Trenton, NJ — By a vote of the membership, NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart and World of Outlaws Late Model Series titlist Rick Eckert have been elected Drivers of the Year by the Eastern Motorsport Press Association (EMPA). The awards will be presented at the group’s annual Convention set for January 6-8, 2012 at the Crowne Plaza Valley Forge in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. Stewart, who won the Sprint Cup title in dramatic fashion, will receive the EMPA/Al Holbert Memorial National Driver of the Year award, while Eckert, a winner in both sanctioned and independent 2011 races, has earned the EMPA/Richie Evans Memorial Northeast Driver of the Year accolades.
New inductees into the EMPA Hall of Fame include previously announced NASCAR executive Jim Hunter, sportswriter Frank Blunk, and retired Modified driver Jack Johnson. Also elected to the EMPA Hall of Fame are driver Merv Treichler, speedway owner Jack Arute Sr., and racing announcer Bill Singer.
In other announced awards, IZOD IndyCar head Randy Bernard was chosen T. Wayne Robertson Newsmaker of the Year; NASCAR Modified sensation Jason Bonsignore will receive the John Blewett III Young Guns Award presented by New England Race Fuels; and longtime midget racing supporter Stan Lobitz will be presented with the Junie Donlavey Spirit of the Sport award.
New this year, race track promoter Alan Kreitzer has been named the recipient of the inaugural Jerry Reigle Outstanding Contribution to Sprint Car Racing Award presented by the World of Outlaws.
EMPA member awards and journalism contest winners will be announced during annual EMPA/NASCAR Hall of Fame Banquet Saturday evening during the Convention.
Among the highlights of the three-day gathering of professional motorsports journalists will be the keynote address by noted IndyCar writer and television personality Robin Miller and the Saturday afternoon panel discussion “The New Media” with guest panelists Stewart Doty of RPM Newsletter and Chris Dolack of World Racing Group. Other activities include presentations by representatives of sanctioning bodies, auto racing facilities, and individual competitors as well as seminars and group discussions.
The EMPA is a registered non-profit association open to professional journalists, print and electronic, with a major focus on all aspects of auto racing. For further information and a membership application, visit the EMPA website www.empaonline.org.
Sources: Len Sammons/EMPA PR