LANGHORNE, PA DECEMBER 15, 2000 . . . Popular Bobby Labonte,
who drove the Joe Gibbs owned, Interstate Batteries sponsored Pontiac to his first NASCAR Winston Cup driving title, and earned the car owner championship for Gibbs, was voted the Al Holbert Memorial Eastern Motorsport Press Association Driver of the Year Award. Ted Christopher, the winningest asphalt Modified stock car driver in the Northeast for the second straight year, was voted the EMPA's Northeast Driver of the Year. Christopher is the all time winningest SK Modified driver at Stafford Motor Speedway (CT) and earned his first NASCAR Weekly Racing Series New England Region championship worth more than $40,000. He was also winner of one NASCAR Busch Series North race in a car owned by Busch Series regular Randy LaJoie at Stafford. When the annual Eastern Motorsport Press Association Convention is presented, January 5-7, 2000, at the Radisson Hotel & Conference Center in Trevose, PA (north of Philadelphia) Labonte and Christopher will receive their awards. More than 150 media who regularly cover motorsports are expected to be in attendance. In addition four new names will be added to the prestigious Eastern Motorsport Press Association Hall of Fame. 1969 Indianapolis 500 winner Mario Andretti will be inducted into the Hall of Fame along with six time NASCAR National Modified champion Jerry Cook (now a NASCAR executive), the late Larry Nuber the pioneering motorsports television personality, and 1960 NASCAR National Sportsman champion and 1961 co-champion Bill Wimble who also notched five championships at Fonda, NY Speedway. The EMPA membership also selected @!Kyle Petty and The Petty Family to receive their T.Wayne Robertson Memorial Newsmaker Award for their outstanding charitable activities. Other special awards that will be presented during the convention, at the Winston Hall of Fame Dinner (Saturday, January 6), include the Frank Blunk Memorial Journalism Award, the Ace Lane Memorial Photography Award and the Art McHugh Memorial Service to the Organization Award. In addition the winners of the Tosco/Unocal Photography contests, the Leading Edge Motorsports Journalism contests and the Performance Racing Industry Magazine Broadcast contests will be announced. Cash prizes and plaques go to all winners. NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competitor Randy Tolsma will be part of the day long activities and will be on hand at the banquet to assist in the award presentations. The Indy Racing League will have champion Buddy Lazier on hand. NHRA will have one of their top drivers in attendance. The three day Eastern Motorsport Press Association Convention, which includes press conferences, seminars, workshops and networking opportunities, will open at 3 p.m. on January 5. Support for the EMPA Convention comes from R.J. Reynolds, NHRA, Indy Racing League, Grandview Speedway, Rising Star Publications, Pocono Raceway, NASCAR, DIRT, ARCA and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Many speedways (local, regional and national) along with sanctioning organizations and well known racing personalities will be using the convention to make announcements relating to their plans for the 2001 season and beyond. Champions of primary divisions of competition at various local and regional speedways along with sanctioning organizations are invited to attend the Friday night Pocono Raceway sponsored activities. "It is a great opportunity for these outstanding racers to create a rapport with the media that cover the sport on a regular basis. Attendance for the champion and a quest is FREE. The champions from ARDC, ATQMRA, and Grandview Speedway have already indicated they will be in attendance. We are hoping that others will take the opportunity to attend and, perhaps, create some exposure for themself and their sponsor," said EMPA president Ernie Saxton. "Hall of Fame inductee Bill Wimble has indicated he will be there on Friday as will many other personalities. And the convention is open to all speedways and organizations to participate but arrangements must be made in advance. Though we have to point out that the press conference schedule, Saturday activities, is just about full."
The Eastern Motorsport Press Association is a non-profit organization made up of more than 250 media that regularly cover motorsports as print journalists, photographers and broadcasters. The EMPA continues to strive to improve the media coverage given the sport and the conditions under which the media work as they cover the sport.