EMPA Announces Hall of Fame Nominees

HAZLE TOWNSHIP, PA-The Eastern Motorsport Press Association (EMPA) has released the ballot for Hall of Fame and awards that will be presented during the organizations 50th Convention set to take place January 13-15, 2023 at the Genetti Best Western Convention Center in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

The Board of Directors poured over nearly 150 names that where  narrowed down to the respective categories, including just under 60 for induction into the prestigious EMPA Hall of Fame.

Noted car owner Frank Rio, who for seven decades has led a PA-based family dirt Modified team with his signature No. R-10 (a salute to the “Rio” name) and has been a mainstay in Eastern PA and New Jersey and renowned driving great Bobby Marshman, who came up through the ranks of Midgets and Sprints before embarking on a career in Indy Cars, are locked in, needing no votes.

There is an equally impressive list of other distinguished individuals who will be voted on by the EMPA membership which includes long-time New Jersey car owner John Blewett Sr., who recently passed. Noted dirt Modified and ARCA racer Bobby Gerhart Jr. The late Central PA Sprint Car standout Greg Hodnett. Respected commentator/broadcaster Mike Joy. Legendary pavement Modified star George Kent. Multi-time WoO champion Steve Kinser. Reggie Ruggiero, a dominant driver on the Northeast NASCAR and open-competition asphalt Modified circuit. Don Schumacher, one of Drag Racing’s pioneers in Funny Cars and Ed Spencer Sr., the patriarch of the famous Spencer racing clan and a winner of over 200 feature races. Four of those aforementioned will be inducted into the Hall of Fame by way of voting.

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 presented are ‘News Maker of the Year,’ ‘Promotional Effort of the Year’ and Spirit of the Sport.

EMPA also recognizes many of their own bestowing a Writer of the Year and Photographer of the Year plus several other awardees in a variety of writer, photographer and videographer contests. 

The annual three day convention begins with a Friday evening Salute to the Champions 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.

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, DirtTrackDigest.com and New England Race Fuels who are among the supporters of the organization.

2023 Eastern Motorsport Press Association Hall of Fame/Award Nominees

EMPA Hall of Fame nominees:

John Blewett, Sr. 

Bobby Gerhart, Jr. 

Greg Hodnett  

Mike Joy 

George Kent 

Steve Kinser 

Reggie Ruggiero 

Don Schumacher 

Ed Spencer Sr.

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

Bobby Marshman 

Frank Rio 

John Blewett III Young Gun Presented by New England Race Fuels…vote for 1

Anthony Bello

Andy Lewis Jr. 

Samantha Osborn 

Logan Watt

Junie Donlavey Spirit of the Sport \

Tom Wanick III 

Richie Evans Memorial Northeast Asphalt Driver of the Year…vote for 1

Austin Beers

Matt Hirschman  

Dan Kapuscinski 

Jon McKennedy

Ron Silk

Richie Evans Memorial Northeast Dirt Driver of the Year…vote for 1

Anthony Macri

Brent Marks

Greg Satterlee

Matt Sheppard

Mat Williamson

Al Holbert Memorial National Asphalt Driver of the Year…vote for 1

Erica Enders 

Noah Gragson 

Joey Logano 

Will Power  

Zane Smith 

Al Holbert Memorial National Dirt Driver of the Year…vote for 1

Jonathan Davenport

Justin Grant

Buddy Kofoid

Tim McCreadie

Brad Sweet

Chris Economaki Memorial EMPA Newsmaker of the Year…vote for 1

North Wilkesboro Speedway 

Penske Racing

Tommy Baldwin Racing

Tony Stewart Racing 

Track House Racing 

EMPA Promotional Effort of the Year…vote for 1

Brett Deyo/Short Track Super Series 

Joe Skotnicki/RoC Series/RPM

Silver City Speedway

World Racing Group 50th Anniversary Super Dirt Week

Jim Hunter Memorial EMPA Writer of the Year Award…vote for 1

Jason Beck

Jack O’Connor

Ted Schmidt

Jeff Ulrich

Scott Walsh

Ace Lane Sr., Memorial EMPA Photographer of the Year…vote for 1

Matt Butcosk

Evan Canfield

Harry Meeks

Rick Neff

Walt Smith