Eastern Motorsport Press Association Hall of Fame Inductees and Award Winners Announced

The Eastern Motorsport Press Association (EMPA) is proud to announce the latest inductees into its prestigious Hall of Fame in advance of the

51st EMPA Convention, which takes place January 12-14 at the Holiday Inn in Wilkes-Barre, PA.

Voting was conducted by the EMPA membership and the select group elected to the Hall of Fame class of 2024 includes pavement Modified standouts George Kent and the late Ted Christopher. Both established themselves as outstanding competitors and achieved many victories every time they strapped into their racecars.

Two successful talents, no matter what they drove, are also entering into the Hall of Fame. For years, Brett Hearn and Billy Pauch, Sr. powered their way to countless wins and championships, most notably in dirt Modifieds. Their combined win total is staggering, and their careers will arguably go down in history among the best to ever wheel a racecar.

A past president of EMPA, Ron Hedger is one of the most respected motorsports journalists in the business. His fair and unbiased reporting of the sport has, for years, given readers an accurate and detailed account whether it be a race report or profile.

Award winning photo journalist Ace Lane Jr., will also be inducted, joining his late father, Ace Lane Sr., who was voted to the Hall of Fame in 2011.  

EMPA members also voted to recognize several individuals and organizations for excellence in 2023.

Matt Hirschman and Matt Sheppard have been voted as repeat winners of the Richie Evans Memorial Northeast Driver of the Year respectively in asphalt and dirt. For Hirschman it is his unprecedented fifth consecutive time receiving the honor while Sheppard has earned his fourth.

The Al Holbert Memorial National Driver of the Year, one each in asphalt and dirt, is going to 2023 NASCAR Cup Series champion Ryan Blaney and dirt Late Model sensation Ricky Thornton Jr.

The 2023 John Blewett III Young Gun awardee, is presented by New England Race Fuels, is asphalt Modified racer Austin Beers. Beers is coming off a breakout year on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour with a pair of wins and a solid third in the championship standings.

High Limit Racing was the top vote-getter for the Chris Economaki Memorial News Maker of the Year while the EMPA Outstanding Promotional Effort of the Year will be presented to the Indoor Racing Series and Len Sammons Productions.

Legendary Red Farmer, the 91-year old original member of the infamous “Alabama Gang,” will receive the Junie Donlavey “Spirit of the Sport” award for his 75+ years of racing.

During the formal awards dinner the organization will also recognize many of their own including the Jim Hunter Memorial Writer of the Year and Ace Lane Sr., Memorial Photographer of the Year, plus several others whose talents are showcased in the EMPA Pocono Raceway Writers Contest and the Brice’s NAPA Auto Parts Photo Contest.

The annual convention begins with a Friday evening “Salute to the Champions” presented by Belmont’s Garage, where a number of local and regional driving titlists are invited to meet and greet with the press.

Saturday consists of press conferences and guest speakers. Noted award winning motorsports author Dave Argabright will be on hand to discuss the media’s role in racing. Dover Motor Speedway will serve as luncheon host. It all culminates with 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, Wanick Construction, Belmont’s Garage, New England Race Fuels, Speedway Illustrated, Maple Grove Raceway, Buckley’s Automotive, Inc., and Himmer Graphics, who are among the supporters of the organization.


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