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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Updated 2020 NEAR Hall of Fame Nomination forms

It soon will be time to unveil the members of the 2019 Class of the NEAR Hall of Fame. Preparations are underway to celebrate their induction at Maneeley’s Banquet Facility in South Windsor, Ct. The banquet will  be held on Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019.

We must prepare for 2020, so here are the forms needed to nominate a deserving person for the Hall. Please click on and download from the links provided and mail to the address on the form.

NEAR HoF nomination-mail-version-2020

NEAR HoF nomination form-email-version-2020

Near HOF Truck, Member Cars Appear

HISTORIC MOTOR SPORTS EXPOSITION COMES TO LOUDON

 

LOUDON, NH: On Saturday May 4th the North East Motor Sports Museum (922 Route 106 Loudon, NH) will host the most diverse regional gathering of historical race cars, mobile museums, personalities and artifacts ever seen in New England. The expo will feature a variety of different racing disciplines including road racing, oval track racing, drag racing, off-road racing and more.

 

The featured attractions of the day will be all of the northeast’s mobile museums that will appear together for the first time. The museums are Ron Bouchard Racing, New England Antique Racers, Maine Vintage Race Car Association, Bob Doyle Museum – A Photo History of Vermont Racing and the Ollie Silva Museum. Two museums with physical building locations the ProNyne Motorsports Museum and Owls Head Transportation Museum will also join us.

 

1992 and 1993 NASCAR Busch North Champion the “Irish Angel” Dick McCabe, six time American Canadian Tour Champion Robbie Crouch and the only four time NASCAR Busch North Series Champion Andy Santerre will join us as our featured personalities. Museum president Dick Berggren will host conversations throughout the day with all three champions.

 

For one day only the museum will host a diverse group of cars from beyond New England’s boarders. See a 1984 March Indycar driven by Danny Ongais, a Formula 5000 racer in addition to New England classics such as the 1400 horsepower Country Girl Funny Car and stock cars from the Senior Tour Auto Racers club.

 

Join us on Saturday May 4th from 10am to 3pm and enjoy the one day exhibits as well as the museums 30+ cars, slot car track and iRacing Simulator. We rev up the engines at noon which will be followed by a barbeque lunch and we end the day with giveaway prizes. Members are admitted free to the museum with free lunch and non-members pay $10 entry free and a small donation for lunch. To display your historic race car or artifacts call executive director Tom Netishen at 603-783-0183. A rain date of May 5th has been set and Groupons are not accepted for this event.

 

About: The North East Motor Sports Museum is owned by the Racing History Preservation Group, a 501-c-3 educational non-profit organization that seeks to discover, preserve and share the history of motorsports in the Northeast. The 10,000 square foot museum opened in 2017 on the grounds of the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, NH.

 

 

HOF Driver George Summers Passes

George J. Summers

George J. Summers

AUGUST 21, 1935 ~ JANUARY 4, 2019 (AGE 83)

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


 
 
 

HOF member Bob Judkins Sr. passes

Obituary for Robert Judkins Sr.

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.

NEAR Banquet Tickets Going Fast!

Tickets for the 2018 NEAR Hall of Fame Banquet  on Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018 are selling briskly. With Ted Christopher and Mike Stefanik leading a fine group into the Hall, friends, family, and fans want to be there to see the induction.

Jump on board and get yours now! Also available for promoting your business or team is the Hall of Fame Program, with very reasonable rates. See below for the links to download  both forms. See you at the banquet!!!!

NEAR 2018 Ad form

NEAR 2018 Banquet form

2018 HOF Class of 8 Announced

Article courtesy of author Justin St. Louis/Rutland, Vt. Herald

The New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame has announced its Class of 2018 with a decidedly northern flavor. The class has the highest percentage of new inductees from north of Massachusetts in the NEAR Hall’s 21-year history: Six out of the eight have strong ties to Vermont, New Hampshire or Maine.

Though his name may not be familiar to many stock car fans, Colchester’s John Buffum is the most high-profile inductee from the class. The driver, team owner and car builder is the most accomplished American in the history of rally racing, winning 118 events at the national level in the United States and Canada, three events internationally, and a pair of Pikes Peak Hill Climbs. Buffum was born and raised in Connecticut but has called Vermont home for more than 50 years. He can claim 23 national rally championships and one road racing title as a driver, and another 31 titles as a team owner and constructor. 

All three active Vermont stock car tracks find representation in the newly announced class.

North Ferrisburgh native Jamie Aube rose from humble beginnings at Barre’s Thunder Road and Milton’s Catamount Stadium to become a household name in the short track world. Aube won the nationally-respected Oxford 250 in 1987 and ’89 and also won three consecutive championships on the former NASCAR Busch North Series.


C.V. “Butch” Elms III is one of two dirt track stars to be named to the NEAR Hall of Fame. The North Haverhill, New Hampshire native is undeniably one of the most accomplished dirt drivers in the Northeast, taking 136 documented wins and 11 track championships. Elms is best known these days as the owner and promoter of Bradford’s Bear Ridge Speedway — where the bulk of his success came in his driving days — which he has owned since 1989.


Ken Tremont Sr. also represents the dirt world, and is the only non-New Englander in the Class of 2018. The all-time greatest car owner and engine builder at Devil’s Bowl Speedway in West Haven, Tremont has 93 wins and 10 track titles (and counting) within the borders of New England, and he remains active with both his son, Ken Jr., and grandson, Montgomery, driving his cars. Tremont’s accomplishments in his native New York State — though they were not factored into his nomination by NEAR — bring his career totals to well above 350 race wins and nearly 50 championships.


As a driver, New Hampshire native Dick Glines won a championship in the highly-competitive Oxford Open Series and was a winner at several Maine tracks. As a crew chief, he was responsible for the rise and dominance of Robbie Crouch in the 1980s, winning 49 touring series races and five championships including three-straight on the American-Canadian Tour, and was Aube’s crew chief during his 1990 Busch North title run. As a fabricator, Glines built cars for eight additional Busch North championship teams, and his cars also won NASCAR Busch Series (now Xfinity) races.


Maine’s Pete Silva won more than 120 races on paved short tracks up and down the East Coast, and is considered to be one of the Southeast’s most legendary drivers. After winning Late Model Sportsman races in his native New England, Silva relocated to the Carolinas and won many races and track championships at places like Greenville-Pickens, Hickory and Asheville, racing against many drivers who went on to national prominence in NASCAR.


Finally, two giants of New England stock car racing will highlight the Hall: Mike Stefanik and the late Ted Christopher.


Stefanik, a Rhode Island racer and one of asphalt Modified racing’s very best, is a seven-time champion of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and the series’ all-time winner with 74 victories. He was an outstanding driver in full-fendered equipment as well, winning Busch North Series and Modified Tour titles in 1997 and 1998. He was the 1999 Rookie of the Year on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and has hundreds of victories in weekly short track competition.


Christopher, who was killed in an airplane crash last fall in his native Connecticut, owns more than 370 victories in his career in an almost immeasurable variety of race cars, from Modifieds to Midgets to Super Late Models and more. Christopher was the 2001 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion and the 2008 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion. He is the all-time winner at both Stafford Motor Speedway (131 victories) and Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (99).


The New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held Nov. 11 at Maneeley’s Banquet Hall in South Windsor, Connecticut. The ticket order form can be printed by following the link below this story.

 

2018 HOF ticket order form

NEAR HOF 2018 Class to be announced at Thompson Wednesday, August 8th, 2018

The 2018 Hall of Fame Class will be announced this Wednesday, August 8th, at the Thompson Speedway. Plans are well underway for this year’s annual induction banquet. It will be held on Sunday, November 11th, 2018. Doors open at 11 a.m., with dinner slated for 12 p.m. Please use  the form at the link below when ordering tickets for the event.

2018 HOF ticket order form

NEAR Hall of Famer Gardiner Leavitt passes

Submitted by Phil  Whipple
 
 
 
Gardiner Leavitt, the legendary driver, car builder, parts supplier, and Maine racing icon
passed away on Tuesday, July 17, 2018, with family by his side. He was 87.
Leavitt raced on the dirt of Beech Ridge Motor Speedway, the high-banks of Dover  (Delaware) International Speedway
and numerous short tracks in the  northeastern United  States and eastern Canada.
Affectionately known as “The Geezer from Kezar,” Leavitt’s 60-plus year involvement in
auto racing began at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in 1951. His red and white No. 35
entry was a familiar sight for race fans around southern Maine.
When the original NASCAR North Tour was created in 1979, Leavitt decided it was time
to try something new. After 12 years competing in NASCAR events from North Carolina
and Virginia to the Maritime Provinces of Canada, Leavitt retired as a driver to take on
the new role of tutoring young drivers.
For over 50 years, Leavitt wore the hats of race driver, car owner, teacher, fabricator and
race parts supplier. Leavitt and wife June touched more lives and influenced more young
drivers than perhaps any other couple in New England. Leavitt was a member of the
Beech Ridge Motor Speedway Hall of Fame, the Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame and
was inducted into the NEAR Hall in November of 2017.
On behalf of President Paul Masse and full membership at NEAR, our thoughts and
prayers go out to June, Steve and the entire Leavitt family at this difficult time. Gardiner’s
impact on New England racing was huge, and his legacy will live on for generations to
come.