Eastern Motorsport Press Associaton awards

TREVOSE, PA JANUARY 20, 2002 . . . Eleven time National Hot Rod Association Funny Car champion John Force received the Al Holbert Memorial/Eastern Motorsport Press Association Driver of the Year award on Saturday (January 19) at the annual ...

TREVOSE, PA JANUARY 20, 2002 . . . Eleven time National Hot Rod Association Funny Car champion John Force received the Al Holbert Memorial/Eastern Motorsport Press Association Driver of the Year award on Saturday (January 19) at the annual EMPA Convention.

Force, unable to attend because of testing/racing commitments on the West Coast, did send a video thanking the organization for the honor. Force is only the second drag racer in the 31 year history of the organization to earn the honor.

Ted Christopher, the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series presented by Dodge National Champion along with being champion at Stafford Motor Speedway and Thompson International Speedway (both in Connecticut), was honored as the EMPA Northeast Driver of the Year. This was the second year in a row that Christopher captured the honor.

Seven time NASCAR Winston Cup champion Dale Earnhardt, fatally injured in a Winston Cup race accident at Daytona in February, 2001, was inducted into the EMPA Hall of Fame. Earnhardt's widow, Teresa, sent a touching letter of acceptance on behalf of her late husband. The award will be presented to her at a later date.

Bobby Gerhart Sr., winner of 41 modified stock car features at Reading, PA Fairgrounds Speedway, was inducted into the Hall of Fame as was former United Racing Club sprint car champion and Indianapolis 500 competitor "Iron" Mike Magill. Both were on hand to receive their awards and made appropriate comments about their careers and the award.

Three time USAC Sprint Car champion Larry Dickson, one of the most consistent performers in sprint car racing and a competitor at Indianapolis several times, was also an inductee. Dickson was unable to make the trip from his Indianapolis home because of ill health.

The prestigious Frank Blunk Memorial EMPA Journalism Award was presented to Dave Argabright, long time columnist for National Speed Sport News. Argabright also just released his book, American Scene. The popular journalist, who also does some TV work for The National Network, was unable to attend due to illness.

"While there are many wonderful awards and honors in our business, the Frank Blunk Memorial Award is one that is so meaningful, so prestigious, that I never dared dream that I might someday receive it. The New York Times recognized as one of the greatest newspapers in the world, and Frank Blunk is remembered as one of the finest writers in the history of auto racing. To receive an award named in his honor is beyond my wildest dreams," said Argabright in a letter addressed to the convention attendees.

Earl Krause, long time journalist who has a column appearing weekly in Area Auto Racing News, was presented the Art McHugh Memorial Award in recognition of his efforts on behalf of the sport and the EMPA behind the scenes. Krause serves as the Master of Ceremonies for the awards banquet each year.

Don Marks, veteran freelance photographer, who has had his work appear in many trade and daily newspapers and magazines, received the prestigious Ace Lane Memorial Photography Award. It was the second time Marks has earned the honor.

Recognized for her outstanding efforts on behalf of the organization and her continued support of the EMPA, Marilyn Saxton was presented a President's Appreciation Award.

Ernie Saxton, EMPA president, presented other special awards of appreciation to Andy Belmont, Herb Anastor and Patty and Bill Miller. All have offered outstanding service to the EMPA organization.

During the three day convention attendees, many of them professional media who are members of the Eastern Motorsport Press Association, attended social events sponsored by Pocono Raceway, NHRA, NASCAR, Goodyear, Grandview Speedway, United Racing Club, Indy Racing League and R.J. Reynolds.

Top Fuel racer Mike Dunn announced his plans to be part of the NHRA broadcast team on ESPN. Dunn will join Marty Reid for all 23 events in 2002.

NASCAR Vice President Jim Hunter was keynote speaker at the RJReynolds EMPA Hall of Fame dinner and was part of activities throughout the weekend.

Long time motorsports executive Hayne Dominick gave the media an update on plans to run ALMS and Trans Am events "around" RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. starting in 2002. Dominick represented The National Grand Prix.

Others taking part in the convention included the National Lawn Mower Racing Association( Mr. Mow It All), DIRT, URC, Pocono Raceway, Watkins Glen, Dover Downs International Raceway, the Indy Racing League, American Racing Drivers Club, MAC Late Models, NHRA, ARCA, and the Hooter's Pro Tour.

Award winners in the Valvoline No. 1 Choice/EMPA Writers Contest included:

Daily Newspaper Division
Monte Dutton, Column, Gaston, NC. Gazzette
Jerry Reigle, Feature, Harrisburg Sunday Patriot-News
Richard Huff, News, N.Y. Daily News
Kyle Hardner, Personality Profile, Newark, NJ Star-Ledger
Jerry Reigle, Race Report, Harrisburg, NJ Patriot-News

Weekly Publications
Ernie Saxton, Column, Inside Track Motorsports News (Canada)
Lenny Sammons, Feature, Area Auto Racing News
Tom Chemris, News, Area Auto Racing News
Gary Tremper, Personality Profile, Area Auto Racing News
Kyle Hardner, Race Report, Area Auto Racing News

Chris Romano, Column, Trackside
Ron Hedger, Feature, Stock Car Racing
Dave Argabright, Personality Profile, Open Wheel
Bruce A. Bennett, Race Report, Trackside

Tim Packman, Column, NASCAR.COM
John LeVan, Feature, OpenWheelRacing.com
Dino Oberto, News, Hoseheads.com
Ken Plotkin, Personality Profile, Motorsport.com
Tom Chemris, Race Report, PhillyRacing.com

Raceline Radio Network, Radio, Two Hour Race Review in August, 2001
Doug Kennedy, Independent TV/Video, In the Pits 2001
Jeff Zidek, Fox Sports/Pittsburgh, Interview with Richard Mitchell

ACTION CATEGORY-David D'Angelis, John Force photo, Competitionplus.com

ACTION SEQUENCE CATEGORY -Greg Gage, Winning In The Pits, Motorsport.com

CRASH ACTION - Greg Gage, Modified PileUp, Motorsport.com

FEATURE CATEGORY - Greg Gage, Spiderman At The Races, Motorsport.com

PICTURE STORY - Dave D'Allesandro, Pace Lap, Motorsport.com PORTRAIT AND PERSONALITY - Dave D'Allesandro, Jeff Gordon and wife, Motorsport.com

INTERNET PURE ART - Steve Bell, Top Fuel Funny Car Iron Eagle
BEST OF SHOW - Jack Kromer, Portrait and Personality
ACTION - LeRoy Bogert, Sno-Cross Snow Glove, Area Auto Racing News
ACTION SEQUENCE - Marty Gordner, Wish I Hadn't Done That, Williams Grove Program
CRASH ACTION - Tucker Gordner, Gray Day For Greg, Williams Grove Program
FEATURE - Chris Budihas, Goodsport, Trackside
PICTURE STORY - Harold Hoch, Walk To The Championship, Reading Eagle-Times
PORTRAIT AND PERSONALITY - Jack Kromer, Ward and Son, Speedway Illustrated Magazine

Professional membership in the Eastern Motorsport Press Association is open to working media that are involved in motorsports coverage on a regular basis. Associate membership is available to public relations practitioner, sponsors, event organizers and others with interest in the sport.

For information on membership in the EMPA telephone Ernie Saxton at 215.752.7797 or 215.752.2392 or e-mail at erniesaxton@compuserve.com. Visit www.saxtonsponsormarket.com and bring up EMPA.

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Series Automotive
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , Mike Dunn , John Force , Andy Belmont , Bobby Gerhart , Dave DeAngelis , Ted Christopher , Jim Hunter
Teams Williams