more involved than ever in preparing his car for competition.
"He's usually got the car loaded and ready to go when I get home from work on Fridays," the L'Anse Creuse student's dad said.
And there are sponsors, the lifeblood of racing, to seek out.
The Jiovanis have a handful of sponsors on board, including St. Clair Yacht Sales, Ship Shape Yacht Care and Len's Marine Service at Kean's Marina in Detroit.
Two Florida-based businesses, Gray Taxidermy and Grand Slam Sportfishing Charters, also have signed on.
Frank Jiovani is scheduled to drive in a Michigan Legends event tonight on the 4/10-mile track at Dixie Motor Speedway in Birch Run.
It'll be his fourth race in a season that has been interrupted twice by rainouts.
The 5/8-scale Legends cars, which cost about $12,500, have a 73-inch wheelbase, weigh approximately 1,200 pounds and feature body styles of Fords, Chevrolets and Dodges from the 1930s.
They are powered by a 120-hp, air-cooled 1250-cc Yamaha motorcycle engine and have a 4-gallon fuel cell and 13-inch steel wheels with B.F. Goodrich tires.
"All the chassis setups are the same," Ron Jiovani said. "You can change the springs. They try to keep costs down."
Frank Jiovani, whose nickname is the Shark, posted his first Quarter Midget victory in January 1995. He went on to capture more than 150 Feature triumphs.
He won the Motor City Melt Down in 2003 and was the 2000 dirt-track Grand National runner-up.
As a Legends rookie, Jiovani had one top-five finish and six top-10s. He won one heat race and finished 14th in driver points.
Send comments to email@example.com.
1995 Fox 2 News Detroit Interview