NEAR extends it’s deepest condolences to the family and friends of Mary Hodge. Paired with her husband, Howie, they displayed New England Motorsports through it’s heyday to recent times. The pair were great friends, dedicated professionals, and gave us all a unique view of the sport we love through their lenses. We will miss them dearly, but are happy they are reunited with each other at last. Godspeed.
Mary Louise (Garraway) Hodge, 79, of Manchester, the wife of the late Howard Hodge died Wednesday, February 20, 2019 at Manchester Memorial Hospital. Born in Perry County, MS, she was the daughter of the late George and Donnie (Parker) Garraway and had lived in Manchester for many years. She worked at Pratt & Whitney when she first arrived in CT. She will be remembered for her many years as a photographer. She is survived by her son Kevin Hodge of Tolland, her siblings, Janie Bonner and her husband Travis, Marjorie Cary and her husband Jack, and William Garraway, Sr.; and numerous nieces and nephews. Family and friends may call at the John F. Tierney Funeral Home 219 West Center St. Manchester on Monday from 4:00-7:00 pm. Funeral service will be held at the funeral home on Monday at 7:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers memorial donations may be made to Victory Junction Gang Camp 4500 Adams Way, Randleman, NC 27317. For online condolences please visit www.tierneyfuneralhome.com.
Due to impending snowstorm, the NEAR monthly meeting scheduled for Tuesday Feb. 12th is postponed. We will meet again on Tuesday, Feb.19th, 2019, same time, same place. More news is on the horizon as we will release our 2019 schedule asap(waiting to solidify some dates/venues)
George J. Summers
George J. Summers
George J. (Tucker) Summers, 83, a lifelong Upton resident, passed away as peacefully as he had lived, on January 4th, 2019, at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Worcester, holding the hand of his wife of 63 years, Margaret A. (Kneeland) Summers.
Born August 21, 1935, to Mary Ellen (Van Riper) and William Reed Summers, he was the youngest of eight children. He is predeceased by six of his siblings: Janet Stockwell (and her husband Richard), Mary Strachen (and her husband James), William Summers, Barbara Knapik (and her husband Eugene), Cecelia Grynsel (and her husband Edward) and Charles Summers. He is survived by a brother John Summers (and his wife Gloria) and a sister in law, Loretta Costello Summers.
Educated in the local Upton Grammar school, George attended high school at Worcester Boy’s Trade. At the age of sixteen, he left school and became a self-made man. In 1952, he went to work driving trucks and operating heavy equipment for local construction companies. In 1962, George bought his first truck “Ol’ Slow Poke“ and started his trucking business, which now boasts 6 trucks and continues today as George J. Summers Trucking, Inc.
In 1952, George embarked on an auto racing career as a hobby. For thirty -one years, he raced up and down the east coast from Maine to Martinsville, VA. He had over two hundred career victories, a hundred of them at the Seekonk Speedway, where he holds the title of “Most Career Wins“ in the racetrack’s history. He also holds the title for the “Most Consecutive Wins“ in one season at the same track. At Seekonk, George also won two track championships, the first one with the Ken Curly modified #31 in 1967. The second championship was seven years later in 1974, in the Connie LaJoie modified #21. In 1976, George won the Governor’s Cup Open Competition Series in Oxford Plain, ME. driving the W.D Smith late model #35. He won the last two races of his illustrious career in the Art Barry modified #21 at Oxford Plains Speedway and the following weekend at Thompson Speedway in Connecticut.
Upon his retirement from racing, George became an avid golfer and was a member of the Westboro Country Club.
George was inducted into the New England Auto Racing (NEAR) Hall of Fame, the Seekonk Speedway Wall of Fame, and the North East Motor Sports Museum, in Louden, NH, where his Connie LaJoie modified #21 is on display. This February, he was to be inducted into the Living Legends of Auto Racing Hall of Fame in Daytona Beach, Florida.
In addition to his wife Margaret, George is survived by his four children: George Jr. of Somerville, MA, Mary Summers Cortese and her husband Joe of Upton, Richard Summers and his wife Natalie of Upton, and Kathie Summers Grice and her husband Roy, of Cumberland, ME. He is also survived by his four grandchildren and one great grandchild. Ever the family man, whenever he was racing, his family would travel with him from one race track to another during the racing season. When he wasn’t racing, he was very much invested in the aspirations and activities of his children and much later on, in those of his grandchildren. It should also be noted that in his 31 years of racing, George never missed a Sunday mass. Wherever he and his family were on a given Sunday, they would attend a mass at one of the local churches before the racing event that day.
His funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 AM on Saturday, January 12th, in St. Gabriel the Archangel Church “The Farm“, 151 Mendon Street, Upton. Burial will follow in Lakeview Cemetery.
Calling hours will be held on Friday, January 11th, from 3 to 8 PM in the Williams-Pedersen Funeral Home, Inc., 45 Main Street, Upton.
In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory may be made to either the St. Gabriel Building Fund, made payable to St. Gabriel Church, 151 Mendon Street, Upton, MA. 01568 or to the North East Motor Sports Museum, 922 Rte. 106, Louden, NH. 03307.
Donations may be made to:
St. Gabriel Building Fund
151 Mendon Street, Upton MA 01568
North East Motor Sports Museum
922 Rte. 106, Louden NH 03307
The 18-year-old kid replacing Tony Stewart was no Tony Stewart.
He owned a résumé that included plenty of wins but only one in 19 races of Xfinity Series experience. He joined a team on which the former driver knew what he wanted in a car, and if not, he carried the car on his shoulder with an attitude that won dozens of races and a couple of championships.
This new kid with all the hype didn’t know what he wanted. As he likes to say, he didn’t even know what he didn’t know. He struggled, and the veterans pounced on his insecurity. He was fresh meat to the competition, which devoured him, intimidated him and pushed him around. His team lost confidence in him.
“I got humbled pretty quick,” Logano said Sunday after winning the NASCAR Cup Series title. “I guess ‘humbled’ is the word. I don’t know, I got beat up. I got pushed around a lot. I wasn’t fast. I didn’t have no respect. I think that beats up on your confidence pretty quickly, and you have to kind of dig back inside.
“Every sport is a mental sport, so you have to really figure out how to be strong again and dig out of holes.”
The only saving grace during those merciless growing-pain years came in that Xfinity Series, where he won 17 races over four years.
But that Cup Series? Gosh, was that a different story. He had a couple of wins but never finished higher than 16th in points.
Joey Logano, after four years at Joe Gibbs Racing, knew he was out of a ride in 2012, and there was a time he didn’t even know if he would find another seat in the Cup garage.
“I expected to go out there and win … and just got my butt handed to me on a platter,” Logano said. “It was hard. There’s a lot of times that I felt really weak and I’d break down, and it was just hard.
“You know, when you’re confused, you don’t know how to be better. You’re 18 years old or 19 or 20, and this is some pretty big stuff for a teenager to be able to go through, sitting up here, talking to you guys [in the media], trying to handle all those situations. I didn’t know what I was doing.”
He found a new home at Team Penske in 2013, in part just by luck when AJ Allmendinger was fired after failing a NASCAR drug test. And with the new life in his career, he changed. That meek, weak driver? They didn’t see that in the halls at Penske.
“When he walked in at Team Penske, he owned the opportunity,” Logano crew chief Todd Gordon said. “He walked in, and I think Roger [Penske] believed in him, as I did, and I looked at it and said, ‘Here’s a kid who wins more races in the Gibbs Busch cars at the time than Kyle [Busch] did, so he’s capable.’
“He just needed an opportunity. So he came in and believed in himself, and we believed in him, and at that point, he was not weak.”
Just five races into his Penske life, he went face-to-face with that Stewart guy, arms swinging, after Stewart took issue with Logano’s aggressiveness on restarts.
“I’m going to bust his ass,” Stewart said after their confrontation.
Logano didn’t seem all that worried and put it behind him. He won a race that first year and finished eighth in the standings. He then won 11 races over the next two years, learning how to use his bumper when needed to move someone with the hopes of not wrecking them.
“Honestly, I guess I just felt like I’m back to where I was growing up,” Logano said. “As the kid growing up, I was an aggressive racer and I was able to win a lot of races.”
Sure, he made more mistakes along the way. His lack of contrition for previous incidents likely led at least in part to Matt Kenseth’s dumping him at Martinsville in 2015, which eventually eliminated Logano from the playoffs and earned Kenseth a two-week suspension.
In those duels with Kenseth, Logano in some ways changed the rules of the NASCAR playoffs. NASCAR chairman Brian France, to the chagrin of many, called Logano’s roughing up Kenseth for a win at Kansas “quintessential NASCAR,” and it appeared all was fair game.
In that atmosphere, the fearless Logano continued to thrive, and that fearless attitude won him more races, as well as allowed him to handle missing the playoffs entirely last year. As the 2018 season made the turn from summer to fall and Logano saw his cars improve, he combined his aggressiveness with an attitude, a swagger that he rode to the 2018 Cup title.
It seemed appropriate that he won the championship with a strong short-run car at Homestead-Miami Speedway. It rewarded him for doing a lot more taking than giving on restarts. On the restart with 15 laps to go, Logano was in third but really was the favorite.
He didn’t have to worry about Martin Truex Jr. retaliating for their Martinsville dustup as he drove by — once Logano got past Truex, he was too strong for Truex to even get close to make a move.
All those years of getting beat up, all those years of struggles when it appeared he might not win another Cup race, let alone a championship, rode with him in those final 12 laps as he drove to the biggest victory — the 21st of his Cup career — of his 28-year-old life.
“The opportunity to make mistakes is one of the best things that can ever happen to you,” Logano said. “I made a lot of mistakes, a lot of mistakes in front of all of you, things I shouldn’t say or whatever it was, but there’s no regrets, either, because that’s formed me into the man I am today.
“And if it wasn’t for each and every one of those mistakes, I wouldn’t be sitting here today. … God teaches you many lessons, sometimes the hard way. But I wouldn’t take any of them back. Even if we didn’t win today, I wouldn’t.”
With a new year approaching we anticipate many new experiences, new friends made, and new challenges. As our club evolves, we are faced with continuing along our path with an aging membership, as well as owners, drivers, and club leadership. We accept the reality that our dedication to the preservation of the fellowship and nostalgia of auto racing in New England may not be shared with younger generations. I have a hard time accepting that there are youngsters that do not know who Bugs Stevens, Billy Greco, or Dave Dion are. It is our job to help foster the preservation of the memories of the people and events that made our sport possible.
That said, our club needs help from our membership to carry on. We need good people with varied skill sets to help us continue the important work ahead. We need folks to step up and become Officers, Board of Directors, and Board of Advisors members. We need folks to help with our events throughout New England. We need folks from the drag racing, road racing, and other disciplines to help get the movers and shakers in their fields some recognition.
I have stepped up to be considered as the next President of NEAR. I am committed to building a team that can work towards our common goals, without forgetting that this is all supposed to be enjoyable. If you can help, we are interested in what you have to say. We welcome fresh, new ideas for fundraising, events, and any other thing that would further enhance the enjoyment of this club for our membership. My door is open, my phone is on, my email works just fine. I work every day 7 to 5, so I may get back to you at night or next day. Rest assured, I will contact you. Help me help our club to continue to run restored cars, honor those deserving of recognition, and foster the heritage of Auto Racing in New England.
With warm regards for a joyous holiday season,
Obituary for Robert Judkins Sr.
Robert L. Judkins Sr, age 83, beloved husband of Angela M. (Gorneau) Judkins, died on Thursday, October 25, 2018, at Apple Rehab Center in Middletown, CT after a lengthy illness. He was born in South Paris, Maine on September 12, 1935, he was the son of the late Herman and Eva (Learned) Judkins. He had resided in Meriden, CT and in Edgewater, FL, returning to Connecticut in 2017.
Mr. Judkins was the owner and operator of Judkins Garage in Berlin, CT. Bob was a proud veteran of the U.S. Army, having served from July 1958 to July 1960. Bob was most notable for his on-the-track achievements in the New England area, running the famed number 2x modified race car. In the sixties, Judkin’s ’37 Ford Coupe dominated the track with drivers Jerry Wheeler, Tony Mordino, Billy Harmon, Mario “Fats” Caruso, Rene Charland, Gene Bergin, Kenny Shoemaker and legendary driver Ed Flemke. Then in 1971, Judkins introduced a new style of race car, hanging a Ford Pinto body on the famous 2x. Stafford Motor Speedway’s Jack Arute tried to convince NASCAR to allow the 2x to run, telling Bill France, Sr that the new body style was the “future of racing”. Once cleared by NASCAR, the Judkins 2x Pinto Revolution began. In the seventies, eighties and nineties, Judkins continued to compete and took the famed 2x into victory lane. Drivers Ed Flemke, Ron Bouchard, Reggie Ruggerio, Brett Bodine, Jerry Marquis – with three consecutive track championships at Riverside Park Speedway – and Dave Caruso helmed the 2x. In Bob’s fifth decade of fielding a race car, Judkins continued to be highly competitive and won track championships at both the Orlando Speedworld and New Smyrna Speedway with driver Jason Boyd. However, Bob’s last win in 2009 would be one he would not forget, when his grandson Ryan Preece took his famed 2x into victory lane to complete Bob’s illustrious racing career. Bob was inducted in N.E.A.R (New England Auto Racers) Class of 2003 Hall of Fame.
Besides his wife, he is survived by his six daughters, Tanya Griffin (Martin), Brenda Judkins, Jodie Preece (Jeffrey) Loretta Judkins, Laura Leith (Jeffrey) Jessica Judkins (Blaine Gaudette); his son, Robert Judkins Jr (Vanessa); his 10 grandchildren, Michael and Alissa Ferraro, Sean Preece, Matthew Preece (Tara), Ryan Preece (Heather), Joshua, Zachary and Erica Guidobono, Jarret Leith and Emily Gaudette; and his two sisters, Winona G. Farrington and Pamela Judkins. He was pre-deceased by his sister Gloria Carro.
A celebration of life service will be held on Thursday, November 1, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. at the John J. Ferry & Sons Funeral Home, 88 East Main St., Meriden, CT 06450. Family and friends may call at the funeral home prior to the service from 3:30 to 7:30. Burial will follow at a later date. For online condolences and directions, please visit jferryfh.com.