The Villages Motor Racing Fan Club Scholarship Program

In mid-2009, our club took a significant step forward with the implementation of a scholarship program designed to support individuals pursuing higher education in academic fields related to the world of motorsports. After careful consideration and extensive research, the club's Pit Crew developed eligibility criteria and application procedures for the program, and officially launched it in July of 2009.

Each year, scholarship applications are collected up until March 31, and a committee appointed by the Pit Crew evaluates the applications and supporting material and announces its decision by the end of April. The winner is notified immediately, and invited to a club meeting to accept the award.

Click Here to download a copy of the program's official description and an application form.

Since 2009 our club has made the following scholarship awards:

2017

Our club broke new ground by awarding the 2017 $500 Book/Tuition Scholarship to Jack Angiolo, grandson of club members John and Carol Angiolo.

Jack lives in New Berlin, WI and graduated cum laude from New Berlin Eisenhower High School. He has been accepted into the engineering curriculum at the University of Wisconsin - Platteville and plans to build toward a career in mechanical, civil or environmental engineering.

Grandpa John sparked Jack's interest in cars and racing. Jack was also taught the basics of taking care of cars. It was this passion for working hands-on with cars that fueled the desire to pursue engineering.

The proud grandparents had the pleasure of presenting the award certificate to Jack on the day of his graduation.

The scholarship is awarded to a high school senior from the tri-county area (Lake, Sumter and Marion Counties) or to a high school senior related to a member of The Villages Motor Racing Fan Club.

2016

We are sorry to state that our 2016 College Book/Tuition Scholarship program didn't receive any applications. It saddens us that the no Florida students from the Tri-County area (Lake, Sumter and Marion Counties) nor any high school seniors related to members of The Villages Motor Racing Fan Club applied for the scholarship.

Your Pit Crew discussed this situation and presented its idea at the June 2016 meeting. It was decided to present a check for $300 to The Original Speedway Park in Fruitland Park. This donation will be used for a grandfather clock which will be presented to a class champion at the end of the 2016 season.

This idea was approved by the members present at the meeting.

2015

2015 Scholarship Winner - Jake Perkins

At its September meeting, The Villages Motor Racing Fan Club presented its 2015 Book/Tuition Scholarship to Jardine "Jake" Perkins.

Jake, also known in racing circles as “No Brake Jake,” graduated in May from Belleview High School with an outstanding academic record – 4.91 weighted GPA – and an equally impressive record of participation in golf and tennis.

But we know Jake as a racer, and he has distinguished himself in that field as well, from karting (where he captured multiple championships) to Legends (where he also grabbed a few championships) to Super Late Models (where he was the 2011 Rookie of the Year in the FUPS Series) to the United Dirt Late Model Challenge Series.

Jake was accepted to the University of Florida and was complimented by their review committee for his impressive and outstanding academic and personal achievements. He has enrolled in a curriculum for mechanical engineering and business.

Jake started his college program this summer at the University of Florida in Ocala while continuing to race at dirt tracks around Florida. Currently he is competing in the United Dirt Late Model Challenge Series Chase for the Championship.

2014

2014 Scholarship Winner - Anthony Cataldi

At our June meeting, club members had the opportunity to meet Anthony Cataldi of Umatilla, the recipient of our 2014 $500 Book/Tuition Scholarship.

Antony is a graduate of Mt. Dora Bible School with a 4.059 weighted GPA. He was a member of the Spanish National Honor Society and Science National Honors Society. He tutored students in Math, while also donating time at his school's community meal events and community-wide projects.

This fall Anthony will be enrolled in the business curriculum at Stetson University, with an eye toward eventually joining his family in their medical equipment business. Anthony would also like to continue his racing efforts after college, as this is his true passion.

Like many of today's racing stars, Anthony began his racing career in go karts, and did so at Fruitland Park's Original Speedway Park. While competing at this level, he won three state championships and recorded wins at the national level as well. He progressed from karts to Legends cars - competing in Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina - and captured a Florida state championship in this division. He was ranked fourth out of 386 Legends drivers nationwide.

Currently, Anthony is a competitor in the Super Late Model ranks, racing at asphalt tracks across central and north Florida.

2013

Our scholarship program has run since 2009, but with mixed results. Based partly on 2012's general lack of participation, and partly on what we perceived to be a general lack of interest in the high school community, we elected to suspend this program for 2013.

UPDATE: At our November 2013 Pit Crew meeting, this matter was discussed at length, and we have decided to reinstate the program for academic year 2013-2014. We will begin accepting applications after January 1, 2014, and will continue accepting applications through March 31, 2014.

2012

2012 Scholarship Winner - Sean Hensley

At our May meeting, Club members had the opportunity to meet Sean Hensley, the winner of our 2012 Book/Tuition Scholarship.

Sean lives in Fruitland Park, and will graduate from Wildwood Middle High School this year. He has been accepted into Stetson University's Sports Management program, where he plans to build toward a career as a "behind-the-scenes" organizational and operational expert in major sports venues. Racing is in his blood by virtue of his dad's history as a driver at Ashville (N.C.) Speedway, so it's likely that we will see his name surface somewhere in the motorsports field in the future.

Club president Gerry Hafer had the pleasure of appearing at Wildwood Middle High School's annual awards convocation on May 8 to "officially" acknowledge our selection of Sean as our 2012 recipient. He was amazed at the number of awards Sean compiled. It appears we made an excellent selection again this year.

2011

2011 Scholarship Winner - Amanda Ferguson

At its July 6 meeting, The Villages Motor Racing Fan Club presented its 2011 Book/Tuition Scholarship to East Ridge High School graduate Amanda Lynn Ferguson of Montverde. The $500 scholarship is awarded annually to a high school student from the tri-county area meeting the program's criteria and having a connection to the world of motor racing. Ferguson, dual enrolled in her senior year in high school, will continue her studies at Lake-Sumter Community College, and later at University of Central Florida as she pursues a BS and MS in Mechanical Engineering.

Presenting the award certificate was the club's Special Events Coordinator, Wendy Touchette. Ms. Touchette also chaired the scholarship selection committee, along with club members Silky Meegan and Gerry Greim. Touchette cited Ms. Ferguson's outstanding academic record and her equally exceptional motor racing career as the key determining factors in her selection. "She's already established a solid record as a winner at many levels of motor sports, including Quarter Midgets and Sprint Cars, and has distinguisher in the higher ranks of Late Model and Super Late Model competition," notes Touchette, "and her education honors define her as an individual with an incredible future ahead of her."

In discussing the scholarship program, club president Gerry Hafer noted that community involvement is considered one of the main principles of the motor-racing organization. "We support several charitable organizations," Hafer observed, "but we also provide support to a variety of venues specifically related to motor racing and the development of racers, race teams, and racing-related programs."

Through contributions and specific sponsorship arrangements, the club has supported several main charities - Help Them Call Home, Operation Shoebox, Camp Boggy Creek, and Victory Junction Gang Camp - and has provided financial support to more than a dozen individual racing programs. In addition, the club has allocated funds to specific causes, such as the 2007 tornado recovery effort.

"During our almost four years as an organization," Hafer reports, "we've contributed over $16,000 to the support of programs our members endorse."

2010

2010 Scholarship Winner - Scott Hensley

At its July 7 meeting, The Villages Motor Racing Fan Club presented its 2010 Book/Tuition Scholarship to Wildwood High School graduate Scott Michael Hensley of Fruitland Park. The $500 scholarship is awarded annually to a high school student from the tri-county area meeting the program's criteria and having a connection to the world of motor racing. Hensley has been accepted into Jacksonville University, where he intends to pursue a BS degree in Business Management.

Presenting the award certificate was 2009 scholarship recipient Matt Bowers of Mt. Dora. Bowers, a local Late Model stock car racer, is entering his second year of studies at Lake-Sumter Community College in its business/finance curriculum. Bowers has been affiliated for some time with the racing club, and was inducted into its Hall of Fame in 2008 in recognition of his accomplishments in motor racing.

In discussing the scholarship program, club president Gerry Hafer noted that community involvement is considered one of the main principles of the motor-racing organization. "We support several charitable organizations, Hafer observed, "but we also provide critical support to a variety of venues specifically related to motor racing and the development of racers, race teams, and racing-related programs."

Through contributions and specific sponsorship arrangements, the club has supported three main charities - Help Them Call Home, Operation Shoebox, and Victory Junction Gang Camp - and has provided financial support to more than a dozen individual racing programs. In addition, the club has allocated funds to specific causes, such as the 2007 tornado recovery effort.

"During our almost four years as an organization," Hafer reports, "we've contributed over $13,000 to the support of programs our members endorse."

2009

2009 Scholarship Winner - Matt Bowers

Our first Scholarship award was presented in July of 2009 to Matt Bowers of Mr. Dora. He began a racing career at the age of six, and is now in his 12th year of competition. Despite his age, he's compiled more than 100 major wins, as well as five major championships at the national level. Among these are three championships in Indianapolis Motor Speedway's Junior Sprint Cars of America series, a national championship in the Quarter Midgets of America series, and the prestigious Lowe's Summer Shootout Legends Semipro series at Charlotte Motor Speedway. His name seems to have become synonymous with championship, and his track record in led to recognition by NASCAR legend Mark martin and subsequently by Bobby Ginn of Ginn Motorsports, a step that led to his being signed to drive the #84 Ginn Clubs and Resorts Legends car in 2005 at the age of 14. In 2007, his career took another step forward when he began driving in the FASCAR Pro Truck and Limited Late Model series and the Sunbelt Super Late Model series. At the beginning of 2008, he was tapped by Wayne Anderson and Dave Pletcher to drive the #84 Super Late Model entry in events in Florida, Georgia, Virginia, and the Carolinas.

To say that he's made a name for himself would be an understatement, and to say he has a great future would be even more of an understatement. About the future, all of us know of his joining Dick Anderson's New Dixie Racing team this fall to become the driver of "our car," Dick's #92... the premier car on Florida's SLM circuit. Combining with Dick and Mary Anderson (and, of course, The Villages Motor Racing Fan Club) is clearly the right move at the right time for this rising star, and we're all elated to be playing a role in showcasing what we believe will be a great career in motor racing.

Scholarship recipient Matt Bowers (holding plaque), is surrounded by, from left, Rich Freed, parents Deb & Ned Bowers, Glen & Linda Carter, Wendy Touchette, Gerry & Gary Greim, Zoe Ann & Buster Burt, Mike Touchette, and Barbara Freed.