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Next meeting - October 18, 2016
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|Bigelow, Whipple to Share
NEAR Mitchell-Ratta Media Award
September 20, 2016
The New England Auto Racers (NEAR) Hall of Fame has named two St. Johnsbury, Vt., writers – Phil Whipple and Richard “Big” Bigelow – to share its annual Mitchell-Ratta Media Award for 2016. The honor will be presented at the NEAR Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Sunday, November 13.
Although the co-winners originally hail from the same town in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, the paths that led them to document the local stock car racing scene were vastly different.
Bigelow was born into a racing family and cheered on his father, driver Jerry Bigelow, Northeastern Speedway’s final track champion in 1966. Bigelow and his brother, Bob, began driving in the early 1980s; “Biggy” won a half-dozen races at Riverside Speedway in Groveton, N.H., and in his final season, 1992, won the first feature ever run in the American-Canadian Tour’s present-day Late Model class at Thunder Road in Barre, Vermont.
Bigelow’s foray into media began with guest appearances on local racing radio programs in 1996. He started writing his popular “Strap In!” column for his hometown daily Caledonian Record in April 1998, running 52 weeks a year. Since his writing debut 18 years ago, Bigelow estimates that over some 900-plus weeks since his hire date he has only missed “maybe five or six” columns.
Whipple was introduced to the sport at age 18, sitting in the grandstands with his father for the 1979 Oxford 250 at Maine’s Oxford Plains Speedway. From that day, he says, he was “totally hooked.” He followed the sport locally for the next dozen years as a fan before he started penning the “Vermont Vibrations” column for Val LeSieur’s Speedway Scene trade paper in 1992.
Whipple spent several years as a public relations consultant for teams competing in the NASCAR Busch North Series in the early 1990s before getting back into journalism. After relocating to Maine in 1995, his work began to appear in Trackside Magazine, New England Racing, and Busch North Scene. He joined the staff of the daily Lewiston Sun Journal in 2000, where he continues to cover motorsports extensively in and around the Pine Tree State, most notable his beloved Oxford 250.
The Mitchell-Ratta Media Award is given each year by NEAR in memory of highly respected motorsports writers Charlie Mitchell of the Norwalk (Conn.) Hour and Jack Ratta of the Manchester (N.H.) Union Leader. Past recipients include auto racing media icons Chris Economaki, Mark “Bones” Bourcier, and Dave Moody.
NEAR will induct twelve new members into its Hall of Fame on November 13; drivers Ricky Craven, Randy LaJoie, Jerry Marquis, Ken Bouchard, Nokie Fornoro, George “Moose” Hewitt, Dwight Jarvis, and Fred Meeker are up for honors, along with broadcaster Jack Arute Jr., the multi-faceted John Burgess, and brothers Francis and Freelan Stanley, inventors of the “Stanley Steamer” automobile and former land speed record holders.
The NEAR Hall of Fame awards dinner will be held at Maneeley’s Banquet Hall, 65 Rye Street, South Windsor, CT, on Sunday, November 13. Click here for Ticket information and order form.
|USAC Dirt Midget Association’s
Warren Sentivany Passes
September 14, 2016
(MANCHESTER, CT) Warren N. Sentivany, 83, of Manchester, beloved husband of 61 years to Barbara (Armstrong) Sentivany, passed away Monday, September 12, 2016. Warren was born March 4, 1933 in Hartford, the son of Anna Christianson and Norman Sentivany. Warren was employed for 10 years by the Operating Engineers Union and for 23 years at Tobacco Valley Sanitation.
Warren is survived by his sister Shirley and brother-in-law Victor Previti. He is also survived by his son Karl and his wife Janice of Coventry, daughter Lynn Sentivany of Manchester, grandchildren Shannon Sapita and Michael Page Jr., great-grandchildren Jai-zon and Shyianne, several nieces and nephews, also his good friend and buddy Michael Page Sr.
His greatest love in addition to his wife and grandchildren was dirt track DMA midget racing in Vermont. He had a long and very successful racing career that began in 1951 and he was still active until his passing.
Memorial calling hours will be held Friday, September 16, 2016 from 4-6pm followed by a memorial service at 6pm at Holmes Funeral Home, 400 Main St., Manchester. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Victory Junction Camp, 5425 Fred Lineberry Rd, Randleman, NC 27317 or www.victoryjunction.org or to the charity of the donor's choice. To leave a message of condolence please visit www.holmes-watkinsfuneralhomes.com
The New England Antique Racers (NEAR) sends its sincere condolences to Warren’s family and many friends on this somber occasion.
By Dave Dykes
|NEAR Hall tabs Trio of Veterans
September 12, 2016
The New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame’s veterans’ committee covered a half century in selecting the Stanley Brothers, John Burgess and Fred Meeker. All deceased, they will be inducted at the NEAR Hall of Fame Banquet Sunday, November 13 at Maneeley’s Banquet Hall, 65 Rye Street, South Windsor, CT. Click here for Ticket information and order form.
Maine natives Francis and Freelan Stanley not only produced one of the country’s most famous automobiles, the Stanley Steamer, they built some of its first race cars. Boston-bred and educated, Burgess’ prowess as a builder, businessman and promoter sent New England off in a new direction in the 1930s. Norwalk, CT’s Meeker was an accomplished Midget driver in the post-World II era, twice winning national NASCAR championships.
They join broadcaster Jack Arute and championship drivers Ken Bouchard, Ricky Craven, Nokie Fornoro, the late George “Moose” Hewitt, Dwight Jarvis, Randy LaJoie and Jerry Marquis in the NEAR’s Class of 2016.
Burgess moved from driving in Outlaw, AAA and IMCA action in the 1920s to building and marketing race cars and parts in the 1930s. He promoted races as well and is credited with being a key to bringing the Midgets to central New England. Trained as a naval architect, he was a noted racing artist as well.
The 1955 and ’56 NASCAR titles capped off Meeker’s career which started at drivers’ schools at Candlelight Stadium (Bridgeport, CT) and West Springfield, MA after World War II. He was a definite force in the busy Midget wars driving for Fred Kernan. Among his laurels, he won the first-ever Northeastern Midget Association race in 1953.
Francis and Freelan Stanley’s “Stanley Rocket” set the racing world ablaze more than a century ago – 1906 to exact – when he hit 127.66 mph on the Ormond Beach, FL sand. It was the highpoint of their brief but accomplished venture taking on all comers in automotive competition. The cars were built in Newton, MA.
Still to be announced is the winner of the Mitchell/Ratta media award.
September 12, 2016
Click here for photos
With the prediction of rain for Wednesday, September 7, 2016, it was greatly appreciated to see the arrival of 6 NEAR members ready to race Thompson Speedway; along with NEAR Mobile Hall of Fame Museum.
The Track personnel tried really hard to get the show in, first eliminating Vintage heats, then all heats for all divisions - while diligently drying the track in between rain drops; the event was ultimately called at 6:30pm.
As a result of the Thompson event being rained out, Josh has graciously invited the Vintage clubs to participate in the World Series on Friday night, October 14th.
The schedule addition has been updated to reflect the additional race; as well as adding a new event on September 24th - Ron Bouchard Racing Museum - for an attendance bonus point.
September 12, 2016
Click here for photos
The fourth time was a charm...ten New England Antique Racers appeared at Monadnock Speedway on August 27, 2016 after being rescheduled from May 21, July 9 and then again from August 6.
There was a fantastic show of support from NEAR members and the NEAR race teams want to send a huge THANK YOU to the #53 race team - Steve Zukowski and his buddy, Mark.
Steve and Mark "stepped up" and ran the show - doing an excellent job. The two worked closely together with NEAR members making sure Monadnock schedule for race night was shared; and also ensuring all the drivers were ready to go out on time - meeting the track's expectations. They handled all the line ups and whatever else had to be done -- as if they had been doing it all year.
It was a great show and a lot of fun.
By Angie Bullock
|BIG E 100th ANNIVERSARY TO CELEBRATE
OF FAMED AUTO RACING TRACK
September 8, 2016
The history of auto racing at Eastern States Exposition will be remembered at this year’s Big E in conjunction with the Exposition’s 100th anniversary celebration, Sept. 16 – Oct. 2. Every fall, racing enthusiast flocked to the famed racetrack, open from 1917 through conclusion of the 1968 season.
Fans will have the opportunity to view a special racetrack display in the Exposition’s “A Century of Greatness” exhibit, located in the Young Building, plus a special racing reunion presentation during the Collector Car Experience, Sept. 18 at the Xfinity arena.
“A Century of Greatness” tells the story of Eastern States Exposition through photography, memorabilia and artifacts from the past 100 years. The racing portion of the exhibit will feature a Bill Greco #43 Chevy Coupe, photos, trophies and videos of the racing action. This exhibit will be open to Fair attendees for the entire 17-day run of The Big E.
The racing presentation will take place during The Big E’s Collector Car Experience, Sept. 18 at the Xfinity arena. Mike Brewer, of Velocity channel’s hit series Wheeler Dealers, will be the host of afternoon’s program which features a lineup of more than 20 cars from the Brass Era to present.
Jack Arute, an inductee into the New England Auto Racing (NEAR) Hall of Fame Class of 2016, will be the emcee for the racing portion of the show, starting at 2pm. Big E racing icons, Roy Hallquist, winner of the very last race at the Exposition, Billy Greco, Billy Clarke, Johnny Lobo and Bob Polverari will also be in attendance.
Brian “Spanky” Bancraft’s original #15 car that raced and was involved in one of the worst accidents will be on display.
Jack Arute is one of America’s best known racing broadcasters with nearly 20 years of experience as a member of the Indianapolis 500 broadcast team and nine years with the Motor Racing Network.
All those who were involved in racing at The Big E, families, friends and fans are invited to attend. There will be an opportunity to meet your racing heroes and get autographs.
The Big E runs Sept. 16 - Oct. 2 in West Springfield, Mass. Advance Fair admission tickets are on sale now via TheBigE.com, The Big E Box Office and at your local Big Y. The limited time discount tickets are available until Sept. 14. Find out more about The Big E’s events at TheBigE.com.
By Al Fini
|NEAR HALL OF FAME CLASS ANNOUNCED
August 10, 2016
Broadcaster Jack Arute and championship drivers Ken Bouchard, Ricky Craven, Nokie Fornoro, the late George “Moose” Hewitt, Dwight Jarvis, Randy LaJoie and Jerry Marquis make up the New England Auto Racer’s Hall of Fame Class of 2016.
The newest members of the NEAR Hall will be inducted at the NEAR Hall of Fame Banquet Sunday, November 13 at Maneeley’s Banquet Hall, 65 Rye Street, South Windsor, CT. Click here for Ticket information and order form.
Four members of the class will be joining a father or brother in the Hall which has been part of New England racing scene since 1998.
New Britain, CT-born Arute went from the family owned Stafford Motor Speedway to a spot as one of America’s premier broadcast journalists. He spent nine years with the Motor Racing Network and 20-plus as part of the Indianapolis 500 broadcast team. The University of Vermont grad won acclaim for his “pull no punches” reporting style throughout his career. Jack’s father precedes him in the NEAR Hall.
En route to the 1988 NASCAR Winston Cup Rookie of the Year, Bouchard, a Fitchburg, MA product, had an estimated 100-plus wins at a dozen different New England facilities in Modified and Late Model action including memorable triumphs at Oxford Plains, Stafford, Thompson and Westboro Speedways and Plainville Stadium. The 1975 Yankee All-Star League champion joins brother the late Ron Bouchard in the Hall.
Championships at Unity Raceway and on the ACT and success on the Busch North Series preceded Craven’s journey down south where he earned Rookie of the Year honors in both the Busch and Winston Cup Series. The Maine native’s resume includes Winston Cup victories at Martinsville and Darlington. The pride of Newburgh, ME is now an analyst for ESPN.
Eleven Midget championships (including six with ARDC and one with NEMA) and 110 victories (including two Night Before the 500 checkereds) puts Danbury, CT-born Fornoro in exclusive company. During a career that stretched from 1974 through 2009, he was also a winner in Supermodfieds, Quarter Midgets and Sprint cars. He joins father Nick and brother Drew in the Hall.
A one-time motorcycle racer, Hewitt, an Uncasville, CT resident, came to the modifieds in 1966 at Waterford Speedbowl. He became a major force at Waterford, where he won five championships, and then moved on to the New England NASCAR Modified circuit. The 1975 Winston 100 at Stafford Speedway tops the list of triumphs for this no-holds barred racer who passed away in 1997.
A product of Ascutney, VT, Jarvis has collected 18 championships and 110 wins in a career that includes dominating performances at Claremont (63 wins, 13 titles) and Monadnock (47 wins, five titles) Speedways. His resume also includes the 2006 Valenti Modified Racing Series championship and success on the Tri Track Series.
Second-generation racer LaJoie (dad Don is a Hall of Famer), won back-to-back (1996-97) Busch South titles capping off a career that started with Go Karts in his native Norwalk, CT. A sportsman title at Danbury Racearena, success in SK Modifieds and success on the Busch North circuit (the 1985 championship) followed. A 15-time Busch South winner, he also had two top-five Winston Cup efforts.
Marquis, the 2000 National NASCAR Modified champion, has truly incredible numbers including over 150 feature wins and 23 track championships. Seven wins came on the Busch North Series. Now calling Broadbrook, CT home, Marquis was twice a NASCAR Northeast Regional champ and includes a Spring Sizzler, a Thompson 300 and success at New Hampshire International Speedway among his wins.
Still to be announced are the “Veterans” picks and the winner of the Mitchell/Ratta media award.
A non-profit endeavor, since 1998 NEAR has inducted over 200 individuals into the New England Auto Racers Hall Of Fame, which is administered by the New England Antique Racers. Some notable inductees include Richie Evans, Ron Bouchard, Bugs Stevens, Rene Charland, Pete Hamilton, Fred DeSarro, Ed Flemke, Sr. and Billy Greco among others.