NYSSCA Celebrates 2017 With 49th Annual Awards Banquet

Column By: RON SZCZERBA / RPW – ALBANY, NY – On Saturday evening January 20, the New York State Stock Car Association (NYSSCA) celebrated the culmination of the 2017 racing season with their 49th annual awards banquet at the Polish Community Center in Albany, NY.

It was a night for drivers, owners, crew members, and everyone in the racing community to reflect back on their accomplishments during the 2017 racing season and there were many special, emotional moments during the event that produced some tears as well.

NYSSCA AWARD OF EXCELLENCE – WARREN ALEXSON

Alexson and Jeff Trombley, who have been friends for a long time including back in Trombley’s Modified days, set out to race the 12-race Capital Region Sprint Agency (CRSA) schedule for 2017 and had not only success but also a lot of fun doing it. Trombley won the CRSA event at Utica Rome and with his third place finish in the CRSA event on Eastern States weekend at Orange County he locked up the 2017 CRSA championship.

“We had a lot of fun last year in 2017 and that is what we plan to do again in 2018,” Alexson told the banquet crowd.

HUMANITARIAN AWARD IN MEMORY OF CHAPLAIN DAVE MILLER – ALLISON RICCI

In 2017, Allison Ricci used her racecar; the Halmar sponsored #55, along with a lot of her own time to help promote Breast Cancer Awareness through the Miles of Hope Breast Cancer organization. Ricci met with cancer survivors and donated her winnings from the month of October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness month to the cause. There were also special T-shirts made up and sold by the Ricci/Halmar Racing Team to help the cause. At seasons end a total of $10,000 was raised for the Miles of Hope organization.

NYSSCA Banquet Master of Ceremony Dan Martin was touched in his life by Chaplain Dave Miller after a motorcycle accident that he had years ago. “I was lying in a hospital and although not awake or conscious I felt a presence in the room with me,” Martin said to the banquet crowd. “When I did regain consciousness it was someone with white pants on that was in the room with me and waited there with me until I woke up. It was Chaplain Dave.”

The unfortunate passing of Chaplain Dave Miller happened back in 2014 when he passed away after a battle with pancreatic cancer. At the banquet, Chaplain Dave’s wife, sister, and daughter were on hand to present Ricci with the award and Chaplain Dave’s daughter Jennifer had a story to tell of her own.

“In March of 2017 I myself was diagnosed with breast cancer,” she said. “But no one fights alone and as the new song by Luke Bryan says I believe most people are good.”

In October of 2017, Jennifer was declared a breast cancer survivor bringing huge applause from the banquet crowd. Jennifer actually travelled all the way from Delaware to the Albany, NY area to be at the banquet and present the award to Ricci.

CAR OWNER OF THE YEAR – ANDY ROMANO

Romano got back into the car ownership part of racing in 2017 with Peter Britten from Australia and Jeremy Wilder behind the wheel of his racecars. Britten claimed the 2017 Modified Track Championship at Albany Saratoga in Romano’s car, which was Britten’s first championship in America.

Romano himself was the 320 Modified Track Champion at Albany Saratoga back in 1984 and 20 years ago in 1997 was awarded the NYSSCA Car Owner of the Year after his son Mike won the Fonda Speedway Modified Track Championship.

“Mike and I thought that Peter was a good fit in our car,” Romano told the banquet crowd. “It was a good year for all of us.”

DEDICATION TO RACING IN MEMORY OF HARRY PEEK – BOBBY VEDDER

After racing for 51 years, Bobby Vedder at age 72 decided to retire at the conclusion of the 2017 racing season. Vedder had a feature victory and led the point standings at the Glen Ridge Motorsports Park before a change in management and divisions at mid-season changed all that. He finished out the year at Fonda where he got his start back in 1966. Vedder was also the 1995 Track Champion at the former Brookfield Speedway.

“I met a lot of great people through racing,” Vedder said. “And I was fortunate to race all my life and have fun doing it. Harry (Peek) was a man who was a gentleman both on and off the track and this means a lot to me.”

When asked by Dan Martin if we would see him at the racetrack this season Vedder said “No my wife and I bought a camper and we will be camping somewhere on weekends.”

DEDICATION TO RACING JIM LANGENBACK MEMORIAL AWARD – ROB YETMAN AND CREW

Pro Stock driver Rob Yetman had a year that he will never forget in 2017 and one that will for sure be hard to repeat. He won a total of nine feature events in 2017 along with the Lebanon Valley Pro Stock Championship, The King of Dirt (KOD) Pro Stock Championship, The DIRTcar Pro Stock Championship, and the Best of 16 Championship for the DIRTcar Series. All total Yetman has 99 career wins in a Pro Stock.

Perhaps the crowning achievement for the 2017 season was his win at Super DIRT Week in Oswego in the Pro Stock Championship event as it was his fifth consecutive win in that race. This was the second time that Yetman was honored by NYSSCA with the Jim Langenback Memorial Award.

“The drivers always get recognized, now it’s time for the crew to be recognized,” Yetman said to the banquet crowd. “We were in trouble in final practice at Super DIRT Week where we were only 19th quick but my crew pulled it all together and we were able to win that event. Also at Lebanon Valley we were involved in some early season incidents but my crew came through every time to get me back out on the track to finish the feature events.”

Crew members on the Rob Yetman #7 Pro Stock Racing Team are as follows: Glenn Ames, Steve Bruso, Mike Halachik, Brandillynn Hawley, Mike Slauson, Jessica Slauson, Chris Phelan, Ashlee Phelan, Kevin Bruso, Lauren Leahy, and Jennifer Holt.

LIFETIME CONTRIBUTION TO RACING IN MEMORY OF KENNY SHOEMAKER – MIKE KING

King has fielded a modified at the Lebanon Valley Speedway for 45 consecutive years and has four career wins at Lebanon Valley, the first one coming on 8/15/2005 and his last one on 7/31/2010.

“I have racing in my heart,” King said at the banquet. “And I race to have fun on a Saturday night.”

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT – BRETT HEARN

With career statistics like this (taken from the Brett Hearn website) it is no surprise to anyone that Brett Hearn was chosen for the 2017 NYSSCA Lifetime Achievement award. Total career wins 903 – 560 Modified, 339 Small- Block Modified, 2 Sprint Car; 359 Wins in races 50 laps or longer; Wins at 49 tracks in eleven states and two Canadian provinces; 79 Track and Series Championships; All-Time Winner at the Orange County Fair Speedway with 301 Wins (173 Modified) (125 Small-Block Modified) (2 Sprint Car); and the All-Time Winner at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway 108 Wins

“Thank you to the NYSSCA Organization as this award is very special and I also want to congratulate all of the other award winners tonight along with the NYSSCA Hall of Fame inductees,” Hearn said to the banquet crowd. “I can sit down and tell a story with the best of them but I’m not ready to do that. I’m also not much of a reflector as far as reflecting on my racing career. I’m too busy thinking about the next race and getting ready for the 2018 season. I’m always looking forward and ahead.”

“There are three families that I have to thank for my success in racing the Olsen family, the Madsen family, and the Hearn family,” Brett told the banquet crowd. “My family is involved with me in a big way with my brother building my cars and everything. The Hearn family is the definition of a family owned and operated racing team.”

“The DIRTcar Nationals are only a few weeks away, let’s carry on to 2018.”

MEDIA AWARD – RON SZCZERBA

For 20 years Szczerba has been writing about the sport that he loves, starting with the Amsterdam Recorder back in 1997 where his brother in law who worked there put in a good word for him with the sports editor. He has also written in the past for the Daily Gazette in Schenectady, NY and the Redline Motorsports Magazine as well. Currently Ron writes race stories and press releases for the Fonda Speedway and a feature story type of column for the Race Pro Weekly website.

DEDICATION TO NYSSCA IN MEMORY OF ARTY MCCARTY – CHERYL CATMAN

This award is one of if not the most prestigious awards that the NYSSCA Organization hands out at their annual awards banquet every year. The entire McCarty family was on hand to honor Catman who has been the NYSSCA treasurer for the last three years along with the banquet chairperson for the last seven years.

“Cheryl is a special person who devotes a lot of time to the NYSSCA Organization,” Dan Martin said. “Behind the scenes she has some help but her hard work is what makes this banquet so successful and so special. Over the last week or so many e-mails have come through from Cheryl as she fine-tuned this event which she always does for us to make John (Stanley) and I look good.”

OVERALL OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE – MATT SHEPPARD AND DAVE MARCUCCILLI

Recognized by NYSSCA for their remarkable seasons in 2017 were Modified pilot Matt Sheppard and Sportsman campaigner Dave Marcuccilli who were not able to attend the banquet.

Editor’s Note: 2017 Awards Banquet Hall Of Fame Inductees Column Will Be In Friday’s Edition Of Race Pro Weekly

2017 NYSSCA TRACK AWARDS

2017 ORANGE COUNTY SPEEDWAY TRACK AWARD WINNERS

DRIVER OF THE YEAR

  • Modified: Tommy Meier
  • 358 Modified: Anthony Perrego
  • Sportsman: Jesse Leiby
  • Street Stock: Mike Vigiletti

 OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE

  • Modified: Jimmy Horton
  • Sportsman: Joey Bruning
  • Street Stock: Tommy “Pickles” DeFrancesco

2017 WOODHULL TRACK AWARD WINNERS

DRIVER OF THE YEAR

  • Modified: Billy VanPelt
  • Crate Sportsman: Dale Welty
  • Crate Late Model: Steve LeBarron
  • Street Stock: Dylan Cecce
  • Mini Stock: Chris Woodard
  • FWD: Codie Baker

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE

  • Modified: Dillon Groover
  • Crate Sportsman: Steve Hartman III
  • Crate Late Model: Kurt Stebbins
  • Street Stock: Teddy Morseman Jr
  • Mini Stock: Dylon Gleason
  • FWD: Shawn Gleason

ROOKIE/NEWCOMER

  • Modified: Jeffery Daugherty
  • Crate Sportsman: Kirk Reynolds
  • Crate Late Model: Darin Horton
  • Street Stock: James Weatherley
  • Mini Stock: Dylon Gleason
  • FWD: Scott Lehman Jr

2017 AFTON TRACK AWARD WINNERS

DRIVER OF THE YEAR

  • Modified: Andy Bachetti
  • Open Sportsman: Claude Hutchings Jr
  • 602 Crate Sportsman: Cody Clark
  • Street Stocks: Damon Decker
  • ES Trucks: Ralph Cuozzo

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE

  • Modified: Alan Barker
  • Open Sportsman: Butch Klinger
  • 602 Crate Sportsman: Harold Humphrey
  • Street Stocks: Doug Polhamus
  • ES Trucks: Bob Crandall

ROOKIE/NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR

  • Modified: Alex Tonkin
  • Open Sportsman: Dennis Clapperton (r)
  • 602 Crate Sportsman: Rob Loucks (r)
  • Street Stocks: Dan Roe
  • ES Trucks: Jeff Young (r)

2017 UTICA ROME SPEEDWAY TRACK AWARD WINNERS

DRIVER OF THE YEAR

  • Modified: Matt Sheppard
  • Sportsman: Matt Janczuk
  • Pro Stock: Mike Welch

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE

  • Modified: Pat Ward
  • Sportsman: Chris Mackey
  • Pro Stock: Shane Henderson

ROOKIE/NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR

  • Modified: Claude Hutchings Jr (r)
  • Sportsman: Kyle Inman
  • Pro Stock: Andrew Walters

2017 ALBANY SARATOGA TRACK AWARD WINNERS

DRIVER OF THE YEAR

  • Modified: Peter Britten
  • Sportsman: Rocky Warner
  • Limited Sportsman: James Meehan
  • Pro Stock: Kenny Martin Jr.
  • Street Stock: Al Relyea
  • 4-Cylinder Dual Cam: Ben Grant
  • 4-Cylinder Single Cam: Will Ryan

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE

  • Modified: Keith Flach
  • Sportsman: Connor Cleveland
  • Limited Sportsman: Paolo Pascarella  
  • Pro Stock: Kim Duell
  • Street Stock: Randy Miller
  • 4-Cylinder Dual Cam: Steve Ryan
  • 4-Cylinder Single Cam: Robert Garney

ROOKIE/NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR

  • Sportsman: Brian Pessolano 
  • Pro Stock: Luke Horning

2017 LEBANON VALLEY TRACK AWARD WINNERS

DRIVER OF THE YEAR

  • Modified: Brett Hearn
  • 358 Modified: Kenny Tremont Jr
  • Sportsman: Whitey Slavin
  • Pro Stock: Rob Yetman
  • Pure Stock: Ed Hatch
  • 4-Cylinder Dual Cam: Chris Vandeputte
  • 4-Cylinder Single Cam: Chris White

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE

  • Modified: Keith Flach
  • 358 Modified: J. R. Heffner
  • Sportsman: Michael Sabia
  • Pro Stock: Jason Meltz
  • Pure Stock: Jeff Meltz Jr and Bill Deak
  • 4-Cylinder Dual Cam: P J Bleau
  • 4-Cylinder Single Cam: James Street

ROOKIE/NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR

  • 358 Modified: In Memory of JC Flach – Timothy Davis and Brandon Pitcher
  • Sportsman: Harold Robitaille (r)
  • Pro Stock: Dan Cote (r)
  • Pure Stock: Jordan Miller (r)

2017 GLEN RIDGE TRACK AWARD WINNERS

DRIVER OF THE YEAR

  • Crate Modified: Chris Curtis
  • Limited Sportsman: Mikey Jackson
  • Pro Stock: Luke Horning
  • 4-Cylinder/Cruiser: Chris Andrew

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE

  • Crate Modified: Harry Shaffer II
  • Limited Sportsman: Dave Richer
  • Pro Stock: Ivan Joslin
  • 4-Cylinder/Cruiser: Pat McSpirit

ROOKIE/NEWCOMER

  • Crate Modified: Rob Maxon
  • Limited Sportsman: Marty Kelly III
  • Pro Stock: Kyle Hoard

2017 CRSA AWARD WINNERS

DRIVER OF THE YEAR

  • Jeff Trombley

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE

  • Sydney Prince

ROOKIE/NEWCOMER

  • Jerry Sehn

2017 FONDA SPEEDWAY TRACK AWARD WINNERS

DRIVER OF THE YEAR

  • Modified: Tim Fuller
  • Sportsman: Rocky Warner
  • Limited Sportsman: Cory White
  • Pro Stock: Kenny Gates
  • Street Stock: Johnny Young

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE

  • Modified: Bobby Varin
  • Sportsman: Chad Edwards
  • Limited Sportsman: William August
  • Pro Stock: Chuck Dumblewski
  • Street Stock: Cliff Haslun

ROOKIE/NEWCOMER

  • Modified: Mike Maresca
  • Sportsman: David Manchester
  • Limited Sportsman: Kathy Bellen
  • Pro Stock: Josh Coonradt
  • Street Stock: Steven Young
  •  
  •