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Eastern Motorsport Press Association Announces Hall of Fame and Award Nominees


(HAZLE TOWNSHIP, PA 12-5-23) The Eastern Motorsport Press Association (EMPA) has released the ballot to members for their prestigious Hall of Fame and special awards that will be presented during the organization’s 51st annual Convention set to take place January 12-14, 2024 at the Holiday Inn in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

The EMPA Board of Directors meticulously reviewed the many names that were narrowed down in the respective categories, including just under 60 for induction into the EMPA Hall of Fame.

Respected motorsports journalist and past EMPA president Ron Hedger and northeast pavement Modified ace George Kent are locked into this year’s entry to the Hall of Fame, needing no votes.

There is an equally impressive list of distinguished individuals who will be voted on by the EMPA membership. They include asphalt-modified standout Ted Christopher, rising Sprint Car star Kevin Gobrecht, dirt Modified kingpins Brett Hearn and Billy Pauch Sr., renowned photojournalist Ace Lane Jr., pavement specialist Steve Park, NHRA perennial champion Don Prudhomme, celebrated central Pennsylvania Sprint Car racer Steve Smith Jr., and Cathy Venturini, a respected co-car owner on the ARCA Series.

The organization will also honor National and Northeast Driver(s) of the Year in both asphalt and dirt. The youth is also recognized with the John Blewett III Young Gun Award presented by New England Race Fuels. Other honors to be bestowed are Newsmaker of the Year, Promotional Effort of the Year, and Spirit of the Sport.

EMPA also recognizes many of their own, presenting a Writer of the Year and Photographer of the Year along with several other awardees in a variety of writer and photographer categories.

The annual three-day convention begins with a Friday evening Salute to the Champions presented by Belmont’s Garage, where a number of local and regional driving titlists are invited to meet and greet with the press. Saturday consists of press conferences and seminars followed by the evening’s formal Hall of Fame dinner and awards ceremony.

The Mission of EMPA is: to acknowledge excellence in motorsports and those who have excelled; to foster an atmosphere to improve the quality of motorsports reporting through fellowship and interaction of veteran media with less experienced members in a welcoming atmosphere where tips, techniques and ideas are exchanged.; and to increase positive interactions between race tracks, sanctioning bodies and the working motorsports media.

Founded in 1969, the Eastern Motorsport Press Association is an organization of professional writers, broadcasters, announcers, videographers, and photographers working in the motorsports industry. It also includes associate and corporate members with backing from Dover International Speedway, Pocono Raceway, Brice’s NAPA Auto Parts, New England Race Fuels, Maple Grove Raceway, and American Racer Tire who are among the supporters of the organization.

2023/24 Eastern Motorsport Press Association Hall of Fame/Award Nominees

EMPA Hall of Fame nominees:

The following two gentlemen will also be inducted. No vote is needed:

Ron Hedger, George Kent

4 will be inducted: Ted Christopher, Kevin Gobrecht, Brett Hearn, Ace Lane, Jr., Steve Park, Billy Pauch, Sr., Don Prudhomme, Steve Smith Jr., Cathy Venturini

John Blewett III Young Gun Presented by New England Race Fuels. One winner: Austin Beers Justin Grosso, Katie Hettinger, Steven Snyder, Jr., Drake Troutman

Richie Evans Memorial Northeast Asphalt Driver of the Year. One winner: Wayne Helliwell Jr. Matt Hirschman, Wayne Owen, Ron Silk

Richie Evans Memorial Northeast Dirt Driver of the Year. One winner: Brent Marks, Freddie Rahmer, Matt Sheppard, Mat Williamson

Al Holbert Memorial National Asphalt Driver of the Year. One winner: Ryan Blaney, William Bryon, Doug Kalitta, Kyle Larson, Alex Palou, Leah Pruitt, Brandon Queen

Al Holbert Memorial National Dirt Driver of the Year. One winner: Rico Abreu, Jade Avedisian, Kyle Larson, Hudson O’Neal, Bobby Pierce, Brad Sweet, Rickie Thornton, Jr., Tim Ward

Chris Economaki Memorial EMPA Newsmaker of the Year. One winner: CARS Tour, FLO Racing, High Limit Sprint Series, Tony Stewart, Vores Compact Touring Series

EMPA Promotional Effort of the Year. One winner: Lyle Devour, Indoor Racing Series, Monaco Modified Tri Track Series, Joe Skotnicki/RoC Series/RPM, Josh Vanada

Junie Donlavey Spirit of the Sport. One winner: Boom Briggs, Red Farmer, Joe Renfro, Wiscasset Motor Speedway

Jim Hunter Memorial EMPA Writer of the Year Award. One winner: Dan Anderson, Bruce Bennett, Thomas Pope, Ted Schmidt, Scott Walsh

Ace Lane, Sr., Memorial EMPA Photographer of the Year. One winner: Evan Canfield, Rich Corbett, Debbie Gastelu, Michael Jaworecki, Sr., Walt Smith