Bowmansville, NY – The Friends of Auto Racing (F.O.A.R. S.C.O.R.E.) Fan Club held their annual awards dinner on Saturday December 11, 2010 at the Elks Club in Lancaster, NY. A crowd of approximately 180 gathered for the affair which annually recognizes deserving drivers and key racing supporters from Western New York and Ontario’s Niagara Region.
The highlights of the evening included the induction of Trey Hoddick, Cliff Norton, Harold Sager, and Mike Woodring into the Friends of Auto Racing Hall of Fame and the presentation of Driver of the Year Awards to Stewart Friesen of Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON (dirt racing) and Andy Jankowiak of Tonawanda, NY (asphalt racing).
Third generation driver Stewart Friesen captured 25 feature race wins through the 2010 season, putting him on top of the unofficial race-winning charts for all of northeastern racing. He earned Modified points titles at Five Mile Point Speedway and Utica-Rome Speedway, and was also champion of the Race Of Champions Dart Dirt Modified Series.
His crowning achievement of the season was his victory in the SEF Small Engines 200 for the Big Block Modifieds at Super Dirt Week in Syracuse. Among his victories were a win in the memorial race for his uncle, the Alex Friesen Summer Nationals at Ransomville, and a sole sprint car victory, competing with the Patriot Sprints at Ransomville. Stewart was unable to attend the gathering, but his grandfather, Hall of Fame racer Stan Friesen, was present to accept the award on Stewart’s behalf.
Second generation racer Andy Jankowiak rolled to SST Modified/Sportsman track titles at Wyoming County International Speedway and Dunn Tire Raceway Park. He scored 11 wins for the year at WCIS, including the season ending Fall Shoot-out, and visited victory lane twice during the regular season at DTRP. He punctuated his Dunn Tire season with a victory in the US Open Sportsman 75, racing from a deep in the field starting spot to the win. Andy arrived just in time to accept his award, after spending the day competing in kart action in Syracuse.
The Friends of Auto Racing Hall of Fame added four more to the prestigious list. Trey Hoddick was honored for his long-time contributions to the sport as a racer, car-builder, and crew chief. He had some level of success in asphalt Street Stock and Modified racing, and also competed in a Super Modified. But he’s made an even greater mark in his work behind the scenes, building, assisting, and crewing for numerous successful racing entries, including mounts for his brothers Steve and Charlie, Modifieds for Karl Hehr, and, most recently, championship Street Stocks and Late Model for his son Todd.
Recently, his efforts have included ARCA Super Cars and dirt Sprint Cars for Todd. In addition, he has helped out numerous racers and teams in the area with advice and assistance. Trey was on hand to
accept his award, which was presented by Friends of Auto Racing Club secretary Laura Schroeder.
Similarly, Harold Sager made his name as an owner/builder/mechanic for some very successful regional racing operations from the late 40′s to the mid 60′s. His efforts included Midgets, Stock Cars, Super
Modifieds, Sprint Cars, and Champ Cars, and among his drivers were legendary names such as Bill Bender, Billy Rafter, Eddie Lenz, Gene Blair, and Ron Lux.
His greatest success was achieved with Rafter behind the wheel of his stock car which visited victory lane over 25 times in the mid-fifties, and earned the 1955 Buffalo Civic Stadium championship. Harold was present to receive his award, which was presented by Friends of Auto Racing club member (and Sager family friend) Phyllis Decker.
The late Cliff Norton was known for his prowess on dirt tracks throughout the region. Beginning in the late fifties at primarily Western New York tracks, he earned a B-Modified title in 1963 at Holland, and was known for double duty driving (and winning) in the B-Mods and in a Late Model in the Holland/Perry/North Collins ERCA circuit throughout the 60′s. He also competed in snowmobiles, and qualified for the Nationals in 1969. He expanded in geographic reach in racing by 1970, competing and winning at Central New York and Southern Tier tracks in a Howard Conkey Show Car Modified at places such as Waterloo, Rolling Wheels and Five Mile Point.
Cliff hung up his racing helmet in the mid-70′s to concentrate on another of his passions, flying, but, unfortunately, lost his life in a plane crash in 1978. Many members of the Norton family, led by his brother Gene, were present to receive the honor, which was presented by Friends of Auto Racing Club past president Roger McCabe.
Hamburg, NY native Mike Woodring exploded on the area sprint car scene in 1990, and established Empire Super Sprint records which remain to this day. He earned eight ESS championships, including seven in a row from 1996-2002, and his 59 ESS career wins remains on top of that organization’s win list. All told, he has over 70 sprint car wins on his resume, including four wins in the Canadian Sprint Car Nationals.
He was also twice named as the Friends of Auto Racing Driver of the Year on Dirt. After retiring as an active driver, he remained very much involved in sprint car racing as an owner/crew chief/mentor for an
illustrious list of racers, competing in top levels of sprint racing including the World of Outlaws.
Among the racers he has teamed with are Erin Crocker, Kenny Jacobs, Becca Anderson, Craig Dollansky, and Jessica Zemken. Mike was unable to be present for the ceremony; family friend Phyllis Decker accepted the Hall of Fame award on his behalf, which was presented by Barry Decker.
The Dick Hammond Memorial Dedication to Auto Racing Award was presented to Charlie and Diane DiRosa, in recognition for all of the behind the scenes work they have done to ensure continued success of the Casey’s TQ Midget Series, in addition to fielding a competitive mount which Charlie drives in the Series.
The Families in Racing Award, which recognizes area families who have had long, successful involvements with the sport in the region, was presented to two families: the Holmes family, and the Rudolph family.
The Holmes, based in Lockport NY, have a three generation, fifty plus year history in area motorsports, as racers, mechanics, and speedway administration assistants.
The patriarch of the family, the late Bob Holmes, was the 1962 Super Modified champion at Lancaster, his son Ross was the very first Lancaster Street Stock champ in 1973, and had a long career in Mini Stock, asphalt Modified, and dirt Modified racing, and grandson Bobby is past Cup Lites Series and Lancaster Sportsman champion, has had wins in an asphalt Modified, and currently is one of the top TQ Midget wheelmen in the area. In addition to this trio, Bobby’s father Cliff and cousin Matt are able crew members, cousin D.J.Sossong has been a TQ Midget racer, and Jody Holmes Sossong, Barb Holmes, Michelle Holmes, and Kay Holmes have been key players in the behind the scene at Dunn Tire (Lancaster) Raceway Park.
The Ransomville, NY based Rudolph family has been involved in motorsports for approximately fifty years. Jim Rudolph began the family success story with Hobby Stock wins and titles at Ransomville in the mid-60′s, then moved on to the Modifieds, competing primarily on the asphalt, and establishing himself as one of the top drivers on the scene at Lancaster and Spencer.
His son Charlie moved into racing in the mid-70′s, and made a name for himself as one of the top drivers in the regions history. Charlie had 87 wins on dirt and asphalt, with three asphalt Modified titles at Lancaster, multiple dirt Modified titles at Ransomville, Rolling Wheels, and Cayuga County, and was the 1986 Mr. Dirt Modified overall champ. He also had four starts in NASCAR Cup racing in 1987.
Charlie’s son Erick currently keeps the family name in the winner’s circle. He has earned multiple karting titles, TQ Midget victories, won simultaneous Dunn Tire Raceway Park Modified and Sportsman titles in 2008, and was victorious in the Sportsman race on the Syracuse mile during ‘08 Super Dirt Week. Jim and Charlie are also past inductees into the Friends of Auto Racing Hall of Fame.
In a special recognition award, John Casey and Charlie DiRosa of the Casey’s TQ Midget Series presented trophies to driver Justin Mapes and owner Gordon Steffan for their third consecutive series championship.
Contact – Rick Mooney: [email protected] or Paul Faleski: (716) 983-8008