FIORE ATOP NEAR HALL OF FAME LIST
Reggie Ruggiero and car owner Mario Fiore, at one
time a powerful force on the Modified scene, head up
the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame class of
2012. Driver Joey Kourafas, car owner/mechanic Jim
Jorgensen and track owners Irene Venditti and Donald
Hoenig are also members of the class.
The group, along with three choices from the
Veterans Committee, will be inducted at the NEAR’s
15th annual banquet Sunday Jan. 29 at the
LaRenaissance Banquet Hall in East Windsor, CT. The
Veterans Committee will meet in October. Ticket
information will be forthcoming.
Starting at Plainville Stadium, Ruggiero went on to
score well over 200 feature wins, including 44 on
the Modified Tour and a record 93 at Riverside Park.
Between The Park, Stafford, New Smyrna and Monadnock
Speedways he claimed 10 championships. In addition
to Fiore, “The Reg” drove for the likes of Mike
Greci, Ed Close, Bill Pelley and Tony Moffo
compiling a resume that included a Race of Champions
triumph and wins at some 20 different tracks
including New Hampshire International, Martinsville
and Oswego Speedways.
NEAR HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES
FOR 2012 ARE ANNOUNCED
The 200 NASCAR Modified crown with Jerry Marquis
aboard tops Fiore’s statistics. The list of drivers,
in addition to Ruggiero, includes Greg Sacks, Rick
Fuller, Mike Stefanik, Mike Ewantitsko and Doug
Heveron and among the 200 plus victories are two
Race of Champions, two Spring Sizzlers, and a
Thompson 300. In addition to wins at Oswego, and
NHIS, the Riverside Park product claimed nine track
Tabbed “The Kid” after winning the prestigious
Oxford 250 at age 21, Bay Stater Kourafas went on to
an outstanding career. Coming out of Norwood Arena,
he became a NASCAR North stalwart with championships
at Airborne and Thunder Road Speedways. The 1974
NASCAR Late Model Sportsman North championship and
the 1987 Busch Grand National title and some 50
victories up and down the Atlantic Coast top his
list of accomplishments.
Hoenig joins his father John, part of a group that
built Thompson Speedway in 1939, in the Hall of
Fame. Under Donald’s watchful eye since 1960, the
facility has maintained its status as one of the
region’s premier short tracks. He has brought
several outstanding events to the region and was
instrumental in the foundation of such established
events as the Icebreaker and World Series. A former
championship golfer, Hoenig also has a Gold Key from
the Connecticut Sportswriters Alliance.
Irene Venditti, one of New England’s grand ladies,
joins her late husband D. Anthony in the Hall. “Mrs.
V” was, in fact, at her late husband’s side since
the track beginning in 1946, handling duties like
publicity and handicapping in the pre-computer days.
Laboring in the interests of the “cement place” into
the mid 1990s, she has an incredible rapport with
generations of competitors.
A near-miss at the Indianapolis 500 in 1969 capped
Jorgensen’s career. “Jorge” took an impressive list
of achievements to the Indy car circuit including
success with the Flying Zero Modified at Riverside
Park in the late 1950s and early 1960s with drivers
Buddy Krebs and Gene Bergin. He moved on to the URC
sprints winning with driver Bill Brown before
teaming with Buzz Harvey to form the Bulldog Stables
in 1968. The team was first alternate at Indy in
Source: Lou Modestino / NEAR