Asphalt Modified ace Matt Hirschman and dirt Sportsman racer Jesse
Cotriss were named as the Drivers of the Year at the Friends of Auto
Racing (Foar Score) Fan Club annual Awards Dinner, held on Saturday
evening, December 7. Approximately 225 people attended the event, held
at the Elks Club in Lancaster, NY. This annual affair of the
Buffalo-based fan club honors top drivers in Western New York and the
Niagara Region of Ontario.
In addition, the Friends of Auto Racing inducted Tim Bender, Harvey
Hainer, Jr., and LaVerne Pangrazio into its Hall of Fame.
Hirschman was the dominant force in asphalt Modified racing in New York
state in 2013, capturing eight of ten start on the Sunoco RoC Series,
including his second straight Oswego Race of Champions victory, en
route to his sixth overall RoC Series title. He swept all four events
held at the area tracks at Elegant Builders Raceway Park and at
Holland, and overall, snared 20 victories on the season. Matt was
unable to attend the gathering, but did end along a note of thanks and
appreciation which was read to those in attendance.
Cotriss had a career best year at Ransomville Speedway, picking up wins
in two of the three legs of the VP-D98 Series en route to that Series
title, took the checkers in the September visit by the DIRTCar
Sportsman Series, and earned a first career divisional title…Jesse
was unable to attend the ceremony due to family considerations, but
exressed his thanks through Club President Paul Faleski.
Colden, NY native Tim Bender established himself as a star on the snow,
as he was a top snowmobile racer in both oval and snowcross
competition, including four consecutive Formula III World Championship
event victories in the 1980’s. He also made a name for himself on the
asphalt, racing a competitive Modified for a number of seasons, then
moving onto Busch North and Busch Series racing. While in the Busch
Series, he set a track record at Atlanta in qualifying for the pole for
a 1997 race. He was named to the snowmobile racing Hall of Fame in
1999. Tim was away from the region dealing with his snwomobile racing
team responsibilities, but was represented at the dinner by his son
Harvey Hainer, Jr. had a twenty plus year career focusing on the dirt
tracks of the Niagara Region. The son of noted mechanic and car owner
Harvey, Sr., Harvey Jr. was Merrittville Speedway’s Modified Rookie of
the Year in 1976, and earned Modified track titles at Merrittville in
1981 and at Humberstone in 1987. All told, he notched 37 DIRT Modified
victories over his career, competing with the likes of Moore,
Treichler, Bicknell, Stevens, Iulg, and Rudolph over the years. Harvey
was in attendance to accept the honor.
LaVerne Pangrazio had successes on both dirt and asphalt over his 35
plus year racing career. He earned numerous titles in the 1960’s
racing on the Holland-Perry based ERCA circuit, and captured the World
Series of Mini Stock racing at New Smyrna in 1972. He competed in
full-boded racers and open wheeled racers, and had victories in
virtually every division in which he competed, approaching 200
victories in his career. He started a family tradition, as 26
different members of his clan have followed him into competition in
motorsports in the region. LaVerne now resides in Florida and was
represented at the ceremnoy by his son, Brian Farnsworth.
Brad Rouse was honored for his Syracuse Super DIRT Week Sportsman race
victory and overall DIRTCar Sportsman title with the Achievement on
Dirt Award, while Kyle Hutchinson received the Achievement on Asphalt
Award for his NYPAMA TQ Midget Series Championship in just his second
year of competition in a Midget racer.
The Davidson and Layfield families were honored with the Families in
Racing Award. Bob Davidson was a top competitor at Merrittville and
Speedway Park, son Ralph was a racer and respected mechanic, and son
Barry a racer and longtime area flagman. Bobby Davidson continued the
family racing tradition in Sportsman and Modified action and currently
serves as General manager at the New Humberstone Speedway, while the
next generation of Davidsons, Dylan and Tyler, are making their marks
The Layfield racing legacy dates back to 1939 when the first of six
racing brothers competed. Dean Layfield was the 1957 Pennsylvania Late
Model champ and had 8 starts on the then NASCAR Grand National
Series,including a 4th on the Syracuse mile and a 12th onthe final race
on the Daytona Beach course. Brother Herb scored over 300 wins and 17
track titles, while brother Bill earned 25 track titles over a 52 year
career. Bill’s sons Joe and John continued the racing tradition at
tracks in the New York Southern Tier and Northern Pennsylvania, before
John opened the Allegany Memorial Speedway kart track, on which young
John, the next generation of Layfields, is honing his skills.
The Dick Hammond Dedication to Auto Racing Award was presented to Larry
Woodruff, who has long served as a competition official for many
speedways and racing series in the region. Street Stock driver Dave
Vona was named the Rookie-of-the-Year on asphalt. The Most Improved
Driver on Dirt Award went to Ransomville and Canandaigua Modified racer
Brian Sage, while.Spencer and Holland Modified Sportsman driver Tommy
Catalano earned the Most Improved Driver on Asphalt Award.
The Perserverence Award was presented to Wyoming County SSTModified
racer (and 2013 track champion) Steve Fuchs. Asphalt Modified
Sportsman racer Sherri Hogan received the Woman in Racing Award;
Ransomville Street Stock competitor Don Hermanson was named as the
Sportsmanship Award winner.
Car builder and noted mechanic Bill Eschborn was named as winner of the
Mechanical Achievement Award; Steven Petty, who serves as the Holland
Motorsports Complex Media Relations Director and Assistant Announcer,
Humberstone Speedway’s Media Relations Director, Spencer Speedway’s
Trackside Announcer, and is a columnist for Gater Racing News, was
presented with the Media in Racing Award.
The top seasonal awards of the NYPAMA TQ Midget Series were also
presented. Kyle Hutchinson and the John Casey Racing Team were honored
as Series champions; Camden Barber received the runner-up trophy, and
Shawn Nye received third place honors. Nick Groff was presented with
the Series Rookie of the Year award, and Chad Heywood was named as the
Series Most Improved Driver.
In addition, the Friends of Auto Racing, who sprearheaded the
fund-raising for the points fund at Elegant Builders Raceway Park,
distributed point fund awards to the top drivers from that Lancaster
speedplant who were in attendance, including Sportsman champ Andy
Jankowiak and 4-cylinder champion Bobby Woch.
Funds were raised throughout the evening to assist Jody and Bucky
Sossong. Jody, an employee at Elegant Builders Raceway Park, and Bucky
recently lost their home to a fire.