.

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 380 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 196 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
Triple-A-Restaurant
1209 Main St
East Hartford, CT
May 19, 2015 at 7:15pm

Note: If you missed an article, you can still see it on "Previous Articles"
(the last button on the navigation bar at the top of this page); or click here
New England Antique Racers Attendance
at Summer Knights Show Garners
Participation Award Again for 2015
April 29, 2015
Click here for photos

On Sunday April 26, 2015, despite the early morning cold temperatures (39°), snow and sleet two days before the show, the faithful were determined to show that the vintage race car owners and drivers are a sturdy lot.

The following folks brought cars to the event: Ron Carlson the #85 coupe, Steve Zukowski the #53 Vega, Rich Belmonte the #19 Cavalier, Jim Williams the "Tom Baldwin" Tribute car #NY 7, George Cleveland the #5X Ford Businessman's Coupe, Tom Maciag the 19 Pinto, Carl Kierman the #222 Pinto and Jack Proulx the yellow canary Coupe # 5.  These folks braved the conditions of the week to have cars out for the NEAR organization and earn the most cars by a single group in attendance Award. Thank you to these hearty souls!

(L to R) Jack Proulx, Ray Evernham, Ron
Carlson, Rich and Claire Belmonte
(Photo Courtesy of Jim Williams)

Seen in the photos chatting with some of the NEAR members in attendance is Ray Evernham of NASCAR fame. Ray took the time to speak with everyone about his grass roots racing in modifieds before becoming a crew chief on the Winston Cup circuit and winning national titles. Scott Zipadelli was also scheduled to appear at the event. There were numerous Sprint car items up for raffles and bid during the show as part of the fund raising process. Local radio personalities AJ (a big car buff) of the Chaz and AJ morning show on WPLR 99.1 were there with AJ’s Ford Fairlane in support of this local event.

Jim Williams commenced the tech inspection on some of the cars present so that the first running event on May 9th at Monadnock will move faster with cars ready to take the track.

Come on out and support the shows!

By Bill Henry

"NEAR Members Rise to the Occasion"
April 25, 2015

In recent years the NEAR Hall of Fame Mobile Museum has been plagued with mechanical issues and was just plain getting "tired". But after months of discussion and exploring options, there is finally reason to believe that old workhorse will soon be running like new again.

The HoF Mobile Museum committee sought out vendors and estimates for truck repairs. At the April meeting, the committee made a recommendation that the truck be repaired at Dunleavy's Truck and Trailer Repair in Connecticut, where it was recently delivered for inspection and estimates. The Board of Directors unanimously approved the committee's recommendation.

Work is expected to begin next week on the truck to replace the tired old engine, freshen the transmission, and make other repairs to brake lines, burned wires, new starter, etc. Dunleavy's will also explore options to change the rear end gears to reduce highway RPMs.

Professional work like this doesn't come cheap, and the $7,600 estimate is more than what is available in the truck fund - which is also used to cover expenses for taking the HoF Mobile Museum to NEAR displays during the season. But NEAR members are rising to the occasion! Shortly after the vote, JoJo Farone raised his hand and offered to donate $100 towards the cost of repairing the truck. His donation was followed by another. Then more members raised their hands. Before it was over at least 9 of the 27 or so members present had committed to donate directly to the truck fund.

NEAR President Paul Masse expressed his amazement and sincere appreciation to everyone who stepped up and donated.  He went on to say he hoped that when word gets around about the incredible show of solidarity, that even more members and supporters will commit to donating to the truck fund. Anyone who does wish to make a donation may send them to:

New England Antique Racers
PO Box 812
Meriden, CT 06450

Please enclose a note stating the donation is for the truck fund. Your support is greatly appreciated.

By Jim Williams
Walt Scadden’s “Breakfast with Bill - Conversations with the Connecticut Valley Rocket “Wild Bill Slater” Released
April 24, 2015

Among the tracks Bill Slater dominated
while wheeling the Bombaci-Vitari
#V-8 was Connecticut's
New London-Waterford Speedbowl.
(Shany Lorenzent Photo,
Dave Dykes Collection) 

(MANCHESTER, CT)

“Breakfast with Bill - Conversations with the Connecticut Valley Rocket “Wild Bill Slater” by Walt Scadden is now available.

Though not a lengthy affair, the book provides an engaging glimpse into the persona and career of the driver who became known as “The Connecticut Valley Rocket” during the golden era of New England modified racing. A modest selection of vintage photos also appear.

Content is culled from frequent and often-candid conversations Scadden had with Slater over the last 4-5 years of his life. The entire New England racing community was deeply saddened to hear of Bill’s passing in 2012.

A prolific winner, Slater guided the Bob Vitari & Vic Bombaci-owned #V8 coupe to championships and feature event triumphs throughout the region during the 1950s & 60s. Also on the resume are celebrated National victories at Langhorne, Pennsylvania, and Trenton, New Jersey.

Slater, Vitari, and Bombaci are all members of the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame.

Slater drove his last race at Stafford in 1969 and then became involved in the promotional side of racing at Stafford; and later Thompson.

Copies of the book are available exclusively at the ProNyne Motorsports Museum in Pawtucket, RI, at $5 each or directly from the New England Antique Racers (NEAR). Those opting for the latter choice should send a check for $6 (made out to NEAR) for each copy to Slater Book, 24 Goose Hill Rd, Chester, CT 06412. Please include a return address.

All proceeds benefit the New England Antique Racers (NEAR) and the ProNyne Motorsports Museum.

By Dave Dykes

Robert LeSieur, Son of New England Auto
Racing Hall of Famer Val LeSieur Passes-Away
April 10, 2015

Sadly, it was learned today, Thursday, April 9, 2015, that Robert LeSieur, son of 2011 New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame Inductee Val LeSieur passed-away unexpectedly on Wednesday, April 8th.

The family will hold a Private Service at a Later Date; Baumgartner Funeral Home obituary.

The entire New England Antique Racers (NEAR) family would like to take this opportunity to forward its sincere condolences to the LeSieur family on this somber occasion

By Dave Dykes
Potter, Dragon, & Lindblad To Serve On 2015 New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame Selection Committee
April 7, 2015

(SOMERVILLE, MA) Bob Potter, Bobby Dragon, and Roland “Rollie” Lindblad will serve as HOF Representatives on the 2015 New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame Selection Committee.

Yearly, three Hall of Fame members are chosen for the Selection Committee. The trio replaces the departing Billy Harman, Dan Merservey, and Joey Kourafas.

HOF Selection Committee Chairman Bruce Cohen is pleased to have Potter, Dragon, and Lindblad aboard. “I think we’ve made great choices in adding these Hall of Famers to the Selection Committee for 2015. They represent a cross-reference of historical knowledge from different areas of the region. We’re pleased & thankful that they’ll be a part of things this year,” he stated recently.

Inducted into the HOF in 2007, mention the number 51 in Southern New England and the immediate response is Bob Potter. Starting at Connecticut’s New London-Waterford Speedbowl in 1962, the Taftville, CT, native began winning in 1966 and before it was over captured an impressive 11 championships and an estimated 140 features at Stafford, Thompson and Waterford. A model of consistency and regarded for his ability to make a car handle, he ran a streak of 37 straight top-six finishes at Stafford in 1994-95. During his decades-long career Potter successfully competed at virtually all New England Modified venues as-well as at big events held at “away” tracks such as Martinsville, Virginia and Trenton, New Jersey. 
 
2009 Inductee Bobby Dragon began racing in the late-1960s wheeling Modifieds, Flying Tigers, and Late Models competing at over 70 different tracks during his career. A Milton, VT, product, his home tracks were Vermont’s Catamount Stadium and Thunder Road. Other speedways included Maine’s Oxford Plains, Dover, Delaware, and Bristol, Tennessee. Also on the resume are runs at Nazareth, PA, Watkins Glen, NY, and Irwindale, CA. In 1983, he was the recipient of the prestigious Don McTavish Award. Championships include four at Catamount Stadium, two at Thunder Road, and one at Devil’s Bowl all in Vermont. Dragon was the NASCAR North Champion in 1978.

A member of the HOF Class of 2009, Roland “Rollie” Lindblad-built race cars won championships up & down the East Coast. From Pro Stocks, Midgets, Modifieds, & Supers, he set the bar when it came to race car fabrication. His ‘Badger’ revolutionized Midget racing in the 1970s. The car dominated NEMA for a decade, and was banned by most other Midget organizations in the country because of the speed the car generated. His Badgers won championships with Butch Walsh (1973), Johnny Mann (1974), Dave Humphrey (1978), and multiple championships with Drew Fonoro. Ron Bouchard drove a Lindblad car to the 1978 Seekonk championship, and Denny Wheeler won the ISMA Supermodified title in 1983. His Pro Stocks won a trio of Seekonk Speedway championships, 2 with Leo Cleary (1986 and 1994), then again with Fred Astle, Jr. in 2000.

A non-profit endeavor, since 1998 NEAR has inducted 196 individuals into the New England Auto Racers Hall Of Fame, which is administered by the New England Antique Racers. Some notable inductees include Richie Evans, Ron Bouchard, Bugs Stevens, Rene Charland, Pete Hamilton, Fred DeSarro, Ed Flemke, Sr. and Billy Greco among others.

By Dave Dykes

Jim Williams Appointed as new Event Coordinator
April 4, 2015

Jim Williams

NEAR President Paul Masse has asked me to help out with the coordination of events for 2015.  I will do my best to help the club in any way I can.  I want to thank both Jim Torok and Bill Henry for all of their years of hard work and dedication in scheduling and coordinating events, and I hope I can count on their continued support, guidance and advice.  To try to fill their shoes is an impossible task, especially for a new club member.  But I will do my best to manage the schedule and coordinate with the tracks and other venues.

I fully understand that there is a lot that I don’t know, and that there is much to learn.  I know that I may make some mistakes along the way.  I trust that you will be accommodating in that regard.  I also know that I will not be able to please everyone all the time.  But I can promise you that I will always act with the best interest of the club in mind, and I will support decisions of the elected officials.

I definitely am open to the opinions and ideas of our members, and I welcome your constructive advice and assistance.  It is my hope and desire that our 2015 NEAR season runs smoothly and will be a positive experience for all.

With that in mind, please review the information contained in my notes about 2015 NEAR events so that we can start off on the right footing.

Regards,
Jim Williams

Notes about 2015 NEAR Events
April 4, 2015
  • Participation in NEAR events requires a current/active membership.  Showing your current NEAR membership card is the easiest way to verify your active status.
  • When attending events, make sure you sign in with the Event Coordinator.  If there is none present, ensure you make your attendance known to a NEAR official as soon as practical.  Sending a photo of you at the event is a good idea, if possible.

  • Please inform the event coordinator of your intention to attend running or still shows ahead of time, so we might know who and how many to expect.

  • SAFETY is our #1 priority – period.
  • Review the NEAR rules regarding required safety equipment for both the vehicle and the driver, and ensure you meet all of the requirements.
  • Plan to arrive early at your first (running) event in order to allow time for a safety inspection.
  • Deficiencies in personal and/or vehicle safety equipment will be cause for denial of participation in on-track events.
  • Have a short bio of yourself and/or your car prepared for the track announcer to identify you.  You can also submit a bio to the webmaster, Judy Poirier.
  • Remember that participation in both still and running events should be a positive experience for all.  Remember what the purposes of NEAR are.  Competition is not one of them. Neither is conflict.  Camaraderie, and preserving and displaying the history of the sport are the main objectives.
  • I look forward to doing my part for a successful and enjoyable season for all NEAR event participants.  Please feel free to contact me at any time.  Call or text 401-580-1313 or e-mail cptjnw@yahoo.com .   I am also on Facebook.
  • I welcome any and all advice and assistance.  Your thoughts matter to us.
Best Regards, Jim Williams (Event Coordinator)
New Hampshire Auto Racing Pioneer
“Blazing Buddy” Bardwell Passes

April 2, 2015
Photo Courtesy of 176 Racing

(Gilsum, NH) New Hampshire auto racing pioneer “Blazing Buddy” Bardwell passed-away on Monday, March 30th, 2015, following a brief period of declining health. He was 90.

Inducted into the prestigious New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2011, the World War II Navy veteran’s career behind the wheel spanned over six-decades.

Traveling widely and winning frequently, his early racing weekends began on Thursday nights at Keene, NH, and continued on Fridays at Rhythm Inn in MA, Saturdays at Claremont, NH, and Sundays in Brattleboro, VT.

Driving his trademark #13 1934 Ford coupe adorned by a pair of steer horns on its roof, it’s estimated that Bardwell competed at over 80 race tracks throughout the Northeast and Canada.

He was particularly-tough at New Hampshire’s Claremont Speedway where he was named to their Hall of Fame.

In later years, Bardwell and his Hudson Hornet-powered 3-window coupe remained very active on the vintage racing circuit, running regularly with several clubs including the New England Antique Racers. Click here for full story


By Dave Dykes
SPEEDBOWL ICON DICK DUNN PASSES
By Dave Dykes
March 28, 2015

(WATERFORD, CT) Multi-time New London-Waterford Speedbowl Modified track champion Dick Dunn passed away unexpectedly on Thursday, March 27th, 2015. He was 77.

Calling hours and Funeral details may be found at www.legacy.com/obituaries/hartfordcourant/obituary

Long heralded as a marquee star at the Speedbowl, Dunn began his career in the shoreline oval’s support divisions before successfully transitioning to the headlining Modifieds where by the 1960s he’d become a multi-time feature winner with his own car, and also while driving for other teams.

A pairing with car owner the late Peg Gaudreau and her late husband Al at the dawn of the 1970s proved wildly-successful for the Middletown, CT, native.

Piloting the Gaudreau “Buddha’s Bullet” #3, he went on to record 4-straight Speedbowl Modified track championships beginning in 1972. Click here for full story