Thanks to Candy Cleveland for all photos!
Thanks to Candy Cleveland for all photos!
Ken Bouchard’s Motorsports
520 Fairmount Street
Fitchburg, MA 01420
Submitted by Justin St. Louis
Veterans Committee elects three pioneers to join NEAR’s 20th Class
SOUTH WINDSOR, Conn. – A trio of well-travelled post-World War II drivers – Midget icon Dutch Schaefer and Modified standouts Joe McNulty and Henri “Red” Barbeau – are the Veterans Committee selections for induction into the New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame. All three inductions will be made posthumously.
Long Islander Schaefer and New Englanders McNulty and Barbeau join drivers Russ Wood, Bobby Gahan, Gardiner Leavitt, and brothers Jeff and Rick Fuller, crew chief Steve Bird, car owner Tom Dunn, and announcer/promoter Ben Dodge Jr. in the Class of 2017. The induction ceremony is Sunday, Nov. 12, at Maneely’s Banquet Hall in South Windsor, Connecticut.
“Schaefer, who battled in Midget racing’s post-World War II golden era, and McNulty and Barbeau, who helped the Modified become New England’s signature division, are pioneers in every sense of the word,” said R.A. Silvia, chairman of the NEAR selection committee. “They had a definite impact on New England auto racing history.”
Active from 1933 until just short of his passing in 1978, Schaefer, a four-time ARDC king, was among the country’s Midget superstars and is a member of the National Midget Hall of Fame. A multi-time ARDC president as well, Schaefer included three Danbury Fairgrounds titles among his championships. A frequent NEMA competitor as well, the mustached driver won at a dozen New England tracks, including legendary ovals like Eastern States Exposition, Pines Speedway, Cherry Park, and Candlelight Stadium.
The personable McNulty, known for “taking care of the race car,” was a force in Southern New England in the 1950s and ‘60s, posting wins at Lonsdale, Seekonk, and the Waterford Speedbowl. He was also a winner at Norwood and the demanding Old Bridge in New Jersey, the latter two under the NASCAR banner. Bertha Small’s #23 and Slim Ross’ #222 were among the rides for the Providence native who raced out of Quaker Hill, Conn.
A Woonsocket, R.I., product, Barbeau was a familiar figure from the late 1940s into the early 1970s in both Modifieds and Cutdowns. Heading up Barbeau’s résumé is a major win at Pinecrest Speedway in Toronto in 1959 and a late model championship at Seekonk in 1973. Usually associated with the Reveraux/Auclair #L1 car, Barbeau was a force on a circuit that included, among other stops, Lonsdale, Westboro, West Peabody, Norwood, the Pines, and Seekonk speedways.
More information, including ticket purchases, is available at www.NEAR1.org.
Article and Photos courtesy of Bill Henry
September 17, 2017 found the New England Antique Racers at the P.A.L. building for the annual Danbury SNYRA Reunion. This always popular show brought out the crowd, even though the morning started out with clouds, mist, and fog. By noon, the weather had cleared and we were in a summer sweat down. Fortunately, this event is inside. The hot weather had little impact on those shining up their cars. They all displayed well and received the admiration of the masses.
In addition to the cars, the Hall of Fame Museum was also in attendance. This traveling catalog of racing memorabilia was, as always, a hit with those who toured.
It is hard to believe that after 36 years race fans still come out to view the cars, and obtain autographs from their drivers. Many take pictures of cars which now only race in their memory. Some are still on the track at vintage events where some tracks allow NEAR to participate. These are demonstrations. not at top speed and racing, as set forth in our bylaws. If you have not been to a facility where NEAR actively takes to the track, you have missed the sounds of open exhaust, the smell of rubber being ground into the track, and the scent of hot oil. The 2018 schedule is under construction as this is being written. Please check the website and make plans to support NEAR at a local race track. Come show your support for the facilities, and the members who do this as a labor of love for the sport.
Also for the fan’s viewing delight were late models, modifieds, dirt cars and go karts from the surrounding area. They all came out to support the reunion. Outside the facility a good number of street vehicles made the trek to strut their stuff for the pleasure of the attendees.
On behalf of NEAR and the Danbury Racearena Reunion Committee, I would like to thank the following: Don Moon, George Cleveland, Don Lajoie, Pete Ballard, Dale Cote, Bill Kemp, Jojo Farrone and Angie Bullock. Your efforts were paramount to making the show happen by bringing your cars and donating your time. Much appreciated.
A big tip of the hat goes to Steve Zukowski. Steve drove the HOF truck from Rhode Island to Danbury and back so that it was available to the fans.
On to The Plainville Reunion!
Article by Justin St. Louis
The New England Auto Racers (NEAR) Hall of Fame has named two longtime stock car racing journalists, Brian Danko , left, and Tom Herzig, right, to receive the 2017 Mitchell-Ratta Media Award.
Bearing the names of respected motorsports writers Charlie Mitchell of the Norwalk (Conn.) Hour and Jack Ratta of the Manchester (N.H.) Union Leader, the annual award recognizes reporters dedicated to racing in the region. Past recipients include writers Chris Economaki and Mark “Bones” Bourcier, and radio host Dave Moody.
Danko and Herzig will be honored at the NEAR Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Sunday, November 12, at Maneely’s Banquet Hall in South Windsor, Connecticut. For more information including placing a ticket order, visit the official NEAR website at www.NEAR1.org.
Southington, Conn., native Danko is an open-wheel asphalt Modified racing authority, having covered the ground-pounders for over 40 years. Disappointed by a lack of coverage in his local newspaper, Danko took it upon himself to begin documenting the races at Plainville Stadium in the late 1970s for the New Britain (Conn.) Herald. He soon branched out to Stafford Motor Speedway, Thompson Speedway, and Riverside Park, and eventually covered races from Maine to Florida to Indianapolis.
Danko has spent the last 30 years covering the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour for Area Auto Racing News, and has also worked at the last 20 Daytona 500s. He recently recalled a colorful experience sitting between Charlie Mitchell and Jack Ratta in the press box at Daytona International Speedway years ago: “Ithink they believed I needed some looking after,” he fondly remembered. “They were both great writers and personalities.”
Herzig, a native of Charlestown, N.H., has been a respected racing journalist and publicist for 20 years with prolific contributions to some of New England’s most recognizable daily newspapers, including the Manchester Union Leader and the Barre-Montpelier (Vt.) Times Argus.
While writing columns and covering races for print, Herzig also served in public relations for promoter Tom Curley in 1997-2004, working the busy American-Canadian Tour circuit, Vermont’s Thunder Road Speedbowl, and New York’s Airborne Park Speedway. He gave 10 more seasons at Airborne under promoter Mike Perrotte, and then spent one year as the DIRTcar Northeast Communications Director in 2015.
The well-traveled Granite Stater first cheered on his father, driver Ken Herzig, as he raced against NEAR Hall of Famers Sonny Rabideau and Roy Forsythe at the Cheshire Fairgrounds and at Claremont Speedway in the mid-1950s. Herzig pitched to future Baseball Hall of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk in high school, is an accomplished blues musician, and has also covered horse racing and high school and college sports for many years.
NEAR has already named eight new members for its Hall of Fame: Drivers Russ Wood, Bobby Gahan, Gardiner Leavitt, and brothers Jeff and Rick Fuller, crew chief Steve Bird, car owner Tom Dunn, and promoter and media man Ben Dodge Jr.; still to come are selections from the Veterans Committee. For more information, visit www.NEAR1.org.
Article by Al Fini
We are looking for up to 15 antique race cars to set up along the Avenue of States during the Big E Fair on the 1st Sunday of November this year. The Big E has also agreed to have the NEAR Mobile Museum on display.
This is a unique and exciting opportunity to display your race car in front of a minimum of 50,000 fair goers. Everyone coming in with the car on display will receive free admission and free parking. You must be on the Big E grounds before 8 AM and will be allowed to leave at 4 PM as a group, escorted off the Fairgrounds by security.
If we get a minimum of 6 cars the NEAR Board of Directors has agreed to consider making the event a points show. If this event is a success I think it could probably be a regular event on the Big E calendar as there was a lot of interest in last year’s racing events at The Big E.
This has the potential to be a great event, exposing our Club to a lot of potential new members throughout all of New England. We won’t be allowed to sell merchandise, but we can recruit new members. Please notify me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or 413-896-4764 If you plan to attend.
See you there!
Grand Prize of $1000 Phyllis Wolstenhulme
Second Prize of $250 Cheryl Reilly
Third Prize $125 John Rodolewicz
Fourth Prize 2 tickets 2017 HOF Banquet Norman Cyr
Fifth prize 2 tickets 2017 HOF Banquet Lou Kelley
Sixth Prize 2 tickets 2017 HOF banquet Barbara Teal
Seventh Prize 2 tickets 2017 HOF banquet Paul Jacques
Eight Prize 1 2017 HOF t shirt Sydney Sullivan
Ninth Prize 1 2017 HOF t shirt Bruce Mackinnon
Tenth Prize 1 2017 HOF T shirt Cliff Polacek
Eleventh Prize 1 2017 HOF T shirt Dave Beribeoulk
Twelve Prize 1 2017 HOF T shirt Marion Gararneau
Thirteenth Prize 1 2017 HOF T Shirt Bill Seward
Fourteenth Prize 1 2017 HOF T shirt Ted Palmer
Fifteenth Prize 1 2017 HOF T shirt Jojo Farone
Tribute from Bailey Funeral Home Website
“First tap is telling you I’m here. Second tap is telling you to pick a lane. Third tap, I’m picking the lane for you.”
Ted “TC” “The King” Christopher #13
NASCAR driver, business owner and beloved husband, son, brother, uncle and friend, Theodore “Ted” “TC” Christopher, died following a tragic airplane crash in Guilford Saturday.
The celebrated 59-year-old driver, a Plainville native who recently moved to Southington, left behind both a legend and a legacy. His life was full of energy, swagger, intelligence, generosity and kindness that together contributed to the essence of a man whose greatness went far beyond the race track.
In 2001 Christopher won the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national title and in 2008 the NASCAR Whelan Modified Tour Crown. With 13 combined championships, he was the winningest driver at both Stafford Motor Speedway and Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.
Christopher, whose “Three Tap” rule reflected his aggressive, signature racing style, was named one of the top 25 drivers in NASCAR’s weekly series in 2006, when the series celebrated its 25th anniversary. In 2008, Stafford named a section of its grandstand in his honor. Despite his age, Christopher had not lost any of his edge. So far this season he had racked up six wins at Stafford with his most recent just two weeks ago.
A fan favorite whose ability was respected by his racing peers, Christopher won hundreds of awards and accolades throughout his racing career. And while most knew him because of his racing celebrity, his biggest successes in life went far beyond the tracks he raced on.
A well-regarded and hard-working businessman who owned M & T Enterprises in Plainville, Christopher’s roots in his community ran deep. A 1976 graduate of Plainville High School, he was a sports enthusiast who was captain of his high school wrestling team. In 2013 he was inducted into the Plainville Sports Hall of Fame. He rooted for any football team that was winning, especially if the team was beating his wife’s Dallas Cowboys, but could care less about the Red Sox or the Yankees. He was an avid reader, loved rock and roll music, was a classic car collector and a guy who couldn’t imagine life without his German shepherds, including puppy Maverick. His friendships with his gang of longtime friends were precious, respected and far reaching. An accomplished cook, he never missed the Wednesday night Outback dinners “with the boys” followed by Pralines ice cream on his way home. Morning oatmeal from scratch with a side of “Let’s Make A Deal” was a must.
He was generous to his community, sponsoring many children’s recreational activities and quietly contributing to non-profit efforts because he wanted to help. As a son and sibling, he was devoted. As an uncle, he loved knowing that the party never really began for delighted nieces and nephews until a boisterous, grinning and mischief-making “Uncle Teddy” arrived.
Nothing in his life however, was more important than his wife, Quinn Wazorko Christopher, and the treasured life and home they had built together. It reflected an unshakeable bond of love and trust and teamwork that he valued much more than his rooms full of trophies.
Christopher was a true man of merit, one who lived every day of his life to the fullest and whose life ended too soon. He will be missed more than words can explain.
Besides his wife he leaves his mother Lucy (Graziano) Christopher; his twin brother and sister-in-law, Michael and Jen Christopher of Wolcott; his sister and brother-in-law Joe and Judy Christopher Mannix of Longmeadow; his mother-in-law MaryEllen Fillo Wazorko of Southington and Delray Beach, Fl ; his brothers-and sisters-in-law, Christopher and Raegan Wazorko and Justin and Tabitha Manafort, all of Plainville; his nephews and nieces, Michael and Nicole Christopher, George and Jacob Mannix, Olivia, Lillian and Amelia Wazorko , and Samantha, Justin, and Tommi Manafort. He also leaves many aunts, uncles, cousins and treasured friends who shared his love of life both on and off the racetrack and dearly treasured him. He was pre-deceased by his beloved father, William Christopher.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held Tuesday at 10 a.m. at St. Matthew Church, 120 Church St., Forestville. Friends are asked to meet directly at church. Calling hours will be held Monday from 3 to 8 p.m. at Bailey’s Funeral Home, 48 Broad St Plainville .There will also be a race program memorial at Stafford Speedway in Stafford Springs on Oct. 1 where his #13 car number will be retired.
It is said “The choices we make about the lives we live determine the kinds of legacies we leave.” His life was one of love, sass, compassion, honesty and adventure. His legacy is all that and much more.
In lieu of flowers donations can be made to the Ted Christopher Memorial Fund, care of Farmington Bank, 117 East Street Plainville Ct 06062 Attn. Bree Pirog. To leave a condolence go to www.bailey-funeralhome.com
Ted Christopher Memorial Fund
117 East Street, Plainville CT 06062