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.