2015 HONOREES AWARDS CEREMONY
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.
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
to 2015 Grand Marshall Al Segrini and Honorees, Walt Markert;
Nick Marshall & Dave Vermilya; Jack Merkel; Charlie Seabrook
and Walt Weney.
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
To start things off, Jack Doyle
was given the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum Board of Directors
Award. Its akin to the Founders Award at Garlits
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.
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 couldnt 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 Seabrooks
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
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 Vermilyas 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
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.
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 familys 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 Ivanoffs 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.
Segrinis 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
Hudak presented this collage he made up of 1970's photos of Segrini
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.
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.
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.
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