John Stygar, Famed Modified car owner, passes

Story courtesy of Marc “Bones” Bourcier

 

 

 

 

 

This morning brought the sad news that John Stygar has passed away. John never sought the limelight; hell, he usually HID from it. In this victory photo of Steady Eddie Flemke accepting a trophy at Fredericksburg, VA, in 1961, at the very dawn of the Eastern Bandits era, that’s John at the far right. He’s behind the trophy presenter, waiting for the hoopla to end so he can load up and hit the highway again. I’ve always maintained that the whole “Eastern Bandits” era may not have happened without John. After all, Eddie need a car owner adventurous enough to agree to haul his “dollar sign” coupe up and down the coast in the early 1960s. They won just about everywhere they went, dragging Denny Zimmerman, Rene Charland, Red Foote and others into the action. Later, in the red-hot small-block era of the mid-‘70s, Eddie won often in John’s #7 Pinto, scoring at Thompson, Waterford, Plainville, and no doubt a couple of other joints. Bugs Stevens, Gene Bergin, Denis Giroux, Denny Zimmerman, Fats Caruso, and Smokey Boutwell also steered John’s cars.  John’s place in Modified history is assured. The sport was built upon sturdy bricks like John. — Bones

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John R. Stygar (81, born March 7, 1938) passed away peacefully on Friday, January 3, 2019 at St. Francis Hospital. John lived a long and wonderful life. He is survived by his sisters, Marion Howard and Joan Winslow, both of Bolton; his brother-in-law Jim Howard, also of Bolton; his niece Deborah Howard of Maine; and two nephews, James Howard of Manchester, and Craig Winslow of Southbury. Born in CT, John attended St. James Elementary School and graduated from Manchester High School. He was a lifelong resident of Bolton, CT. John was self-employed, owning and operating Manchester Sweeping and Stygar Snowplowing. John was an ardent auto racing enthusiast. He owned a race car and as part of a team, he enjoyed much success at tracks throughout the Northeast. One of his greatest joys was restoring a 1955 Chevy. John was known as a kind and compassionate man who would help anyone who asked. John was an avid collector; we will always remember John saying to us, “Ya never know when you’re going to need it.” He was also an organ donor. To celebrate John’s life, please join the family for calling hours on Sunday January 12th from 4-7 p.m. at the John F. Tierney Funeral Home, 219 West Center Street, Manchester. Funeral Services will be held on Monday, January 13th at 9:15 a.m. from the funeral home with a Mass of Christian Burial celebrated at 10:00 a.m. at St. James Church 896 Main St. Manchester, followed by burial in St. Joseph Cemetery, Willimantic. Donations may be made to Joe Niekro Foundation Brain Aneurysms, AVMs & Hemorrhagic Strokes GIVING at www.joeniekrofoundation.com/ways-to-give/general-donation/ A special thanks to the staff at St. Francis Hospital for all their care and attention to such a wonderful man. For online condolences, please visit www.tierneyfuneralhome.com
 

Published in The Hartford Courant on Jan. 9, 2020

2020 Annual Meeting Announcement: Confirmed for Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020

Important Notice to NEAR Members:

The Annual meeting initially planned for Sunday, Jan.12,2020 has been postponed. The recent loss of our beloved Treasurer, Newsletter, and Membership Chairman Val LeSieur has presented issues that cannot be resolved quickly. We are working to solve these issues and put new people in place.

 

Update Monday, 1/6/2020

The Annual Meeting re-schedule date is  confirmed for Sunday, Feb. 9,2020, at the Thompson, Ct. Speedway Clubhouse. 11:00 a.m. arrival/social hour, 12:00 lunch for 2020 paid members. Membership forms will be available/ accepted at the door, $25.00. All others $10.00 charge.

 There will be Elections of Officers at the meeting per By Laws changes from last year. I will be running once again for President, and the rest of our officers, as well. Officers will be elected by a simple majority of votes by those present at the meeting.

Anyone interested in filling a position on the Board of Directors or Advisors, contact Rich at (860)209-7343 or rgoucher@comcast.net. Please do so by  Friday, Jan. 31st, 2020 to allow time to put your name on the ballot for the meeting. Thank you.

NEAR HOFer Val Lesieur passes

 

Story courtesy of Bones Bourcier

The loss of Val LeSieur is going to rock a lot of racing people in the Northeast, and indeed up and down the East Coast. Across several decades he published Speedway Scene, which had to be the liveliest trade paper ever printed. It carried news and opinion, it infuriated the occasional track operator, it ran semi-regular pages of goofy photos and captions, and it tied together a region full of readers who considered it a bible. In my early teens I was one of those kids, buying the paper for 50 cents at Plainville Stadium, seven or eight miles from my home in Connecticut. Later I wrote columns for Val, and by age 18 I’d moved to Massachusetts to work for him full-time, cranking out a 48-page (later 56-page) paper on gallons of coffee, snacks, and at least one all-nighter a week. Every Monday-Wednesday it bordered on torture, but, looking back, it was a joy. I worked for Val in various editorial positions (and essentially lived with his family part-time) from mid-1979 through most of ’88, except for a very brief stint in 1983 when I mistakenly thought civilian life looked appealing. Among those who wrote for Speedway Scene in those years were Pete Zanardi, Buffy Swanson, Dave Moody, Phil Smith, Kevin Eckert, Bob Echo, Toodi Gelinas, Mark Thomas, Jack Flowers, Don and Joanne Davies, Charlie Langois, Gary Grim, John Brouwer and Dave Shippee, Kraze Korlacki, Bob Morris, and many more. Together with Bob Echo, Val created the annual Racearama trade show that, truth be known, was one of racing’s biggest parties. He and I ran up and down the road probably hundreds of times, to Martinsville, Daytona, Oswego, Syracuse, Islip, Pocono, and countless other tracks. It was my honor, back in 2011, to induct him into the New England Auto Racers (NEAR) Hall of Fame, as pictured. Val never had a dull moment, and to be in his orbit was to laugh a lot, yell a little, and move on to the next adventure. My heart goes out to his daughter, Valerie, who has known too much sadness. But, for a minute, let’s think of him and smile. He always signed letters, “Your pal Val,” and he wasn’t kidding. He was everybody’s pal. — Bones

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NEAR HOF Driver Mike Stefanik Passes

Courtesy of Marc “Bones” Bourcier

Damn. Mike Stefanik was one of the most complete short-track racers of his generation. He could build cars, maintain them, and, as the record books prove, he could drive the hell out of ‘em. He won seven NASCAR Modified Tour championships and two NASCAR Busch North titles, and since we’re about the same age, I was lucky enough to see a huge chunk of his career. His biggest post-retirement kick was zooming through the skies in a little kit plane he’d put together. One of Mike’s great joys was taking his boyhood hero and longtime pal Bugs Stevens on a flight last year; I talked to them both by phone that afternoon, and they carried on like teenagers. Now phone calls and text messages and Facebook are telling me that Mike lost his life today, doing what he loved so much: flying. Thinking tonight of his wife and best friend, Julie, and their two girls. It’s little comfort right now, but this much I know: That guy LOVED the career he had, and the life he led. His loss will land like a thud in the Northeast racing community, and a lot of hearts are heavy this evening. RIP, Champion. — Bones

Norwood Arena/New England Dragway Reunion Update

There has been a change to the schedule.

 

The 15th Annual Norwood Arena/New England Dragway South Reunions are set for this coming Sunday, Sept.15, 2019 at the Raynham Park located  on Rt. 138 (1958 Broadway) Raynham, MA 02757.  The events will begin at 9 am and end around 3 pm.  In the event of rain, the reunions  will be held on Sunday, Sept.22.  Both reunions will be held in concert with the Wheels of Time Car Club’s Annual Classic Car Show.  This year’s date change should result in more Vintage Oval Track race cars to be on hand.
 
Dash plaques and trophies for race cars will be awarded around 1 pm.   Vendors offering  motor sports collectables, books and such are welcome.  Fans may bring scrapbooks and photos for viewing by fans and other attendees. 
 
 Attendees will be able to meet and greet competitors from one of the greatest racing venues in the northeast.  They will be able to see vintage and contemporary oval track and drag racing machines, Land Speed Record vehicles, motorcycles, classic cars, hot rods, customs and specialty vehicles. 
 
There’s lots of room for ramp trucks, race car trailers, semis and other conveyances.  DJ Blue Moon Productions offering 50″s, 60″s and 70’s music will entertain the attendees.  Also the Hot Rod Cafe will be on site offering food,deserts and drinks.
 
For additional information contact organizer Lou Modestino at 781.784.7857 in Sharon, MA or by e-mail at lmodestino@hotmail.com 

NEAR Lime Rock Show 9/1/19

 

UPDATE ON THURSDAY 8/29/19

The track has set aside tickets at no charge for NEAR Racers displaying cars on Sunday. If you are attending, you need to call or text Rich at (860)209-7343 so I know how many to tell them to have at WILL CALL window. I will be on site before 7 a.m. to place truck and assist any members bringing cars. Thank You!!

NEAR has been invited to participate in the LIME ROCK PARK HISTORICAL FESTIVAL 37 that runs from Thursday  8/29 19 to  Monday 9/2/19. Our still event will be on Sunday, 9/1/19. Gates open at 7 a.m. and show starts at 10.a.m.  NEAR members get a 20% discount off a Sunday ticket, which will be $20.00. Please be aware that EVERYBODY pays entrance at Lime Rock. This is an opportunity to display your car(s) among some of the rarest, most valuable autos ever assembled. Our club will have a specific area where we will be parked/on display together. Bring your cameras for photos of all the great vehicles that will be in attendance!

NEAR has a unique code to order tickets  at the 20% off rate by Thursday, 9/29/19 at 12 midnight. Call or text Rich at (860)209-7343 for the code. We would like to have 6 to 10 cars committed to do this event. The HOF Truck will be on hand. Please contact me with any questions or to verify your attendance.

We will be a part of the “Sunday in the Park: Concours d’Elegance & Gathering of the Marques program.” See the attached link (below) for more information on the weekend’s events. Lime Rock’s ticket info is there, as well. The NEAR discount applies to any/all day, or weekend tickets. 

Let’s get together and have some fun this Sunday! See you there!

Historic Festival 37 at Lime Rock Park 20% NEAR (2)

NEAR HOF member Russ Conway passes

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Images Courtesy of
North East Motor Sports Museum
 

Russ Conway

We have lost one of the most prominent figures in the northeast racing community. Russ Conway died yesterday August 20th. He was brought to his first race by his father Paul in 1956 at the Pines Speedway. His father worked on the fire rescue team at the track. His passion for auto racing and its people lasted for his entire life. He got his start writing for the Pines Speedway as a teenager and then attended Northeastern University and got his first major assignment covering the Boston Bruins in 1967 at age 18.

Russ teamed up with Ken Smith and Charlie Elliot in the late 1960s to build Star Speedway and formed NESMRA which ran supermodified races up and down the east coast for over 20 years. He was the co-founder to some of New England’s biggest auto races which are still going strong today. These events include the Star Classic, World Series of Speedway Racing, Oktoberfest of Racing. He worked at the Eagle-Tribune for years and his investigative journalism efforts helped bring down Alan Eagleson on charges of corruption with the National Hockey League Players Association. He is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame and New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame. He was a part of the original 6 board members with the North East Motor Sports Museum and created its first major annual event, Legends Day.

Funeral and calling hour arrangements have not been finalized.

 

Originally posted by the North East Motor Sports Museum

Near Hall of Fame 2019 Class announced

The NEAR Hall of Fame Class for 2019 has been decided. The gentlemen to be honored on
Sunday, November 10, 2019 are:

Mike Joy – National Motorsports Broadcast Legend

Ed Flemke Jr. – Modified Tour driver/Chassis Builder

Wayne Dion – Multi -Division Driving Champion

Vinny Annarumo – Pro Stock/Modified Seekonk 7 time Champion

Jack Doyle – Drag Racer, Promoter, Legend

Brad LaFontaine –  Modified Championship Crew Chief /Chassis Fabricator/Parts Business Owner

Ric Mariscal – Founder/Conservator of the ProNyne Motorsports Museum in Pawtucket, RI

Bob Webber Sr. – Owner of  Star and Hudson Speedways in  NH

Congratulations to all those being enshrined into the HOF at Maneely’s Banquet Hall, 65 Rye Street, South Windsor, CT

Order forms  for tickets are available lower on this post. 

Please plan on attending this is sure to be a sold out event.  

HOF TICKET FORM

Advertising opportunities as well as congratulatory messages are available in The Hall of Fame Book. These are popular keepsakes for all Banquet attendees. Please consider supporting NEAR activities with your message!

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