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2015 HONOREES AWARDS CEREMONY

Legendary Northeastern Funny Car driver Al Segrini was honored as the grand marshal for the NHRA Motorsports Museum New England Hot Rod Reunion presented by AAA Insurance at New England Dragway, Aug. 28-30.

On Saturday, the racing took a short break to honor some New England/East Coast racing icons. In a ceremony done with far less pomp and circumstance than the Bakersfield and Bowling Green Honoree presentations, this was held in a large tent at the drag strip. Logistics had more to do with this than anything else as there was no host hotel to stage the presentations. On the upside, more people were able to attend, not having to leave the strip.

For the third consecutive year, three days of classic cars, quarter-mile drag racing, honoring the legends of drag racing and of course, Cacklefest® took place at the scenic facility located just north of metro Boston.

Congratulations to 2015 Grand Marshall Al Segrini and Honorees, Walt Markert; Nick Marshall & Dave Vermilya; Jack Merkel; Charlie Seabrook and Walt Weney.

*Note: The correct spelling of photograper Ed's last name is Cenedella. We appologize for the error in his watermak.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome and opening remarks were delivered by Larry Fisher, Executive Director of the NHRA Wally Parks Motorsports Museum.

 

 

Bob Frey served as Master of Ceremonies.

 

 

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To start things off, Jack Doyle was given the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum Board of Directors Award. It’s akin to the Founders Award at Garlit’s Drag Racing Hall of Fame awards.

This is the first time it was given out in New England and one of the few times since it was first awarded at Bowling Green in 2005 to Ronnie Sox & Buddy Martin. It will be given next at the 2015 to the late John Ewald with Don Ewald accepting.

 

 

 

 

 

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Charlie Seabrook's daughter, Lucy accepted for her father who is suffering from non-smokers lung cancer and one of the side effects of the treatment is that he couldn’t travel to the Reunion.

Seabrook, a native of New Jersey, was an unorthodox drag racer, not running with V-8 power and not racing an altered that was of the blown fuel variety. He didn't let these supposed disadvantages stop him, winning the U.S. Nationals in 1962, 1963, 1965, 1966 and 1969. Seabrook ran many unconventional cars throughout his career including his first car, a Studebaker coupe powered by a blown Packard. His most famous car was a fiberglass Bantam roadster body named Jersey Jimmy. The D/Altered Bantam was a star at Atco Dragway, winning 165 races compared to only five losses. The Bantam raced for 27 years with a variety of powerplants, one of Seabrook’s specialties.

 

 

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Jack Merkel was New York's answer to the West Coast's biggest names in the world of supercharged gassers. His ’39 Willys was a powerhouse, losing only once in class competition at a national event during the final round of the 1962 U.S. Nationals. He had his best success with the car during the 1963 U.S. Nationals, defeating Jerry Mallicoat in the final and setting the class speed record at 131.77 mph. Merkel would go on to race a ’33 Willys in the A/GS category. Merkel was also a successful engine builder, building both drag racing engines and NASCAR engines. His sons Scott and Todd won events in the National Muscle Car Association, carrying on the family legacy.

 

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Nick Marshall and Dave Vermilya were raised together in Cape Cod, Mass. Both eventually relocated to Southern California upon hearing about the regions legendary hot rodding reputation. The pair were reunited when Marshall drove Vermilya’s Olds-powered ’48 Fiat altered. The duo then moved on to the nitro ranks, driving the Chrysler-powered dragster. They won more than 75 percent of their races and were consistent record breakers. Marshall and Vermilya split in 1966 and continued on their own paths. Marshall drove for “Hippo” Brammer while Vermilya returned to New England, running a machine shop.

 

 

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Walt Weney was a huge success in hot rodding, leading to numerous competitors fighting to have him build their racecars. Weney began his race career driving a ’32 Ford C/Gas car in the 1950s. He then built his own A/Dragster and A/Fuel Dragster. That led to the creation of S&W Race Cars, recognized at the time as one of the best chassis-building companies in the East. Some of his chassis work includes the first Top Alcohol Funny Car of Joe Amato and Bill Jenkins’ Vega Pro Stock car, which won six national event races in 1972. In 1977, Weney retired from racing to focus solely on his chassis building success which became the primary location for the selection of Top Fuel dragster and Funny Car frames for the East Coast. Weney retired in 2005, but remains involved in an advisory capacity.

 

 

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Al Segrini was a top contender in NHRA Drag Racing during the 1970s and 1980s. Having driven some of the most classic Funny Cars in existence including Black Magic and Faberge Brut, Segrini got his start at New England Dragway racing the family’s 427-cid-powered B/Gas 55 Chevy entry with his brother Lou. The brothers then built an American Express injected A/Fuel Camaro Funny Car that ran on the Smoker Smith Circuit. In 1971, Lou decided to retire and spend time with his family, leading Segrini towards the nitro brigade.

Segrini entered the nitro Funny Car ranks when he was tapped to drive Kosty Ivanoff’s blown Boston Shaker after Ivanoff suffered an injury. Segrini remained with Ivanoff until 1973 when he joined forces with Jim Beattie for the now famous Black Magic Vega. The Vega was a success at the get-go, earning both the Best Appearing Car and Best Appearing Crew awards at the NHRA Gatornationals.

Segrini’s greatest success came in the mid-1980s when he drove the Faberge Brut Funny Car, claiming three of his five national event wins. He is best remembered for his back-to-back victories at the NHRA Winternationals in 1984 and 1985.

 

 

 

Segrini brought up his brother Lou.

 

 

Photog Keith Hudak presented this collage he made up of 1970's photos of Segrini to Al.

 

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Unlike the other two reunions, there is no post honoree mini-cackle in front of the hotel/convention center, because there is none. So, I now return you to the out of doors for a look around the pits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Before anyone can do a practice push or participate in the Cacklefest ® they must attend a mandatory meeting where Steve Gibbs and Greg Sharp lay down the rules not only for the drivers but also the crews. And every time there are those who just don't get it. Here its not so bad because of the small car count.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Before the Cacklefest on Saturday night the cacklecars are given opportunities to do either required (new car or new driver) or "practice" push starts. Since there is no schedule for this deal, our photogs may have missed some. Here is a representative sample of what we got.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Page 2 - Parade and Cacklefest

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