NYSSCA hosts annual banquet and Hall of Fame inductions

ALBANY – The New York State Stock Car Association presented their annual Awards Banquet at the Polish Community Center in Albany on Jan. 23.

Nearly 500 drivers, officials, media members and race fans made their way to the Western Avenue facility to honor the accomplishments of the 2016 season and induct the NYSSCA Hall of Fame Class of 2016, according to a news release.

Earlier in the day, the seven new members of the Hall of Fame were inducted into the physical Hall of Fame, located at the Saratoga Automobile Museum in Saratoga Springs.

Those inductees, their families and representatives joined everyone for a dinner at the Polish Community Center. The class of 2016 included Claude and Gail Riley, Doug Hoffman, Billy Taylor, Norm Moyer, Richie Eurich and Bruce Dostal.

The husband and wife team of Claude and Gail Riley are the fourth couple to be inducted together. Others include Marty and Hertha Beberwyk, Jim and Barb Frye and Leonard and Margaret Bosley. Gail joined the NYSSCA leadership in 1990 as Secretary and banquet chairwoman and went on to serve six terms as Vice President, two years as President along, 18 years as banquet chairwoman, four years on the yearbook committee and five years on the board of directors.

Claude Riley served seven terms as a NYSSCA director while also devoting two years to the car show committee and four more to the Hall of Fame committee. Their year around devotion included work on the NYSSCA golf tournament. The dynamic duo has long been considered the bedrock upon which the organization was built.

“I am up here to induct a couple into the NYSSCA Hall of Fame, a couple of very special people,” inductor Danny Martin said in a news release. “They came along in the late 1980’s when NYSSCA was not in a real thriving position, NYSSCA was actually struggling.”

As good on asphalt as he was on dirt, the late Doug Hoffman is credited with some 482 feature wins at 40 speedways in nine states and two Canadian provinces. First known for his prowess in the Small Block Modifieds, he proved to be equally skilled in Big Block Modifieds no matter the surface.

In 1991, he won four of the eight races on the short-lived DIRT/Asphalt Challenge series while also claiming the Flemington 200 and the overall Mr. DIRT title. Hoffman was a three-time winner of both the Lebanon Valley and Fonda 200 and prevailed in the 1996 Fay’s 300 on the Syracuse Mile during Super DIRT Week.

Hoffman was also a power in the NASCAR Modified division, claiming the 1992 Whelan Modified 200 at Flemington. All told, he claimed some 25 track and series championships before retiring to start a new career as promoter of the Mahoning Valley Speedway. From the injected small block flyweights at East Windsor to the far-flung DIRT circuit to the speedway office, Doug Hoffman was an outstanding talent.

Doug once said, “It wouldn’t have been possible without Budd Olsen. Budd is the one who showed me the ins and outs of the sport.”

Hoffman passed away at the age of 54 on Christmas Eve 2012. At his funeral his brother, Keith offered his thoughts on his brother, the racer. “I don’t think he ever understood just how really good he was, but we all did.”

Billy Taylor spent his career as the man behind the driver in Victory Lane, starting as crew chief with the legendary asphalt star Maynard Troyer in 1975. In 1978, Taylor worked with Geoff Bodine, winning some 55 features, including the Race of Champions. In 1980 he went on his own with backing from his brother, owner of Phil’s Chevrolet, claiming the Spring Sizzler to open the season and running fourth at Syracuse in a rare dirt start for Bodine.

Subsequent asphalt drivers for Taylor would include Hall of Fame talents Greg Sacks, George Kent, Mike McLaughlin and Jimmy Shampine before his focus shifted to the DIRT circuit, where he would win the Lebanon Valley 200 twice each with Jack Johnson and Doug Hoffman, claim a pair of 200’s at Fonda with Hoffman and score in the Rolling Wheels 200 with Johnson.

Other dirt legends to wheel the Taylor #1 included Kenny Brightbill and Danny and Alan Johnson, but Taylor’s most significant accomplishments included the 1991 Mr. DIRT title and a win in the 1996 Big Block Modified finale at Syracuse, both with Hoffman at the wheel. Taylor, who was unable to attend the ceremonies due to preparing teams for the Daytona 500, was inducted by his daughter Jody.

Known as “Moyer the Mover” for his Oneida house relocation business, Norm Moyer loved the Late Model division. He was older than most of his competitors when he started on the asphalt at the nearby Utica-Rome Speedway and steadily improved his program to the point that he claimed the 1968 Late Model championship.

The 1968 season was his best, as he won 26 features in some 50 starts. He claimed seven wins and the point title on the asphalt at Albany-Saratoga along with the championship on the half-mile dirt at the Fonda Speedway, where he would claim two more titles (’70, ’71) and win 22 features to stand third on the all-time list before he retired.

Moyer passed away in 2006 however his blood lines continue to run deep through the sport. Son Scott, grandson’s Tom and David and now great grandson Jimmy all have, are or will be turning laps at area tracks. Moyer was inducted by Jimmy.

Known primarily for his exploits at the Orange County Fairgrounds, Richie Eurich is still winning races in his 60’s and currently stands third on the all-time Big Block Modified win list at the Middletown oval. His 49 wins trail only legends Brett Hearn and Frankie Schneider and his 27 winning seasons rank second to Hearn’s 30.

The 1970 OCFS Sportsman champ, Eurich recorded 16 Small Block Modified wins there along with his Modified championships in 1981, ’82 and ’88. He is the only driver in the fabled history of the track to claim at least one feature in six different decades beginning in the 1960’s. Other career highlights include nine wins and the 1971 championship at Nazareth Raceway and a popular win in the 1988 Eastern States 200.

Eurich quickly put to rest any rumors that he may be thinking about retiring.

“I am not retiring,” Eurich said in the release. “I would like to thank the NYSSCA organization for inducting us and all the effort they go through in making this a special day for everyone.”

Bruce Dostal was a three night a week Sportsman/Modified competitor on the 1960’s and 70’s NASCAR circuit who parleyed the knowledge he gained into a lifelong career as a chassis builder, parts fabricator and speed parts purveyor at his A&B Speed Equipment in Johnstown, New York.

Adept at building and then rebuilding everything from Street Stocks to Big Block Modifieds, Dostal has kept area racers on the track against all odds. He has devoted his life to the sport and in recent years, turned his energy to preserving racing history as well.

A member of the Fonda Speedway Hall of Fame, Dostal has recreated some of his past race cars for vintage events, aided others in full-blown restorations and in 2015, launched a Racers Reunion at his shop to bring racers of the past together to rekindle their memories and rerun races from decades ago.

“This is special,” Dostal said in the release. “It is more special to meet with people who enjoy it like I do. I was helped by a lot of people who didn’t know that they helped me. I thought it was only right to give back.”

Following dinner the awards portion of the program was completed. A number of special awards were presented to some well deserving recipients. In addition, a long list of individual driver awards from each member track was presented.

The Overall Outstanding Performance of the Year Award was awarded to a pair of drivers for the first time in the 28 year history of the award. The 2015 award winners were Stewart Friesen and Rocky Warner.

Warner, who could not make the event due to a serious health issue, won 29 feature events during the 2015 season in 93 starts. Those wins came at 12 different tracks and a part of four different series. Warner piloted the Jake Spraker owned number 1J to track titles at the Fonda Speedway and Utica-Rome Speedway and a second place finish at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway, despite missing two events. He also claimed the inaugural King of Dirt Sportsman Series, GRIT Sportsman Series, SUNY Canton Sportsman Series and Troyer Cup titles. Warner won three of the biggest events for the division, the Northeast Crate Nationals, the Sportsman portion of the Outlaw 200 Weekend and the Finale at the Fairgrounds event as part of Super DIRT Week on the Syracuse Mile.

Friesen meanwhile claimed 33 feature wins in two different types of race car. The Sprakers, New York driver won 27 times in a Dirt Modified and six times in a Sprint Car. One of those wins came in a 410 Sprint Car against the World of Outlaws and the remainder in a 360 Sprint Car. He also won a record tying fourth consecutive track championship at the Fonda Speedway and the Race of Champions Dirt Modified Tour and Short Track Super Series titles. His feature wins came at 18 different race tracks for six different car owners. Friesen also won his fourth Syracuse 200. This is his fifth award and became the first driver to win the award in three consecutive seasons.

The Car Owner of the Year Award went to Kenny Tremont, Sr. This season was Tremont’s fourth time winning the award. With Ken, Jr. piloting the famed 115, Tremont stood in victory lane seven times at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway where they would be crowned DIRTcar Modified Track Champion. They also won five times at the Lebanon Valley Speedway in DIRTcar Modified competition and four times in Small Block Modified competition. Tremont won the Small Block Track Championship. Tremont was also crowned the Sportsman Modified Track Champion at the Dirt Track at the Devils Bowl Speedway where the 115 sat in victory lane two times.

Kenny Tremont, Sr. has the amazing record of having perfect attendance at the Lebanon Valley Speedway for the past 54 years. In those 54 seasons, his car has finished in the top ten in the final point standings 50 times.

The Lifetime Contribution to Racing in Memory of Kenny Shoemaker Award was awarded to Terri Mohrman. Mohrman has contributed the majority of her life to racing and specifically to helping patrons of the track in their time of need. Terri is the driving force behind the EMT and Safety Squads at both the Fonda Speedway and Glen Ridge Motorsports Park. She is not standing in victory lane with a car or out to be interviewed, she is truly behind the scenes but one of the most important people at the track each and every week.

The NYSSCA Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Mitch Gibbs. Known as the Show Stopper, Gibbs is in his fourth decade of racing dating back to 1980 when he took over the wheel of his father Bob’s number 2G. Gibbs has over 180 wins and continues to add to that total each season. He has been crowned track champion in the Dirt Modified division at the Fulton Speedway, Utica-Rome Speedway, I-88/Afton Speedway, Five Mile Point Speedway and the Thunder Mountain Speedway. He was also the 1984 320 Modified Track Champion at Fonda. Gibbs also won the 2005 Race of Champions Dirt Modified North Series title and the overall title.

The Dedication to Racing In Memory of Harry Peek Award was presented to Mike Perrotte. Perrotte is well known as both a racer and promoter. The Elizabethtown, New York resident started racing in 1973 at the Airborne Speedway in the Street Stock division. He then moved to the Dirt Modified ranks on the CVRA circuit. Perrotte claimed the 1986 Airborne Modified title and has wins at all three CVRA tracks (Airborne, Albany-Saratoga and Devils Bowl). He is also a three time Mohawk Speedway champion. Perrotte then turned his attention to promoting the Airborne Speedway and currently is the Director of Series and Sanctioning for the World Racing Group/DIRTcar Northeast. He still competes when time allows.

The Jim Langenback Memorial Award was awarded to Robbie Speed. Speed won four races this season (three at Albany-Saratoga and one at Lebanon Valley), including the DIRTcar Series race at Albany-Saratoga and the Bubba Tanner Classic at Lebanon Valley. He has 16 winning seasons at Lebanon Valley and finished fourth in points despite missing three weeks due to health issues. He also finished fifth in the final Albany-Saratoga standings. Speed finished third in points in the final DIRTcar standings and second in the final King of Dirt Pro Stock Series standings.

The Dedication to NYSSCA in Memory of Arty McCarty Award was awarded to Clem DaBiere. DaBiere, who is battling health issues, has been a mainstay at local tracks and with NYSSCA for many years.

“I happen to look at the program and I couldn’t believe it,” DaBiere said in the release. “I am a very emotional guy. I missed a lot of racing this summer. I knew Arty, this is a great honor.”

For the first time the NYSSCA presented the Humanitarian Award in Memory of Chaplin Dave Miller. The award is to honor someone that was a giver, like Chaplin Dave Miller. The inaugural recipient of the award was Brian Berger.

Berger founded Phaze 3 Racing for a Cure. A regular at the Lebanon Valley Speedway, Brian contemplated stepping back from racing then considered aligning his passion for racing with a chance to make a difference for something that hit close to home. He was well aware of Breast Cancer after his Aunt was diagnosed with the disease. As the season started he set a goal to raise $5000 to donate to Breast Cancer Research and to promote awareness.

NYSSCA gave a donation to Phaze 3 Racing, which moved Berger to within $100 of his goal. He dedicated the rear quarter panel to the cause instead of trying to find more funding to race. In 2012 Berger founded the J.C. Flach First Time Winners Bonus at the Lebanon Valley Speedway. The bonus is for $500 and is awarded to the first time winners in the DIRTcar modified division.

“We are all blessed and lucky to be able to do what we love,” Berger said in the release. “I think that having this opportunity, this plat form with a big racing family, is an opportunity to make a difference.”

The 2015 Journalism Award was awarded to Robin Yasinsac-Gillespie. Robin pens a column for the Albany Times Union and is a special contributor to the Area Auto Racing News.

Albany-Saratoga Speedway and Lebanon Valley Speedway Announcer Mike Warren presented the Race Pro Weekly.com Performer of the Year Award. The 2015 winner was Rocky Warner.

The NYSSCA gave out individual track awards in the Driver of the Year, Outstanding Performance and Rookie/Newcomer of the Year categories. The complete list of winners and more information on the New York State Stock Car Association can be found on the NYSSCA website, www.nyssca.com.

By -