RPW Column: Woohoo, What A Wild Ride! King, Marshall & Tremont Inducted Into LVS Hall Of Fame

Column By: BOBBY CHALMERS / RPW – WEST LEBANON, NY – Saturday evening at Lebanon Valley Speedway was a night to honor the 2022 season’s best in the DIRTcar Big Block and 358-Modified divisions, headlined by champion in both classes, Andy Bachetti.

Unfortunately, Bachetti was unable to attend the event as he was traveling back from an event he competed in on Saturday afternoon in Selinsgrove, PA.

With that being said, a trio of Big Block Modified pilots took center stage on the evening.

Each driver was being honored by their piers while cementing their legacies in the sport.

With a combined 137 years of racing behind the wheel, Mike King, Eddie Marshall and the King of the Valley, Kenny Tremont, were all inducted into the track’s Hall of Fame.

Each driver was very deserving.  Better yet, even being enshrined, none of them show any signs of slowing down just yet.

For the driver affectionately known as the “King Fish,” Mike King recently celebrated his 50th anniversary of racing in 2022.  To this day, his first career win in the Big Block ranks on August 15, 2005 (and subsequent victory lane celebration) ranks as, most likely, the most popular in the history of the track.

“That night was a great time, I tell ya,” King said.  “When Donnie Ackner broke a motor with a few laps to go, I perked up a bit.  Naturally, we had a restart at the end, but we were able to get the job done and it all worked out.  We made it.  We finally made it.”

That’s because of the type of person Mike King is.  He hasn’t won that many races, but no one has enjoyed their time behind the wheel of a racecar as much as Mike King.

Even more, nobody’s enjoyed being at the Valley as much as Mike.

“There’s nobody that’s had as much fun as me, my crew and my family have,” he said.  “Those people are my family.  It’s just an honor to be here.  Racing here with you folks, it’s what we do.  It’s for the fun of it and we love it.”

The idea of seeing Mike King not enjoying his time at a race track, either before, during, or after an event, does not exist.  This is one man who truly loves the sport which makes his induction even more deserving.

“If you’re not smiling when you’re at the race track, why do it,” he said.  “Even after the races, or when there’s a rainout, we might be across the street (at the Phaze3 Compound), maybe having a beer or two, we all enjoy what we do.”

The veteran from Nassau, NY knew from the beginning that no matter what, race as hard as you can with the cards you are dealt, but do it with class and honor.  That is Mike King to a T.

“My uncle, Bob Hart, taught me you race with what you’ve got, not with what you want, and you do the best with what you’ve got,” he said.  “Who cares what anyone else has.  You go home, work hard to come back the next race with what you have.  Just do your best.”

Eddie Marshall is another well deserving inductee.  The 1982 Small Block Modified (320CI) champion at the track, Marshall picked up his first career Big Block win just two years later in August of 1984.

Over the span of a 43-year driving career, to date, the Pound Ridge, NY driver has amassed 33 trips to victory lane in Big Block competition.  His most recent came this past season on May 14th when he destroyed the Modified field to store the popular victory.

Eddie is one of the most consistent drivers at the track as well, placing in the top 5 in points an astonishing 23 times while having 27 seasons with a victory.

The true longevity of Marshall’s career can be summed up in one stat.  He’s one of three drivers ever to win a Modified race at the Valley in five different decades, and now joins his father, Ernie (inducted in 1984), as a Hall of Famer at the West Lebanon race track.

“It’s quite an honor to be in the Hall of Fame, but also to be in with my father,” Marshall said.  “It’s also an honor to be inducted at the same time with Mike and Kenny but also to be still competing here with all of these great competitors.”

Marshall reminisced about all of the great people he’s had behind him over his storied career, and is one driver who truly understands what having that support means.

“We’ve been fortunate through the years to have great companies to support our racing, but also amazing people,” he said.  “Some of those people have been with us since the 80’s and are even here tonight.  From the likes of Olsen to Teo and Ron Hutter, J&J Balancers and Kevin Enders, it’s all been terrific.”

However, for Eddie, it’s more importantly about the people that have helped him get to this stage in his career, and he knows just how lucky he’s been.

“I’ve had some people on this team that have been super dedicated and that’s what it takes to be here and compete,” he said.  “I really appreciate their hard work and sacrifice.  My parents support and wife as well.  They’ve been great with all of this and I’ve enjoyed it all.  Hopefully, I still have some more great moments ahead of me.  We’ll keep working at it and see where it goes.”

The final inductee, Kenny Tremont, needs no induction when it comes to his career at Howard Commander’s race track.  He’s simply known as the King of the Valley, and has been putting an assault on the speedway record books for some 44 years himself.

From his first season driving a Big Block Modified in 1980 to his run of five consecutive championships (1982-1986) and ultimately becoming the all-time winningest driver with 174 career trips to winner’s circle (145 Big Block wins), anyone can see that Kenny deserved to be in the Hall of Fame.

“It’s a great honor to be in the Hall of Fame here at Lebanon, but also to do it with these two guys,” Tremont said as he began to get choked up.  “It’s hard to put into words.  I’ve been here my whole life.  I truly appreciate this honor and have to thank my family, especially my dad (1970 inductee Ken Tremont Sr.), my sister, Kim, my wife, Kathi and everyone that’s been involved.  This means a lot.”

While Tremont’s resume speaks for itself, he recalled one night when in particular where racing with fellow inductee, Mike King, showed Mike’s true colors as a gentleman, but also as a character.

“There was one night I was racing with Mike a while back,” he said.  “There was a wreck on the backstretch and I spun around.  I got into the inside wall.  Here comes Mike and I was saying to myself, please Mike…please don’t hit me.  He’s spinning around and around and he comes right door-to-door with me.  Luckily he stopped and he looks over, flips up his visor and says ‘Woohoo, what a wild ride.’  True story.  That’s Mike.”

Just like his fellow drivers honored on Saturday night, Tremont is extremely grateful for those that have helped him chase his dreams throughout his career…a career full of statistics that is simply astonishing.

However, he feels it was just by chance that he got that break which started this legendary career.

“One of the things, when I started to drive, I was driving my dad’s back-up car,” he said.  “I think the thing that really put me in the seat was that Howie paid $100 to start the feature.  My old man wanted that $100 so I was his second car and I remember him telling me to just do the best I could.  Maybe take a couple laps and pull in but that was how it all began.”

Luckily, for Tremont, he was lucky to learn from another legend at the track, 1995 inductee Chuck Ely.

“I was driving the back-up, but eventually, Chuck retired,” he said.  “I had the advantage of him telling me what to do and what not to do.  He had been around me and was a great driver, a super mentor and was super patient.  He was great for our race team and for me as a driver so when he retired in 1981, I inherited a team that had already been in business for like 20 years.”

Joining an established team like that was vital for Tremont’s development as a wheelman.

“If there was something wrong, the guys, more-or-less, told me what was wrong,” he said.  “I was lucky enough to have a great team and a real great car.”

With everything he’s accomplished in this sport, Kenny Tremont knows exactly what Saturday night truly meant.

“I’m trying to find the right way to put this,” he said.  “I’ve won a lot of different things in my career, but this probably means the most.  To get something like this probably says that all the hard work and dedication we’ve put in was worth it all those years.”

Some 44 years ago, the year was 1978.  That was the first time three Big Block Modified drivers were inducted into the Hall of Fame at the same time.  Those drivers were Butch Jelley, Tommy Corellis and Carlton Hughes.

Now, we have our second.

Mike King…

Eddie Marshall…

Kenny Tremont…

The Lebanon Valley Speedway Hall of Fame Class of 2023.  Woohoo, what a wild ride!

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