For Immediate Release
Contact: John Keegan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 607-965-8994
Clifton Park, NY Pioneering car owner Allie Swears, superstar driver Jimmy Horton, longtime driver and chassis builder Dave Kneisel and fabricator/mechanic Dick Hicks will be the 2018 inductees for the New York State Stock Car Association Hall of Fame.
Swears started out driving his own #36 at dirt tracks near his Glens Falls, NY home but came to prominence as an owner and builder of mounts for such notable drivers as Bob Bruno, Paul Marshall, Kenny Shoemaker, Dutch Reed, Roger Gauthier, Nelson Moore and Dick Nephew. A mechanic for Whiteman Chevrolet in Glens Falls by day, Swears built winning cars for Fonda, Victoria, West Haven, VT and a number of Canadian speedways by night.
Swears’ most notable achievement was winning the 1962 NASCAR National Sportsman championship with Nephew, who shared the honor with fellow New Yorker Bill Wimble after a year-long, four and five night a week battle. But he is also known as the builder of the South Glens Falls Dragway, which he opened in 1962. Along with local racers, the strip hosted such national luminaries as Don Garlits, Shirley Muldowney and Art Arfons, adding to the Swears legend of achievement.
The ageless Horton, still a threat to win today at age 60 after decades of competition, may live in New Jersey but his New York record is outstanding. Modified champion at the Orange County Fairgrounds in ’76, ’96 and again in 2017, Horton also won the ’85 Lebanon Valley 200, a pair of Syracuse qualifiers and the ’95 Race of Champions at the Valley.
He won both Fonda’s Mohawk Valley 200 and Orange County’s Eastern States 200 twice, along with the ’92 DIRT Asphalt Challenge at Oswego, but his crowning achievement was winning the big block finale of Super DIRT Week on the Syracuse mile in 1987 and again in 1994.
2017 marked Horton’s 43rd start at Super DIRT Week, making him the all-time leader in that category despite a number of seasons devoted to ARCA and NASCAR competition.
Kneisel is another out-of-stater who left his mark on Empire State racing. The Clarks Summit, PA resident started his career in 1950 at the 1/5 mile asphalt Bone’s Stadium near Pottstown but soon became known for his prowess on dirt, both as a driver and as a fabricator of cars for such superstars as Jack Johnson and Bob McCreadie, who won Syracuse in ’79 and ‘86, respectively, in chassis from Kneisel’s Speed and Sport shop.
In 1971, Kneisel claimed track titles at both the Weedsport and Twin Valley Speedways and in ’74 scored another double, this time at Canandaigua and Brewerton. He also shone at the Five Mile Point Speedway, where he won the Heath Memorial in ’71, ’73 and ’74 and was a six-time champion between 1953 and ’73.
Hicks’ involvement in racing goes back to his youth in central New York, where he helped his cousin, regional star Larry Nye. A move to the Capital District saw Hicks land across the street from Pete Corey’s shop and he was soon involved with Corey and Eddie Pieniezak and then, later on, Pete Jr. Over the years, he would also work with Lee Nutting, Craig Criscone and the Hauser Brothers team when Hall of Famer CD Coville was their driver.
A 12-year association with Dextor Dorr was Hicks’ biggest career move. It was there that he perfected his fabrication skills, building complete cars alongside Dorr, as well rebuilding transmissions and rear ends. With Dorr’s passing in 1989, Hicks purchased his shop equipment and established the business he still operates today.
“I don’t build cars anymore but I clip bent chassis, build front axles, bumpers and rub rails and rebuild driveline components, so I stay busy,” says Hicks, now retired from his longtime “real job” as an executive with Callanan Industries. “I have a soft spot for the little guys and I try to help them out both financially and with setups. And I’ve been a crew guy with Brett Hearn for years. When I started helping him, he had 642 wins and now he’s over 900, so it’s been a while!”
The 2018 NYSSCA induction ceremony will be held at the site of the association’s permanent display, the Saratoga Automobile Museum, at 11 am on Saturday, January 20, 2018. Following that ceremony, attention will turn that evening’s NYSSCA awards banquet at the Albany Polish Club, with cocktails set for 4 pm and introduction of the Hall of Fame inductees to follow at 5:15.
The Saratoga Automobile Museum is located on the Avenue of the Pines in the Saratoga Spa State Park, just off Exit 13 of the Adirondack Northway, while the Polish Club is on Washington Ave. Extension near Exit 24 of the New York Thruway. Banquet reservations can be made through Cheryl Catman at 518-479-0607.