Cayuga County Fair Speedway officials are ready to roll out the red carpet on Sunday, May 30 when the Northeast Modified Hall of Fame induction ceremonies get underway for the 19th consecutive year. Racers spanning seven decades have accepted invitations to provide fans a unique blend of past pioneers with modern-day heroes to create a true ‘Night of Nostalgia’ in Weedsport.
The Class of 2010, including driver inductees Lin Hough, Ralph Quarterson and Gary Reddick, and special award winners Brian Mulligan, Jeff Brownell, Andrew Phillips, Tana Robinson, Judy Snyderman and Buffy Swanson, will be honored in a public presentation beginning at 3 p.m. in the Hall of Fame & Classic Car Museum adjacent to the 55 year-old fairgrounds oval. The public is also invited to attend this annual celebration with admission tickets available for $5 on Induction Day.
While Billy Rafter, Dutch Hoag, Billy Wimble, ‘Irish’ Jack Murphy and Dave Lape are among the past inductees that will be in attendance for a rare reunion at The Port, taking to the track that same evening to swap paint in the headline ‘Hall of Fame 100’ will be many of our Hall of Famers of tomorrow.
With Memorial Day offering a fitting time to pay tribute to those who have come before, many of today’s Super DIRTcar Series stars recently recalled their own favorite drivers and the lasting impressions made as they became part of the racing fraternity growing up in the Northeast.
3 - Justin Haers/Phelps,NY (30 yrs. old)
“I pretty much rooted for the guys that drove for my parents (Phelps Cement sponsorship) and Billy Taylor (owner). Alan and Danny Johnson, and Doug Hoffman did well for us. Always went to Canandaigua and was able to tag along with my parents to a lot of series shows. Always watched Bob McCreadie and he was one of the best everywhere we traveled back then.”
4* - Michael Storms/Wantage,NJ (22 yrs.)
“Always liked Dale Earnhardt and Brett Hearn, my grandfather (Whitey Memmelaaer) worked with Brett for a lot of years. First tracks I went to were Orange County and Flemington so I saw some of the best. Whitey also ran the DIRT Driving School in Middletown and I remember all the older guys giving me funny looks when I got in a Sportsman car for the first time at 13.”
9s - Matt Sheppard/Waterloo,NY (27 yrs.)
“Growing up I went to the track with my mother and usually stayed in the grandstands, pretty much just a Big-Block fan. My dad (Stu) raced most of the time at Canandaigua and every week I got to see Alan Johnson and Bob McCteadie run together, also remember guys like Joe Plazek and John Moravec. Never had any real favorites, but I liked when Billy Decker and Tim Fuller would always come to Canandaigua to run the big shows.”
14j - Alan Johnson/Middlesex,NY (52 yrs.)
“I grew up going with my dad (Milt) to a lot of asphalt races at Spencer and Lancaster, that’s where he raced the most. Along with him, I guess I liked Richie Evans because my dad built his motors. I don’t know what it was, for some reason I liked Billy Rafter going out west. Maybe his color (blue) or number (22), not quite sure, but I remember liking his car whenever I saw him.”
20 - Brett Hearn/Sussex,NJ (51 yrs.)
“I went to Middletown (Orange County) the first time when I was 8 and there were always a lot of good cars. Used to like Gary Balough, Buzzie Reutimann and Fuzzy Van Horn. I liked the intensity that Balough brought and Buzzie’s car was so immaculate and detailed, the way I try to keep mine. Fuzzy was exciting to watch and had nice looking cars, thought the yellow and orange ones were always some of the hottest around.”
27j - Danny Johnson/Rochester,NY (50 yrs.)
“Favorites had to be my dad and Alan. My roots were on the asphalt so wherever (Milt) went I followed. I used to see Richie Evans and Dutch Hoag win a lot at Lancaster and Spencer. Also remember Tommy Leeson from around here, his blue no. 97 Modified always had Snoopy painted on it. Even got to ride around the track once with dad after my name was drawn, that’s pretty big for a little kid at a big track.
29 - Jeff Brownell Jr./Waterloo,NY (27 yrs.)
“Whoever my dad (Jeff Sr.) helped out with sponsorship was who I pulled for so it was mostly Steve Paine growing up. Danny Johnson was also a favorite. Going to Canandaigua, Weedsport and Rolling Wheels all the time I got to see all the top guys. Same thing on the road for series events, really liked to see everybody do well and just have a good race.”
41 - Gary Tomkins/Clifton Springs,NY (44 yrs.)
“I always tell people I grew up under the grandstands at Weedsport with my father running the caution lights and mother working the concessions. There were a lot of guys I liked since my dad befriended some of the travelers, most of them worked on their cars in our garage and some even stayed overnight. Used to make the Ransomville/Merrittville swing a lot and rooted for Merv Treichler, Gary Iulg and Mike Granton … then it was Bob McCreadie and Alan Johnson closer to home and Billy Pauch and Kenny Brightbill on the road. They were winning and that’s what I always wanted to do, be a Big-Block Modified driver.”
49 - Billy Dunn/Watertown,NY (25 yrs.)
“Bob McCreadie was always around our place (Number One Speed) but I really didn’t have any favorites, just liked to go to the races every week. My dad (Norm) used to work on Gary Reddick’s (#V3) crew in the 70s but that was awhile back and I only know the stories. I was probably partial to Doug Hoffman and Danny Johnson, my father used to be a parts dealer for Troyer so I was more familiar with them. Being around the track was always my favorite part on the weekends.”
77x - Dale Planck/Cortland,NY (39 yrs.)
“Growing up it was always my dad (Denny, 1975-76 Cayuga County Sportsman champ) and Danny Johnson, and he’s still my favorite today. I remember when he started out racing as a teenager at 18, I pulled for him because he was young and exciting. Used to go to Reading (Pa.) with my dad and liked Gerald Chamberlain with his fuel-injected Falcon (#76). I liked Brett (Hearn) more until I started running against him, he’s so good and always had the most professional operation going. Its still that way today.
91 - Billy Decker/Unadilla,NY (45 yrs.)
“Never went to the races until I was around 10, and that was at Penn-Can. Don’t even know any of the racers back then, all I can still remember is the smell of the gas. My father in-law drove a little bit and used to park near Jack Johnson at Fonda. He was really the first driver I talked with and the first to help me out when I started getting serious about racing.”
98h - Jimmy Phelps/Baldwinsville,NY (35 yrs.)
“At Weedsport and Rolling Wheels I liked Jack Johnson and Bob McCreadie as long as I can remember, and Billy Pauch when he came up for the specials. Rooting for Roger Phelps was always a given. The same guys were just as good at Brewerton and Fulton where I spent most of my weekends as a kid.”
99 - Ryan Phelps/Fulton,NY (26 yrs.)
“Started going to Brewerton and Fulton when I was five. Always like to see Alan Johnson and Brett Hearn when I was little and rooted for Tim McCreadie as a teenager. Remember going to Super DIRT Week for the first time with Hearn and Joe Plazek running 1-2. Think I was about 10 and ran across the infield to watch from turn three. Couldn’t believe their speed on the back chute, thought it was the coolest thing. Still really neat to be out at the fairgrounds today.”
99L - Larry Wight/Phoenix,NY (17 yrs.)
“Went to my first race 11 years ago, always sided with the Gypsum-sponsored cars as my dad (John, Gypsum Trucking owner) started out helping Roger Phelps and J.J. Michaels at places like Fulton. I have a lot of respect for Billy Decker and Pat Ward with all the experience they bring to our team, and really admire Tim Fuller for all he’s been able to accomplish with the (WoO) late model program.”
All of today’s stars will be signed up for the Hall of Fame Classic at Cayuga County on May 30 in round three of the 2010 Super DIRTcar Series. Log into the homepage at www.superdirtcarseries.com to find out more about the nation’s premier Big-Block Modified tour and be sure to sign up as Series follower on Twitter by visiting http://www.twitter.com/SuperDIRTcar. For further track information, access http://www.CayugaCountyFairSpeedway.com or phone 315/834-6606 during the day.
DIRTcar Racing Northeast main office is located in Weedsport, New York on the Cayuga County Fairgrounds, home of DIRTcar All-Star Weekend in July. DIRTcar Northeast’s crown jewel event ---Super DIRT Week at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse runs annually in October featuring Hoosier Tire-VP Racing Fuels Mr. DIRTcar Championship Series events for Big-Block Modified, 358-Modified, Sportsman and Pro Stock divisions. Ticket and schedule information is available by contacting the Weedsport office (315/834-6606) during the day or logging into www.allstar100weekend.com and www.superdirtweekonline.com anytime.
The Big-Block Super DIRTcar Series is brought to fans across the Northeast by several sponsors and partners, including series sponsors Hoosier Racing Tire www.hoosiertire.com and VP Racing Fuels www.vpracingfuels.com. Promotional partners include the University of Northwestern Ohio www.unoh.com and Chizmark & Larson Insurance www.chizmarklarson.com, and contingency sponsors are Bicknell Racing Products www.bicknellracingproducts.com, Bilstein Shocks www.bilstein.com, KSE Racing Products www.kse-racing.com, Motorsports Safety Systems www.motorsportssafetysystems.com, MSD Ignition www.msdignition.com, Penske Shocks, www.penskeshocks.com, Racing Electronics www.racingelectronics.com, Vicci Racing Apparel www.vicci.com and Wrisco Industries www.wrisco.com.