Contact: Jo Ann Davies
ALBANY, NY (January 27, 2012) – The New York State Stock Car Association (NYSSCA) celebrated the 2011 racing season in style Saturday night, honoring drivers, owners and fans at the Polish Community Center in Colonie, NY. The 43rd annual awards banquet gathered approximately 540 guests with local track announcers John Stanley and Dan Martin serving as Masters of Ceremony.
The Hall of Fame Induction honored six members of the stock car community including drivers Walt Mitchell, Dave Lape, Jim Shampine, Don Ackner, Rich Ricci, Sr., and car owner Mike Budka.
Presenting Walt Mitchell’s many accomplishments as a Late Model driver to the gathering was central New York media personality Chris Marquart. Mitchell began his driving career in 1959 and as an owner/driver in 1962. The Waterloo, NY driver’s racing career ended in the mid-1990’s after having achieved over 300 career wins. The popular Late Model and Modified driver ran at many New York tracks including Waterloo, Woodhull, Black Rock, Fulton, Five Mile Point, Brewerton, Dundee, Weedsport and Twin Valley garnering 13 track championships—10 for Late Model titles and three in the 358 Modified class. Over the years Mitchell had only two seasons in which he failed to win a feature event—1985 and 1995. His best season was in 1979 when he went to victory lane 22 times and won 12 of the 14 features he finished at Fulton Speedway.
Tom Boggie, Sports Editor of the Schenectady Daily Gazette, summarized the accomplishments of Capital District car owner Mike Budka whose no. 64 Late Models and Modifieds carried some of the biggest names in Capital District racing history to wins and championships. Beginning in 1978 with a Late Model Budka’s car racked up 33 feature wins at Fonda, Albany-Saratoga, Brookfield and Devil’s Bowl Speedways with driver Jay Bleser at the wheel. A move to the big block Modifieds in 1981 and then to the small block Modifieds in 1986 provided another 40 wins at Fonda, Albany-Saratoga and Devil’s Bowl. Others who wheeled the potent no. 64 to its many victories included Jeff Trombley, Ray Dalmata, Jack Johnson, C.D. Coville, Alan Johnson, Ron Proctor, Bob Savoie, and son Joey. Racing provided Budka with the “…opportunity to have fun and meet good people” which was a primary goal that he well achieved.
Dan Wood, NYSSCA Banquet Committee member, presented a brief rundown of local runner Don Ackner’s career as the talented driver of the no. 97. In 1973 Ackner began his memorable career in the Sportsman class at Lebanon Valley and six years later won the track championship in that division. A decision to move to the big block Modified class in 1980 proved just as successful with Ackner being the only driver in the history of Lebanon Valley to win the Modified track championship in his rookie season. A total of 11 Modified feature wins was highlighted by his 1981 Mr. Dirt Track USA win. In 1991 Ackner won the Albany-Saratoga championship and he also garnered four track titles at the Devil’s Bowl Speedway. Known for his on-track patience and great driving skill, Ackner was a crowd favorite at every event in which he participated.
Andy Fusco, author of “The Pine,” spoke of the many career achievements of asphalt and dirt racing star Jimmy Shampine. Probably best known for his tremendous achievements in the Super Modified class, Shampine was also a formidable stock car competitor. Over the course of his short racing career he collected 100 Super Modified feature wins and 39 Modified wins. Those wins took place at such tracks as Fulton, Spencer, Oswego, Shangri-La, Weedsport, Rolling Wheels, Waterloo and Lancaster. In 1970 Shampine won five consecutive features at the difficult Rolling Wheels Raceway and in 1975 he won five consecutive races running between Weedsport and Rolling Wheels. Although it took him five years to earn his first career win, Shampine proved to be a force to be reckoned with at any speedway. Sadly, his life ended at Oswego Speedway in 1982 in a racing incident. Known for “out of the box” thinking and innovations, who knows what the racing record for Jimmy Shampine might have been.
Local track announcer Jim King was next to the podium to chronicle the career of Rich Ricci, Sr. as a driver and car owner. That career began in 1959 at Rhinebeck Speedway and continues to this day as he supports the racing of his two sons Rich Jr. and Mike. At Accord Speedway the Ricci name is synonymous with track championships—25—and feature wins—175—that have been earned by them. Rich and Rich Jr. have each been Accord champion ten times and Mike is an additional five time champion. Add to that impressive record wins at Lebanon Valley, Mok-A-Tek and Rich Ricci Sr. has deservedly become the newest car owner member of the NYSSCA Hall of Fame.
Lew Boyd of 181 Coastal Publishing company, and very good friend of driver Dave Lape, did the honors of inducting Lape into the NYSSCA Hall of Fame recounting the many accomplishments of Lape’s 48 years of racing stock cars. At the age of 16, in 1964, Lape began his storied career at the Victoria and Fonda Speedways. Among his many accomplishments, which include 99 wins at the “Track of Champions” Fonda Speedway, is Lape’s ability to sustain long-term alliances with his owners and sponsors. As a car owner, Fred Burrows supported Lape’s career for 16 years and sponsor Roosevelt Chevrolet has been associated with the famed no. 22 for 48 years and will return for 2012. By Boyd’s calculations Lape has run over 3,000 events, traveled over one million miles to do so at tracks such as Weedsport, Utica-Rome, Brewerton, Fonda, Albany-Saratoga, Orange County, Rolling Wheels and Syracuse. At Fonda he has won at least one feature over 32 seasons with a resultant seven track championships. Additionally Lape was the recipient of the 1977 and 1982 Mr. DIRT titles.
The 2012 NYSSCA Hall of Fame inductees are a strong representative group of those who have achieved greatness in the world of racing.
Special awards were also on the agenda for the night, beginning with a presentation by NYSSCA President Mark Krosky recognizing the Coons Racing Family for their season-long display of the NYSSCA logo on Melanie Coons Budget Sportsman race car and the team’s support of the organization at every event in which she participated.
Also recognized by President Mark Krosky for their dedicated service as banquet emcees were Dan Martin and John Stanley. The very well known local track announcers each dedicate many hours to the compilation of statistics and background information on each of the award recipients and the dynamic duo has done so for 23 consecutive years. Responsible for the delivery of each year’s banquet agenda, they are a key ingredient to the success of the night.
Krosky also presented the inaugural “Jim Langenback Memorial Award” to Rocky “the Flying Squirrel” Warner who had a tremendous 2011 season in Pro Stock Competition. The Langenback Award will be presented to a NYSSCA member that has an exceptional season and Warner’s year was exceptional. At the Fonda and Utica-Rome Speedways he earned seven victories at each track and claimed his first track Pro Stock title at each. At Fonda Speedway he also became the first driver in the track’s history to win both a Pro Stock and a Sportsman feature on the same night. Warner also added the “Thunder on the Thruway Series” Pro Stock title to his list of 2011 accomplishments and capped the year off with his win of the Super DIRT Week Pro Stock event for the second consecutive year.
Bob James of Bobco Video was recognized for his support of racing with the “NYSSCA Journalism Award.” James has shot and produced racing videos at Fonda Speedway since 1992, Albany-Saratoga and Devil’s Bowl since 1998 and was the official videographer at Brookfield in 1995 and Glen Ridge from 2003 to 2005. He also supplies video racing footage weekly to Fox 23 News Albany and Fox 23 Fast Track, a local weekly racing television program. He supports NYSSCA by videoing NYSSCA events as well as serving on the NYSSCA board of Directors since 2003 and as track representative at Fonda, Albany-Saratoga and Devil’s Bowl.
The “Dedication to Racing in Memory of Harry Peek” award was presented to second generation driver Danny Ody who has earned wins in the Mini-Sprints, full fender cars, Sportsman and Modifieds. His passion is preserving racing history and he has produced several DVD’s documenting New York tracks through his business, Nostalgia Company.
“Car Owner of the Year” accolades went to Ken Tremont, Sr. who celebrated his 50th anniversary as a car owner in 2011. It was 1962 when the first Tremont owned no. 115 was run and Tremont Sr. has accomplished much since then including 18 titles at Lebanon Valley Speedway with his son, Ken Jr., at the wheel. Winning the track title in 2011 also extended the streak of finishing in the top 10 in points for 40 consecutive years (of 46 total years) at the track. Last season also saw the famed no. 115 win the Glen Ridge Motorsports Park track title in its first year of competition at the speedway.
The “Lifetime Contribution to Racing Award in Memory of Kenny Shoemaker” was presented to Don and Jo Ann Davies, writers of the “New York Modifieds” column for the Area Auto Racing News. The Davies have penned their column for 40 years approaching race events to tell the story and provide information a fan would want to know if they cannot be there to witness it themselves. Two of the most respected people by drivers, owners, fans and track operators, the Davies have made a great contribution to our sport.
The “Dedication to NYSSCA Award in Memory of Arty McCarty” was presented to a very well deserving Jo Ann Flanigan. Flanigan has worked in many capacities for NYSSCA over the years including the annual banquet Welcome Committee, the Yearbook Committee since 1997, track representative at many of the local tracks as well as Super DIRT Week at the NYS Fairgrounds in Syracuse. Recognized as part of the backbone of the organization, Flanigan’s tireless efforts have been instrumental in the success of the NYSSCA.
The NYSSCA “Award of Excellence” was presented to Brett Hearn whose 2011 season was remarkable. In his 37 year career as a driver Hearn accomplished his 800th career win in August 2011 at the Fonda Speedway, achieving a record the vast majority of drivers can only dream about. Forty one percent of those 800 wins, 333, were earned at extra distance events. At the end of the season Hearn had added another four wins for a career total to date of 804 feature victories claiming the Accord Speedway track championship and second place point finishes in both the 358 and Modified divisions at Lebanon Valley Speedway.
Matt Sheppard of Waterloo, NY was the recipient of the Overall “Outstanding Performance Award” for 2011. Driving his well known Xtreme Lubricants no. 9s, Sheppard won the overall DIRTcar championship for the second consecutive year with four Super DIRTcar Series wins and two runner-up finishes at the end-of-season World Finals events in Charlotte, NC. Add to that record two track championships at Brewerton and Canandaigua Motorsports Park with a total 21 Modified feature wins. Sheppard also finished sixth in the final Race of Champions Dirt Series points. A career milestone was reached in 2011 as the 30-year old earned his 100th big block career win. The young driver is recognized as a potential member of the NYSSCA Hall of Fame in years to come. The NYSSCA “Lifetime Achievement Award” was presented to second generation driver Ron Proctor who has been involved in racing for 38 years. This past season Proctor had an outstanding season earning the NASCAR track championships at Albany-Saratoga and Devil’s Bowl Speedways. That accomplishment earned him a trip to the national NASCAR awards ceremonies and the many accolades that included. Proctor has been known as an underfunded racer whose time spent in the garage kept him in contention on the track.
A ceremony at the Saratoga Auto Museum (Saratoga Springs, NY) on Saturday morning added the Hall of Fame honorees to the permanent Hall of Fame display in the Racing in the New York Gallery.
NYSSCA’s track base covers Albany Saratoga Speedway, Canandaigua Motorsports Park, Devils Bowl Speedway, Fonda Speedway, Glen Ridge Motorsports Park, I-88 Speedway, Lebanon Valley Speedway, Utica-Rome Speedway and the Capital Region Sprintcar Agency. Established in 1969 with just eleven members, NYSSCA membership is open to anyone involved in the sport of racing. Today, membership includes over 700 people throughout the northeast. The organization’s most important function is to provide cash benefits for members injured during sanctioned racing events at recognized racing facilities. For more information visit their website at www.nyssca.com.