Sammy Packard
Class of 2004

Sammy Packard began racing midgets in 1937, in the Bay State Racing Association.  He quickly found himself supporting his family by racing seven nights a week.  He tried his hand at stock cars, too, competing in the first stock car race at the Thompson Speedway, in 1939.

Sammy was also instrumental in staging the first stock car race at Lonsdale, held October 27, 1947.   In an effort to draw more fans to that first event, he and Buddy Shuman, who came up from North Carolina, went to the Lonsdale Sports Arena and staged an exhibition race for fans during the halftime break at a football game. 

Although he called Rhode Island home, Sammy raced all over the country, in midgets, stock cars, motorcycles, and even boats.  When D. Anthony Venditti flooded the infield at the Seekonk Speedway, Packard became a two time Class D New England champion. Sammy also competed in the New York Outboard Marathon, where he, along with 350 others, would start out in Albany and race down the Hudson River to New York City.

The first time Packard raced at Daytona, he threw his ’37 Buick Phaeton into the north turn, and promptly slid across the seat over to the passenger side of the car.  His crew quickly went to work, finding some rope that had been discarded on the beach, and tied him into the Phaeton.

Bill France, Sr. later invited Sammy to a meeting with a group of men at the Streamline Hotel in December 1947 that resulted in the formation of NASCAR.

In 1974, Sammy Packard took on a new challenge in his auto racing career by starting an antique race car restoration business.  He restored well over 100 racecars, which have been shipped coast to coast, and as far away as West Germany.

Today, we welcome Sammy Packard posthumously into the NEAR Hall Fame.