SCHUMACHER, DECKER, DARRAH,
KEEL AND OTHERS
TAKE HOME EMPA AWARDS
National Hot Rod Association Top Fuel racer Tony Schumacher earned the Al
Holbert Memorial/EMPA National Driver of Year honors. The award was
presented at the 41st annual NASCAR/Eastern Motorsport Press Association
Hall of Fame dinner on Saturday, January 24th at the Radisson Hotel and
Conference Center in Trevose, PA.
Billy Decker, DIRTcar champion, was presented with the Richie Evans
Memorial/EMPA Northeastern Driver of the Year award.
Several outstanding racers and personalities were inducted in the
EMPA Hall of Fame including dirt track Modified ace Carl VanHorn, sprint car
racing standout Smokey Snellbaker, dirt track Modified car owner Tony
Ferraiuolo, Supermodified star Bentley Warren, former Reading Fairgrounds
Speedway announcer Warren Ruffner and one of the founders of the EMPA, Miles
Teenage sprint car talent Cody Darrah received the New England Race
Fuels John Blewett III Young Gun Award. The Junie Donlavey Spirit of
the Sport Award went to low budget sprint car racer Craig Keel.
Kyle and Pattie Petty were the recipients of the first EMPA
Humanitarian Award which included a $1,000 donation to the Petty’s Victory
The Ace Lane Memorial Photographer of the Year award went to well
known freelance photographer Lew Brubaker. Unfortunately Brubaker was not in
attendance either due health reasons or travel problems.
Dave Dalesandro took home the Art McHugh Memorial that goes to an
individual that works behind the scenes for the betterment of the EMPA.
Dino Oberto, a writer for the Hazleton, PA Standard Speaker
newspaper, was honored with the prestigious Frank Blunk Memorial for his
outstanding journalistic efforts. The award is named in honor of the late
New York Times motorsports writer.
Ernie Saxton, long time president of the organization, presented
special appreciation awards to people who had supported the organization
with special effort during 2008. Included were Joe Kaminski, NASCAR’s Jim
Hunter and Vern and Diana Townsend. Saxton has announced that he will not
seek re-election when his term expires in 2010. He has been president for
most the organization’s 41 years.
Winners in the Valvoline/EMPA Writers Contest included Bruce
Bennett, column in Flat Out magazine; Chris Romano, feature article in
Motorsport; Dino Oberto, news article in Area Auto Racing News; Ron Hedger,
race report in National Speed Sport News and personality profile in Speedway
Top awards in the Brice NAPA Auto Parts EMPA Photography Contest
went to Todd Dziadosz, Action; Bruce Bennett, Action Sequence; Ace Lane,
Crash Action Portfolio of the Year; Bob Yurko, Feature; Bob Yurko, Picture
Story; Jim Smith, Portrait & Personality and Best of Showand Todd Dziadosz,
Pure Art, Action, and Unpublished Color.
All writer and photography contest winners received beautiful
plaques along with cash awards. More than $4,000 was paid out.
Representatives of the NHRA, Pocono Raceway, Indy Racing League,
ARCA, ARDC, World Racing Group, ESPN and NASCAR participated in the weekend
of activities including a full slate of press conferences.
Sponsor support for the annual EMPA Convention came from Pocono
Raceway, NASCAR, NHRA, IRL, SPEED, ESPN and World Racing Group.
More than 100 media representing newspapers, radio, TV and the internet
attended the convention.
Plans for the 2010 convention will be announced in the near future.
Information on membership in the Eastern Motorsport Press Association can be
had by telephoning 215.752.7797 or e-mailing Esaxton144@aol.com.
Saxton Communications / Eastern Motorsports Press Association