New York Racers Honored


For Immediate Release

Contact:  Ron Hedger, NYSSCA HoF Chairman ? 518-885-7481


Clifton Park, NY          Dirt track ace Mike Romano, two-time NASCAR national modified champion Jimmy Spencer, two-surface star Charlie Rudolph and highly respected car owner Jerry Higbie Sr. have been elected to the New York State Stock Car Association?s Hall of Fame for induction in January, 2010.
          A three-time Fonda Speedway big block modified champion with 48 wins, placing him behind only Jack Johnson, Lou Lazzaro, Dave Lape, Kenny Shoemaker and Pete Corey in career statistics, Romano was also a very successful small block racer at Fonda, claiming 21 wins and two championships in the 320 division and another five wins and a title with the 358?s.
          He was also a star on the road, recording numerous wins on the Fulton/Utica-Rome ?outlaw? circuit and claiming the 1995 big block titles at both Drummondville and Granby, Quebec.  All told, Romano had recorded some 77 big block and 33 small block wins before a premature retirement precipitated by ongoing health problems.  He remains active in the sport, operating a speed shop business and promoting the Glen Ridge Speedway with partner Jake Spraker.
          A native of Berwick, PA. and son of dirt LM star Ed Spencer, Jimmy Spencer first displayed his asphalt prowess at New York?s super-fast Shangri-La Speedway in the family crewed #24 modified, claiming some two dozen wins and the 1983 track title running against such stellar competition as George Kent and Richie Evans.  Known even then as ?Mr. Excitement,? he also won the 1987 Busch North race at Shangri-La driving for owner Frank Cicci and the 1983 Race of Champions at Pocono. 
          Fifteen NASCAR modified tour wins and the 1986 and ?87 national championships followed, after which Spencer went on to the national Busch series, where he recorded 12 wins, and Winston Cup competition, where he scored popular superspeedway wins at Daytona and Talladega.
          Always in the middle of the action on the track, Spencer brings an equally exciting presence to his TV work for Speed, where he continues to entertain race fans from coast to coast with insightful analysis of Sprint Cup happenings.
          A second generation star like Spencer, Rudolph was equally adept on asphalt and dirt, claiming Lancaster Speedway championships in 1980, ?92 and ?93 to go with a pair of Ransomville titles and the 1986 championships at Cayuga County and Rolling Wheels Raceway.  The highlight of his DIRT involvement was winning the ?86 MR DIRT title but he was also a two-time winner of the Mohawk Valley 200 at Fonda, claimed some 17 Canandaigua wins and was second to Jimmy Horton at Syracuse in 1987.
          After recording 49 DIRT big block wins, Rudolph, an engineer by trade, changed directions once again, qualifying for four Winston Cup events after bringing Sunoco into the sport for the first time.  After retiring as a driver, he was crewchief for modified star Chuck Hossfeld and in recent years has supported son Erik?s career.  The high school senior, now one of NASCAR?s top modified drivers, has also had success on the DIRT circuit, winning the 2008 Sportsman race at Syracuse.
          Higbie began his career as a driver in the mid-1960?s but soon found his niche as an owner along with his brother, Gary.  Together they fielded cars at Accord, Orange County and Nazareth, winning first in the Sportsman ranks and then in the big blocks with such talent as Bobby Bottcher, Rich Ricci Sr., Bruce Quinn, Larry Brolsma, Jeff Heotzler, Steve Bottcher, Frank Cozze, Rich Ricci Jr and Eddie Marshall at the wheel.
          With his brother?s retirement from the sport, Jerry turned his attention to the career of his son, Jerry Jr., who has become one of the area?s most successful pilots, winning track titles at Accord and Orange County as well as running very competitively at Syracuse.  Higbie, always a gentleman, became a Hall of Fame owner by giving talented drivers the opportunity to reach their potential and become consistent winners, in the process making the sport stronger.
          The new Hall of Fame members will be inducted at the NYSSCA banquet on Saturday night, January 23rd at the Polish American Club in Albany, NY, with a ceremony Sunday morning at 11 am at the Saratoga Automobile Museum, site of the association?s permanent Hall of Fame display.  The event will feature extensive remarks by the inductees as well as a question and answer session involving the audience.
          The New York State Stock Car Association membership includes racers at all levels, media members, officials, industry representatives and fans dedicated to improving the sport at the short track level.  The group is nationally known for its benefit plan dedicated to aiding members who are out of work due to racing related injuries.


Racing Genius
Lunch was going down good until I got to the Jimmy Spencer bio. ( Deb!!!! get the bucket.... quick!)  :p

Thanks Bruce.