Four With Dedication To The Sport Added To NYSSCA’s Hallowed Hall Of Fame

Column By: RON SZCZERBA / RPW – ALBANY, NY – Saturday, January 20 was a very special day for four people who were inducted into the New York State Stock Car Association (NYSSCA) Hall of Fame.

The class of 2017 included Dick Hicks, Jimmy Horton, Dave Kneisel, and Allie Swears.

The induction was held at the Saratoga Automobile Museum in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. followed with another ceremony at the annual awards banquet later that evening at the Polish Community Center in Albany, NY.

There was a common theme amongst the Hall of Fame inductees as they were all “fabricators.”

Another common theme to the Hall of Fame induction speeches was to get young people involved in the sport in order to keep it growing and thriving.

2017 NYSSCA HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE:
JIMMY HORTON

Jimmy’s two sons, Jimmy Horton IV and Hunter inducted their father Jimmy Horton into the NYSSCA Hall of Fame. At age 16, Horton had to race in New York State because of his age. He was the Orange County Sportsman Champion in 1974 after winning three feature events and in his first year of Modifieds at Orange County in 1976 he was track champion in that division. Horton was the winner of Super DIRT Week back in 1987 & 1994 in a race that if he was in a 10 hours radius of was something that he always got to and competed in.

“He is a shop rat,” Jimmy IV said of his father. “He is a racers racer. He enjoys working on the cars, tuning the motors in the cars, and to this day, he still scales his own racecar. He can feel things with the car and tell us what he thinks it is and once we look at the car, he is right on the money. To my father racing wasn’t a hobby; it was his job, his career.”

George Smith, who owned the Statewide #3 car, got together with Jimmy at one point in his career and said to him “go find a race”. They went Grand National racing together in a car that was built by Billy Taylor. Bobby Allison also helped the Statewide Team out telling them to go Grand National racing instead of racing in what was then called the Busch Series. That is what they did but didn’t find any success until racing in the ARCA Series where Horton got some wins.

“I was fortunate enough to be able to fill in for Darryl Waltrip at one point during my career when Waltrip was injured and couldn’t race,” Horton said after receiving his Hall of Fame plaque and awards. “My best finish in the car was 12th but we gave it our best shot. When Darryl came back to race his own car again, I was working for Ken Schrader who I told that I was going back home to sling mud again. So I came home, got into the Dutchess Overhead Door # 87, and won Syracuse with it.”

2017 NYSSCA HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE:
DICK HICKS

Dan Martin inducted local area fabricator Dick Hicks of Hico Fabrications, a business that is located on property once owned by Irv Taylor. “Dick got to know Dextor Dorr and started helping Dorr out at his shop one night a week,” Martin said of Hicks. “That led into a second night followed by a third night a week which ended up being an almost every night of the week thing.”

Dorr was known as a meticulous fabricator, which Hicks is now known for as well. When Dorr started building his own chassis Hicks was still helping him and a common theme brought up at the banquet about the Hall of Fame inductees was that they were all “fabricators”. Dorr passed away in 1991 and that was when Hick’s took the business over and still operates it to this day because he loves the people, the sport, and everyone in it according to Martin.

Hicks has worked with Brett Hearn for over a decade and was with the Hearn team when Brett reached his 700th, 800th, and 900th career wins. Health and sanity permitted Hicks plans to continue to do what he does, helping Hearn and fellow racers through his fabricating business.

“A winner has a plan, a loser has an excuse”, Martin said in closing that Hicks once told him.

“I love to watch the racers race the hell out of each other,” Hicks said. “I want to thank my family for their support over the years, now let’s all work together, play (race) hard together, to try and push this sport to another level.”

2017 NYSSCA HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE:
ALLIE SWEARS

The first induction of the night was Allie Swears, who was kept from the banquet by health reasons. Allie’s son Guy inducted his father who he said was an unfamiliar name who raced in the 50’s and 60’s. “My dad was a behind the scenes kind of guy who did his thing at the track and at the shop,” Guy said. “And everything that he had on the racecar was fabricated.”

Paul Marshall, whose son Kenny Marshall is a well-known area flagger, won his first and only career win at Fonda in Swears’ red #51 back on 5/22/1965. Besides Marshall, another NYSSCA Hall of Fame driver who drove for Swears was Dick Nephew who drove the car to the 1961 NASCAR National Sportsman Championship.

The race for the NASCAR National Sportsman Championship ended up in an actual tie between Nephew and Bill Wimble after Nephew decided not to attend the final race, which Wimble, was the winner of. Wimble then filled a protest and Nephew and Wimble were awarded as co-champions. Swears also opened up the South Glens Falls Dragway back in the day and his hobbies away from racing were photography and fishing.

Guy Swears ended his speech by saying “Racing is such a great family experience, it certainly was for my family, and I encourage everyone here tonight to try to get young people involved as much as possible now and in the future.”

2017 NYSSCA HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE:
DAVE KNEISEL

Dave Kneisel was inducted into the NYSSCA Hall of Fame posthumously by Kyle Christian who started out by saying that Kneisel was born on 8/12/1927 in Hackensack, NJ. Kneisel was a street racer back in the day when at age 23 a ride in a car on a dirt track opened up and Kneisel started racing on a dirt surface.

“Dave said that dirt track racing produced a very different type of racing for him and if he survived his first dirt track event he wouldn’t return to It.,” Christain said. “Dave always wanted everyone to race so that he could learn from them. So he was always borrowing parts to those racers so that they could race and he could watch and learn from them.”

In 1967, Kneisel Speed Sport was born where two ambulances were transformed into parts trucks so that Kneisel could sell parts at the tracks. Kneisel was the inventor of the “Torsion Master” which he patented along with the hardened king pin, which he also invented and patented after a bad wreck at Waterloo. Alan Johnson was one of the first to use the “Torsion Master” on his racecar.

Also in 1967, Kneisel invented a prototype asphalt racecar that could easily be transformed into a car that could be raced on a dirt surface. Kneisel also helped Glenn Donnelly set rules when Donnelly started the Drivers Independent Race Tracks (DIRT) organization. When Kneisel cut back on racing himself, he did it to help young people get into the sport.

“Dave was always about the other guy,” Christian said. “All the time.”

Dave’s daughters Marcy & Lynn accepted the award in honor of their father along with Christian.

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