NYSSCA Inducts Six Legends Into Hall of Fame

By Ron Szczerba

Fonda, NY – On Sunday morning May 7, the New York State Stock Car Association (NYSSCA) inducted the class of 2022 into their prestigious Hall of Fame. Inducted during the ceremony which was held at the Fonda Speedway Hall of Fame & Museum, were John Keegan, Ralph Compani, Ray Bramall, Frank “Sege” Fidanza, Roger Phelps, and Kenny Tremont Jr.

Dan Martin who is a member of the NYSSCA Board of Directors, the NYSSCA Hall of Fame Committee, along with being the announcer at both the Albany Saratoga and Lebanon Valley Speedways, served as emcee of the event and started out by saying how the landscape of the NYSSCA Hall of Fame has changed the last couple of years.

“Last year the NYSSCA Hall of Fame ceremonies were held right here at the Fonda Speedway Hall of Fame & Museum and they have been gracious enough to host us again this year,” Martin said. “Thank you to Jackie Lape and the staff of the museum who treated us so well last year that it was a no brainer of a decision to come back and have it here again this year. It was unanimously voted on by the NYSSCA Board of Directors and the NYSSCA Hall of Fame Committee to do so.”

Martin continued on saying that when you think of the NYSSCA Hall of Fame you think of Boomer’s Performance, Margaret and Brian Bedell, who have been sponsoring the hats, jackets, and plaques for the NYSSCA Hall of Fame for the past 28 years.

NYSSCA resident Rick Hodge was unable to attend the ceremony after having car problems on the way to the event but on his behalf Dan said thank you to all in attendance as it is a very special event for the NYSSCA Hall of Fame and it’s inductees. To be put into the NYSSCA Hall of Fame means that you have left your mark on the sport of auto racing.

Current NYSSCA Hall of Fame members in attendance on Sunday were Hertha Beberwyk, Paul Jensen, Brian Ross, and Kenny Tremont Sr.


John Keegan was the first to be inducted with Dan Martin doing the induction with Dan saying in his own words “John signed up for NYSSCA 28 years ago and since then has either served as a member of the Board of Directors or the President of the organization. He held the position of NYSSCA President three separate times for a total of seven years.”

“John served on the editorial and yearbook committees for NYSSCA and continues to drive two hours one way to attend the NYSSCA meetings during the racing off season, often making it to the meeting in weather that is not the best for travel. He took the NYSSCA Presidency back when nobody else really wanted to step up and take the position saying if nobody else is gonna do it I will.”

Some info taken from an earlier press release by the NYSSCA organization, as a kid before he got his driver’s license, John did whatever he had to do in order to get to the racetrack including hitchhiking, begging anyone that he could for a ride, or riding in the race car as it was flat towed to the track. He wore all hats in racing, he worked on racecars, he owned racecars, and he drove racecars. He was the car owner for Joe Palmer when Palmer won the 1998 Pro Stock/Street Stock point championship at the “Home of Heroes” Utica Rome Speedway. The following year Keegan and Palmer raced on the DIRT Pro Stock Tour with a goal of top ten finish in points which they were able to achieve.

John also drove a racecar in 1991 & 1992 before money and technology forced him out of racing and he sold all of his equipment in the late 90’s. Keegan did race one more time in a Street Stock benefit for charity at Utica Rome in 2003, starting up front and holding the lead before Tom Cole and Shane Andrews were able to get by him. When Cole and Andrews got together while racing for the lead, Keegan made the pass for the win.

“First I want to say how humbled I am about this,” Keegan said to the crowd. “Twenty-eight years ago, I signed up for NYSSCA and the next thing I knew I was representing NYSSCA at the Utica Rome and Afton Speedways. It’s all about the love of the sport, the people, the comradery that goes on. When I became the NYSSCA President for the first time I said that we’re a family here at NYSSCA. It’s meant a lot to me; I believe in this organization.”


The next inductee was former Fonda Speedway promoter Ralph Compani who was inducted by Ed Biittig Sr. In his own words Ed had this to say about Ralph.

“Today I get to honor a friend of mine, Ralph Compani. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing every promoter here at the Fonda Speedway. The late Ed Fuez once told me that Ron and Ralph (Compani) used to hang out at the Fonda Speedway when they were 11 or 12 years old, and he had to give them something to do because they drove him nuts.”

“My wife Betty and I wrote for the Gater Racing News because of Ralph Compani. He truly cared; he had a full-time job but also had a dedication to the sport. Compani promoted the initial “Thunder on the Mohawk” $15,000 to win race in 1992 at Fonda along with the “Thunder on the Mohawk” race in 1996 as the first DIRT sanctioned race to have been televised live and the first ever race from Fonda to have been broadcast nationally.”

“Ralph brought Betty and I to Florida. We spent a month in Florida with Ralph, and he would only allow us to buy dinner once during that time. The night that Betty and I were inducted into the Fonda Speedway Hall of Fame, we got a call from California. It was Ralph Compani saying that he was honored to know Betty and I. That was who Ralph was. He cared for everyone.”

Compani’s grandson Owen accepted the plaque acknowledging that his grandfather was inducted into the NYSSCA Hall of Fame. Ironically Owen’s Great Grandfather was Ralph Oudekirk who was the chief steward at the Fonda Speedway. Owen wore a Fonda Speedway jacket handed down by his grandfather and underneath of it a Ralph Compani shirt. “I only knew my grandfather for 10 years,” Owen said. “He was passionate about racing and the people that made it what it was.”


Ray Bramall was the next inductee with Dan Martin doing the induction saying in his own words: “He made a lot of noise in our sport,” Martin said. “The glitz and glamour wasn’t part of the sport in years prior, but this guy brought that side of it to our sport and that really showed up when they pulled into the pit area of a racetrack.”

“Ray started as a sponsor on Chuck LoPresti’s #26 Small Block Modified in the late 80’s. The Freightliner Trucks of Newburgh sponsored car was the 1988 Orange County Speedway Small Block Modified Track Champion. In 1989, Bramall went out on his onto create what was back then the super team. He hired Brett Hearn as his driver and Charlie DeAngelis as his crew chief and they took the Modified world by storm.”

“Hearn won 99 times in the Freightliner Trucks of Newburgh sponsored car owned by Bramall and after Hearn left the team Danny Johnson was hired, taking home 92 wins for a total of 191 feature wins for Bramall! Hearn won 12 track or series championships while Johnson was the winner of 11 track or series titles for a total of 23. Bramall won Super Dirt Week in Syracuse three times, the Eastern States 200 four times, the Lebanon Valley 200 three times, and the Flemington 200 once. “Bramall had great success and was highly visible. He brought professionalism in the pit area with his equipment and with his teams.”

Martin then read a statement to the crowd from Bramall which said “I’m just tinkering in my shop. I don’t get around real well anymore so I don’t think that I will be able to attend the ceremony.”


Mel Thomas inducted Western NY asphalt Modified star Frank “Sege” Fidanza who started his racing career in 1969 at the age of 15 at the Lancaster Speedway. When track officials realized his immediate success they asked him to come back when he was the proper age to race. Fidanza returned in 1971 and won five of the final nine Late Model races at Lancaster. At age 18, he was the Lancaster Speedway Late Model Champion.

In 1972, Fidanza made the move up to the Modified division competing against fellow future Hall of Famers Richie Evans, Maynard Troyer, and cousins Roger and Merv Treichler. After paying his dues he was soon winning races and championships in bunches. Eleven track titles and an unmatched 112 wins are both still records at the Lancaster Speedway.

The speedways premier event the US Open was won by Sege three times and he won the prestigious Race of Champions at the Oswego Speedway twice. Along with other Modified wins at Oswego, Fidanza also won the Budweiser 100 at the Holland Speedway. After a racing career that spanned 40 years, Fidanza left the sport in 2009 with a total of 11 track titles along with 124 wins.

“Sege” accepted his award saying that he inherited only a part of his father’s name which he said was Segelafrado unsure of how it was spelled.


Roger Phelps was inducted by his son Ryan who said: “This is pretty cool for me to be inducting him, it is a great honor. “My father started racing in 1971 and he was always winning races. He is the hardest worker that I know. He was always working and gave up a lot for racing. There was no time to be lazy, if you wanted to be successful there was no time for laziness.”

“He always had time to spend with his crew and with his sponsors. He knew not only the hard work side of the sport but also the social side of it. He knew how to attract sponsors and keep his crew together. He was the one who talked John Wight into sponsoring a race car for the first time along with places like McDonalds. No matter what he did, he was always trying to better us as a racing team and as a family and I don’t think that a lot of people have picked up on that nowadays. It is not just about going racing and having fun driving the race car, it was about how you treated your sponsors and your crew, he always made time for them.”

“My dad always had a great appearing car, and he currently sits fourth on the All-Time Win List at Fulton and sixth on the All-Time Win List at Brewerton. He won over 100 races during his career and that is a very hard thing to do. I know because I won 20 during my career as a racer myself.”

“Marcia Wetmore and Eric Kingsley really kept the “Outlaw Circuit” going,” Roger Phelps said as he accepted his award. “We had a lot of fun on the “Outlaw Circuit” and had a real good thing going. I am really glad that I was able to get a lot of people involved in racing during my career. To have Mel Thomas induct me was great, I used his videos as a tool during my career to watch the races that I competed in. My family is here today, and it means so much to me.”


Brian Bedell who was a part of the Tremont Racing Team for many years, inducted his friend to the NYSSCA Hall of Fame saying in his own words: “Wow, absolutely incredible the numbers this man put up in his racing career and I was lucky enough to have a front row seat for it all. As a young boy, Tremont Jr. sat in the stands at Lebanon Valley and Albany Saratoga to watch is fathers #115 racecar. He would ride his bicycle down to Bill Youngs garage who at the time owned Tommy Corellis’ racecar.”

“At age 13 he started working on the pit crew of his father’s race cars and two years after that he took the car out on the track for warm-ups. He started racing his father’s #115 at age 17 in 1979 and going into 2022 he has been racing a total of 44 years. And he’s not done yet. Family bond was a vital part of Tremont’s success, and it was all summed up in three words, dedication, drive, and determination.”

“Kenny Tremont Sr. & Jr. are the most successful father and son team in racing, and the one thing that I learned about Kenny Jr. is to never count him out. But Kenny Jr’s career wasn’t only about racing, it was about safety in the sport. He was the one that invented the driveshaft cover to help protect drivers from injury when their driveshaft broke while racing. DIRT Motorsports was very impressed with his invention and made it a mandatory rule in their rulebook.”

“During his career, Kenny Jr. sacrificed so much to be the best and the journey was a long one. He put his blood, sweat, and tears into it and his entire life was all about racing. Kenny Tremont Jr. the racing world knows you including the Northeast Dirt Modified Hall of Fame, the New England Dirt Modified Hall of Fame, the Lebanon Valley Speedway Hall of Fame, and now the NYSSCA Hall of Fame.”

“I felt out pf place at Fonda and looked for advice from Jack (Johnson), Lou (Lazzaro), or Dave (Lape), Tremont Jr. said when speaking about giving young drivers advice during his career. “They always had great info for me and were willing to share it. At home we owned a garage out front as our business, but the race car garage was in the back, it was all about the race car. Funny story, one Sunday we were heading to Devils Bowl as we were in the running for a $10,000 championship. I couldn’t find my father anywhere and finally did; he was in the front garage doing an inspection. I was going nuts trying to find him, but it all turned out okay.”

For more information about the New York State Stock Car Association (NYSSCA) please go to their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/NYSSCA-New-York-State-Stock-Car-Association-111469315610533/.