Concord, NC — January 23, 2023
Last evening, the National Motorsports Press Association(NMPA) held its annual convention in Concord, North Carolina. As a part of the proceedings, the membership body inducted four new honorees into the NMPA Hall of Fame at Darlington Speedway, Darlington, South Carolina.
Similar to the NASCAR Hall of Fame inductions, two nights earlier in the week, each recipient received a custom-designed jacket and a place in the Hall of Honor. The NMPA Hall includes competitors from all motorsports disciplines, not just stock car racing.
In addition, National Awards were presented to individuals recognized by the NMPA membership for their efforts on behalf of motorsports.
This Year’s Honorees
Dr. Dick Berggren, Shirley Muldowney, Scott Pruett, and Frank Kimmel made up the Class of 2023. All were in attendance to receive the honors.
Dr. Dick Berggren
From driver to legendary announcer, Berggren began his motorsports career that spanned more than four decades in 1967, racing Super Modifieds, Modifieds, stock, and Sprint cars while also serving as the public address announcer at Arundel Speedway in Maine. Berggren’s love of racing led him to write about the sport for various newspapers and Stock Car Racing magazine, of which he became the editor.
Berggren won 26 races before leaving his driving behind in 1981 when he began his run of more than two decades as a fixture on NASCAR telecasts. Berggren became familiar to viewers on ESPN while also appearing on CBS, TBS, and TNN before closing his career with a 12-year stint as the lead pit reporter for Fox Sports’ NASCAR telecasts. Before retiring from his television career, Berggren founded Speedway Illustrated.
Known as the “First Lady of Drag Racing,” Muldowney went from street racing to becoming the first woman to earn a Top Fuel dragster license. She was not only the first woman to win an NHRA world championship but the first person to win two and then three Top Fuel titles – 1977, 1980, 1982.
Muldowney obtained her NHRA pro license in 1965, the first woman to be granted one, and claimed her first major event in 1971. Overall, she has 18 NHRA national series event victories. She also earned an IHRA championship in 1981. Upon retiring, Muldowney began operating “Shirley’s Kids,” which helps children in need in cities where drag racing is part of the community.
Pruett started his racing career at age eight, competing in karts and eventually winning ten professional karting titles, including the Professional Karting Association World Championship in 1981. In his first full season in IMSA GTO (1986), he won the series championship and claimed it again in 1988.
He also earned SCCA Trans-Am titles in 1987, 1994, and 2003. Pruett competed in 145 CART races between 1988 and 1999, recording two victories. After a brief foray in NASCAR, Pruett returned to sports car racing, where he amassed 60 victories and 11 championships. Those victories include a record five 24 Hours of Daytona overall wins, a class win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and an overall victory in the 12 Hours of Sebring.
Kimmel made his mark in the ARCA Menards Series. He is the only 10-time champion in series history, winning a remarkable eight consecutive titles from 2000 to 2007. After claiming his first victory at Toledo Speedway in 1994, two years after earning the series rookie title, Kimmel amassed a record 80 career victories and 44 poles. He was the first ARCA driver selected to compete in the International Race of Champions in 2006.
Richard Petty Driver of the Year / Ross Chastain
Ross Chastain had a breakthrough 2022 season in the NASCAR Cup Series, including
thrilling many with his last-lap move at Martinsville Speedway. As a result, he has been named the Richard Petty Driver of the Year by the National Motorsports Press Association.
Chastain was voted the recipient of the award by the press membership, taking the honor over new two-time series champion Joey Logano. It was a one-vote difference. The Trackhouse Racing driver scored his first career win in March at Circuit of the Americas after a frantic final lap duel with AJ Allmendinger and Alex Bowman. It was also the first win for Trackhouse Racing.
A month later, Chastain picked up his second win, also making the winning pass on the last lap at Talladega Superspeedway. A watermelon farmer from Florida, Chastain turned heads all year with his never-say-die attitude and not being afraid to ruffle a few feathers. It was a season highlighted by an improbable run to the Championship 4, which came after Chastain made a video game move on the last lap at Martinsville, where he rode the wall from Turn 3 to the start/finish line to gain five positions. Chastain finished second in the championship to Logano.
Pocono Spirit Award for 2022 / Kurt Busch
Established in 1992 and supported by Pocono Raceway, the NMPA Pocono Spirit Award is
designed to recognize character and achievement in the face of adversity, sportsmanship, and contributions to motorsports. It is also meant to acknowledge competitors who have overcome illness or tragedy to return to racing.
Kurt Busch, who was twice voted a quarter winner, was announced Sunday as the overall National Motorsports Press Association Pocono Spirit Award for 2022. The NMPA press membership recognized the 2004 NASCAR Cup Series champion by being voted the first quarter winner for his work with the nonprofit program Veteran Tickets
Foundation (Vet Tix). Busch began donating race tickets in 2019 and encourages others in the industry to allow military service members and veterans to attend NASCAR races.
In the fourth quarter, Busch was selected for his spirit and leadership through a concussion that ended his full-time NASCAR career and work with the “Window of Hope” program.
Busch was injured at Pocono Raceway in July and did not return to competition in 2022.
But he continued to support his team, 23XI Racing, and show others the importance of making your health a priority. The “Window of Hope” program came to life in 2019 after Busch received a fan letter. In October, NASCAR drivers in the Xfinity Series and Cup Series ran pink window nets at the Charlotte Roval to bring awareness to breast cancer. Afterward, the window nets were autographed and auctioned off through the NASCAR Foundation, with proceeds benefiting Atrium Health Levine Cancer Institute’s Project PINK.
Ken Patterson Helping Others Award / Amanda Ellis
Amanda Ellis has been named the 2022 winner of the Ken Patterson Helping Others Award from the National Motorsports Press Association, as announced Sunday during the annual awards convention. Ellis is the Sr. Director of Racing Communications at NASCAR. Since 2010, Ellis has been a familiar face to those in the industry and inside the media center.
Among her many responsibilities, Ellis is one of the go-to individuals at NASCAR communications for the media. An ally to all, Ellis is always willing to help or take in feedback. Ellis is also there to provide pertinent information or answer questions and requests during the week. Ellis serves as a liaison between the garage and the media on race weekend.
The Ken Patterson Helping Others Award is presented annually and voted on by the NMPA
membership. It recognizes a public relations representative in the motorsports industry “who has exhibited the kind, generous qualities that Patterson always demonstrated.”
It is the first time Ellis has received the award.
In addition to the award, Talladega Superspeedway will donate $1,000 in the winner’s name to the Kenneth Patterson Education Trust Fund.