Dario Franchitti Named EMPA National Driver of the Year
Eastern Motorsport Press Association
TRENTON, NJ (December 31)- Dario Franchitti, winner of the 2010 and 2007 Indianapolis 500 and the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series champion, was chosen by the members of the Eastern Motorsport Press Association (EMPA) as their 2010 Al Holbert Memorial National Driver of the Year. Driving for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, Franchitti is only the 17th driver in the history of the 500 to win it more than once.
Among other special awards, Stewart Friesen, 27, of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, was voted the Richie Evans Memorial Northeast Driver of the Year. Friesen won 24 dirt track Modified feature races during the year, including the Syracuse 200. He was the Race of Champions Dart Dirt Modified Tour champion and won weekly track point titles at both Five Mile Point Speedway and Utica-Rome Speedway, both in New York.
Also honored by the EMPA was multi-faceted team owner Floyd “Chip” Ganassi who was named the T. Wayne Robertson Newsmaker of the Year. Under the Target Chip Ganassi Racing banner, the Pittsburgh native’s team won the IZOD IndyCar Series including the Indianapolis 500 with driver Dario Franchitti, and with co-drivers Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series championship. In NASCAR, the Earnhardt/Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates team won the Daytona 500, the Brickyard 400, and the October Bank of America 500 with driver Jamie McMurray.
Austin Hubbard, an 18-year-old Late Model stock car driving sensation from Seaford, Delaware was chosen by the EMPA members as the winner of The John Blewett III Young Guns Award Presented by New England Fuels. As a rookie driver, Hubbard won twice on the national World of Outlaws Late Model Series tour and finished seventh in year-long series points.
Each year, the EMPA Board of Directors chooses the recipient of the Junie Donlavey Spirit of the Sport Award. This award goes to a person who best represents grass-roots and die-hard perseverance in participating in the sport they love. This year’s award winner is Pennsylvania 410 Sprint Car owner/driver Rick Lafferty.
Former EMPA president Ernie Saxton and his wife, Marilyn, who served as EMPA’s executive secretary have been unanimously named to the EMPA Hall of Fame. Also in the 2010 Hall of Fame class are NASCAR driver Geoffrey Bodine; the late Lindy Vicari, Reading (Pennsylvania) Fairgrounds promoter; and the late John “Ace” Lane, Sr., a pioneer motorsports photographer.
The Hall of Fame inductions and award presentations will be made Saturday, January 8, during the NASCAR/EMPA Hall of Fame Banquet, part of the weekend’s annual EMPA Convention, being held at the Crowne Plaza Valley Forge in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.
A gathering of professional motorsports photographer, journalists, and electronic media specialists, the EMPA Convention includes press conferences, seminars, presentations by track and racing series promoters, writing and photography member contests, and social interaction with all types of American motorsports personalities. This year’s keynote speaker is Don Miller, co-author of the highly-acclaimed Miller’s Time with EMPA member Jim Donnelly. Best known as a former executive with Roger Penske’s NASCAR teams, Miller also worked with Goodyear and Sears in their motorsports programs. In his younger days, Miller was an accomplished drag racer.
“We’re really looking forward to Miller’s address,” says EMPA president Len Sammons. “He’s a tremendous motivator, and I know the members will get a great deal from his talk.”
Sponsors of the EMPA Convention include NASCAR, NHRA, IZOD IndyCar Series, World Racing Group (DIRTcar/WoO), and Brice NAPA.
Sammons also invites speedway and racing series operators who cannot be present during the convention to make their printed 2011 schedules and other information available. Please contact him at 609-888-3618 to facilitate this matter.