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Fri, 08 Feb 2013, 18:19 PM

Nice Going
By Bob Frey

Before I get to the main topic of this weeks' column I wanted to mention another book that I have added to my collection. It is called "Hurst Equipped.More Than 50 Years of High Performance" and is published by CarTech Inc. This company does a lot of specialty automotive books and I have most of them that pertain to drag racing, but I have to say that they have outdone themselves with this edition. It's 191 pages of history that will be of interest to any drag racing fan or any fan who ever had or wished they had a Hurst shifter in their car. With tons of historic pictures, and most of them in color, it traces the history of one of the iconic companies in the high performance world. Having grown up with the evolution of the Hurst company and Hurst products I found the book to be an amazing look back at how George Hurst turned his dreams into an empire. It also chronicles the decline of the company and George's ultimate passing. I also enjoyed reading about the history of the Hemi Under Glass and all of the Hurst specialty cars and there were a lot of them that I had forgotten. In addition to showing the cars and the products that made the company famous it also talks about the people, in front of and behind the scenes, who made Hurst synonymous with high performance and drag racing. The book can be found at or at the company's own website, Believe me it is a great addition to any drag racing fan's library..By the way I found out about the book in my latest copy of Hemmings Muscle Machines magazine, an issue that also includes a great look at some obscure Pro Stock cars in an article by Dave Kommel who provides a lot of the pictures for my stories here on Nice going, Dave.

Division 1 Wrench of the Year
Phil Szupka and Frank Aragona, Sr
Photo copyright 2013 Diane Kubicke/ Phil Hutchison
Now for some of the real "Nice Going" stories as we begin the year. Actually I should say as we end the year since some of these racers were recently recognized for their achievements in the 2012 drag racing season. NHRA's seven geographic regions hold their annual award's banquets to honor the champions in all of the different series that are contested across the country. Obviously any Lucas Oil World Champs are honored as are all of the division champions. At the event that I hosted, the Division 1 banquet, Alan Kenny was honored for his Lucas Oil Super Comp title while Rich McPhillips and Todd Veney grabbed top honors in the alky classes. With the new regional format in 2012 there weren't seven division champs, only regional ones in the two top categories on the Lucas Oil circuit, but since both Rich and Todd claimed Division 1 that's where they picked up their hardware. Since everyone knows who won what in the previous year there are not a lot of surprises at the banquet, but there are some including those that are voted on by the racers themselves. Among them were Phil Szukpa and Frank Aragona Sr. being named the "Wrench (or Wrenches) of the Year," Vinny DiMino getting the "ET Driver of the Year" and Lincoln Morehead being named the overall "Driver of the Year." PC Richard & Son which does a great job in supporting the racers and racing in D-1 walked off with the "Best Supporting Sponsor" and Atco Raceway was named the "Drag Strip of the Year." One of the most prestigious honors, the "Northeast Division Person of the Year" went to Claire Laterza for her tireless work on behalf of the racers in the division. Nice going, Claire. Oh yeah, for the umpteenth time Pete DeSalvo was honored as the National DRAGSTER "Contributor of the Year" for his work on behalf of ESTA Safety Park. Pete has won more honors than Frank Manzo in the division and that's saying something.

Division Director Jay Hullinger's
salute to the late "Broadway Bob" Metzler.
Photo copyright 2013 Kevin Pepera
In Division 3 they had their annual gala and it is always one of the top social events of the year. One of the highlights of the evening was Division Director Jay Hullinger's salute to the late "Broadway Bob" Metzler. The flamboyant promoter passed away in 2012 and Jay honored him by coming out in traditional "Broadway Bob" garb, that is, a wild airbrushed t-shirt and sunglasses that only "Broadway" would wear in public. Oh yeah, the pants were special, too. In fact, if you looked at Jay and then saw a picture of Bob you would think they there were separated at birth. All in all it was a nice tribute and a great way to start the evening. After that the awards were handed out to all of the division champions and a lot of others for their accomplishments in 2012. Mickey White picked up the award for the folks at Lyons Raceway Park when they were named the Summit Racing Series "Track of the Year" and Rob Moser got the honors as the Division 3 "Person of the Year." With so many great racers in the division selecting the best had to be a tough process, but in the end Bill Reichert was named "Pro Sportsman Driver of the Year" and James Monroe, who had a great year in his Top Dragster, picked up the hardware for "Sportsman Driver of the Year." They were joined by Ricky Shipp the "Super Eliminator Driver of the Year" and Jeremy York the "ET Driver of the Year." The crew members weren't left out, either, as Randy Dreher and Jeff Taylor were honored as the "Pro Sportsman Mechanic" and the "Sportsman Mechanic" of the year respectively. A special award went to my friend, Dennis Winegar, for the twenty-five years he has put in as head of the NHRA Track Announcer's Guild. It's a thankless job so it was great to see Dennis honored for his years of dedication towards improving the quality of announcing, not only on the national level but at the local tracks around the country. Nice going, Dennis.

Phil Unruh and Rob Parks
Photo by: Barry Bergeron, Eagle Eye Photography
Division 5 also had a gala affair with several national champions among those who were honored. Bruno Massel won his second Lucas Oil Championship in Competition Eliminator and Tom Klemme grabbed the national championship in the Summit Racing ET Series on his motorcycle. Tom is putting together a pretty impressive collection of hardware since this was his third Summit Series national title. Tom was also named the Summit Racing Series "ET Driver of the Year" and rightfully so. In keeping with the motorcycle theme Mike Voss was given the Division 5 "Person of the Year" award for his years of dedication to the motorcycles in the area. In the special awards category Phil Unruh was named the Lucas Oil "Sportsman Driver of the Year" while Randy Meyer, one of the real veterans in D-5 picked up the same honor in the "Pro Sportsman" category. Justin Jacobson picked up top honors as the "Jerry Haas Pro Sportsman Mechanic of the Year" and Brad VanLant joined him on stage as the "MADCAP Engines Sportsman Mechanic of the Year" for the fine job he did with his 1971 Duster. Rounding out the special awards were Chris Brown who was named the "Lucas Oil Super Class Driver of the Year" and Michael Brand who was honored as the "Aeromotive Rookie of the Year," and that's what a win at the Mopar Mile High Nationals can do for your career.

Norm Fryer and Ed Egan
Two weeks ago I mentioned the passing of Ken Montgomery and today I am sad to mention another great who has passed. Norm Fryer, who drove the famous "007" Chevrolet back in the late 1960's and 1970's passed away earlier this week at the age of 74. Norm was one of the first real superstars of East Coast racing and was a familiar figure in the winner's circle at Atco, Englishtown and Cecil County as well as other drag strips along the East Coast. With a 427 cubic inch engine and a four-speed transmission there was a lot to like about the Chevy Biscayne and with a great smile and a wonderful personality there was a lot to like about Norm. When match racing was big tracks used to book Norm in to take on some of the top Ford and Chrysler cars of the time, and more often than not he came out the winner, and his races with Rich Morley's Ford were a lot of fun to watch. When he travelled to the national events he was one of the top Chevrolet cars in the country and everyone at Atco took a lot of pride in seeing him win at the big races. He competed in a variety of classes in Stock, Super Stock and Competition Eliminator and he won in them all, plus he set the national record several times and he did that in a couple of different classes too. Norm was one of the greats and he will be missed.

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