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Banquet Story

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Steve Grant and Barry Kittredge present Russ Stoehr the
NEMA Driver's Championship Trophy for 2002

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Stoehr Celebrates Fifth NEMA Crown
Pointing out “this is undoubtedly the last time I’ll stand before you like this,” 2002 champion Russ Stoehr told the 2002 Northeastern Midget Association Award Banquet gathering he would not be a contender in 2003.

The Stoehr-Gene Angelillo team, which produced three championships for both in as may years of operation, is now history. It was the fifth overall driving crown for Stoehr and the 12th owner championship for Angelillo including the last five.

Citing family and business, Stoehr said, “I think it’s time for me to stay a little closer to home.” He added “that stands in contrast with a team that has won perfect attendance awards the past dozen years.

While Angelillo will definitely be a contender in 2003 (a driver has yet to be announced) Stoehr, who sits third on the all-time win list, will “pick and choose” his races.

It was part of a busy night as NEMA celebrated its 50th year by honoring the top 15 owners and drivers and handed out the usual plethora of awards. New president Steve Grant promised some new things for the club including a major sponsorship from Wirtgen America. NEMA opens an 18-race schedule at Thompson Speedway’s Icebreaker.

Car owner “Mazda” Pete Pernesiglio received the prestigious Johnny Thomson Memorial Award, presented by Bill Estabrook. Pernesiglio has been a NEMA supporter for over 20 years.

It was a night filled with emotion that was topped off by Stoehr presenting the championship trophy to his father, long-time NEMA member Paul Stoehr.

Jerry Wall, owner-driver of the revolutionary “Yellowjacket” back in the early 1970s, and Rollie Lindblad, the original designer of the “Badger,” joined the Dick Gallagher Memorial Hall of Fame.

Tim Heath is the 2002 Ed Clotheir Rookie of the Year while Ben Seitz and Bobby Santos, both rookies as well, shared the Pat Thibodeau Youth and Determination Award. The total rookie class, which included Bob Bradbury and Tommy Spada, was recognized by Wirtgen, Hampton Inn, Marvin Rifchin and Bobby Seymour.

Star Speedway owner/promoter Bob Webber Sr. is the 2002 Wen Kelley Memorial Award winner. Star will host NEMA five times in 2003.

Kyle Carpenter, part of the 2002 Rookie class, was named the Joe Csiki Most Improved driver. Carpenter and his father/owner Brad wound up fifth in the respective points standings.

The Ralph Miller Memorial for Outstanding and Continuing Perseverance went to Adam Cantor Racing.

Gino Spada, who came to NEMA with son Tommy, the driver, and daughter Cassandra, the crew chief, was the Associate Member Never Say Die Award winner.

The Ray Roberts Memorial Award went to The Campanale brothers, owners of the No. 54; Glen and Randy Cabral took the Paul Keller Memorial Award; Ed Breault recaptured the Ron Evans/Len Thrall top owner/driver prize, and Bruce Beane was tapped the Mechanic of the Year. Beane, an officer and inspector, was recognized for his willingness to share information.

Dave Morton and Chris Alexander were popular choices for Lifetime Membership.

In addition to Angelillo owners Don Berrio, Gill Bertrand, Breault, Cabral, the Campanale Brothers, Carpenter, Jay Dolan, George Heath, Mike Luggelle, Jim O’Brien, Spada and Peter Valeri were recognized for “perfect attendance.”

Appreciation Awards went to Katie Campanale, Nayda Orsini and Kim Paltrineri

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