2024 01 13 Empa Dave Argabright Ron Hedger Paul Arch Photo Dsc 6675 (25)a
Dave Argabright (left) with Ron Hedger, who was recently inducted into the Eastern Motorsports Press Ass’n Hall of Fame. (Paul Arch photo)

ARGABRIGHT: Good Thoughts, Good Timing & Good Stuff

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — He sat at the table with an impassive gaze, staring toward the stage at the front of the room as the feats of his decades-long career were recounted.

He was surrounded by family and friends, there to share the recognition of a lifetime.

I wondered what was going through Ron Hedger’s mind at that moment. Was he reflecting on the hundreds of columns and feature stories he authored? Was he thinking of the vast number of people whose lives were touched by his efforts?

Whatever his thoughts, when Hedger’s name was called, he rose and walked to the podium where he was honored as an inductee into the Eastern Motorsports Press Ass’n Hall of Fame.

Since 1978 Hedger’s columns and feature stories have graced the pages of SPEED SPORT. Initially it was the print version we awaited each week, and today it is the digital version that is with us all week long.

For many of us, Hedger’s work will forever be identified with the dateline that led each column: “Ballston Spa, New York.”

Midwesterners like me couldn’t help wondering: What kind of a town would be named Ballston Spa?

Turns out it’s a village, not a town. But based on our interactions with just one of the village citizens, I’d say it’s a place that produces people of integrity, of honesty, of devotion.

Ballston Spa is just north of Albany, just south of Saratoga Springs, and right in the middle of arguably the most robust short-track racing culture in the nation. New England to the east, Syracuse to the west and the hotbeds of Pennsylvania and New Jersey to the south.

From the midst of all that action came Hedger, a high school shop teacher who experienced his first byline in Stock Car Racing Magazine in the 1970s. Soon he was persuaded by Chris Economaki to begin submitting a column to SPEED SPORT and the arc of his life was forever altered.

And so it goes, when the racing world began enjoying the latest news and opinion from the village of Ballston Spa.

Hedger has earned a reputation as a straight shooter, an honest writer who isn’t looking to chop somebody’s head off. His passion for motorsports is endless, spanning a lifetime and inspiring the words that in turn inspired all of us.

For 46 years, Hedger’s byline has been nestled just above good thoughts, good timing and good stuff.

The high school teaching gig has come and gone and in his retirement years Hedger has volunteered his time with the Saratoga Automobile Museum, where he arranges the display of at least two race cars at all times.

Some years ago, when EMPA found itself at an existential crossroads, Hedger stepped up to push and pull and invest his sweat and time to make sure the organization would not only survive, but thrive.

And now he is taking his place in the Hall of Fame, voted upon by his peers with warm and universal approval.

Ron Hedger is known on these pages as an honest writer who loves telling racing stories. So now I’ll be honest: Aren’t we the lucky ones to have the privilege of reading this man’s work all these years?

Congratulations, my friend.

Put that beautiful Hall of Fame statue on display in a place where you can see it every day, and always be reminded that guys like me have mountains of respect for guys like you. From one villager to another … well done.