EMPA award winners announced

J.J. Yeley to receive Al Holbert Memorial/EMPA Driver of the Year Award, Alan Johnson is Northeast Driver of the Year LANGHORNE, PA DECEMBER, 2003 . . . United States Auto Club Triple Crown winner J.J. Yeley will receive the annual Al Holbert ...

J.J. Yeley to receive Al Holbert Memorial/EMPA Driver of the Year Award, Alan Johnson is Northeast Driver of the Year

LANGHORNE, PA DECEMBER, 2003 . . . United States Auto Club Triple Crown winner J.J. Yeley will receive the annual Al Holbert Memorial/Eastern Motorsport Press Association National Driver of the Year Award at the organization's annual convention taking place January 23-25 in Trevose, PA.

Yeley was the hottest driver in open cockpit racing this season winning the USAC Midget, Sprint and Silver Crown titles. The last driver to do that was Yeley's mentor Tony Stewart who is a two time winner of the Al Holbert Memorial Award. Yeley also set a new mark for wins in a season with USAC, a mark that had been held by A.J.Foyt.

More than 200 members, professional media covering motorsports on a regular basis, gave Yeley more votes than Ryan Newman, Matt Kenseth, Scott Dixon, Clay Millican or Frank Kimmel who were also nominated for the award.

Yeley joins a growing list of open cockpit racing standouts who has moved on to NASCAR competition. The talented driver has signed to drive for the Joe Gibbs Motorsports team and will see action in ARCA, Busch Series and, perhaps, a few Nextel Cup races in 2004.

DIRT Modified champion Alan Johnson was the top vote getter in the chase for the Richie Evans Memorial/EMPA Northeast Driver of the Year Award. Johnson winner of 28 dirt track Modified and 358 Modified races in 2003, capturing three track championships, beat out such notables as Greg Hodnett, Frank Manzo, Mark McFarland and Gary Stuhler.

In other news from the Eastern Motorsport Press Association five new names will be added to the prestigious EMPA Hall of Fame during ceremonies at the convention taking place at the Radisson Hotel & Conference Center in Trevose, PA.

Voted into the Hall of Fame by the Board of Directors was former NASCAR Modified ace Bugsy Stevens and dirt modified star Stan Ploski. The EMPA membership has voted to add veteran broadcaster Ken Squier, former National Hot Rod Association Top Fuel champion Joe Amato and Fonda, NY Speedway standout, the late Lou Lazzaro to the Hall of Fame.

Veteran dirt track modified racing standout Kenny Brightbill will accept the second annual "Junie" from legendary NASCAR Nextel Cup car owner Junie Donlavey. The award is named in Donlavey's honor and is presented to someone in the motorsports industry for their outstanding accomplishments "doing it their way."

Several other special awards to EMPA members will be announced at the convention.

The three day convention will feature a number of press conferences, seminars and other activities. The convention gives EMPA members an opportunity to improve their journalistic, broadcasting and photography skills.

Taking part in the convention will be such organizations as NHRA, NASCAR, ALMS, ARCA, Craftsman, Pocono Raceway, DIRT, URC, ARDC, Valvoline, ConocoPhillips, Indy Racing League, SPEED Channel and others.

Several key figures in the industry will be part of the three day convention that opens on Friday, January 23rd.

-empa/es-

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Series AUTOMOTIVE , GENERAL