MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM
ALL OF US AT NEAR!
Thanks to Candy Cleveland for all photos!
Ken Bouchard’s Motorsports
520 Fairmount Street
Fitchburg, MA 01420
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.
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.
Article by Al Fini
We are looking for up to 15 antique race cars to set up along the Avenue of States during the Big E Fair on the 1st Sunday of November this year. The Big E has also agreed to have the NEAR Mobile Museum on display.
This is a unique and exciting opportunity to display your race car in front of a minimum of 50,000 fair goers. Everyone coming in with the car on display will receive free admission and free parking. You must be on the Big E grounds before 8 AM and will be allowed to leave at 4 PM as a group, escorted off the Fairgrounds by security.
If we get a minimum of 6 cars the NEAR Board of Directors has agreed to consider making the event a points show. If this event is a success I think it could probably be a regular event on the Big E calendar as there was a lot of interest in last year’s racing events at The Big E.
This has the potential to be a great event, exposing our Club to a lot of potential new members throughout all of New England. We won’t be allowed to sell merchandise, but we can recruit new members. Please notify me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or 413-896-4764 If you plan to attend.
See you there!