Weedsport, NY — May 14, 2010 – By Gary M. Spaid, Northeast Modified Hall of Fame Selection Committee
*Ken Dippel Photo
Internationally acclaimed motorsports promoter, marketing and public relations specialist Brian Mulligan has been named recipient of the 2010 Leonard J. Sammons Jr. Memorial Award which recognizes outstanding contributions to auto racing. Mulligan will be honored when the 19th Annual Northeast Modified Hall of Fame driver inductions and special award ceremonies take place Sunday, May 30 on the Cayuga County Fairgrounds in conjunction with the annual Memorial Day Weekend holiday show at Weedsport speedway.
Forty-five years ago Mulligan was at a drag strip watching his car take runs down the track. As a car owner he always argued for the racers and talked racing all the time.
Brian was at the drag strip one day wondering when they would announce for the cars to start the final runs of the day. He, along with all the others, waited. When they asked the promoter about the announcement, they were told the speedway announcer got into some trouble last night and was in jail. The promoter said they tried to bail him out but to no avail. Then he turned to Mulligan and said, “You’re always talking racing, you can announce.” This launched a legendary career behind the microphone for Brian.
He was raised to speak English, but in his early elementary school years was introduced to the French language. He picked it up quickly and more importantly went on to marry a French woman and constantly spoke French around the house.
His announcing responsibilities suddenly grew bigger when Sanair Speedway opened in St. Pie, Que. He announced NHRA events at the drag strip and moved on to announce at other major NHRA venues like Pomona, Englishtown and Columbus, Ohio. He emerged as the familiar voice of two languages, French and English. He also announced at the small oval built at Sanair and then moved up to the three-quarter mile tri-oval, manning the microphone for CART/Indy car and Trans-Am races.
“I guess the only two forms of racing I’ve not yet announced are Formula One and NASCAR.”
In 1983 the Mulligans moved to Cornwall, Ontario. His arrival in town coincided with the need for an announcer at the local track and one day he found Cornwall Motor Speedway owner Ron Morin in his driveway. Morin was told by a local racer that his new announcer had just moved back into town and Ron jumped at the opportunity to get Brian behind the microphone.
During the early years Brian earned his living selling racing equipment. His accounts included Competition Cams, MSD, RJS and others. He had also ventured into snowmobile drags with an experimental team fronted by Bombardier Sleds. Their nitro-methane breathing sled caught the attention of Glenn Donnelly when they ventured one autumn weekend to Weedsport, N.Y. for the national snowmobile events. The drag sled adventures continued for many seasons on the Eastern Pro Tour and snowmobiling remains Brian’s wintertime passion to this day. His wife, Huguette, even learned to score snowmobile races and joined him in on the annual tour.
“I was also working for Tom Curley’s ACT Tour back then and met Ken Squier at one of the Vermont events. We became good friends and I announced at his speedways often. I learned a lot about racing from Squier and still respect and admire him today.”
As the lead announcer at Cornwall Motor Speedway, Mulligan re-entered the “Donnelly camp” when Morin’s track became a full-member DIRT-sanctioned facility featuring the Small-Block Modified division. Cornwall’s prominence grew as did Mulligan’s bi-lingual announcing reputation. Soonafter, Donnelly asked him to help out at Syracuse, and that is where he met up with veteran announcers Joe Marotta and Jack Burgess.
“When I first came along, Jack could no longer climb the stairs so Glen put Joe and I in the “Eye-in-the-Sky” tower and moved Jack to the infield on the concrete stage. Joe and I have grown very close over the years, he and Ken Squier are the two announcers I respect the most. I’ve also learned a lot from Joe, he loves to imitate me and I him. When we get together it can be pure joy for both of us. I always try and take a small piece out of each event we work together.”
Through his relationship with Donnelly and the DIRTcar empire, Mulligan was asked by event organizers Andy Fusco and Dave Lape to announce at some of their LAPCO specials. His role with Donnelly expanded to include occasional announcing assignments at DIRTcar charter member tracks Rolling Wheels Raceway Park and Cayuga County Fair Speedway in Central New York.
Just two years ago, Mulligan had a full weekend plate north of the border, announcing at Autodrome Edelweiss on Fridays, Autodrome Drummond on Saturdays and Cornwall on Sundays. Today, Brian serves as DIRTcar Northeast’s Pro Stock Series Director, a position he has held for the past two years.
“I was talking with Cory (Reed, former NE Competition Director) two years ago about some of my ideas to improve the Pro Stock tour and promote the division,” recalled Mulligan, regarding the popular full-fender class that has long been a weekly staple at Cornwall. At the DIRTcar promoter meetings in November that year Reed announced a new series director and the name Brian Mulligan appeared on the screen overhead.
“Seeing it up on the screen was the first official confirmation of that ‘promotion’,” Mulligan added, “but a job I gladly accepted.” He has since increased the interest in and exposure for the class, with three new Pro Stock tracks entering the DIRTcar Northeast-fold in 2010.
Mulligan’s eldest son Patrick follows the family interests and also promotes auto racing in Canada while owning his own Pro Stock team. His youngest son, Danny, stays involved trackside as a flagman, climbing the starter’s stand for special shows only throughout the summer months.
DIRTcar Racing Northeast main office is located in Weedsport, New York on the Cayuga County Fairgrounds, home of DIRTcar All-Star Weekend in July. DIRTcar Northeast’s crown jewel event —Super DIRT Week at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse runs annually in October featuring Hoosier Tire-VP Racing Fuels Mr. DIRTcar Championship Series events for Big-Block Modified, 358-Modified, Sportsman and Pro Stock divisions. Ticket and schedule information is available by contacting the Weedsport office (315/834-6606) during the day or logging into www.allstar100weekend.com and www.superdirtweekonline.com anytime.
The Big-Block Super DIRTcar Series is brought to fans across the Northeast by several sponsors and partners, including series sponsors Hoosier Racing Tire www.hoosiertire.com and VP Racing Fuels www.vpracingfuels.com. Promotional partners include the University of Northwestern Ohio www.unoh.com and Chizmark & Larson Insurance www.chizmarklarson.com, and contingency sponsors are Bicknell Racing Products www.bicknellracingproducts.com, Bilstein Shocks www.bilstein.com, KSE Racing Products www.kse-racing.com, Motorsports Safety Systems www.motorsportssafetysystems.com, MSD Ignition www.msdignition.com, Penske Shocks, www.penskeshocks.com, Racing Electronics www.racingelectronics.com, Vicci Racing Apparel www.vicci.com and Wrisco Industries www.wrisco.com.