Stewart and Hearn earn EMPA Driver of the Year Awards.
Hall of Fame inducts Economaki, Gant, Weld and Kelly.
LANGHORNE, PA DECEMBER 11, 2002 . . . NASCAR Winston Cup Champion Tony Stewart will receive the Al Holbert Memorial Eastern Motorsport Press Association Driver of the Year honors at the 33rd Annual EMPA Convention taking place at the Radisson Hotel & Conference Center, Trevose, PA, January 17-19, 2003.
Stewart beat out 17-time World of Outlaws sprint car champion Steve Kinser by just a narrow margin to earn the honor for the second time in his career.
Brett Hearn, who won dozens of DIRT Big Block Modified and 358 Modified events during the season plus track championships at Lebanon Valley Speedway and Albany-Saratoga Speedway, is the Richie Evans EMPA Northeast Driver of the Year.
Both awards, as are all awards, are voted on by the more than 200 professional media members that make up the Eastern Motorsport Press Association.
The man that many call the "Dean of Motorsports Journalism" Chris Economaki, well known for his Editor's Notebook column in National Speed Sport News, has been voted into the EMPA Hall of Fame. Economaki earned his honors by what may have been the largest number of votes ever in the history of the EMPA. Former NASCAR Winston Cup star Harry Gant, winner of 18 Winston Cup races and 17 poles, will also be inducted as will the late Kenny Weld, winner of more than 250 sprint and modified features, and five time United Racing Club sprint car champion Dave Kelly.
Voting for the Hall of Fame inductees was the most active in organization history.
Several other special awards will be announced at the EMPA Convention. The three day Eastern Motor sport Press Association Convention, the only working convention for motorsports media, will include a series of press conferences, presentations, workshops and roundtable discussions.
Representatives of several major racing organizations and speedways will be on hand including NASCAR, NHRA, IRL, ARCA, SCCA, URC, DIRT, Pocono Raceway and others.
Rick Crawford will visit the convention representing the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Junie Donlavey, the veteran independent Winston Cup car owner, will accept the first Junie Donlavey Spirit of the Sport Award. Don Hawk, former president of Dale Earnhardt Inc., will talk about the state of the sport and marketing in the motorsports. Hawk is now a very successful marketing agent representing a number of athletes in motorsports and professional golf. Hawk drew rave reviews for his presentation at the convention two years ago.
The new Lake Erie Speedway, already drawing rave reviews as one of the finest short track operations in the nation, will have some of their key people on hand to meet the media.
Sanctioning organizations, race teams and local and regional racing facilities are all invited to participate in the annual convention. "We would love to see more local auto racing organizations and race facilities take part. It is a great opportunity to create a working relationship with the media that covers motorsports on a regular basis," said EMPA President Ernie Saxton.