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NYSSCA elects diverse group to Hall of Fame

Induction ceremony Jan. 22, 2011
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The Hall of Fame committee of the New York State Stock Car Association has voted a diverse and talented group of racers into the Hall, with induction set for the weekend of Jan. 22 -23, 2011, in Albany and Saratoga Springs, NY.

The new Hall of Fame members include retired drivers Dickie Larkin and Jack Cottrell, longtime car owner and sponsor Paul Emerich and the husband and wife officiating and track management team of Marty and Hertha Beberwyck.

Larkin’s name is generally associated with the Lebanon Valley Speedway, where he stands fifth on the all-time modified win list with 35 and claimed the 1990 and ’94 track championships. Larkin was also very successful in the Valley’s small block division, notching 29 wins to rank fifth on that list as well, making him the only driver in the top five for both divisions. He also has the distinction of being the only driver to claim big block and small block features on the same night in four different decades, notching doubleheader wins in 1976, ’81, ‘’91 and 2001.

The Massachusetts resident was also very successful on the road, claiming numerous small block wins with his famed “Yellow Bird” Falcon bodied #39 early in his career and winning the 1982 State Fair championship on the Syracuse mile, where he was the first driver to break the 30 second barrier. He also has the distinction of claiming five wins in the prestigious Race of Kings at Lebanon Valley.

Cottrell was successful at Lebanon Valley and Fonda with his big block car and on the CVRA big and small block circuits but he will also be the answer to a popular racing trivia question forever. The question, of course, is “Who won the first DIRT asphalt modified series event, run at Canada’s Cayuga Speedway, in 1988?”

But well before that triumph, Cottrell had an outstanding record in the Late Model class, claiming three Albany-Saratoga Speedway championships along with 11 wins and a track title at the Fonda Speedway, where he was also the 1999 358 modified champion. He then became a modified winner at all three Capital District speedways, with many of his wins coming in “big” races, including a Big Block/Small Block Challenge at Albany-Saratoga, the Super Shootout at the Devils Bowl Speedway and the Cayuga DIRT classic.

Cottrell’s “box score” shows three Fonda modified wins, five at Albany-Saratoga and eight at Lebanon Valley, where he lost the 1991 title to Kenny Tremont Jr by the slimmest of margins. Like Larkin, he was always a crowd favorite.

Emerich’s career began as the owner of Johnny Neet’s Street Stock at Albany-Saratoga in 1970 but he soon achieved prominence as the owner and sponsor of the NASCAR asphalt modified wheeled by popular Canadian Denny Giroux. They won at Albany-Saratoga, the Devil’s Bowl, where they claimed the 1971 title, and Stafford Springs, including the Connecticut Speedways annual 200-lap classic while competing at all the NASCAR venues from New York to Virginia before Giroux suffered career-ending injuries.

Emerich then became involved with Jack Cottrell for many years before moving his sponsorship to the team of Kenny Tremont Jr. Together they won some 52 big block races, including the Eckerd 200 at Syracuse, a pair of 200’s at Rolling Wheels, the McDonald’s National 200 at Fonda, a Volusia County Speedweeks event in Florida, the 1999 Super DIRT Series big block championship and three titles at Lebanon Valley, where they swept the Lebanon Valley 200 and the Mr. Dirt Track USA events in 1998 and’99.

Emerich also sponsored a number of other drivers through this period, among them Jack Johnson, Johnny Flach and Don Ronca.

The Beberwycks have been involved with auto racing for over 50 years, starting with Marty’s driving at Lebanon Valley and the Pine Bowl Speedway at age 17. He then turned to the officiating side, lining up cars at Lebanon Valley before moving to the position of backstretch flagger and then replacing Teddy Ryan as starter when he retired after the 1971 season. Marty worked for the CVRA at Albany-Saratoga, was the starter at Super DIRT Week when it first began and flagged at Rolling Wheels as well until becoming chief steward at Lebanon Valley.

Beberwyck was chief steward at both Lebanon Valley and Syracuse before moving to the Fonda Speedway as General Manager when Ric Lucia assumed the promotional duties at the venerable fairgrounds speedway some 14 years ago.

Hertha also became a big part of auto racing in the region after starting at Lebanon Valley writing race reports for promoter Howie Commander. She soon became a full-time employee, handling the office, sponsorship programs, victory lane ceremonies, media relations and all the unseen activities that make weekly speedways successful. When she retired from Lebanon Valley, Hertha’s designated title was General Manager but she was known and respected as much for her caring for her drivers and racing people in general as for her official duties.

Winner of the Gater Racing News Women in Racing award in 2002, Hertha continues to be involved by “manning” the pit booth weekly at Fonda and greeting her countless friends with a smile as they sign in.

The new Hall of Fame members will be officially inducted at the NYSSCA awards banquet at the Polish Community Center in Albany on Saturday, January 22 with the traditional “meet the fans” event set for 11 am the following morning at the Saratoga Automobile Museum. The museum’s Racing in New York gallery is the home of NYSSCA’s permanent Hall of Fame exhibit and the event will feature remarks by the four presenters and new Hall of Fame members along with a question and answer session involving the audience.

For a list of previous inductees, visit

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