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From the desk of Ron Hedger, EMPA President


Members likely noticed the passing of longtime NASCAR car owner and beloved racing personality Junie Donlavey, for whom one of our major awards, “Spirit of the Sport,” is named. The association recently made a contribution to the Victory Junction Gang Camp in his name. And we will, of course, continue to honor his memory with the annual presentation of the award at our NASCAR/EMPA Hall of Fame dinner each January.
We’re pleased to report that member Bill McGaffin, who was hit by an errant car near the end of a Sportsman feature at Fonda Speedway, is making good progress and was back at the speedway for their next event despite some broken ribs and problems with one eye.
On a related note, we have asked photo chairman Bob Yurko and his sidekick, Dave Dalesandro, to offer a few pointers to everyone about shooting safely at our next convention. While it is rare for anyone to get hit, even one incident is too many and we remind everyone to be vigilant as they carry out their assignments through this season and beyond.
The news on EMPA Secretary Carol Houssock is also good, as her hip replacement went well and she is following her therapist’s regimen in hopes of getting back in action sooner rather than later. Like most of us, being confined at home during the racing season is not a good thing for Carol, though a necessary tradeoff for a return to good health. We missed a few weeks due to a pair of eye operations that led to orders to stay out of the dust, so we can totally understand her plight.
If you are a Mustang lover, the Saratoga Automobile Museum’s newest Golub Gallery exhibit is a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Ford Mustang and includes a pair of cars on loan from Holman and Moody, a familiar name to racing oriented enthusiasts. I had the pleasure of chatting with Lee Holman for a while at the exhibit opening, which also included a short talk by Edsel Ford II on behalf of the Ford Motor Company.
If you come by during the summer, the EMPA photos are not on display due to another exhibit occupying the art gallery, but we expect to get them up later in the year. They are always a big hit at the Lost Speedways program in November, which fills the museum to capacity with racers past and present along with a horde of dedicated fans. We thank Dave Dalesandro for his dedication in transporting and safeguarding the winning photos, fitting the boards to the frames and helping our art director hang them in the gallery.
Thanks also go out to longtime member Dave Moulthrop, who has continued his work on our plaques recognizing award winners from past years. He is also starting new plaques for those who are at capacity. Our plaques, which languished in the dark for years, are now in fine shape and make a nice display of interest to both members and longtime fans.
The longest day of the year has been here and gone, so we’re headed for fall and the end of another season. We remind members to be thinking of deserving award winners as the season progresses and ask you to send them along to one of the board members for consideration at the fall convention planning session.
For example, we’ve had two recommendations for the Young Gun award already, a teenager with multiple wins at Mahoning Valley and another youngster who has dominated NASCAR’s K and E Pro Series East thus far. And Earl Krause is always getting names of deserving “old-timers” for the Hall of Fame, though sometimes the supporting info is a bit sketchy. Remember, your candidate will have a better chance of getting on the ballot if you provide good supporting data.
It’s never too early to make mental preparations for the convention. Please keep in mind that the convention will start the day after New Year’s Day (Friday, Jan 2) and will run through Sunday morning’s annual business meeting. Many have told us they will not be working that Friday due to the holiday, making it easier to travel to King of Prussia.
          Until next time…..Ron Hedger  


Special Update:

            Member Bill McGaffin was injured Saturday night at the Fonda Speedway, where he is the track photographer. After being hit when two cars spun into the infield off the frontstretch during the Sportsman feature, he was thrown backwards through the billboards behind Victory Lane and hit his own car, breaking the windshield.
            Bill was then air lifted to Albany Medical Center for treatment. His wife has reported through member Dave Dalesandro that Bill’s injuries included several broken ribs, a major cut on his head and a black eye.
            For those who would like to send Bill a note or a get well card, his mailing address is 44 McNeir Ave., Amsterdam, NY 12010 while his e-mail is jolly823@yahoo.com.
            Association secretary Carol Houssock is also in recovery mode after receiving a new hip last Friday. She is at 212 Bowers Dr., Horseheads, NY 14845 or carol2race@aol.com.
Ron Hedger


            For those who have been wondering after seeing the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2015 announced on TV, here is how it played out from an EMPA viewpoint.
       I went to Charlotte with thoughts of casting our vote for Raymond Parks on the Landmark Award ballot and for Jerry Cook, Curtis Turner, Joe Weatherly, Bill Elliot and Ray Fox on the “pick five from 20 nominees” Hall of Fame ballot.
            By the end of the panel’s discussion period and after sitting next to Richard Petty at lunch and querying him on some drivers, I voted for Cook, Weatherly, Elliott, Wendell Scott and Rex White. All won except Cook, who lost out in a close race with Fred Lorenzen for the fifth and final spot.
            We supported EMPA HoF member Ken Squier in the final round of Landmark voting, with the award going to Anne B. France.
            On a related note, media row at the meeting found NMPA’s Kenny Bruce and Dusty Brandel of AARWBA seated next to us. They reported that they were struggling to hold membership totals at past levels or were shrinking, so it was a pleasure to report our slow but steady growth over recent years. Thanks to all for supporting the organization.
            We also heard of problems getting members to be involved in organizing events and handling administrative duties, areas where we were pleased to report that we have numerous members doing great work for the association.
            It was suggested in January that while I have the luxury of staying with my brother, a NASCAR official at the Tech Center, future EMPA participants in the NASCAR Hall of Fame vote in Charlotte will face substantial travel expenses. Therefore, after a great deal of back and forth, the following resolution was passed unanimously:
May 5, 2014 – To reimburse the President or other officers for travel expenses while on EMPA business. This includes the NASCAR Hall of Fame vote and similar activities but not routine business in the region. Reimbursement will be limited to a maximum of $500 and will require that receipts for these expenses be submitted to the EMPA treasurer in a timely manner. Covered expenses would include airfare, gasoline, car rental, hotel and meals, with an expectation of thriftiness.
            Thanks to a sale on Southwest and rising gas prices, I decided it was cheaper to fly than drive this time, so it cost the association $255 for airfare and $25 for airport parking. I covered everything else myself.
            Since we did not have a great deal of business to discuss, the board decided to do the spring board meeting by e-mail to save time and money for everyone. We will return to the regular format in the fall with the annual convention planning and award nominations meeting.
            If you have a name in mind for any of the awards presented at the convention, please send them along to a board member with a brief statement of why the person is deserving.
            Once again, EMPA members garnered numerous awards when the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association contest winners were announced in Indianapolis prior to the 500.
            In the Photography contest, Dave Moulthrop won in “Print Action” with a shot published in Gater Racing News while Bruce Bennett’s Speedway Illustrated photo was second.
            In the “Print People” category, Moulthrop won again with Kim Shaw second, both with shots published in Gater. Bennett took first place in “Online Action” for a photo on Nationalspeedsportnews.com.
            In the Writing contest, Hemmings Classic Car writer Jim Donnelly notched a rare tie for first in “Magazine Feature.”
            Honors in “Magazine Technical Writing” went to Bruce Bennett, who was second with a Speedway Illustrated article, and Dick Berggren, third with a Speedway Illustrated piece. Berggren also notched a second in “Magazine Column Writing” for Speedway Illustrated with a Ron Hedger Speed Sport Magazine article third.
            Hedger was also third in “Online News Writing” for Nationalspeedsportnews.com, second in “Newspaper News Writing” for a Schenectady Sunday Gazette piece and had an honorable mention in “Online Column Writing” for Nationalspeedsportnews.com.
            With AARWBA entries coming from media outlets across the nation, winning is difficult, but we have no doubt that many other EMPA members could score in the annual AARWBA contest should they decide to join the organization and enter future competitions.
            It’s never too early to make mental preparations for the convention. Please keep in mind that the convention will start the day after New Year’s Day (Friday, Jan 2) and will run through Sunday morning’s annual business meeting. Many have told us they will not be working that Friday due to the holiday, making it easier to travel to King of Prussia.
            I have not one but two top media personalities who have agreed to deliver the keynote address at the convention. As the date nears and their commitments and schedules sort out, we’ll settle on one and hope the other can make it work the following year. Stay tuned!
NEW MEMBER                  
Welcome to Tom Coughlin of Fort Johnson, NY. He covers motorsports for the Amsterdam recorder.



Board of Directors:
Ron Hedger, President–518-369-1941 or

Dino Oberto, Vice President –570-401-8168 or

Len Sammons –609-888-3618 or

Earl Krause –609-888-3618 or

Brett Deyo –845-728-2781 or

Until next time.....
Ron Hedger

American Honda Motor Company
Webmaster: Robin Ervin-Robinervin1@comcast.net
If you want to send a note to thank the sponsors of EMPA, click here for addresses.
Click here to read comments from the 2014 racing season Writing Contest Judge.

If anyone has a interesting or vintage photo they want to display, email Robin Ervin and I'll display it here.

Please be sure to caption the photo with the photographers By Line along with who the person in the photo is and where the photo was taken.

Scenes from past EMPA conventionshirshman

Dino Oberto interviews Matt Hirshman at the 'Meet the Champions' segment during the 2014 EMPA convention.