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EMPA NEWS – DECEMBER 2017 from Ron Hedger, President
A number of members have yet to renew for 2018. Remember, you cannot win any prizes in the various contests if you are not a member.
For the Howie Hodge Peer Judged single-entry photo contest, your entries must be a 2017 photo, not something dug out from the distant past. It does not need to be one you will enter in the NAPA Photo Contest and it does not need to have been published. In the words of contest chairman Bob Yurko, “We want everyone to bring a photo that Howie would have looked at and said ‘Wow, that’s a real racing photo!’” Photos will be arrayed, the vote taken and the pictures returned as the first order of business Saturday morning, so your board can be entered in the Brice – NAPA photo contest as well if desired.
Welcome to new member Christine Bragdon of Sandisfield, MA. She is a photographer for AARN. Another New Englander who has recently joined EMPA is Sean Foster of Willington, CT. He is associated with Short Track Racer. We welcome him as well and, as always, encourage more New Englanders to get involved.
It is with great sadness that we note the recent passing of Pocono PR executive Ryan Yanoshak. The always smiling Yanoshak was a welcome addition to our yearly press conference sessions and his presence will be greatly missed by all. Our sincerest condolences to both the Pocono and Yanoshak families.
ANDRETTI, MULDOWNEY, RAHMER, BRUCE AND THERESA ROGERS AND LaJOIE TOP EMPA HALL OF FAME VOTING
King of Prussia, PA
When the Eastern Motorsport Press Association holds its 2018 convention at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in King of Prussia, PA., five racing icons from as many branches of the sport will be inducted into the EMPA Hall of Fame.
1991 CART PPG Indy Car champion and Formula One competitor Michael Andretti, who as a car owner has won the Indianapolis 500 five times along with three series titles, led the membership voting. He was trailed closely in the final tally by sprint car ace Fred Rahmer, who topped a Hall of Fame career in modifieds with another in sprint cars that saw him retire as the all-time leading winner at both Williams Grove Speedway and the Central Pennsylvania sprint circuit overall.
New York native and drag racing icon Shirley Muldowney, who won three NHRA Top Fuel National Championships and a single AHRA title and was a pioneer in the advancement of females in the sport, something taken for granted today, joins Andretti and Rahmer in the EMPA Hall of Fame along with the husband and wife promoting team of Bruce and Theresa Rogers and NASCAR great Randy LaJoie.
With Bruce trackside and Theresa in the office, the Rogers family steadily built Grandview Speedway from a local bullring to a modern, nationally recognized facility that remained true to its roots. LaJoie, a Connecticut native who learned his trade at the famed Danbury Racearena, is a NASCAR North and two-time NASCAR Busch (Xfinity) series champion. He is also highly respected for his pioneering efforts in developing and promoting safer seats for all forms of auto racing.
Barely missing election were former NASCAR standout Jimmy Spencer, road racer Sam Posey, supermodified star Joe Gosek and stock car/midget driver Ray Brown.
Other awards to be presented at the January 13th NASCAR/EMPA Hall of Fame banquet following membership voting include Richie Evans Memorial Northeast Driver of the Year, which went to 41-race winner and Super DIRTcar Series titlist Matt Sheppard, and Al Holbert Memorial National Driver of the Year, won by New Jersey native and 2017 NASCAR Monster Energy champion Martin Truex Jr.
Sheppard bested Lance Dewease, Matt Hirschman, Ryan Preece and Dave Shullick Jr. while Truex topped Ron Capps, David Gravel, Josef Newgarden and Josh Richards.
Voting in the hard-fought John Blewett III Young Guns category saw multi-series talent Brandon Grosso edge Chase Dowling, Anthony Macri and Tanner Gray, with the Chris Economaki Newsmaker of the Year Award going to NASCAR star Kyle Larson over DIRTcar star Brett Hearn by a single vote. Larson brought national attention to short track sprint car racing with his numerous wins and close second place finish in the Knoxville Nationals while Hearn topped the 900-win mark in 2017, a feat often claimed but with the exception of Hearn, rarely documented.
The Junie Donlavey Spirit of the Sport Award, selected by the EMPA Board of Directors, will be presented to a pair of long-time supporters of numerous racers and the sport in general.
“Dover Dave” Cruickshank, best known for his decades-long support of father and son teams Buzzie and David Reutimann and Bobby and Danny Varin, will be joined onstage by lifelong Central Pennsylvania sprint car racing team and event sponsor Chubby Chiarocchi of CnB Mushroom fame. Both men have devoted a lifetime to building the sport, with their efforts often behind the scenes and unknown to the general public.
Additional honors to be announced at the annual banquet include the Jim Hunter Memorial Writer Award, the Ace Lane Sr. Memorial Photography Award, the Howie Hodge Memorial Peer Vote Photography Award and the Ernie and Marilyn Saxton Dedication to EMPA Award along with winners in the Brice NAPA Photo Contest, the Honda Video Contest and the Pocono Raceway Writing Contest.
Along with the NASCAR/EMPA Hall of Fame banquet, convention highlights include Friday’s Champions Night program, press conferences featuring speedways and racers from around the region announcing 2018 plans, a seminar on promoter/media relations and the annual EMPA business meeting.
Hospitality throughout the weekend will be courtesy of Firestone.
SEASON’S GREETINGS TO ALL AND BEST WISHES FOR A HAPPY AND PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR! ~ Ron Hedger
As always, we will strive to help you if your convention plans change at the last minute. But please don’t just arrive at the Crowne Plaza unannounced, expecting that we’ll be able to fit you in. We have to give the hotel firm counts well ahead of the convention.