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Welcome to the New England Antique Racers and New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame


 

 


 

 

Slide Show of Vintage Race Cars

The New England Antique Racers Club is a non-profit organization that supports the history of New England auto racing. NEAR has been in existence since 1981 and has a growing membership, over 400 members, and 80 antique race cars. Members live throughout New England and are available, on a no charge basis, for exhibition events at  local race tracks in New England and several tracks in the New York area, with both original and historical replica race cars.

Since 1998, we have inducted 207 individuals into the New England Auto Racers Hall Of Fame, which is administered by the New England Antique Racers. Some very notable inductees include Richie Evans, Ron Bouchard, Bugs Stevens, Rene Charland, Pete Hamilton, Fred DeSarro, Ed Flemke, Sr. and Billy Greco.

Next NEAR Meeting - January 8, 2017
(Note: December meeting cancelled)

Annual Meeting, Awards Presented
12noon

****NEW LOCATION****
Thompson Speedway Clubhouse
205 East Thompson Road
Thompson, CT
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NEAR Member Profile this week is for Al Fini
November 29, 2016
Al Fini, recipient of the Danny Pardi Award

Al Fini’s introduction to auto racing occurred in the 1940s and '50s courtesy of his dad who was a fan of the midgets and his uncle, Bill Fini who raced coupes at the famed Riverside Park in the '50s.

As a young man Al tried his hand at driving and competed for a short time in 1965-67 at Riverside on Tuesday nights and Malta on Fridays. He won two late model features at Malta and he was a high points finisher both years (2nd in '66 and 3rd in '67). One of his greatest thrills was winning most popular driver at Albany- Saratoga (Malta) in 1967 sponsored by the Tiona Oil Company. He also enjoyed racing in the 200 lap late model races at the Big E; although he had DNF’s in both.

At the end of the '67 season he made the decision that he couldn’t put the effort into a successful racing career and still operate two growing businesses as well as enjoy his young family so the race car was sold. Al's only connection to racing after that was as a fan during the modified’s golden years.

In 1981 he was exposed to NEAR and thought it would be fun to get involved in racing again. Al and a few friends built a replica of one of his last cars. He was soon drafted on to the NEAR Board of Directors and quickly resumed old friendships with Buddy Krebs, Gene Bergin, and many of his heroes.

As we look back, Al’s greatest contribution to our great sport was not as a competitor but as a member of  NEAR. He spent many years on the Board of Directors, was Secretary for a few years and then he was elected President, the first time, in 1997. Some of Al’s many accomplishments include:

Longest serving President:  ten years; 1997-2005 and 2013-2014
Only President elected to non-consecutive terms
NEAR Hall of Fame implemented during his Presidency, 1998
NEAR Mobile Museum implemented, 2003

Al's legacy also included earning all three of NEAR’s distinguished service awards: Charlie Stebbins Award in 2002, Frank Marratta Award in 2005, and Danny Pardi Award in 2016.

The New England Antique Racers Club has truly benefited from Al's service and his ongoing sharing of New England racing history.

NEAR HALL OF FAME
INDUCTS CLASS OF 2016
November 17, 2016

(click here for photos)
Photo Courtesy of Nick Teto

Explaining his “overwhelming desire” to win on NASCAR’s then Winston Cup series, Maine’s Ricky Craven called the final 20 circuits at Martinsville in the fall of 2001 “the greatest laps of my life.” Craven, who won that race, then credited it to lessons learned as a competitor in New England.

Two-time Busch South Champion Randy LaJoie, a product of the famous Danbury Racearena, had a similar response in his remarks at the New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame Induction Banquet Sunday, November 13 at Maneeley’s Banquet Hall. Broadcaster Jack Arute and drivers Ken Bouchard, Nick Fornoro Jr., the late George “Moose” Hewitt, Dwight Jarvis and Jerry Marquis were also part of the Class of 2016.

“I had to learn those lessons somewhere,” said LaJoie who, like Arute and Fornoro followed their fathers into the Hall. Fornoro and Bouchard joined their brothers.  Bouchard, the 1988 NASCAR Winston Cup Rookie of the Year, Fornoro, winner of 110 midget features and 11 championships, Jarvis, owner of 110 feature wins and 18 titles, and Marquis, who claims the 2000 NASCAR Modified championship among almost two-dozen crowns, all cited car owners as keys in their success.

Arute paid tribute to his late father Jack. Daughter Kim Gero accepted for Hewitt.

Veteran Committee Inductees were the Maine natives Edgar and Freelan Stanely, who, in addition to building the Stanley Steamer, also set early speed records, Bay Stater John Burgess who brought the midget to New England in the 1930s and Norwalk, CT, product Fred Meeker, a post World War II midget ace. Sarah Stanley, a great-great-great granddaughter of Freelan, was part of the presentation.

The inaugural Ron Bouchard Award, honoring lifetime service to the sport of auto racing, went to Vermont’s Ken Squier. NEAR President Paul Masse and Bouchard’s widow Paula Flemke Bouchard presented the award. Justin St. Louis accepted for Squire, a giant in motorsports broadcasting.

The Danny Pardi Memorial Award, acknowledging service to the Hall of Fame, went to former NEAR president Al Fini. Presenter Fred Ciavola pointed out Fini’s long-time dedication to the club.

Phil Whipple of Maine’s Lewiston Sun Journal and Richard “Biggie” Bigelow shared the Mitchell/Ratta Media Award and Russ Dowd, a track announcer at Thompson for 35 years, was the recipient of the Frank Maratta Award which recognized “outstanding contribution and support of auto racing.”  

Matt Buckler, who has been Master of Ceremonies for all but three of the induction affairs, kept the festivities moving. Buckler pointed out that the crowd of 360 plus included Bugs Stevens and Eddie West, members of the Hall’s first (1998) and second classes respectively. There were two – Donnie LaJoie and Ron Narducci – from the third class. Fred Rosner, Don Rounds and Denny Zimmerman represented the fourth class.

Among the highlights was Olivia Bouchard’s emotional induction of her father Ken. Other presenters were Gary and Brian Danko (Marquis), Peter VanderVeer (LaJoie), John Spence (Jarvis), Dave Dykes (Hewitt), Mike Scrivani Jr. (Fornoro), Whipple (Craven) and Pete Zanardi (Arute).