The competitors of NEAR are converging at the Bear Ridge Speedway in Bradford, Vt. This Saturday 8/15/20. Sign in starts at noon with pit gates open at 3 pm. A full slate of race events is on tap for the Sabil & Sons Old Timers Night. Seven divisions will be competing for the wins. NEAR cars will be on static display on the midway and do parade laps during the evening. Hope to see a great crowd at Butch Elm’s place and great weather, as well!!
The Near crew had their most recent running event at the Riverside Raceway in Groveton, N.H. this past Saturday 8/1/20. The track crew and the rest of Mike Humphrey ‘s staff made it a very enjoyable and smooth running event. There was plentiful practice time with 8 lap heats paired with 15 lap features for both the Sportsman and Modified divisions. Victims of mechanical woes were Greg Gilbert and Art Merchant, who were wicked fast but could not make the features. And boy oh boy was it hot!! Curt and Lois Snow provided a nice lunch after the driver’s meeting and many good racing stories ensued. Then it was time to get down to business!
Scott DeCota started things off taking down the win in the Sportsman heat. Then Tommy Trempe led from the start to nab the Modified heat. After a short break, it was feature time. The Sportsman were 5 strong with Jerry Humiston, Pete Marshall, John Adams, Scott DeCota, and Greg Stiles starting the race. Jerry got off to a great start, leading Pete for 14 of the 15 lap contest. On the last lap Pete dug down deep and thundered up the outside to take the lead and the win. Jerry settled for second, while John Adams crossed the line in third. In the Modified event, Jim Allen started on point with “Downtown” Ken Brown in second, Tommy Trempe in third, Curt Snow fourth, and Alan Zemla taking up the rear. Jim held the early lead followed by Ken and Curt Snow. Curt managed to get into the top spot by lap 10, with Jim Allen runnerup and Alan Zemla in for third. Overall, it was a great showing for both divisions. Thank you to all the racers involved who supported this event!
After the features were over, a youngster in the pits came over who loved the modified cars. Curt Snow put him in the car, and second place finisher Jim Allen sent him home with his trophy for the night!! The boy was very excited and happy, as were his parents. So happy to be associated with so many first class folks who put on these shows. Thanks so much, guys!!
A fine field of NEAR antique racers came out to the Northeast Speedway Reunion in Waterford, VT. Saturday July 18th saw a great still show and some parade laps taken around the shuttered speedway. A good time had by all remembering happier times when life was a bit slower but the race cars were not!!! Thanks to Scott DeCota for the pics!
Aug 1 Sat. Riverside Spdwy Groveton, NH
Sign-in: 12 NOON Running
Aug 15 Sat. Bear Ridge Spdwy Bradford, VT
Sign-in: 12 NOON Still/Parade
Aug 21 Fri. Claremont Spdwy Claremont, NH
Sign-in: 3PM Running
Aug 22 Sat Bethel Spdwy Swan Lake, N.Y.
Rain out –makeup Sign-in 3p.m. Running
Sept 6 Sun Limerock Historic Fest Salisbury, Ct.
8 a.m.-3 p.m. Still/display
Sept 12 Sat. White Mt. [WMMP] No Woodstock, NH
Sign-in: 1PM Running
Oct 9-11 Sat/Sun Thompson Spdwy Thompson, Ct.
HOF Truck/2 cars Sat. 8 a.m. Running Heat/Feature
This revised schedule is subject to changes due to the current pandemic of COVID-19 and may be affected by government restrictions. Schedule will be updated if we can add any dates.
Even as the Covid-19 pandemic negatively affects hundreds of thousands, a small group of dedicated NEAR members carry on. Ever since the annual member meeting in March, the newly formed Hall of Fame Museum Committee has been working non-stop. Chairmen Oscar Hancock and Rob Quinn have been hitting the bricks drumming up sponsors to come on board and help with the many expenses involved in keeping the museum rolling. Happily to say, their efforts have yielded fine results.
Fortunately, Oscar is the owner of American Beauty Signworks in Woonsocket, R.I Oscar’s business is signs, of any type, to advertise your business, club, anything that benefits from exposure from advertising. Oscar, Rob, and their team came up with a beautiful new vinyl wrap for the truck showcasing our racing history. Modifieds, midgets, drag cars, and road racing cars are represented “bursting” out of the side of the vehicle. The team also made space to showcase NEAR’s new marketing partners as well. What a fantastic job they did.
A lot of mechanical work has also taken place along the way. The truck has a new exhaust, gas tank, and LED running lights thanks to Tap Auto & Truck in Cumberland, R.I. The Tire Doctor, in East Walpole, Blackstone, and Reheboth Ma. supplied some new rubber for us as well. A lot of help also from J.B. Cote Construction in Cumberland, R.I., Seals -It Specialty Products in Ellington, Ct., Scott Quinn Construction, and Performance Transmission from R.I. More help is on the way, a lot of folks are getting on board to ride with NEAR in 2020 and beyond.
As of yet, we have not had an event that we have been able to take the museum to. Pretty soon things should be loosening up on the pandemic front. At that point I am sure the museum team will be out showing off the new colors! When you see this truck out and about, please let the guys know how much you appreciate all of their hard work!!! Thanks to all involved!!
The July 2020 passing of Bob Bahre is a sad time for everyone involved in New England motorsports. Bob’s contributions to racing in New England were huge.
He was inducted into the NEAR Hall of Fame in 2009. He was also inducted into the Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame.
Along with others including Vic Yerardi and Al Novotnik, Bob developed and promoted the Vintage Celebration at his New Hampshire Motor Speedway. In its early days, the Celebration was simply spectacular with the garage filled with period correct Indy cars, sprints and midgets. The noise of their Offy engines exploded into the summer air with their own brand of music and their tart exhaust aroma. Beautifully restored race cars of every type were welcomed and they came and were enjoyed by so many.
In these divisive times in which we live, back then auto racing had Bob Bahre to bring us together. He had time for everyone from millionaires to the kid looking up at a driver in a white firesuit.
Along his magical trip to bring top level racing to New England, he bought Maine’s Oxford Plains Speedway in 1964. He soon invented the Oxford 250 (originally the Oxford 200) along with weekly racing that was so good that it drew crowds so big Bob added more seats until his track had greater capacity than any other in New England. And on many days and nights, he sold tickets for every one of those seats.
His first Cup races were booked when he owned Oxford. Bobby Allison won his first Cup (then Grand National) event there in 1966. Bob promoted two more Cup races at Oxford before the series became too big for small tracks like Oxford.
He saw his future in big league NASCAR which was growing rapidly, so he sold Oxford and began preparing for his greatest adventure: bringing big league racing to New England for the first time since 1928.
He acquired the Bryar Motorsports Park in Loudon, NH along with other adjacent properties with which he created New Hampshire International Speedway. The obstacles he overcame to build the track were monumental. Unable to obtain a permit for suites, when he learned the denial came because the town didn’t have a ladder fire truck that could reach that high, Bob solved the problem. He bought a ladder truck and gave it to the town. In turn, he got the permit to build the suites. He blasted ledge, built a tunnel under the track big enough for trailer trucks and did everything he could think of to ensure the comfort and safety of racing’s fans.
NHIS opened in 1990 with a Busch race. Bob knew from the beginning that he had to have NASCAR’s top division if his new track would be successful. He petitioned Bill France Jr. for a date who first told Bob his chances “…were somewhere between slim and none.” But, Bob persevered and finally, NASCAR awarded him the track’s first Cup date in 1993. Then, he pulled a brilliant maneuver to bring a second Cup date to his track. New England watched the biggest motorsports series in the country twice each year and we bought every ticket for every Cup seat Bob Bahre ever had at his new track. He achieved sold-out attendance for every top division NASCAR race he ran at NHIS.
He always loved vintage cars, especially Packard’s. He built a massive two story garage on his property in South Paris, Maine where he lived with his wife Sandra and son Gary. He filled that garage with priceless cars of the past. As such, with a love of old cars, he was one of us. A barn at the upper level included a library, vintage cars and even a horse-drawn carriage. Like NEAR’s membership, Bob appreciated the beauty of the past.
Each year he opened the collection to all who wanted to see it and donated the money that came from the event to the local library.
Bob started in business when his mother bought a Sears welder on time so he could learn a trade. With it, Bob built trailers. But, as a young man he moved on to ultimately earn a fortune developing real estate. First there were single family houses, then apartment buildings and then strip malls. What began as a single spec house became a real estate empire. Bob’s hard work and smart decisions resulted in the millions of dollars he used to build New Hampshire International Speedway.
He bought and sold a local bank located near his office several times. He always bought for less and sold for more. He explained his business success to Speedway employee Cheryl LaPrade saying, “I just got lucky, kid.”
His success was the result of so much more than luck. Involving his family in the business was part of the story. His had an extraordinary level of common sense. And courage. He built NHIS without a NASCAR promise of Cup series races. He made consistently good decisions and had the tenacity to achieve lofty goals. The reputation he earned as a fair and honest man helped more than this humble man would have ever admitted.
He was a generous man in many ways, sending annual donations to local churches and other charities. He made sure everyone who came to his track to race went home with money in their pocket, even if they failed to qualify. He was a mentor to many but especially to Cup winner turned TV personality, Ricky Craven.
Most multi-millionaires learned business at Wharton or Harvard Business School. Bob never finished high school.. From the first shovel that moved dirt on the property, he believed the track in which he was so heavily invested would fail without at least on top level NASCAR date. He built NHIS almost entirely using his own money so the risk was high.
He loved auto racing and old cars but his first love was his family, his wife Sandra and his son Gary. Both played active roles in Bob’s business life. They built a mansion on Lake Winnipesaukee for he and Sandy and another right next door for Gary. Bob never truly liked the big house and spent his final days in South Paris, Maine in the former home of Governor Hannibal Hamlin, a home built in 1848, where he lived before the lake property was built. Bob was more comfortable in that old house with his car collection just steps away than in the shiny newness of Longview on the lake.
The man in the kaki pants with the white shirt and yellow sweater was a certified New England treasure. We’ll never see another like him again.
2020 NEAR Hall of Fame Cancelled.
The NEAR Board Members and Hall of Fame Executive Committee Representatives met at the ProNyne Motorsports Museum this past Sunday. After much discussion and after holding off as long as possible, we gave in to common sense. The decision was unanimously made to cancel the 2020 NEAR Hall of Fame Banquet.
As hard as this decision was to make, it was the right one. The Covid 19 pandemic has not moved on. Our facility for the event is still not open in Ct. A great number of our membership and honorees are in the highest risk group for infection. In the interest of being as safe as possible, we will regroup and try to have a stellar event in 2021!
Please note that all nominations for the 2020 Hall will be retained for consideration in 2021. We will continue to accept additional nominations until April of 2021. We thank any and all that have had a hand in the planning, sponsoring, and putting on of this event. Please continue to be safe and God Bless.
Attention Board Members! There will be a Board Meeting held at 12:00 noon this Sunday July 19th at the ProNyne Motorsports Museum , 8 Cleveland St.,Pawtucket, R.I. Subjects will include the last 3 months of business we’ve missed , The HOF Truck, the next Newsletter, and the HOF Banquet. Please bring any support documentation needed and any questions /concerns to Rich at (860)209-7343 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Rich is buying pizza for lunch for everybody, FYI. Cold soft drinks will also be available.
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Good Morning all! Unfortunately, due to the rain in the forecast for late afternoon, and early evening, and high humidity, we have decided to postpone today’s events.
Danbury RaceArena Reunion Night has been rescheduled to August 22nd.
Tomorrow’s event, Prestige Towing Zoom and Boom Day will continue as planned. Gates open at 12pm, hot laps at 1pm, racing at 2pm.
We regret that this information is not timely. We just heard that Dick had passed late last week.
WINDHAM – Robert “Dick” Wolstenhulme, 10-time Beech Ridge Champion, racing “Iron-Man” and legendary “hub-cap” man, 87, passed away June 14, 2020 on his 63rd wedding anniversary at Mercy Hospital. He was born Oct. 8, 1932, a son of John “Fred” and Lillian (McPherson) Wolstenhulme Sr. He grew up in Windham, working alongside his father in the shop he built, which Dick continued on after his father’s passing.
On June 14, 1957, he married Phyllis Howard. The two made their home in Windham, which has developed as a landmark for all who visit the town. Anyone who knows Dick is familiar with his thousands of shiny hubcaps he proudly displays at his shop. He had a love for “picking” particularly hub caps.In addition to his unique collection of hub-caps, Dick was a 10-time Champion at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough, in both classes, the late model and super-modified. Known as the “Iron Man from Windham” he proudly drove #99; his love for racing was instilled in his whole family and Beech Ridge was their second home. Dick was inducted in the inaugural class of the Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame. Dick also was inducted into The NEAR Hall of Fame in 2006.
A character in his own right, Dick was an unforgettable man who loved his family above all else. His bond with his daughter Barbara was unmeasurable and he was known as “Ganky” to his beloved granddaughter, Janice and great-grandkids Sawyer and Bennett who were the apples of his eye. Although he leaves a legacy of hub-caps and racing, he will be remembered for his salt of the earth qualities. When asked during an interview what life lessons Dick learned he responded, “Be good to people. Forgive them. Bite your tongue! If you can’t say nothing good, don’t say nothing.”
Dick is survived by his loving wife, Phyllis Wolstenhulme; son-in-law, Donald Sawyer; granddaughter, Janice Douglas and her husband Ryan; great-grandchildren, Sawyer and Bennett Douglas; a daughter, Cindi Wolstenhulme; and several nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his daughter, Barbara Sawyer; baby granddaughter, Kimberly Sawyer; and his brother, John F. Wolstenhulme Jr.
Dick’s funeral service was held on Saturday, June 27 at 4 p.m. at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway, Scarborough. To express condolences or participate in Dick’s online tribute, please visit http://www.DolbyBlaisSegee.com. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in Dick’s name may be made to the Maine Vintage Racecar Association, 6 Lookout Drive, Windham, ME 04062