Don MacLaren
Car Owner/Driver
Class of 2002

Don MacLaren drove his first race on his 15th birthday, driving a homebuilt supermodified, a Willys Coupe with a Ford engine. Telling officials at the Norwood Arena he was 18 years old, MacLaren went out and won the first heat he ever drove.

From Canada to Florida, Don has won well over 500 races. His 1st big win came at Oswego, driving the Tewksbury Auto Parts "Flying 5". Today, MacLaren says no one win, or one championship, stands out. "Each week was exciting as hell", says the gentle giant affectionately known as "Big Daddy". "Each feature win was exciting, each championship a battle. You took your car home, worked on it, slept with it, and worked on it some more. If you worked hard enough, you'd win."

Dick Berggren remembers one classic NESRA season opener at Thompson. "Ollie (Silva) and Don (MacLaren) were racing side by side with three laps to go. Ollie was the classic hero, and, in the eyes of the crowd, MacLaren was the classic villain. Three laps they ran side by side, with neither driver giving an inch. They took the white flag, and both drove deep into the turn, with neither driver lifting. Big Daddy was on the inside, Ollie on the outside, and both drove in too deep. They never touched, but both cars spun at the same time, with Eddie West coming through to take the win." Don grinned after hearing the story retold. "Ollie and I would start dead last every week, and battle our way through the pack. That's what made it exciting. That's what made it fun", says Don.

Don was a fierce competitor on the track, but a gentleman once the race car was parked. Berggren remembers Ollie and Sue Silva's wedding day. "Sue was sooooo worried to learn that MacLaren was coming to the wedding. 'What would he do?', Sue wondered. Would there be a fist fight? Would he drive a car through the reception hall? What would happen? Well, Don showed up". Dick continued. "He was a perfect gentleman."

We welcome that gentleman to NEAR's New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame.