Vince Fullone created a dynasty as a car owner at Holland International Speedway several years ago that saw him grace the championship podium seven times with driver Rick Wylie during Fullone's brilliant career as the head of the legendary Fullone Trucking Racing Team.
Fullone, of North Collins, again stepped into the limelight during the Friends of Auto Racing Fan Club's (FOAR Score) annual FOAR Score Hall of Fame induction ceremony held in conjunction with the club's annual Holiday and Awards Party on Saturday before 215 people at the Elk's Lodge in Lancaster.
Fullone was inducted along with retired drivers DeVere Bliss, Mike Scroger and veteran race official/promoter Hal Lawrence.
As the NASCAR Cup Series over the years has witnessed car owner Rick Hendrick bankrolling the efforts of his No. 48 entry to seven championships for Jimmie Johnson, Holland has its own version of Hendrick in the presence of Fullone, who also authored seven titles in Holland's former NASCAR Late Model Pro Stock division supporting his own No. 48 machine with Wylie doing the driving. In the post-Wylie years, Fullone enjoyed more success fielding cars in various classes for son Sam.
Fullone hired Wylie as his driver in 1986 and the pairing won Holland Late Model titles in 1988, 1991, 1992 and 1995-1998. in what became a dynasty. The Fullone team's seven championships are second at Holland to only Art Clark, who amassed 12 Holland championships during his own hall of fame career.
The Fullone Trucking team also scored seven wins in what was formerly Holland's annual crown jewel NASCAR Late Model event, the Budweiser 100. That included six by Wylie and one by Sam Fullone in 2002.
The elder Fullone plans to still field cars for Sam this coming season.
"We had quite a good run," Fullone said. "I always had some good people around us. It wasn't just me. We had a good car, a good crew and then when we finished up at Holland we went to the Hooter's Pro Cup Series with my son Sam for years which was a totally different program than Holland was but I feel pretty honored to be selected to this hall of fame. I appreciate that the FOAR Score recognized a car owner. It wasn't just me and the money. You've got to put it all together."
Vince Fullone has not retired as a car owner quite yet.
"I hope next year Sam and I are going to put a program together to run a Modified and a Late Model too," Vince said.
Long before the Fullone camp was achieving success on the race track, Bliss was garnering checkered flags of his own.
Blass built his first stock car in 1957, a 1936 Ford and began racing at the now-defunct Angelica and Cuba Lake facilities. Bliss, with the family support of his late wife Faye, raced for several more years at various speedways and divisions. His biggest success came with wins in the 1962 Dean Layfield Memorial 100 at Angelica, the 1966 Holland 100 and the 1967 New Car championship at Perry Speedway. In his later years, he enjoyed watching the successful careers of sons Vern, Mark, Paul and Steve. Paul never drove but headed up the Bliss family sponsorship programs. Vern is also in the FOAR Score Hall of Fame.
"I never figured I did enough to be honored with getting into the hall of fame like this," DeVere said. "I loved racing and never won many championships, but I won a lot of races. I started out in 1957 and stopped driving in 1974-1975. Later on my sons drove. When my son Mark quit in 2007, that was 50 years that my family was involved in local motorsports. It was 50 years of complete enjoyment.
"I'm very blessed to have a family that loved racing and blessed to have a dedicated pit crew. Actually there's two of my pit crew guys here tonight Bud Brown and Joe Friel that pitted with me and they pitted for my boys over our 50 years.
DeVere also took the time to remember Faye, who died in 2005.
"I had just started dating her and I built my first car and she said she wanted to go to the races," DeVere said. "She ended up being such a good partner I ended up marrying her. We ended up having six children and she was the rock of our family."
No one in local racing has worn more hats of responsibility then Lawrence. From former driver to flagger, promoter, sponsor, official, television spotter and pace car driver, Lawrence has been involved in the sport since 1953 and continues to be involved. Among his current duties he still co-drives the pace car at Lancaster.
"I'm absolutely thrilled, honored and proud to be nominated this year by this club", Lawrence said. "Words fail me because I'm getting near the end of my career but I've still got a few more chapters to write. I'm looking forward to next year with the ROC Modifieds (official) and being the pace car driver at Lancaster along with George Troester. I feel this hall of fame honor right in my heart. My racing involvement started in 1953 and it's still going on right now."
Also inducted Saturday was Scroger, who was not present at the ceremony due to health issues but was represented by his sister Sandy Scroger-Stockwell. In a career that began in 1975 Scroger earned five Perry Speedway Street Stock titles, the 1978 Lancaster Street Stock championship and 1978 NEARA Street Stock honors. He later mentored the career of his nephew Russ Prentice. Scroger retired as a driver in the mid-1980's and relocated to Florida where he currently resides.
Also honored at the ceremony Saturday was Ryan Susice, who based on the stength of capturing his third consecutive Ransomville Speedway 358 Modified championship this past season, earned the Driver of the Year on Dirt Award. Tommy Catalano, who garnered 2017 championships including Holland NASCAR Pro Modifieds, Spencer Speedway Sunoco Sportsman, ROC Sportsman and ROC Late Models claimed the Driver of the Year on Asphalt Award.
Car builder/mechanic Bill Eschborn received the Dick Hammond Dedication to Racing Award.
Other award winners Saturday were: the Christiano and Zacharias families, Family in Racing Award; Derek Wagner and Jesse Cotriss, Rookies of the Year on Dirt; Adam Hilton, Most Improved Driver on Dirt; Kevin Miller, Most Improved Driver on Asphalt; the Canfield family/MOJO Photos, Media Award; Ricky Knapp, Sportsmanship; Sonny Barron, Mechanical Achievement; Jerry Ward, Perseverence; Linda Cosco, Woman in Racing; Jake Stefanski, Achievement on Dirt; Rich Sharpe, Achievement on Asphalt.