Harvey Hainer Jr. retired from his successful DIRT Modified racing career in 1997. He received his deserved accolades Saturday evening when the Southern Ontario driver was inducted into the Friends of Auto Racing (FOAR Score) Fan Club’s Hall of Fame.
Also inducted at the club’s 66th Annual Awards and Holiday Party event held at the Elks’ Club in Lancaster were Tim Bender and LaVerne Pangrazio. Hainer was the only inductee present at Saturday’s function as Bender and Pangrazio were out of town.
Known as “The Electrifying One”, Hainer won 37 DIRT Modified race in a career that began in 1975 in Late Models. He moved to DIRT Modifieds the following year. Among his accomplishments are DIRT Modified season point championships at Merrittville Speedway in 1981 and Humberstone Speedway in 1987.
“One of things I’m most proud of from my career is all the friends I’ve made in racing,” said Hainer Jr. “My interest in racing began when I was a kid following Gil Bruss and Billy Rafter. I still go to watch the races about three or four times a year because my daughters still love to go.”
Bender, a Colden native, was a four-time Formula III World Snowmobile championship winner in the late 1980s who was inducted into the Snowmobile Racing Hall of Fame in 1999.
He also enjoyed a stock car career in which he made 19 NASCAR Busch (now Nationwide) Series starts, earning a pole in Atlanta in 1997. Bender’s NASCAR career ended in a wreck that injured his back. His replacement was Matt Kenseth, now a top driver in the NASCAR Cup Series.
In the late 1990s, Bender combined his expertise with the creation of the Cup Lites race car, which are three-quarter sized Cup style stock cars that use snowmobile engines.
Pangrazio won the Holland Speedway Amateur division championship from 1965 to ’67. He won Perry Speedway Amateur crowns in 1964 and 1966 and the overall ERCA Amateur championship in 1966. From 1965 into the 1966 season, Pangrazio won at least one area race for 26 straight weekends. Pangrazio raced in various divisions at various tracks until retiring in 1998.
The FOAR Score club handed out other awards Saturday in front of a crowd of about 225. Outside of the Hall of Fame inductions, the highest honor the club bestows is the Dick Hammond Dedication To Auto Racing Award. This year it went to race official and Big 10 Super Stock Series Race Director Larry “Woody” Woodruff.
“It’s quite an honor to be recognized by this club,” said Woodruff. “In this business, dedication to racing is something that doesn’t come easy. You have to be around a long time in order to win a dedication type award and I have a lot of people who supported me over the years to get to this point.”
Brad Rouse claimed the Achievement on DIRT Award for winning the 2013 DIRT.car Sportman Super DIRT.car Series championship. Kyle Hutchinson earned the Achievement on Asphalt Award honors for his New York/Pennsylvania Midget Association season championship.
Rouse, of St. Catharines, Ont., had a monster year, winning numerous races including the DIRT.car Sportsman 30 during Super DIRT Week in October at the State Fairgrounds in Syracuse.
“I’ve had a little time recently to think about how great my 2013 season was, and I’m still in shock about how well things went,” said Rouse. “It was a great honor to run against all the guys that are so good. I don’t know if I can ever top last season, but I’ll just keep coming back and have fun and keep my racing a family affair.”
Hutchinson was most proud of winning the championship driving for noted local car owner and former driver John Casey and mechanics Wayne Turnbull and Bill Davies.
“It was a no-brainer to drive for them,” the 21-year-old from East Aurora said. “It’s been over 40 years since John won his last championship when he was driving so to win my first championship this year with his team is awesome.”
The Family in Racing Awards went to the Davidsons of Southern Ontario and the Layfields from the Wellsville area. Dean Layfield started the family’s involvement in 1939.
Other award recipients Saturday were:
Matt Hirschman, Driver of The Year on Asphalt; Jesse Cotriss, Driver of The Year On Dirt; Dave Vona, Rookie of The Year on Asphalt; Brian Sage, Most Improved on Dirt; Tommy Catalano, Most Improved on Asphalt; Steve Fuchs, Perseverance; Don Hermanson, Sportsmanship; Sherri Hogan, Woman in Racing; Bill Eschborn, Mechanical Achievement; and Steve Petty, Media Award.