Photos by Diane Kubicke and Phil Hutchison
Story by Phil Hutchison and courtesy of NHRA Division One
Saturday January 12, 2013. The 46th annual 2012 Season Northeast Division Awards Banquet took place at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center.
In a night that covered the emotional gamut from laugher to tears, the 2012 NHRA Northeast champs were crowned in front of a crowd of over 500 racers, crew, and friends.
After RFC’s Dan Laterza gave the invocation, NHRA’s Bob Frey started the banquet as usual with some good natured jokes aimed toward the Bee Keepers (?) convention being held at the same venue and a few Brent Musberger comments (there were quite a lot of beautiful women at the banquet) that got the party started.
The evening’s emcee, Bob Frey calls out the DRAW and RFC door prize winners. I did not win, again
And a party is what it was. Celebrating the outgoing season, NED’s best getting together with fellow racers and their friends and family. The cocktail lounge outside the main room was jumping hours before the banquet doors were even opened. And the same bar was packed after the final speech was given and the hall emptied out.
This year’s banquet was my 12th since my start as working with NED director Bob Lang and it ranks up there with one of the best. In addition to the Lucas and Summit racers, a huge turnout of Top Sportsman racers were on hand to cheer on one of their own, MX Industrial/Magnaflux Top Sportsman Shootout presented by Select Performance champ Tony Arcuni. Arcuni’s posse had reserved 4 tables at the banquet, which is close to a NED record.
Tony Arcuni and his family
In addition to the party atmosphere, there were the awards, which was the reason we all got together in Hershey in the first place.
2012 NED Lucas Oil Divisional Champs
Of all the awards given out throughout the evening, the most surprising was the annual Northeast Division Hall of Fame inductee. The award, which is a closely guarded secret known only to a few, is one of the highlights of the evening.
As it played out, the newest inductee was to be announced right after NED Track of the Year award. For 2012 Atco Dragway was voted as Track of the Year and as track manager and outgoing owner, Joe Sway was giving his speech, he told the crowd he was asked to announce the Hall of Fame Award. Which to everyone’s surprise, went to soon to retire, NHRA announcer and the evening’s emcee, Mr. Bob Frey.
Do you think Bob Frey was surprised when his name was called as the newest entry into the Hall of Fame?
Frey, who was working off the script supplied by Bob Lang, was under the impression that the award was going to Joe Sway but the tables were turned and Frey was as surprised as the rest of us. It was a great moment for Bob and of course the audience who was lucky enough to be there to see him recognized for all the work he has done for the division since his early announcing days at Atco Dragway in the 60’s. Too much.
Bob Lang, Bob Frey, and Joe Sway
Second to Bob Frey’s award as far as emotion had to be East Region Top Alcohol Funny Car winner Todd Veney and car owner Jay Blake’s acceptance speech. Blake, who was blinded in an industrial accident, joined Veney at the podium and made a speech that will not be forgotten for a long time.
Jay Blake (left) and driver Todd Veney
Sometimes self depreciating, but honest, Blake’s talk centered on his desire to race even with a disability that would dissuade anyone else in his position to strive for what you want and as the name the team funny car suggests, Follow your Dream.
In sheer volume of awards, Numidia Dragway’s Vinny DiMino took a lion’s share of gold home winning Image of Youth Award, Summit ET Pro champ, and finally Vinny was chosen ET Driver of the Year for the NED. Congratulations Vinny.
Special Recognition – NHRA Northeast Division Sponsors – Lucas Oil, Summit, JEG’s, Sony & PC Richard& Sons, MXI Industrial, Select Performance, Glick Fire Equipment, VP Race Fuels, Classic Auto Body, Royal Pet Cremation, Hoopes Fire Protection, R Champlin Crane & Excavating, Havis, Micro Strategies.
12th Annual Northeast Division Distinguished Service Award – Steve Rhoads
Vinny DiMino and NHRA’s Dave Mohn
Image of Youth Award –Vinny DiMino
2012 50th Year Anniversary Award – 2012 marked the 50th anniversary Maple Grove Raceway and Quarter Aces Dragway. Congratulations on 50 years of success!
Maple Grove’s Lex Dudas and Larry Wiggins
Pete DeSalvo won what seemed like his 100th National Dragster Contributor award. Here Pete gets his award from NED’s Ryck Campbell
2012 National Dragster Contributor Award – Pete DeSalvo ESTA Safety Park
National Dragster’s “Be a Winner/Be a Member” – Atco Raceway
Joe Sway from Atco Dragway
NHRA JDRL Eastern Conference Finals
8-9 Year – Thomas Oates
Mason-Dixon Dragway owner and long time Junior Dragster supporter Elmer Wachter awards Eastern Conference champ Thomas Oates his Wally
2012 Northeast Division JR. Dragster Championships
This year’s event was held at Mason-Dixon Dragway in Boonsboro, MD and was well attended. The event was a huge success and special thanks go out to Elmer and Cathy Wachter and the staff at Mason-Dixon Dragway for the tremendous amount of time and effort they put into this event. We would also like to thank MicroStrategies for their support of the Race of Champions and participant barbeque.
Cody Drunmond, son of long time NHRA racers Kathy and Steve Drummond won the 8-9 year old title at the NED Junior Dragster Championship
8-9 Year Old – Cody Drummond – US 13 Dragway
10-11 Year Old – Charlotte Mallow – Mason-Dixon Dragway
Just like Cody Drummond, Brad Northrop is another second (or third) generation racer as his dad is Comp and sometime Pro Stock racer Dave Northrop
12-13 Year Old – Brad Northrop – Old Bridge Twp. Raceway Park
14-15 Year Old – Robert Allen Jr – Mason-Dixon Dragway
16-17 Year Old – Austin Argoe – Cecil County Dragwa
Team Champion – Cecil County Dragway
Northeast Division Summit ET Finals
2012 was the 38th year for this event. Without the help from Summit Racing Products, and Luzerne County Community College, this race would not have the prestige it carries. This year the 14 participating tracks sent 40 entries plus a High School Competitor to Lebanon Valley Dragway to determine the champions.
VP Race Fuels Race of Champions
In 2012 VP Race Fuels came on board as presenting sponsor of the VP Race Fuels Race of Champions. The VP Race Fuels Race of Champions is a highlight of the Summit Racing Series ET Finals and pits the top point’s earners from each track against one another to find out who is the best of the best.
Race of Champions Street winner Paul Werner and NED’s Jim Bowen
Street Winner – Paul Werner – Maple Grove Raceway
Pro Winner – Mike LaRose – ESTA Safety Park
Bike/Sled Winner – Mark Schwalm – Numidia Dragway
Super Pro Winner – Mark Goyette – Team Canada
Luzerne County Community College High School Challenge
Luzerne County Community College sponsor’s the High School Challenge. Their sponsorship helps to promote both NHRA Drag Racing and the Motorsports Program at Luzerne County Community College and is done in the spirit of cooperation between our companies to promote education and safety to our young racers in the Northeast Division.
High School Champion – Austin Argoe – Cecil County Dragway
Summit ET Finals Eliminator Champions
The four champions all went to the AAA of Southern California Finals to crown a National Champion in their respective class. While the competitors didn’t fare as well as they had hoped, they all enjoyed the trip and are anxious to try again.
Street winner Ed Talbert and NED’s Jim Bowen
Street Champion – Ed Talbert – Mason-Dixon Dragway
Pro Champion — Vinny DiMino – Numidia Dragwa
Bike/Sled Champion – Ken George – Old Bridge Twp. Raceway Park
Super Pro Champion – Rob Leipziger – Atco Raceway
Team Champion – Numidia Dragway
Team Spirit – Numidia Dragway
MX Industrial/Magnaflux Top Sportsman Shootout presented by Select Performance
In 2012, MX Industrial and Magnaflux, along with help from Select Performance, increased their involvement by becoming the sponsor of the highly popular Top Sportsman Category in this Division.
Top Sportsman winner Tony Arcuni and NED’s Larry Wiggins
MX Industrial/Magnaflux Top Dragster Challenge presented by Select Performance – 2012 MX Industrial/Magnaflux and Select Performance returned as sponsors of the class.
Jason Hoff repeated as Top Dragster champ for 2012
Pro Stock, Inc. Pro Stock Snowmobile – 2012 was the third year for this exciting class. This series features 1000 cc snowmobiles racing heads-up on a pro tree.
Snowmobile winner Ed Armstrong
Northeast Division Annual Awards
Claire Laterza was our 2012 NED Person of the Year
Northeast Division Person of the Year – Claire Laterza
Phil and Frank Sr. shared the NED Wrench of the Year
Wrench of the Year – Phil Szupka/ Frank Aragona, Sr
ET Driver of the Year – Vinny DiMino
Lincoln Morehead had a great night winning Driver of the year in addition to his NED Super Stock title
Driver of the Year – Lincoln Morehead
Pat Dehner from PC Richard and Son is awarded the Best Supporting Sponsor award from Northeast Division Director Bob Lang
Best Supporting Sponsor – PC Richard & Son
Northeast Division Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series
Lucas Oil National Champions
Congratulations to Frank Manzo, Alan Kenny on winning the Lucas Oil National Championships in TAFC and Super Comp.
Long time Lucas World TA/FC champ repeated his World Championship for 2012. Frank went to two NHRA Regional events winning Epping and the season opener at Maple Grove.
Long time racer Al Kenny was the NHRA National and the NED Champ in the Super Comp catagory
Chris DePascale who won the 2011 Super Comp Championship took the 2012 Super Street title
Mike Sawyer took the NED Super Gas championship
Lincoln Morehead (left) and Donny Pires won the Lucas Oil Super Stock and Stock titles in the NED
Michele Costa, Frankie, and Beatrice Aragona celebrate Frankie’s 2012 Comp win in the NED
The Follow a Dream team won the first ever Eastern Region TA/FC title
No it’s not Tom Selleck, but D1 T/AD winner Rich McPhillips
My partner in crime Diane K and yours truly during a lull in the evening’s action. Love the hat!
These photos are only a small example of all the images Diane and I shot throughout the evening. If you would like to see more of the night’s fun, please go to : http://www.division1photos.com/
As in 2012, NortheastDragReview.com will cover all the action from the NED. See you in 2013
Phil and Diane