Southern Tier racing legend Mike Colsten and Bob Savoie, whose career turned around because of a rule change, will headline the newest class of inductees into the New York State Stock Car Association Hall of Fame.
Joining Colsten and Savoie in the Class of 2013 are drivers Joe Messina and Jimmy Winks and veteran announcer Jim King.
Colsten recently completed his 45th season of racing and did it in style, winning his fourth track championship at Five Mile Point Speedway. What makes Colsten's season even more amazing is that he was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer, in September 2012 and endured countless chemotherapy treatments and surgeries during the winter to eradicate the disease. When spring arrived, Colsten felt well enough to race and after a discussion with his wife, Lea, returned to Five Mile Point. After three wins, two seconds and never finishing out of the top 10, Colsten walked away with the track championship.
Savoie began his modified racing career in 1978 and won his first track championship at Utica-Rome Speedway in 1979, the first season that the historic track switched to a dirt surface.
But Savoie's career didn't take off until 1985, when Champlain Valley Racing Association founder C.J. Richards decided to do away with big blocks and mandated 358 cubic inch motors for the CVRA.
In the ensuing seasons, running at Albany-Saratoga, Plattsburgh and Devil's Bowl, Savoie piled up over 60 victories and numerous track championships, driving for a number of owners. Some of his best seasons came when he was driving for Mike Richards in the potent Richardsdale Farms car.
Savoie has over 150 career victories, and his win at Glen Ridge Motorsports Park in 2013 gave him victories in five consecutive decades.
Messina ran primarily on the asphalt tracks of Pine Bowl and Empire Speedway in the Albany area during the late 1950s and early 1960s, campaigning his famous Hudsons, which usually carried the No. 13.
One of his most infamous victories came at the Vermont State Fair in 1961, when organizers and drivers met before the event and agreed to run a “scripted” race, when all drivers sharing equally in the purse, because of unsafe conditions at the track.
When he switched to dirt, Messina replaced Ken Goodermote in the Ken Tremont-owned 115 and ran at both Lebanon Valley and Devil's Bowl. He and Tremont teamed up to win the Devil's Bowl track championship in 1970, and Messina later became one of the first drivers for owner Joe Leto.
Winks, who passed away in early November at the age of 65, was one of the most versatile drivers to ever sit behind the wheel of a race car. He ran modifieds as well as supermodifieds while living outside of Syracuse, and also had two sprint car victories. A two-time track champion at Rolling Wheels, Winks also had five career wins at Oswego Speedway and picked up over 60 wins when he moved to Florida in the early 1980s.
His impressive resume included 37 victories at Volusia County Speedway and over 20 at New Smyrna.
King has been around racing for most of his life, as his father Bill, built race cars and always had a car at Fonda Speedway. King's announcing career began in 1972, when the announcer at Fonda Speedway abruptly moved out of town to take another job, leaving Fonda promoter Jim Gage without an announcer. King, the track photographer at the time, went up in the booth and a career as born.
Since that time, King has been “The Voice of ...” numerous speedways throughout the Northeast, and will come back for a 42ndseason in the spring when he returns to the booth at Fonda Speedway, which will be under the management of new promoter Matt DeLorenzo.
King, who has also been involved in ice racing and snowmobile racing in the winters, also spent a half-season as general manager at Utica-Rome Speedway in 1998 after a dispute closed the track for one week during June.