Junior Johnson Accepts 2011 Achievement in Motorsports Tribute Award
Seven Motorsports Industry Organizations Awarded
Corinne Economaki Accepts Father's Media Recognition Award
Tuesday, January 25, 2011 - Concord, NC - The North Carolina Motorsports Association ("NCMA") held the 5th Annual North Carolina Motorsports Industry Awards presented by Senn Dunn Insurance on Friday night at the Embassy Suites in Concord, North Carolina. Winston Kelley, Executive Director of the NASCAR Hall of Fame served as the master of ceremonies for the fifth time. The event began by awarding seven industry organizations from parts suppliers to education. A first-ever media recognition award was given to Chris Economaki. His daughter, Corinne Economaki (also the publisher of National Speed Sport News), accepted the award on behalf of her father. The night culminated with a very special "fireside" chat moderated by 54-year veteran motorsports journalist Tom Higgins. Panelists included driver and media personality, Jimmy Spencer; NASCAR Hall of Fame historian, Albert "Buz" McKim; and legendary racing promoter, Humpy Wheeler. The unscripted panel talked about their personal memories and times with Junior Johnson.
Jimmy Spencer talked about his first day on the job racing for Junior and having to beat him to the airport or he would get left behind. He was pulled over by the highway patrol, but when he mentioned he was the new driver for Junior Johnson, they let Spencer go and actually encouraged him to hurry to the airport out of respect for Junior. It wouldn't have been a discussion about Junior Johnson without a little moonshine, or as the panelists called it, "white liquor," talk. Tom Higgins recalled some interesting experiences while filming a documentary with the History Channel standing in a real life still. Humpy Wheeler recalled a party, where they were lighting moonshine on fire to see if it burned blue, a quality testing trick learned from Junior.
"People always talk about Junior's moonshine days and his tremendous accomplishments on the track as a driver and team owner. But what people don't always see or know about is Junior's generosity that takes place behind the scenes," said Spencer. "I can recall driving for Junior, it was a dream come true as everyone wanted to race for him. He was a very intimidating man. But he was very generous too and has a very big heart."
To conclude the night, the legendary NASCAR driver and owner took to the podium to receive the 2011 Achievement in Motorsports Tribute Award. Johnson began by telling the audience that only half of what they heard from the panelists was true. He then gained a good laugh from the crowd when he stated that it was a good thing they didn't know more about him. Junior's acceptance speech turned more serious when he spoke about coming from very humble roots and having had a good career that he built through hard work and personal dedication.
"I was a self made person. If I was working with somebody and they hit a stump or something they couldn't get around or get it fixed, I could do it," said Johnson, during his acceptance speech. "I put more into racing by doing the things that nobody else could figure out or do. And it's helped the sport. About half the stuff you see on the car today it came from our shop. I've had a good career and good life."
The night wrapped up at the Dixon Hughes Dessert Reception held just after the banquet. The NCMA and Senn Dunn Insurance congratulate all of the award winners.
2011 Motorsports Industry Awards were as follows:
* Junior Johnson - 2011 Achievement in Motorsports Tribute Award
* Chris Economaki - Inaugural Motorsports Media Recognition Award
* Essex Parts Services presented by Performance Racing Industry (PRI)
* Goodridge USA presented by SunTrust Banks, Inc.
* NASCAR Media Group presented by Jostens
* North Wilkesboro Speedway presented by Greer & Walker, LLP
* Piedmont Racing Expo presented by Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.
* US Legend Cars International presented by Stock Car Steel & Aluminum, Inc
* WSSU Motorsports Management Program presented by Bank of America, N.A.
About the NCMA: The North Carolina Motorsports Association ("NCMA") is a non-profit trade association representing the $6 billion motorsports economy in the state of North Carolina. Supported by membership the NCMA is an advocate on a local, state, and national level for the interests of the motorsports industry. The NCMA conducts networking events; workforce development initiatives; youth outreach and education programs. The NCMA is relied upon as a clearinghouse for motorsports industry resources and information. The NCMA maintains an office at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina, working statewide with all forms of competitive motorsports.