EMPA Hall of Fame inductees named: Mat Williamson and Matt Hirschman take top honors as Northeast Drivers of the Year; Christopher Bell is National Driver of the Year

The Eastern Motorsport Press Association (EMPA) is proud to announce the 2020 class of the organization’s prestigious Hall of Fame. Voted in by the membership of EMPA, the newest list of inductees is comprised of a diverse group of individuals who carved out impressive paths in their respective careers in motor sports that are praiseworthy to their induction.

The ceremony and awards dinner, sponsored by NASCAR, will take on Saturday evening, January 11 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, King of Prussia, PA, which is part of the 47th Annual EMPA Convention.

The list includes open wheel ace Dave Blaney, a native of Hartford, OH. Blaney won the USAC Silver Crown title in 1984, the World of Outlaws title in 1995, scored a Knoxville Nationals win in 1997, and was inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 2014.

Versatile Ken Schrader of Fenton, MO began racing in 1971 as a 17-year-old at Lake Hill Speedway in his home state. In the time since he has become America’s definition of a ‘Real Racer’, a term as coveted as it is attainable by anyone in the sport. 

By 1980, Schrader was running USAC stock cars and in 1982 he won the USAC Silver Crown championship. He spent three decades running at the highest levels of NASCAR competition with 763 starts in the Cup series and four wins. This past summer, he became the oldest, at 64, to earn the pole for an ARCA race. Schrader has competed and won at nearly every track of significance in open wheel and stock car classes.

Northeast dirt Modified standout Sammy Beavers raced from the early 1960s through the mid-1990s and won 114 feature events along the way including an impressive 49 times at his home track, Flemington Fair Speedway, and 39 wins at East Windsor Speedway.

Multifaceted promoter Bob Miller, who is commonly known for his hugely popular ‘Thunder on the Hill’ series at Grandview Speedway, as well as numerous other successful motorsport endeavors, joins the 2020 class.

John and Mildred Marcum, founders of the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA), the country’s second oldest stock car sanctioning body, are among the honorees.

And, Sam Posey, an accomplished road racer, race analyst and writer. Posey competed in Indy Cars, the Can-Am and Trans-Am Series’, and is former winner of both the 24 Hours of Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring. He was the Rookie of the Year at the 1972 Indy 500.

The Al Holbert Memorial National Driver of the Year statue will go Christopher Bell. Bell was an all-around driver this past season, winning on the NASCAR Xfinity Series, World of Outlaws Sprint cars and in Midgets, including picking up his third victory last January in the Chili Bowl Midget Classic.

The Richie Evans Memorial Northeast Driver of the Year for the first time saw two winners, as one each in dirt and asphalt was selected.

Mat Williamson had a banner year that saw him win at Super Dirt Week, the Centennial 160 at Orange County Fair Speedway and he took top honors as the Super DIRTCar Series champion.

For the past several seasons Matt Hirschman has been a lead contender for the Evans award and this year the wait is over. The leader in northeast asphalt victories, Hirschman triumphed from Maine to Florida and included a record seventh Sunoco Modified Race of Champions and Turkey Derby XLVI.

The John Blewett III Young Guns Awar,d presented by New England Race Fuels, will be presented to Tyler Thompson.

The Chris Economaki Memorial News Maker of the Year award goes to Roger Penske, who made headlines throughout the year. Most notable was his acquisition of the principal assets of Hulman & Company, including the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the NTT IndyCar Series, and IMS Productions. Team Penske also notched a record-extending 18th Indianapolis 500 and 16th IndyCar championship.

The Promotional Effort of the Year will be presented to Brett Deyo who spearheads the popular Short Track Super Series and is on the promotional team of Fonda (NY) and Georgetown Speedways (DE).

Kenny Wallace was the top vote getter for the Junie Dunlavey Memorial Spirit of the Sport award. This year Wallace realized he had to give-up being one of the following: a good family man, television personality or racer, and he chose to end his television career.

A number of other prestigious honors will be announced during the NASCAR/EMPA Hall of Fame banquet, among them the Jim Hunter Memorial Writer Award, the Ace Lane Sr. Memorial Photography Award, the Ernie and Marilyn Saxton Dedication to EMPA Award and the Jerry Reigle Memorial Sprint Car Award winner which is presented by World Racing Group.

Winners in the hard fought Pocono Raceway Writer’s Contest, the American Honda Motor Co. Video Contest and the Brice’s NAPA Photography Contest will also be announced at the banquet.

Founded in 1969, EMPA is an organization of professional writers, broadcasters, announcers, videographers and photographers working in the motorsports industry, along with Associate and Corporate members. NTT IndyCar Series, NASCAR, Dover International Speedway, Pocono Raceway, Honda and NAPA Auto Parts are among the supporters of the organization.