2021 Awards Banquet
FRIENDS OF AUTO RACING HONORS JANKOWIAK, ISRAEL; INDUCTS GORDON BECKER, RICK MOONEY, GEORGE SKORA, JIM THOMPSON, DICK KLUTH, MIKE JULICHER, PETE TRAUTMAN, BOBBY WEBER TO HALL OF FAME
By: Steven Petty
Bowmansville, NY… (JANUARY 14, 2022) Asphalt racing stand-out Andy Jankowiak and Ransomville Speedway Street Stock champion Jaren Israel were named as the 2021 season Drivers of the Year at the Friends of Auto Racing (FOAR SCORE) Fan Club annual awards dinner, held on Friday evening, January 14. Approximately attended the event, held at the Elks Club in Lancaster, NY. This annual affair of the Buffalo-based fan club honors top drivers in Western New York, Northeastern Pennsylvania, and the Niagara Region of Ontario, Canada.
In addition, the Friends of Auto Racing formally inducted the Hall of Fame Class of 2020 and 2021. The 2020 Hall of Fame class features Gordon Becker, Rick Mooney, George Skora Sr, and Jim Thompson. Dick Kluth, Mike Julicher, Pete Trautman, and Bobby Weber were all inducted as the class of 2021.
Andy Jankowiak had a season to remember in 2021. After having three consecutive top 10 finishes on the national stage with the ARCA Menards Series, the second-generation driver from Tonawanda won the George Decker Memorial and the Tommy/Tony Memorial, as well as sweeping the weekend at the 71st Race of Champions Weekend at Lake Erie Speedway, winning the Sportsman and the Modified event. Andy was down south testing his ARCA Menards Series entry; Debbie Jankowiak accepted the award on his behalf.
Jaren Israel visited victory lane 11 times and had no finish worse than third at the Ransomville Speedway in 2021. “Showtime” had a six-race win streak to propel him to the Ransomville track championship after 20 + years of trying. Israel won two prestigious races at the “Big R”, the John Susice Memorial, and the annual King of the Hill.
Gordon Becker is one of the original partners at Holland International Speedway, working alongside FOAR SCORE Hall of Famer Ron Bennett. His passion for the promotional and marketing side of the sport is unrivaled as he has played a vital role in securing and presenting some of the longest-standing partnerships in Western New York racing.
Rick Mooney is one of the most memorable voices of Western New York racing that has been behind the mic for 40 years. Rick began his career covering the races for the Batavia Daily News, Mooney began announcing in 1982 at Perry Speedway and had a stint at Genesee before beginning his tenure at Holland Speedway in 1986. In 2000, Rick became the announcer at the Ransomville Speedway and was the “Voice of the Big R” for over 20 years. Rick has also been the media relations director at several speedways throughout his career. Mooney retired from weekly announcing following the 2021 season.
George Skora Sr had a successful career driving at Holland International Speedway with his meticulously prepared cars and the trademark fluorescent orange paint. The 1984 Charger champion moved to the Late Models and was a top-runner until his retirement following the 1998 campaign. Ever since, he turned his focus to the budding career of his son, George III. The duo experienced many successful moments, including wins at Lancaster’s US Open, the 2012 TBRA Late Model Series championship, track titles at both Lake Erie and Holland, and winning the Tribute to Tommy Druar and Tony Jankowiak with the Race of Champions Modified Series in 2017.
A former racer turned car owner, Jim Thompson is the patriarch of a long-time racing family in WNY. Beginning his driving career when he was 15 years old at North Collins, Holland, and Perry, Thompson was also a track official at the Drum Speedway. He returned to the competitive side of racing at Lancaster as a car owner in 1986. Thompson had Bobby Straus, Randy Frantz, Tommy Reese, Mark & Chris Pennell, and daughter Jayme drive his potent race cars. He rarely missed a race during his time as a car owner, which meant the family went to the track on any race night, along with helping promote the sport for the better part of the past 50-years.
Dick Kluth has been involved in the sport for 60-plus years. After beginning his career in the late 50s on the dirt, he made the switch to the pavement in the early 70s, running weekly at Spencer, Lancaster, and Fulton, as well as running the modified specials at both Perry and Holland. Kluth made visits to Watkins Glen, Martinsville, Flemington, Langhorne, and Pocono. After running modified events throughout the 80s and 90s, Kluth made a switch to the SST Modifieds at Wyoming County. Kluth’s family has been involved in the sport with son Ricky being a racer, along with being a chassis and parts builder at 2Quik Chassis. Daughters Suzie and Debbie working on the cars and son-in-law Kevin Lewis, who currently drives the Kluth Racing #27.
Mike Julicher had a “heart of gold” and was always willing to lend a hand to anything that had to deal with the sport. Mike was the “brains of the operation” behind brother John’s success behind the wheel of a race car at Lancaster Speedway. Mike took nephew John Jr to victory lane and won the Lancaster Street Stock title in 2008. Mike passed away in 2016, he will always be remembered for his successes at the track as well as all by the people he helped along the way.
Pete Trautman shared his passion for the sport all the way to the upper echelons of the profession. After satisfying his need for speed on the dragstrip at Niagara and in Street Stock racing at Lancaster, he became a valued pit crew member for some winning race teams, including John Julicher and “The Canadian Blast” Davey Moore. Opportunities came up and Trautman became part of Sammy Swindell’s NASCAR Busch Series team, and later crewed for drivers such as Steve Kinser, Cale Yarborough, and Mike McLaughlin. He went on to be a long-time track official at both Lancaster and Holland, and became a Technical Inspector for the NASCAR Busch North Series, before making it all the way to the NASCAR Cup Series for 20 years. He is currently working with the World Racing Group and serving as a motorcoach driver for Cup Champion Crew Chief Alan Gustafson.
Bobby Weber was one of the heavy hitters in the Late Model division at Lancaster Speedway during the 1980s and continued that success for decades to come. After starting in the old Figure 8 division in the mid-1970s, Weber moved up to the Backwards class and went on to the Super Stocks by 1985. The veteran racer sits second on the all-time wins list at Lancaster, including scoring five wins in the US Open and is a two-time Race of Champions Late Model winner at Oswego in 2010 and 2012. Weber is a five-time track champion at Lancaster, winning three Late Model championships, and two Backwards division titles. Currently racing a Sportsman Modified and Late Model, Weber has been racing for nearly five decades.
Two longtime racing families, the Lewis’s and the Pettys, were recipients of the Family in Racing Awards. Daryl Lewis Sr made a name for himself racing Modifieds at the Spencer Speedway and other tracks throughout the Northeast. Daryl Sr’s brother Tim spent many seasons racing and Tim’s son Timmy is currently racing whenever, wherever possible. Tim’s daughter Kellie served as the trophy girl at Spencer Speedway for several seasons. Daryl’s sons Daryl Jr and Andy have proved themselves racing with the Race of Champions over the past several seasons, with Daryl Jr winning the US Open at Lancaster a couple of seasons ago, and Andy racing and winning at Spencer. Sister Doniel spent time racing and being at the track all her life. The next generation of the family is winning races as Andy’s son Andy Jr has proven to be quite the driver, winning NYS Microd races before moving up into the 602 Sportsman with the Race of Champions and running a 4 Cylinder at Spencer Speedway.
The Petty family’s involvement in the sport began with Charles Petty working on Pee Wee Southcott’s racecars in the 50s. Charlie’s wife Dorothy was a longtime member of FOAR SCORE, selling 50-50 tickets at Holland, Genesee, and Ransomville. Gordie was a longtime track official and photographer, as well as working on several crews. Gordie’s wife Michal sold 50-50 tickets at Genesee, Holland, and Ransomville. Their two daughters, Sarah and Christina each worked at Ransomville and Genesee in numerous capacities. Son Steven has been announcing and handling the media relations roles at several tracks over the years. The fourth generation of the family has been racing in North Carolina for several years.
Barry & Phyllis Decker were the recipients of the Dick Hammond Dedication of Racing Award for their countless years of support and promotion of the George Decker Memorial at Holland.
Jacob Bansmer and Cameron Ruggiero were named Rookies of the Year. Travis Montgomery was named the Most Improved Driver. Dave DiPietro was the recipient of the Sportsmanship Award. The Driver Achievement Award was given to Bobby Holmes. Melissa Loretto was the recipient of the Woman in Racing Award. Photographer Tom Stevens was the recipient of the Media Award. Bob Nye was presented with the Perseverance Award. Jason Ore was given the Mechanical Achievement Award.
About FOAR SCORE: Friends of Auto Racing Seeking Cooperation of Racing Enthusiasts- FOAR SCORE
The FOAR SCORE Club is a not-for-profit organization that was formed in 1948 by race fans for the betterment of auto racing. The club tries to help the sport of auto racing in any way possible and their purpose is for the betterment of automobile racing for fans, drivers, car owners, and promoters: to have better and safer racing and to increase the popularity of the sport. FOAR SCORE is the oldest fan club in the United States.
Co-Advisor: WGCC 90.7 FM Genesee Community College
Public Address Announcer: The College at Brockport (SUNY) Golden Eagles
Director of Public & Media Relations/Announcer: Ransomville Speedway
Director of Public & Media Relations/Announcer: NYIRP at Lancaster Speedway