By – Chris Porter
The Oswego Speedway officially put the 2009 season into the history books with its annual Hall of Fame (HOF) Induction & Awards Banquet. Along with the various yearly honors bestowed upon the lakeside ovalÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s notables, five new members were inducted into the speedwayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Hall of Fame.
First and foremost, the evening kicked off with the 2009 Ed Clark Spirit Award & Oswego Speedway Recognition Award being presented to OswegoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s safety crew. Along with their countless weekly duties the top-notch crew received special recognition for their efforts in saving the life of heart-attack victim, Don Flack this past Classic Weekend.
Former Oswego Speedway Track Manager, Dick OÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Brien, became the first HOF inductee of the night. OÃ¢â‚¬â„¢BrienÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s management and promotional efforts for over a quarter of a century propelled him into the Hall. The award was accepted by Jon Coe.
Also inducted via the Ã¢â‚¬Å“OfficialsÃ¢â‚¬Â category was former official and media member, John Hill. Hill, who passed away after losing a battle with cancer this past summer, promoted supermodified racing via his pen for over forty years. His daughter, Bobbi Hill-OÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Day accepted the award on his behalf.
Small block supermodified driver, Mark Regan, became the third SBS driver to enter the HOF. 10 feature wins and a track title highlight this true division vet. Calling his own induction a Ã¢â‚¬Å“surprise,Ã¢â‚¬Â itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s no surprise that the Ã¢â‚¬Å“grandfatherÃ¢â‚¬Â of the division is the current all-time points leader, having raced with nearly every driver to have ever taken a green flag in the series.
When Dave McKnight, Sr. first saw supermodifieds he thought their pilots were Ã¢â‚¬Å“crazy.Ã¢â‚¬Â However, just a decade later, he owned one and led his team with fellow Canadian Warren Coniam to both a track title and International Classic win.
Pat Abold was the final inductee of the evening. Abold purchased a supermodified from Jeff West and the rest was history.
Abold not only thanked his own wife, but the wives of all of his crewmembers over the years. He insisted that if it were not for their patience and understanding, he wouldÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve never been able to field such competitive rides.
The character-rich Tony White and Jim Shampine Memorial Awards were bestowed upon SBS driver Rob Pullen and supermodified car owner Pat Strong.
Andrew Schartner and Dan Connors, Jr. earned Rookie of the Year awards for their respective divisions, while Steve Abt and Keith Gilliam each earned Car Owners of the Year.
The evening concluded with Crew of the Year awards being presented to the 2009 SBS track championship team – Barbeau Racing. Stephen Gioia, IIIÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s No. 9 team collected the honors in the supermodified division.