Director Meetings to resume in June

Just an FYI to the membership. The 2021 NEAR HOF Selection Committee met this past Tuesday at the Ron Bouchard Museum to select the 16 candidates to be narrowed down to eight honorees by summer’s end. We are still negotiating and qualifying event destinations for 2021. We hope to include an on-site hotel/social space for Saturday accommodations and bench racing/story telling with a Sunday HOF Induction Ceremony.

Our Annual Member’s meeting has not been scrubbed: If we can squeeze it in along the way after things fully open safely, we will. Each running event honoree from 2020 will be recognized. Plaques are in house and ready. Bear with us as we try to “wait out” the proper time to safely assemble and get our important awards presented.

I should have a final schedule posted by the end of the weekend. Thanks so much for your patience while we navigate these uncertain times.

Rich Goucher / NEAR President

Join NEAR-Applications

Would you like to join Near and help keep the racing memories from the Northeast alive? Our members enjoy a bi-monthly newsletter, an annual Member’s Meeting(catered), and an exciting fun packed schedule of both running and static events all year long. Our annual Hall Of Fame induction ceremony honors accomplished drivers, car owners, and other “major movers” in all the major New England racing series.

We welcome members to join our Officers and Board of Directors to help steer the ship. We would certainly love to have you on board! Simply print,fill out, and return one of the applications from the below links and you’re on your way. Welcome!

2021 NEAR Application for Membership short form

2021 NEAR Application for Membership long form

Annual Member’s Meeting Postponed

The officers of NEAR have been patient and we have been closely monitoring the pandemic provisions throughout New England. That said, it is in everyone’s best interests that we postpone our Annual Meeting usually held in mid January. Should the effects of Covid 19, the vaccine rollout, and state parameters allow us to meet, we will re-schedule. We absolutely hope that all of our members understand our decisions and support them.

We will very soon share the results of our 2020 driving events season as well as sending out the first Newsletter of 2021. We will include a 2021 Membership Form with that mailing.

Our new address for membership forms and any correspondence is NEAR, P.O.Box #492, Bradford, Vt. 05033. Our Treasurer/Membership Chair is April May Preston, co-owner of Bear Ridge Speedway.Any questions, concerns, please contact Rich Goucher here or at rgoucher@comcast.net, or (860) 209-7343 (leave message, still work)

Long time NEAR sponsor passes

It is with great sorrow that we announce the passing of Mike Rivard. For many years, Mike has been a great friend and Sponsor of NEAR. We offer our deepest condolences to Mike’s family and friends upon his passing, at much too early an age. God Bless and Godspeed, Mike, and thank you.

Michael “Mike” Rivard

Michael Rivard, 56, passed away December 29, 2020 of severe Covid-19 pneumonia; he fought so hard for 14 days in the ICU.He was the loving husband, best friend and soulmate of his wife of 25 years Tina Rivard.

He also leaves behind 5 amazing children Christopher Rivard and his wife Rebecca, Matthew Rivard and his fiancée Sabrina Ricci, Jacob Auger, Tyler Rivard and his daughter Kathryn Rivard. He leaves behind 4 grandchildren Madison, Nicholas, Abagail and Blake, who will miss their Papa greatly. They will miss his infectious personality, belly laugh, and edge of your seat storytelling (and he had plenty).He also will be missed by his loving parents, Armand and Nancy Rivard, his siblings Suzanne Cote and her husband Ronald, Roger Rivard and his wife Brenda, and David Rivard and his wife Francis. He also leaves behind his brother in-laws, Thomas Galipeau and Timothy Pernini and his wife Barbara.he is predeceased by his younger brother Richard.He loved his nieces Jessica, Julie, Brittany, Francesca, Rosalie and his nephews Eric, Jonathan, Devon, Jared, Thomas, and many great nieces and nephews. They will forever miss their Uncle Coco.

Mike had such a big heart he often was a father-figure to those that weren’t his own. Family was his first and foremost, He was always there to help, listen however he could or just laugh with you. He was a devoted husband and father. A woman could never ask for a better man, and our children could not ask for a better father. His family was his world. He loved his many friends and all of the great times they had. I was proud to be his wife.

He also had a love and passion for his company Tire Doctor and all of their customers. He started the company with his partner, Michael Hosney, with just a white van and a customer’s list. Over the years it grew into 4 locations. When he was younger he owned Moto Center in Woonsocket. He loved riding motorcycles and racing what people call hair scrambles. He was an avid racing fan and loved to watch his sons race or jump in his truck and go anywhere to watch a race. He was so proud of his daughter for growing into the young woman she is today.

He wanted to see the world, his spontaneous sense for adventure and willingness to travel, even on a surprise 50th birthday adventure to Graceland for his wife. One thing on his bucket list was to go to the Tulsa Shootout, which he was able to do. The racing community will miss him. He also loved to go shooting at the range with his boys, loved of all kinds of genres of music and loved going to all kinds of concerts, and working in the garage.

Recently his new passions as the children have grown older were vacationing with his loving wife. New Hampshire was the first condo we ever had; we enjoyed it for 10 years. it was a place he could absolutely relax. I’m glad to have had the immense gratitude to be with him for 25 years. they were the best years of my life. Anyone who bumped into him, talked to him on the phone, did business with, or even just exchanged a smile, all liked him immediately, and he was a man that could put someone at ease immediately. He had everyone at Hello. He never waned in any responsibility and taught us all the true definition of hard hard work and the true meaning of family. He was an old fashioned gentleman, a savvy businessman and all around great guy. He had so many plans in his head for business and future endeavors and more vacations. He was taken much too soon and had so much living still to do. He will be missed by so many versatile people of all stages of life. They are allowing us to decorate with Mikes many hobbies and interests. People say that God needed an angel….well he got a superhero.

A Mass of Christian Burial for Mike will be celebrated on Monday January 4th at 10:00 am in Holy Trinity Parish (OLQM) Church, 1409 Park Ave. Woonsocket, R.I. In lieu of flowers memorial donations may be made to Mike’s grandchildren’s college fund. Arrangements are in care of the Menard-Lacouture Funeral Home, 127 Carrington Ave. Woonsocket.www.menardfuneralhome.co

NEAR at Bear Ridge Speedway 8/15/20

The competitors of NEAR are converging at the Bear Ridge Speedway in Bradford, Vt. This Saturday 8/15/20. Sign in starts at noon with pit gates open at 3 pm. A full slate of race events is on tap for the Sabil & Sons Old Timers Night. Seven divisions will be competing for the wins. NEAR cars will be on static display on the midway and do parade laps during the evening. Hope to see a great crowd at Butch Elm’s place and great weather, as well!!

NEAR at Riverside Speedway, N.H.

The Near crew had their most recent running event at the Riverside Raceway in Groveton, N.H. this past Saturday 8/1/20. The track crew and the rest of Mike Humphrey ‘s staff made it a very enjoyable and smooth running event. There was plentiful practice time with 8 lap heats paired with 15 lap features for both the Sportsman and Modified divisions. Victims of mechanical woes were Greg Gilbert and Art Merchant, who were wicked fast but could not make the features. And boy oh boy was it hot!! Curt and Lois Snow provided a nice lunch after the driver’s meeting and many good racing stories ensued. Then it was time to get down to business!

Scott DeCota started things off taking down the win in the Sportsman heat. Then Tommy Trempe led from the start to nab the Modified heat. After a short break, it was feature time. The Sportsman were 5 strong with Jerry Humiston, Pete Marshall, John Adams, Scott DeCota, and Greg Stiles starting the race. Jerry got off to a great start, leading Pete for 14 of the 15 lap contest. On the last lap Pete dug down deep and thundered up the outside to take the lead and the win. Jerry settled for second, while John Adams crossed the line in third. In the Modified event, Jim Allen started on point with “Downtown” Ken Brown in second, Tommy Trempe in third, Curt Snow fourth, and Alan Zemla taking up the rear. Jim held the early lead followed by Ken and Curt Snow. Curt managed to get into the top spot by lap 10, with Jim Allen runnerup and Alan Zemla in for third. Overall, it was a great showing for both divisions. Thank you to all the racers involved who supported this event!

After the features were over, a youngster in the pits came over who loved the modified cars. Curt Snow put him in the car, and second place finisher Jim Allen sent him home with his trophy for the night!! The boy was very excited and happy, as were his parents. So happy to be associated with so many first class folks who put on these shows. Thanks so much, guys!!

2020 NEAR “Revised” Event Schedule

Aug 1        Sat.      Riverside Spdwy             Groveton, NH

                               Sign-in: 12 NOON           Running

Aug 15      Sat.      Bear Ridge Spdwy          Bradford, VT

                               Sign-in: 12 NOON           Still/Parade

Aug 21      Fri.       Claremont Spdwy          Claremont, NH

                               Sign-in: 3PM                    Running

Aug 22      Sat        Bethel  Spdwy               Swan Lake, N.Y.

Rain out –makeup  Sign-in 3p.m.                   Running

Sept 6      Sun      Limerock Historic Fest    Salisbury, Ct.

                             8 a.m.-3 p.m.                     Still/display

Sept 12    Sat.      White Mt.  [WMMP]      No Woodstock, NH

                              Sign-in: 1PM                     Running

Oct 9-11 Sat/Sun   Thompson Spdwy        Thompson, Ct.

HOF Truck/2 cars   Sat. 8 a.m.                  Running Heat/Feature

on display

This revised schedule is subject to changes due to the current pandemic of COVID-19 and may be affected by government restrictions. Schedule will be updated if we can add any dates.

HOF Museum gets a makeover!

Even as the Covid-19 pandemic negatively affects hundreds of thousands, a small group of dedicated NEAR members carry on. Ever since the annual member meeting in March, the newly formed Hall of Fame Museum Committee has been working non-stop. Chairmen Oscar Hancock and Rob Quinn have been hitting the bricks drumming up sponsors to come on board and help with the many expenses involved in keeping the museum rolling. Happily to say, their efforts have yielded fine results.

Fortunately, Oscar is the owner of American Beauty Signworks in Woonsocket, R.I Oscar’s business is signs, of any type, to advertise your business, club, anything that benefits from exposure from advertising. Oscar, Rob, and their team came up with a beautiful new vinyl wrap for the truck showcasing our racing history. Modifieds, midgets, drag cars, and road racing cars are represented “bursting” out of the side of the vehicle. The team also made space to showcase NEAR’s new marketing partners as well. What a fantastic job they did.

A lot of mechanical work has also taken place along the way. The truck has a new exhaust, gas tank, and LED running lights thanks to Tap Auto & Truck in Cumberland, R.I. The Tire Doctor, in East Walpole, Blackstone, and Reheboth Ma. supplied some new rubber for us as well. A lot of help also from J.B. Cote Construction in Cumberland, R.I., Seals -It Specialty Products in Ellington, Ct., Scott Quinn Construction, and Performance Transmission from R.I. More help is on the way, a lot of folks are getting on board to ride with NEAR in 2020 and beyond.

As of yet, we have not had an event that we have been able to take the museum to. Pretty soon things should be loosening up on the pandemic front. At that point I am sure the museum team will be out showing off the new colors! When you see this truck out and about, please let the guys know how much you appreciate all of their hard work!!! Thanks to all involved!!

HOF Track Owner Bob Bahre Passes

Article thanks to North East Motor Sports Museum

BOB BAHRE

The July 2020 passing of Bob Bahre is a sad time for everyone involved in New England motorsports. Bob’s contributions to racing in New England were huge.

He was inducted into the NEAR Hall of Fame in 2009. He was also inducted into the Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame.

Along with others including Vic Yerardi and Al Novotnik, Bob developed and promoted the Vintage Celebration at his New Hampshire Motor Speedway. In its early days, the Celebration was simply spectacular with the garage filled with period correct Indy cars, sprints and midgets.  The noise of their Offy engines exploded into the summer air with their own brand of music and their tart exhaust aroma. Beautifully restored race cars of every type were welcomed and they came and were enjoyed by so many.

               In these divisive times in which we live, back then auto racing had Bob Bahre to bring us together. He had time for everyone from millionaires to the kid looking up at a driver in a white firesuit.

               Along his magical trip to bring top level racing to New England, he bought Maine’s Oxford Plains Speedway in 1964. He soon invented the Oxford 250 (originally the Oxford 200) along with weekly racing that was so good that it drew crowds so big Bob added more seats until his track had greater capacity than any other in New England. And on many days and nights, he sold tickets for every one of those seats.  

               His first Cup races were booked when he owned Oxford. Bobby Allison won his first Cup (then Grand National) event there in 1966. Bob promoted two more Cup races at Oxford before the series became too big for small tracks like Oxford.

He saw his future in big league NASCAR which was growing rapidly, so he sold Oxford and began preparing for his greatest adventure:  bringing big league racing to New England for the first time since 1928.

He acquired the Bryar Motorsports Park in Loudon, NH along with other adjacent properties with which he created New Hampshire International Speedway. The obstacles he overcame to build the track were monumental. Unable to obtain a permit for suites, when he learned the denial came because the town didn’t have a ladder fire truck that could reach that high, Bob solved the problem. He bought a ladder truck and gave it to the town. In turn, he got the permit to build the suites. He blasted ledge, built a tunnel under the track big enough for trailer trucks and did everything he could think of to ensure the comfort and safety of racing’s fans.

               NHIS opened in 1990 with a Busch race. Bob knew from the beginning that he had to have NASCAR’s top division if his new track would be successful. He petitioned Bill France Jr. for a date who first told Bob his chances “…were somewhere between slim and none.” But, Bob persevered and finally, NASCAR awarded him the track’s first Cup date in 1993. Then, he pulled a brilliant maneuver to bring a second Cup date to his track. New England watched the biggest motorsports series in the country twice each year and we bought every ticket for every Cup seat Bob Bahre ever had at his new track. He achieved sold-out attendance for every top division NASCAR race he ran at NHIS.

               He always loved vintage cars, especially Packard’s. He built a massive two story garage on his property in South Paris, Maine where he lived with his wife Sandra and son Gary. He filled that garage with priceless cars of the past. As such, with a love of old cars, he was one of us. A barn at the upper level included a library, vintage cars and even a horse-drawn carriage. Like NEAR’s membership, Bob appreciated the beauty of the past.

               Each year he opened the collection to all who wanted to see it and donated the money that came from the event to the local library.

               Bob started in business when his mother bought a Sears welder on time so he could learn a trade. With it, Bob built trailers. But, as a young man he moved on to ultimately earn a fortune developing real estate. First there were single family houses, then apartment buildings and then strip malls. What began as a single spec house became a real estate empire. Bob’s hard work and smart decisions resulted in the millions of dollars he used to build New Hampshire International Speedway.

               He bought and sold a local bank located near his office several times. He always bought for less and sold for more. He explained his business success to Speedway employee Cheryl LaPrade saying, “I just got lucky, kid.”

               His success was the result of so much more than luck. Involving his family in the business was part of the story. His had an extraordinary level of common sense. And courage. He built NHIS without a NASCAR promise of Cup series races. He made consistently good decisions and had the tenacity to achieve lofty goals. The reputation he earned as a fair and honest man helped more than this humble man would have ever admitted.

               He was a generous man in many ways, sending annual donations to local churches and other charities. He made sure everyone who came to his track to race went home with money in their pocket, even if they failed to qualify. He was a mentor to many but especially to Cup winner turned TV personality, Ricky Craven.

               Most multi-millionaires learned business at Wharton or Harvard Business School. Bob never finished high school.. From the first shovel that moved dirt on the property, he believed the track in which he was so heavily invested would fail without at least on top level NASCAR date. He built NHIS almost entirely using his own money so the risk was high.

               He loved auto racing and old cars but his first love was his family, his wife Sandra and his son Gary. Both played active roles in Bob’s business life. They built a mansion on Lake Winnipesaukee for he and Sandy and another right next door for Gary. Bob never truly liked the big house and spent his final days in South Paris, Maine in the former home of Governor Hannibal Hamlin, a home built in 1848, where he lived before the lake property was built. Bob was more comfortable in that old house with his car collection just steps away than in the shiny newness of Longview on the lake.

               The man in the kaki pants with the white shirt and yellow sweater was a certified New England treasure. We’ll never see another like him again.

2020 NEAR Hall of Fame Cancelled

2020 NEAR Hall of Fame Cancelled.

The NEAR Board Members and Hall of Fame Executive Committee Representatives met at the ProNyne Motorsports Museum this past Sunday. After much discussion and after holding off as long as possible, we gave in to common sense. The decision was unanimously made to cancel the 2020 NEAR Hall of Fame Banquet.
As hard as this decision was to make, it was the right one. The Covid 19 pandemic has not moved on. Our facility for the event is still not open in Ct. A great number of our membership and honorees are in the highest risk group for infection. In the interest of being as safe as possible, we will regroup and try to have a stellar event in 2021!
Please note that all nominations for the 2020 Hall will be retained for consideration in 2021. We will continue to accept additional nominations until April of 2021. We thank any and all that have had a hand in the planning, sponsoring, and putting on of this event. Please continue to be safe and God Bless.

HOF Ralph Cusack passes

A great and beloved New England auto racing icon has died.

Ralph Cusack passed at age 87 on February 9, 2021. He was an early star at

Beech Ridge Speedway, and became a twelve-time champion. His first championship

was earned in 1953, the last in 1980. He won championships driving underpowered

coupes with flathead engines all the way up to insanely powerful supermodifieds.

He purchased the track from Cowboy Cal Reynolds in 1981, the year after he

won his final driving championship. He paved the track, brought in NASCAR and

made the place family friendly while filling all the seats on many Saturday nights. In

his senior years, Ralph sold the track to his sons Andy and Glenn who have run it

admirably ever since.

Although best known for his success as a Beech Ridge driver, he raced at a

variety of other tracks. In his youth, Ralph was on Scarborough High’s swim team. He

was a rifle marksman, hunter, fisherman, motorcycle and snowmobile enthusiast. As

a heavy equipment operator, he helped create the Maine Turnpike.

Much more than a track owner, Ralph was a strong family man who

with his wife Jane raised two fine sons. He was a man people admired and looked up

to.

Ralph was inducted into the NEAR Hall of Fame in 2004, Maine Sports Hall of

Fame in 2006 and Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame. In addition to his driving

championships, he received many awards for his operation of the track.

Article thanks to Dick Berggren

STAR Founder Mary Lima Passes

The northeast racing community mourns the passing of Mary Lima of STAR. On behalf of the officers and members of NEAR, we offer our deepest condolences to Charlie, Tammy, and Mary’s family and friends. She was a wonderful, hard working woman who was integral in the preservation of vintage racing history in New England. Early on, Mary was also a dedicated professional within our organization. Thank you, Mary, you will be sorely missed. Godspeed.

Weymouth – Mary I. (Conard) Lima, age 74, of Dartmouth, passed away on Friday, January 8, 2021 at South Shore Hospital surrounded by her loving family. She was the beloved wife of Charles Lima.

Mary was born in Gloucester, to the late Owen and Frances Conard. She grew up in Gloucester and loved the beach as well as gardening and painting . Mary was a Member and Director of Senior Tour Auto Racing .She worked as a manager for Cameo Curtains and Pace Headstart for many years until her retirement.

She is survived by her daughter, Tammy Lima Barboza and her husband Michael; her 1 grandson, Matthew Lima Barboza; 1brother, Donald Conard and his wife Marie; sister in law Sharron Conrad: 1niece, Kandi Lee Conrad and1 nephew Eric Conrad.
Maria’s visiting hours will be held on Tuesday evening, January 12, 2021 from 5:00 P.M. – 8:00 P.M. at Perry Funeral Home. Her funeral will be Wednesday morning, beginning in the funeral home at 9:00 A.M. and followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at St. Mary’s Church in Dartmouth at 9:00 A.M. Burial will immediately follow in Pine Grove Cemetery.

All attendees are required by current mandated restrictions to wear a face covering at all times, to social distance 6 feet and to please refrain from any close physical contact. Attendance in the funeral home will be limited in order to meet the mandated capacity restrictions and could result with a wait time outside of the funeral home. Attendance in church and at the cemetery will also be limited to meet capacity restrictions. Thank you in advance for your patience and cooperation during this time.

Arrangements are placed in the care of Perry Funeral Home 111 Dartmouth St. New Bedford, MA 02740. Please see our website: www.perryfuneral.com for condolences.

Director’s Meeting 1/17/21

NEAR Vice President Skip Matczak Has graciously offered to host a Directors Meeting on Sunday, January 17, 2021 at 12 noon. This will be held at Seals It, 164 Maple Street, Ellington, CT 06029. We ask, due to Covid concerns, that only officers and committee chairs attend. Please remember to bring a mask!

Preparations for 2021 event season, HOF discussion, and any other Club business will be discussed. Pizza and liquid refreshments will be provided.

Thank you, Skip!