NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski, DIRTcar Modified driver Brett Hearn, motorsports mogul Roger Penske, rising star Kyle Larson, and racing journalist and public address announcer Al Robinson received top honors at the Eastern Motorsport Press Association (EMPA) 2013 NASCAR Hall of Fame Banquet held during the annual EMPA Convention, January 4-6 at the Crowne Plaza Valley Forge Hotel in King of Prussia, PA.
Selected by a vote of the more than 150 members of the EMPA, Keselowski was named the Al Holbert Memorial National Driver of the year; Hearn chosen the Richie Evans Memorial Northeast Driver of the Year; Penske honored as the T. Wayne Robinson Newsmaker of the Year for his pivotal role as the head Penske Racing, winning his first NACAR Sprint Cup title as team owner and taking his NASCAR team from Dodge to Ford products; Larson was named the John Blewett III Young Guns Award presented by New England Racing Fuels for his achievements in both NASCAR’s developmental division and his open-wheel prowess; longtime journalist and announcer Robinson received the Junie Donlavey Spirit of the Sport Award for continuing participating in the sport despite serious medical issues.
Jim and Laura Allebach, owners of Lucas Wolfe’s car, received the Jerry Reigle Outstanding Contribution to Sprint Car Racing Award presented by the World of Outlaws.
EMPA members receiving special recognition included Robin Ervin (Art McHugh Memorial EMPA Service Award), Steve Barrick (Jim Hunter Memorial Writers Award), Dave Moulthrop and Todd Dziadosz (Ace Lane Sr. Memorial Photography Award), and Gary Rowe EMPA President’s Award).
Inducted into the EMPA Hall of Fame were drivers Tony Siscone and Doug Wolfgang, driver and speedway operator Stan Friesen, car owners Lou Cicconi Sr. and Ken Tremont Sr., and track operator Paul Kuhl.
A highlight of the evening was the awarding of prizes in the organization’s video and broadcasting, writing, and photography contests. Winning first place in the American Honda Motor Company/EMPA Video and Broadcast Contest were Brian Unangst, Broadcast News Segment; Sean Siff, General Racing Programs; Brian Unangst, Single Event Coverage; Matt Thomas, Non-Broadcast Single Event; and Mel Thomas, Non-Broadcast General Racing
Winning top honors in the Pocono Raceway/EMPA Writers Contest were Bill Huneke, Race Report; Jim Donnelly, Personality Profile; Bruce Bennett, Feature; Herb Anastor, Column; and Dino Oberto, News Story
Photographers earning first place recognition in the Brice/NAPA/EMPA Photography Contest included Dave Dalesandro, Action; Tommy Hein, Action Sequence; Loren Carmen, Crash Action; Rebecca Eisele, Feature; Paul Arch, Picture Story; Brent Smith, Portrait and Personality; Bob Yurko, Pure Art; Dick Ayers, Unpublished Color.
Brent Smith captured the Portfolio of the Year, while Rebecca Eisele won Best in Show. The Janice Brice “Honorable mention” Award went to Todd Dziadosz.
The EMPA Convention included press conferences, seminars, presentations by track and racing series promoters, as well as the video and broadcast, writing, and photography member contests, social interaction with all types of American motorsports personalities including Andretti Autosports developmental driver Zach Veach, and the NASCAR-sponsored Hall of Fame Banquet. The late Dr. Joseph Mattioli, president of Pocono Raceway and a long time supporter of EMPA, was honored prior to the Saturday evening’s banquet.
A roundtable seminar on rights, responsibilities, and legal issues regarding blogs and postings on internet message boards was led by attorney, judge, and Modified race car driver Richard Yetter, internet guru Lewis Gruppo, and retired AP motorsports writer/reporter Mike Harris.
Sponsors of the EMPA Convention included NASCAR (represented by Tim Southers et al); Dover International Speedway (Gary Camp); IZOD IndyCar (Kate Guerra); World Racing Group/DIRTcar (Chris Dolack et al); Pocono Raceway (Bob Pleban), American Honda Motor Company; and Brice Auto Parts, Inc./NAPA.
At the EMPA Annual Meeting, Len Sammons, Ron Hedger, and Dave Dalesandro were elected to the Board of Directors. The Directors then named Hedger, president, and Oberto, vice president, and appointed John Snyder, secretary, and Jeff Gromis, treasurer. Committee chairs were also appointed.