NYSSCA hosts 45th annual awards banquet

ALBANY – Drivers, owners, crew members, media, and fans of the New York State Stock Car Association gathered at the Polish Community Center in Colonie to recognize member track competitors and Hall of Fame inductees.

The 45th annual awards banquet, held Jan. 25, gathered approximately 450 celebrants with well-known radio and track personalities John Stanley and Dan Martin serving as Masters of Ceremony.

This year’s Hall of Fame Induction ceremony and the Awards Banquet were dedicated in memory of Peg Bedell and Rene “The Champ” Charland.

Earlier in the day the NYSSCA Hall of Fame Committee, chaired by John Keegan, inducted five members of the stock car community including veteran announcer Jimmy King and drivers Mike Colsten, Joe Messina, Jimmy Winks, and Bob Savoie. While the official ceremony had taken place earlier in the day at the Saratoga Auto Museum (Saratoga Springs, NY), the group was also introduced to the gathering at the banquet and recognized for their many years of service and great accomplishments in the stock car arena.

The 2014 NYSSCA Hall of Fame inductees are a strong and diverse group, representative of those who have achieved greatness in the world of racing.

Presenting Jim King’s varied involvement with racing that is beginning its 42nd year was fellow announcer Dan Martin. His announcing career began in 1972 at Fonda Speedway and has included such tracks as Glen Ridge Motorsports Park (NY), Utica-Rome (NY), Lebanon Valley (NY) and Albany-Saratoga (NY). In addition, King has been actively involved in recent years with ice racing and snowmobile racing in the winter season.

The 2013 season was the 45th season in which Modified driver Mike Colsten was involved. After overcoming mesothelioma (a form of cancer) in 2012 Colsten came back to Five Mile Point (NY) to win the track championship, his fourth at the track.

For Bob Savoie the wins were racked up at Utica-Rome Speedway, Albany-Saratoga, Devil’s Bowl (VT), Plattsburgh (NY) and most recently, in 2013, at Glen Ridge Motorsports Park. That win gave him over 60 victories in five consecutive decades.

Joe Messina’s racing career began in the late 1950’s when he ran at Pine Bowl (NY) and Empire Speedway (NY). He later ran the Ken Tremont, Sr. owned No. 115 at Lebanon Valley and Devil’s Bowl. He won the Devil’s Bowl track championship in 1970.

Hailing from the Syracuse, NY area, Modified and Super Modified driver Jimmy Winks won the track title twice at Rolling Wheels Raceway (NY) as well as five wins at Oswego Speedway (NY) and 37 career victories at Volusia County Speedway (FL). The versatile driver also had two Sprint Car victories. The popular driver passed away in early November at the age of 65.

Prior to the presentation of the organization’s special awards President Mark Krosky highlighted the many activities and fund raising events that occurred during 2013 to help raise funds to support the goal of NYSSCA – “racers helping racers. “Membership, which includes members of the Hall of Fame, is at approximately 900 and is representative of all groups involved in racing including drivers, owners, fans, and media.

Likening the leadership of the organization to the many components of a race car, Krosky thanked all those who play pivotal roles in the success of the organization including track representatives, members of the Board of Directors and officers, committee members and sponsors.

Krosky presented the “NYSSCA President’s Award” this year to the promoters of the member tracks for their support and dedication to the goals and activities of the organization. Receiving “President’s Award” plaques were Lyle Devore of Albany-Saratoga, Mike Perrotte of Airborne Park, Mike Van Dusen of CRSA, Mike Bruno of Devils Bowl, Pete and Matt Demitraszek of Glen Ridge Motorsports Park, Ron Ford and Jamie Paige of I-88, Howard Commander of Lebanon Valley, Mike Gurda of Orange County, Gene Cole of Utica-Rome and Ted White of Woodhull.

Barbara Clark, who received the Utica-Rome award on behalf of Gene Cole was given special recognition by Krosky for her devotion and dedication to her position which included helping to put out a generator fire on NYSSCA Night at the track. For her ‘service above and beyond the call of duty’ Clark was presented with a fire extinguisher and a personalized fire chief’s helmet by Krosky and asked to be on standby for the remainder of the night’s activities.

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 25 consecutive years. Responsible for the delivery of each year’s banquet agenda, they are a key ingredient to the success of the night.

Annually NYSSCA presents several awards to honor and recognize past and present members. This year’s “Special Awards” were as follows:

The “Jim Langenback Memorial Award” to Rob Yetman of Castleton, NY who had an outstanding 2013 season in Pro Stock competition. The Langenback Award is presented to a NYSSCA member that has an exceptional season while representing himself in the manner likened to Hall of Fame member Jim Langenback. Yetman claimed the Albany-Saratoga track title as well as the overall Super DIRTcar Series Pro Stock title. His season totals included eight wins at Albany-Saratoga, two wins at Lebanon Valley, setting fast time and pole sitter at Super DIRT Week (NY). Yetman joined retired Modified great Bill Wimble as the only two drivers in history to have won a championship at Albany-Saratoga, Fonda and Lebanon Valley Speedways.

Leon Andrus, columnist for the Gater Racing News, was recognized with the “NYSSCA Journalism Award. “Through his column “Positive News and Notes” and his announcing duties at Five Mile Point and I-88 (NY) Speedways Andrus provides his followers with up-to-date racing news as well as promoting NYSSCA.

The “Dedication to Racing in Memory of Harry Peek” award was presented to John Flach Sr. and the Flach Family who have been involved in racing since the 1959 spanning four generations. On stage to accept the award were John C., his wife Liz, son Keith and Nicole who was engaged to son J.C. at the time of his passing. The family’s commitment to the sport of racing serves us all as an example of family dedication and devotion. The Flach family truly exemplifies those worthy of the “dedication” award.

“Car Owner of the Year” accolades went to Tom Cullen owner of the WGC #1 driven by Stewart Friesen to 8 wins and a track title at Utica-Rome in .In addition they bookended the Super DIRTcar Series season with a win at the opening show at Rolling Wheels Racing and ending with their win at the World Finals at the Dirt Track at Charlotte (NC). The title at Utica-Rome was the fourth consecutive and Cullen’s sixth in nine years at the Vernon, NY track.

The “Lifetime Contribution to Racing Award in Memory of Kenny Shoemaker” was presented to Mike Thoma, who is best known for his support of racing, racers and Speed Chasers (kid’s club) at the Lebanon Valley Speedway through Thoma Tire since the early s.Until closing the front doors this past fall, Thoma fans traveling to the Lebanon Valley Speedway on Route 20 would look forward to the “Thoma Tire Sign” that would carry a catchy comment related to that night’s race.

The “Dedication to NYSSCA Award in Memory of Arty McCarty” was presented to a very deserving and surprised 25-year NYSSCA member Tom Remington.

Kept in the dark that he was receiving an award, a humbled Remington was honored for his many years of dedicated service to NYSSCA with Motor Racing Mania (car show), the banquet, the Hall of Fame, the annual Yearbook and as a member of the Board of Directors.

The NYSSCA “Award of Excellence” was presented to two drivers whose achievements in 2013 were remarkable. The 2013 season was a milestone year for Kenny Tremont Jr. who garnered his 300th career win in May and his August win became the 30th year Tremont had won a feature at the Lebanon Valley Speedway, the only driver to do so. For Vermont native Todd Stone the 2013 season included seven wins at Airborne Park Speedway (NY) and 10 wins at Devil’s Bowl. As a result of his outstanding performance at Devil’s Bowl he was crowned the NASCAR Whelan All American Series National “Rookie of the Year” in addition to being named the NASCAR Vermont State Champion.

The NYSSCA “Lifetime Achievement Award” was presented to Alton and Carole Palmer of Howes Cave, NY. Their involvement in racing first began in 1978 when Alton started his driving career in a Late Model. Since that time the duo has supported several drivers including Dave Lape, Jack Johnson, Ricky Quick, John McAuliffe, John Constantino and most notable, their current driver, Ronnie Johnson. Quick to lend a hand to others, the Palmers have achieved much in the world of racing, including five titles (four with Lape and one with R. Johnson) at Fonda Speedway and multiple wins at several Northeast dirt tracks.

Topping off a 27-win season that included wins in a Modified (22), Sprint Car (4) and a Midget (1) earned Stewart Friesen now of Sprakers, NY the “NYSSCA Overall Outstanding Performance” award. His stellar season concluded with track titles at Fonda and Utica-Rome Speedways in addition to winning the season-ending Super DIRTcar Series event at the Dirt Track at Charlotte. The versatile driver had a winning percentage of over 25 per cent for the 107 races he ran in 2013.

NYSSCA’s track base covers Airborne Park Speedway, Albany-Saratoga Speedway, Devils Bowl Speedway, Fonda Speedway, Glen Ridge Motorsports Park, I-88 Speedway, Lebanon Valley Speedway, Orange County Fair Speedway, Utica-Rome Speedway, Woodhull Raceway and the Capital Region Sprint Car Agency. Established in 1969 with just eleven members, NYSSCA membership is open to anyone involved in the sport of racing.

Membership includes over 900 people throughout the racing community. 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.

For 2014 NYSSCA officers include Mark Krosky as President, Cheryl Catman as Vice-President, Ashley Fisher as Secretary, JoAnn Flanigan as Treasurer and Andy Hickok as Sergeant-At-Arms. Members of the Board of Directors include Shari Pierson, Clem DaBiere, Dan Martin, Bob James, John Keegan, Christine Krosky and Bonnie Mortensen-Szczerba.

NYSSCA track awards were presented to:

AIRBORNE PARK SPEEDWAY:Driver of the Year: Todd Stone (Modified), Nick Heywood (Sportsman Modified), Lance Rabtoy (Renegades), Robin Wood (Limited Late Models), Jayson Criss (Mini Mods); Outstanding Performance: Leon Gonyo (Modified), Mike Phinney (Sportsman Modified), Robert Gordon (Renegades), Jamy Begor (Limited Late Models), Dale O’Neil (Mini Mods); Rookie / Newcomer of the Year: Keith Pelkey (Sportsman Modified), Josh Lecliare (Renegades), Danny Sullivan (Limited Late Models), Kaine Favro (Mini Mods).

ALBANY SARATOGA SPEEDWAY:Driver of the Year: Brett Hearn (Modified), Rob Yetman (Pro Stocks), Jeremy Pitts (Sportsman), Connor Cleveland (Novice Sportsman), Bill Duprey (Street Stock), Mark Lindblade (4 Cylinders Single Cam), Todd Goldstein (4 Cylinders Dual Cam);Outstanding Performance: Marc Johnson (Modified), Kenny Martin (Pro Stocks), Derrick McGrew (Sportsman), Matt Pappa and Timothy Davis (Novice Sportsman), Josh Coonradt (Street Stock), Dan Older (4 Cylinders Single Cam), David Frame (4 Cylinders Dual Cam); Rookie / Newcomer of the Year: Brian Gleason (Modified), Byron Westcott (Pro Stocks), Connor Cleveland (Sportsman), Damon Anderson (Street Stock).

CAPITAL REGION SPRINTCAR AGENCY:Driver of the Year: John Matrafailo; Outstanding Performance:Jordan Thomas; Rookie / Newcomer of the Year:Jordan Thomas.

DEVIL’S BOWL SPEEDWAY: Driver of the Year: Todd Stone (Modified), Richie Turner(Renegades), Chris Bergeron (Late Models), Jake Noble (Mini Stock); Outstanding Performance:Hunter Bates (Modified), Robert Gordon (Renegades), Josh Masterson (Late Models), Chris LaVair (Mini Stock); Rookie / Newcomer of the Year:Jamie LaFountain (Modified), Brad Bushey (Renegades), Josh Masterson (Late Models), Chuck Bradford (Mini Stock).

FONDA SPEEDWAY:Driver of the Year: Stewart Friesen (Modified), David Constantino (602 Limited Sportsman), Pete Broderson (Pro Stock), Rob VanAernam (Street Stock), Ken Hollenbeck (4-Cylinder Single Cam), Kerrie Hollenbeck (4-Cylinder Dual Cam); Outstanding Performance: Matt DeLorenzo (Modified), Rocky Warner and Mark Mortensen (602 Sportsman), Kenny Martin (Pro Stock), Reuben Kennedy (Street Stock); Keith Tesiero, Sr. (4-Cylinder Single Cam), Keith Tesiero, Jr. (4-Cylinder Dual Cam); Rookie / Newcomer of the Year: Brian Gleason (Modified), Chris Schaffer (602 Limited Sportsman), John Bradt (Pro Stock), Bob Rose III (Street Stock).

GLEN RIDGE MOTORSPORTS PARK:Driver of the Year: Bobby Varin (Modified), Brian Pessolano (602 Sportsman), Aaron Burton (Rookie 602 Sportsman), Rob VanAernam (Street Stock), Shane Playford (4 Cylinder Cruiser); Outstanding Performance: Jim Becker (Modified), Korey Wilder (602 Sportsman), Blake Schwarting (Rookie 602 Sportsman), Jason Samrov (Street Stock), Keith Tesiero, Sr. (4 Cylinder Cruiser); Rookie / Newcomer of the Year:Jeff Rockefeller (Modified), Ivan Joslin (602 Sportsman), A.J. Prime (Rookie 602 Sportsman).

I-88 SPEEDWAY:Driver of the Year:Mike Mahaney (Modified), Alan Barker(Sportsman), Rich Green (Street Stock), James Cornell (IMCA), Tim Vandermark (Fwd 4 Cylinder), Rick Wagner (Empire Sport Trucks); Outstanding Performance:Shaun Walker (Modified), Nick Nye (Sportsman), Kurt Decker (Street Stock), Matt Roberts (IMCA), Bob Crandall (Fwd 4 Cylinder), Chris Sherman (Empire Sport Trucks); Rookie / Newcomer of the Year:Brett Tonkin (Modified), Travis Smith (Sportsman), Larry Truax (Street Stock), Billy Ward (IMCA), Alan Hodge (Fwd 4 Cylinder), Damon Decker (Empire Sport Trucks).

LEBANON VALLEY SPEEDWAY:Driver of the Year:Brett Hearn, (Modified), Steve Hough (Small Block Modified), Tyler Dippel (Sportsman), Jason Corbin (Pro Stock), James “JJ” Hatch (Pure Stocks), Ian Relyea and Brandon Ely (4-Cylinder Single Cam), Todd Goldstein (4 Cylinder Dual Cam); Outstanding Performance:Andy Bachetti (Modified), Steve Meilleur (Small Block Modified), Tommy Johnson (Sportsman), Jason Casey (Pro Stock), Daniel Sanchez (Pure Stocks), Jim Williams (4-Cylinder Single Cam), Steven Loomis (4-Cylinder Dual Cam); Rookie / Newcomer of the Year: Bobby Hackel IV (Modified), Chad Jeseo (Small Block Modified), Matt Pappa (Sportsman), Jason Meltz (Pro Stock), Hunter Sanchez (Pure Stocks).

ORANGE COUNTY FAIR SPEEDWAY:Driver of the Year:Tim Hindley (Modified), Danny Creeden (Small Block Modified), Brian Krummel (Sportsman), Jesse Leiby (Rookie Sportsman), Stephen Kammer (Street Stock); Outstanding Performance: Jerry Higbie (Modified), Bob McGannon (Small Block Modified), Anthony Perrago (Sportsman), Christian Rumsey (Rookie Sportsman), Charlie Donald (Street Stock); Rookie / Newcomer of the Year:Bobby Varin (Modified), Brian Krummel (Small Block Modified), Bryanna Hurban (Sportsman).

UTICA ROME SPEEDWAY:Driver of the Year:Stewart Friesen (Modified), Matt Janczuk (Sportsman), Tom Denton (Pro Stock), Ron Hawker (Pure Stock); Outstanding Performance:Matt Sheppard (Modified), Jeremy Vunk (Sportsman), Glenn Forward(Pro Stock),Ricky Breed (Pure Stock); Rookie / Newcomer of the Year:Mike Bowman (Modified), Robert Barker (Sportsman), Joe Palmer (Pro Stock), Keith Stevenson (Pure Stock).

WOODHULL RACEWAY:Driver of the Year:Donnie Lawson (Modifieds), Glenn Whritenour (Late Models), Chris Daugherty (Crate Sportsman), Brett Marlatt (Street Stock), Brandon Morseman (Mini Stock), Jaye McConnell II (Front Wheel Drive); Outstanding Performance: Billy Van Pelt (Modifieds), John Waters (Late Models), Ray Smith (Crate Sportsman), Teddy Morseman, Jr. (Street Stock), James Kreisler III (Mini Stock), Matt Prescott (Front Wheel Drive); Rookie / Newcomer of the Year:Josh Nobriga (Modifieds), Ray Bliss, Jr. (Late Models), Josh Sawyer (Crate Sportsman), Tracy Dunn (Street Stock), James Kreisler III (Mini Stock), Ryan Austin (Front Wheel Drive).