Dario Franchitti, the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series champion and a two-time Indianapolis 500 winner, was selected by the Eastern Motorsport Press Ass’n as the 2010 Al Holbert Memorial National Driver of the Year.
Driving for team owner Chip Ganassi, Franchitti earned his third IndyCar title and his second-straight for Ganassi by just five points over series runner-up Will Power and became only the 17th driver to win multiple Indy 500s.
The EMPA also honored Ganassi, who was been named the T. Wayne Robertson Newsmaker of the Year. In addition to earning the team’s third-straight series championship and the Indianapolis 500, Target Chip Ganassi Racing drivers Franchitti and Scott Dixon combined to win six IZOD IndyCar Series events in 2010. In Grand Am Rolex Series competition, co-drivers Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas dominated the 2010 campaign, triumphing nine times in 12 events en route to taking the series title. In the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates team won the Daytona 500, the Brickyard 400 and the Bank of America 500 with Jamie McMurray, while Juan Pablo Montoya topped the August event at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) Int’l.
Among other special award recipients was Stewart Friesen, voted the Richie Evans Memorial Northeast Driver of the Year. Friesen won 24 dirt-modified features in 2010, including the Syracuse 200. Friesen also captured the Race of Champions Dart Dirt Modified Tour title and won weekly track point championships at New York’s Five Mile Point and Utica-Rome speedways.
Austin Hubbard, an 18-year-old late model racer, was selected as the winner of the John Blewett III Young Guns Award Presented by New England Fuels. As a rookie, Hubbard won twice on the World of Outlaws Late Model Series tour and finished seventh in season series points.
EMPA members selected Pennsylvania 410 sprint car owner/driver Rick Lafferty as the 2010 recipient of the Junie Donlavey Spirit of the Sport Award, given to a person who best represents grassroots and die-hard perseverance in participating in the sport he loves.
Former EMPA president Ernie Saxton and his wife, Marilyn, who served as EMPA’s executive secretary, have been named to the EMPA Hall of Fame. Also in the 2010 Hall of Fame class are NASCAR driver Geoffrey Bodine; the late Lindy Vicari, Reading (Pa.) Fairgrounds promoter; and the late John “Ace” Lane, Sr., a pioneer motorsports photographer. The Hall of Fame inductions and award presentations will be made Jan. 8, during the NASCAR/EMPA Hall of Fame Banquet, part of the weekend’s annual EMPA Convention at the Crowne Plaza Valley Forge in King of Prussia, Pa.