Utica-Rome Speedway drivers honored

ALBANY, NY - Fifteen of Utica-Rome Speedway's top drivers from the 2000 racing season plus one track legend and the mother of another top competitor from the past were honored this past Saturday night for their racing accomplishments at the 32nd...

ALBANY, NY - Fifteen of Utica-Rome Speedway's top drivers from the 2000 racing season plus one track legend and the mother of another top competitor from the past were honored this past Saturday night for their racing accomplishments at the 32nd annual New York State Stock Car Association (NYSSCA) banquet at the Polish Community Center in Albany.

Newcomer of the Year was awarded to Tim Clemons in the DIRT 358 Modifieds, 14 year old Jessica Zemken in the DIRT Sportsman, Doug Grimaldi in the DIRT Pro Stocks, and 14 year old Bobby Newman in the Pure Stocks.

The Outstanding Performance award was given to Todd Burley in the DIRT 358 Modifieds, Jamie Christian in the DIRT Sportsman, Bret Belden in the DIRT Pro Stocks, "Junkyard" Jim Thomas in the Pure Stocks, and Todd Land in the Senior Slingshots.

Driver of the Year was awarded to 2000 Track Champion Ron Holmes in the DIRT 358 Modifieds, 2000 Track Champion Kevin Crave in the DIRT Sportsman, 2000 Track Champion Tom Denton in the DIRT Pro Stocks, and runner up in points Jeff Pastorella in the Pure Stocks.

A special award entitled "Grass Roots Racing Award" was given to two youngsters in the Junior Slingshot division for their efforts in racing at such a young age. Larry Wight, 7, and A.J. Kingsley, 12, received this distinct award.

Utica-Rome NYSSCA Track Representative John Keegan was awarded with the 2000 NYSSCA Member of the Year Award for his efforts to sign up members at Utica-Rome even while he was on the mend from medical difficulties. His enthusiasm for NYSSCA along with the dedication to sign up members was much appreciated by everyone.

Columnist @!Tom Boggie posthumously inducted one of Utica-Rome's all-time greats, the legendary Lou Lazzaro, into the NYSSCA Hall of Fame after a very special presentation and speech. Lazzaro's induction was one of the more-anticipated events of the evening and daughter Melissa and son Peter accepted his award.

Ethel Searing Wetmore, the mother of Utica-Rome great Donnie Wetmore and Lebanon Valley standout Stan Wetmore, was also inducted into the Hall of Fame. Ethel, a former powder puff racer in the 1950's and 1960's, was a fixture at Lebanon Valley and has been heavily involved in the racing careers of her two sons.

Hall of Fame Chairman Ron Hedger announced that every NYSSCA member speedway would host a special Hall of Fame Millennium Celebration this summer, inducting several past drivers at each track into the prestigious Hall of Fame.

Utica-Rome will host this celebration on Sunday August 19, during the 2nd annual Old Timer's Reunion, which will also serve as the speedway's 40th anniversary celebration. Several of Utica-Rome's legendary drivers will receive special honors that evening from NYSSCA.

NYSSCA recently scheduled a member's meeting for April 3 at the Ramada Inn in New Hartford to encourage local Utica-Rome members to be involved in the monthly meetings. More information will be released on the Utica-Rome meeting in the near future.

Utica-Rome drivers, officials, fans, sponsors, and crewmembers are reminded to get your 2001 NYSSCA memberships. NYSSCA is not only for drivers, and all members can benefit from this great racing organization.

For more information on how to NYSSCA and how to become a member, contact the all-new NYSSCA website at www.nyssca.com or see John Keegan at the track this summer.

For more information on the 2001 racing season at the New Utica-Rome Speedway in Vernon, contact the speedway office at (315) 829-4557 or log on to www.newuticaromespeedway.com.

- Doug Zupan

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