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.