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.
The NEAR Event at Seekonk has been postponed due to weather. We will be working on a re-scheduled date!
Saturday, August 11th, 2018, the vintage racing cars of NEAR take to the high banks of the Seekonk Raceway. The Hall of Fame Truck will be on the midway, and the stars of NEAR will race heats and a feature during the racing program. Pit gate opens at 3 p.m. with practice to follow. Come down and see some of the best examples of New England Racing history compete just like in years past.
Photos courtesy of Scott DeCota
A fine turnout of NEAR Sportsman and Modifieds were ready to do battle at Waterford Speedbowl on Sat. July 28th. Just as the feature was lined up in the pits, Mother Nature unleashed her havoc on all. All further racing was cancelled for the evening. This was a shame for the competitors, many who traveled from New Hampshire, Ma, and even the local racers.
We were able to get everyone out for 2 practices in the afternoon. We also ran our 8 lap qualifying heat, won by Angie Bullock in the 088. Second was Paul Jacques in the 7ny, and Dickie Doo Ceravolo in the #31. The rainout also prevented the speedway from recognizing Ceravolo for his 30th anniversary behind the wheel of a modified. Congratulations, Dickie. Unfortunately, the remainder of the event will not be re-scheduled, due to lack of open dates on the calendar.
The Hall of Fame truck was a popular attraction for the fans in attendance, as well as the static cars on display. Thanks to all for displaying and competing, it was a very well attended show.
The Racers of NEAR are to appear next this Saturday, July 28th, pit gates open at 1 pm. The Hall Fame Truck will be on the midway, along with any cars wishing to static display. There will be a heat (8 laps) and feature (length TBD) for the running cars. Rich G. and/or Bill H. will be there to sign you in, we will be in the north pits (closest to the entrance in turn one.)
See you all there! Questions Rich 860-209-7343 call or text
Submitted by Justin St. Louis
Veterans Committee elects three pioneers to join NEAR’s 20th Class
SOUTH WINDSOR, Conn. – A trio of well-travelled post-World War II drivers – Midget icon Dutch Schaefer and Modified standouts Joe McNulty and Henri “Red” Barbeau – are the Veterans Committee selections for induction into the New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame. All three inductions will be made posthumously.
Long Islander Schaefer and New Englanders McNulty and Barbeau join drivers Russ Wood, Bobby Gahan, Gardiner Leavitt, and brothers Jeff and Rick Fuller, crew chief Steve Bird, car owner Tom Dunn, and announcer/promoter Ben Dodge Jr. in the Class of 2017. The induction ceremony is Sunday, Nov. 12, at Maneely’s Banquet Hall in South Windsor, Connecticut.
“Schaefer, who battled in Midget racing’s post-World War II golden era, and McNulty and Barbeau, who helped the Modified become New England’s signature division, are pioneers in every sense of the word,” said R.A. Silvia, chairman of the NEAR selection committee. “They had a definite impact on New England auto racing history.”
Active from 1933 until just short of his passing in 1978, Schaefer, a four-time ARDC king, was among the country’s Midget superstars and is a member of the National Midget Hall of Fame. A multi-time ARDC president as well, Schaefer included three Danbury Fairgrounds titles among his championships. A frequent NEMA competitor as well, the mustached driver won at a dozen New England tracks, including legendary ovals like Eastern States Exposition, Pines Speedway, Cherry Park, and Candlelight Stadium.
The personable McNulty, known for “taking care of the race car,” was a force in Southern New England in the 1950s and ‘60s, posting wins at Lonsdale, Seekonk, and the Waterford Speedbowl. He was also a winner at Norwood and the demanding Old Bridge in New Jersey, the latter two under the NASCAR banner. Bertha Small’s #23 and Slim Ross’ #222 were among the rides for the Providence native who raced out of Quaker Hill, Conn.
A Woonsocket, R.I., product, Barbeau was a familiar figure from the late 1940s into the early 1970s in both Modifieds and Cutdowns. Heading up Barbeau’s résumé is a major win at Pinecrest Speedway in Toronto in 1959 and a late model championship at Seekonk in 1973. Usually associated with the Reveraux/Auclair #L1 car, Barbeau was a force on a circuit that included, among other stops, Lonsdale, Westboro, West Peabody, Norwood, the Pines, and Seekonk speedways.
More information, including ticket purchases, is available at www.NEAR1.org.
Photos by Bill Henry
Article and Photos courtesy of Bill Henry
September 17, 2017 found the New England Antique Racers at the P.A.L. building for the annual Danbury SNYRA Reunion. This always popular show brought out the crowd, even though the morning started out with clouds, mist, and fog. By noon, the weather had cleared and we were in a summer sweat down. Fortunately, this event is inside. The hot weather had little impact on those shining up their cars. They all displayed well and received the admiration of the masses.
In addition to the cars, the Hall of Fame Museum was also in attendance. This traveling catalog of racing memorabilia was, as always, a hit with those who toured.
It is hard to believe that after 36 years race fans still come out to view the cars, and obtain autographs from their drivers. Many take pictures of cars which now only race in their memory. Some are still on the track at vintage events where some tracks allow NEAR to participate. These are demonstrations. not at top speed and racing, as set forth in our bylaws. If you have not been to a facility where NEAR actively takes to the track, you have missed the sounds of open exhaust, the smell of rubber being ground into the track, and the scent of hot oil. The 2018 schedule is under construction as this is being written. Please check the website and make plans to support NEAR at a local race track. Come show your support for the facilities, and the members who do this as a labor of love for the sport.
Also for the fan’s viewing delight were late models, modifieds, dirt cars and go karts from the surrounding area. They all came out to support the reunion. Outside the facility a good number of street vehicles made the trek to strut their stuff for the pleasure of the attendees.
On behalf of NEAR and the Danbury Racearena Reunion Committee, I would like to thank the following: Don Moon, George Cleveland, Don Lajoie, Pete Ballard, Dale Cote, Bill Kemp, Jojo Farrone and Angie Bullock. Your efforts were paramount to making the show happen by bringing your cars and donating your time. Much appreciated.
A big tip of the hat goes to Steve Zukowski. Steve drove the HOF truck from Rhode Island to Danbury and back so that it was available to the fans.
On to The Plainville Reunion!
Article by Justin St. Louis
The New England Auto Racers (NEAR) Hall of Fame has named two longtime stock car racing journalists, Brian Danko , left, and Tom Herzig, right, to receive the 2017 Mitchell-Ratta Media Award.
Bearing the names of respected motorsports writers Charlie Mitchell of the Norwalk (Conn.) Hour and Jack Ratta of the Manchester (N.H.) Union Leader, the annual award recognizes reporters dedicated to racing in the region. Past recipients include writers Chris Economaki and Mark “Bones” Bourcier, and radio host Dave Moody.
Danko and Herzig will be honored at the NEAR Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Sunday, November 12, at Maneely’s Banquet Hall in South Windsor, Connecticut. For more information including placing a ticket order, visit the official NEAR website at www.NEAR1.org.
Southington, Conn., native Danko is an open-wheel asphalt Modified racing authority, having covered the ground-pounders for over 40 years. Disappointed by a lack of coverage in his local newspaper, Danko took it upon himself to begin documenting the races at Plainville Stadium in the late 1970s for the New Britain (Conn.) Herald. He soon branched out to Stafford Motor Speedway, Thompson Speedway, and Riverside Park, and eventually covered races from Maine to Florida to Indianapolis.
Danko has spent the last 30 years covering the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour for Area Auto Racing News, and has also worked at the last 20 Daytona 500s. He recently recalled a colorful experience sitting between Charlie Mitchell and Jack Ratta in the press box at Daytona International Speedway years ago: “Ithink they believed I needed some looking after,” he fondly remembered. “They were both great writers and personalities.”
Herzig, a native of Charlestown, N.H., has been a respected racing journalist and publicist for 20 years with prolific contributions to some of New England’s most recognizable daily newspapers, including the Manchester Union Leader and the Barre-Montpelier (Vt.) Times Argus.
While writing columns and covering races for print, Herzig also served in public relations for promoter Tom Curley in 1997-2004, working the busy American-Canadian Tour circuit, Vermont’s Thunder Road Speedbowl, and New York’s Airborne Park Speedway. He gave 10 more seasons at Airborne under promoter Mike Perrotte, and then spent one year as the DIRTcar Northeast Communications Director in 2015.
The well-traveled Granite Stater first cheered on his father, driver Ken Herzig, as he raced against NEAR Hall of Famers Sonny Rabideau and Roy Forsythe at the Cheshire Fairgrounds and at Claremont Speedway in the mid-1950s. Herzig pitched to future Baseball Hall of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk in high school, is an accomplished blues musician, and has also covered horse racing and high school and college sports for many years.
NEAR has already named eight new members for its Hall of Fame: Drivers Russ Wood, Bobby Gahan, Gardiner Leavitt, and brothers Jeff and Rick Fuller, crew chief Steve Bird, car owner Tom Dunn, and promoter and media man Ben Dodge Jr.; still to come are selections from the Veterans Committee. For more information, visit www.NEAR1.org.