2015 National Motorsports Press Association Convention: Journalists Honored At Awards Banquet

2015 National Motorsports Press Association Convention: Journalists Honored At Awards Banquet

by January 26, 2015 0 comments

Photo Credit: Tommy Dampier

By: Tommy Dampier

(Concord, N.C – Jan. 25) Members of the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) held their annual conference Sunday at the Embassy Suites Conference Center in Concord, N.C. The annual conference brings media correspondents from around the country to meet and plan for the upcoming 2015 motorsports season and to recognize select members in writing, television, and radio broadcast, photography and social media for their outstanding contributions during the 2014 race season.

The conference hosted a general meeting for the members in attendance, a photographers meeting sponsored by Richmond International Raceway and a reception sponsored by Talladega Superspeedway. The main event, the Awards Presentation Dinner sponsored by Nationwide and Ford Racing, followed the reception. The dinner honored excellence in writing, broadcasting and photo journalism.

The NMPA Richard Petty Driver of the Year and the Ken Patterson Helping Others awards, selected by a general vote of the NMPA membership, were also presented in recognition of individuals in these categories. The Helping Others award commemorates the person that provides the best of the best services to the members of the media throughout the previous season. Patterson, the former Public Relations Director at Talladega Superdpeedway, passed away in April 2004 of complications from myelodisplasia syndrome, an abnormality in the development of the spinal cord. The award was established in his honor in 2005.

Kevin Harvick, 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion was selected as the Richard Petty Driver of the Year, and Mike Smith, the Public Relations Director at Martinsville Speedway took home honors for the Ken Patterson Helping Others award.

Harvick was most appreciative of the Driver of the Year award, “This award means so much to me, especially being voted on by the members of the National Motorsports Press Association members. We had a great year, and I’m so proud that you’ve selected me to receive this special award.

“You’ve heard me talk about it before, in the end it’s all about people,” Harvick said of his 2014 season. “We were in a fortunate situation where (team owners) Gene (Haas) and Tony (Stewart) said, ‘Alright, you don’t have a budget. Just go out and hire whoever you think you need to hire to make the best team possible.’ Then they built new race cars and every nut and bolt, every (piece) was brand new from top to bottom.

“It’s very rare that you get that situation. Usually when you start a new team you’ve got to mix and blend a lot of stuff from the teams that are already there. It was just a very unique circumstance. In the end, it all boils down to the people; we’re fortunate to have a great organization that has a lot of assets that go with it.”

The three other main awards were the NMPA Spirit Award, the Joe Littlejohn Award and the T. Taylor Warren Picture of the Year Award. The Joe Littlejohn Award is presented each year to a person or persons, or an organization, in recognition for or outstanding service to the NMPA. It’s named after the former track owner from Spartanburg, S.C. Littlejohn is credited with two career NASCAR starts, but raced extensively before the formation of NASCAR.

Lynda Petty was honored the NMPA Spirit Award for her tireless efforts on behalf of the NASCAR Wives’ Auxillary, today known as the Women’s Auxillary of Motorsports. She passed away March 30, 2014. Her husband Richard and son Kyle were in attendance to recognize Lynda’s achievement.

“The example that Lynda Petty and all of our Spirit Award nominees and recipients have set for us serves as a reminder that it’s not what you take from this life that is important, but what you give back,” 2014 NMPA President Kenny Bruce said. “Recognizing the work and contributions of these people is an honor and a privilege the NMPA doesn’t take for granted.”

The NMPA Spirit Award is designed to recognize character and achievement in the face of adversity, sportsmanship and contributions to motorsports. Each year, the NMPA membership selects four quarterly recipients, with an overall winner chosen from among the four candidates at season’s end.

Kerry Tharp, senior director, competition communications for NASCAR took home the Joe Littlejohn Award. “I love being around racing, but especially the media. I really appreciate this award. It means so much to me and I greatly appreciate the recognition from such a prestigious group of people that comprise the National Motorsports Press Association.”

John Harrelson, track photographer for Darlington and Richmond collected the T. Taylor Warren Picture of the Year Award.

Other awards were presented in the fields of the various disciplines of writing and photography categories.

Tommy Dampier

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