EMPA Recognizes Sheppard, Hodnett & Many Others

HAZLE TOWNSHIP, PA -The Eastern Motorsport Press Association (EMPA) is proud to announce the newest inductees into the prestigious EMPA Hall of Fame in advance of the organization’s

50th Convention set to take place January 13-15, 2023 at the Genetti Best Western Convention Center in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

The class of 2023 will include noted car owner Frank Rio, who for seven decades has led a PA-based family dirt Modified team with his signature No. R-10 and renowned driving great Bobby Marshman, who came up through the ranks of Midgets and Sprints before embarking on a career in Indy Cars. That pair were locked in, needing no votes.

By virtue of balloting that was held amongst the membership the top vote getters are the late Central PA Sprint Car standout Greg Hodnett, respected commentator/broadcaster Mike Joy, multi-time WoO Sprint champion Steve Kinser and legendary northeast pavement Modified star Reggie Ruggiero.

Other award winners will see Matt Hirschman and Matt Sheppard named as the 2022 Richie Evans Memorial Northeast Driver(s) of the Year respectively in asphalt and dirt.




The Al Holbert Memorial National Driver of the Year, one each in asphalt and dirt, are going to NHRA Pro Stock champ Erica Enders and dirt Late Model standout Jonathan Davenport.

14-year old dirt Modified racer Logan Watt was named as the 2022 John Blewett III Young Gun awardee which is presented by New England Race Fuels.

The Chris Economaki Memorial News Maker of the Year goes to North Wilkesboro Speedway and the EMPA Outstanding Promotional Effort will once again be awarded to Brett Deyo and his Short Track Super Series.

Tom Wanick III has been named as the Junie Donleavy “Spirit of the Sport” award winner for his ongoing compassion and generosity to the sport and his community.

During the formal awards dinner EMPA will also recognize many of their own bestowing the Jim Hunter Memorial Writer of the Year and Ace Lane Sr., Memorial Photographer of the Year plus several other awardees in a variety of writer and photographer 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 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 Motor Speedway, Pocono Raceway, Brice’s NAPA Auto Parts, New England Race Fuels, World Racing Group and DirtTrackDigest.com who are among the supporters of the organization.