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NEAR Announces 2014 Hall of Fame Class
July 29, 2014

Click here to download an order form for 2014
Hall of Fame Banquet Tickets

 

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 of approx. 350-400 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 185 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.

NEAR Meetings are Scheduled for the
3rd Tuesday of Each Month
Next meeting November 18th

Monthly Meetings are at:
7:15pm
Triple A Restaurant
1209 Main St. (Rt. 5)
East Hartford, CT
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ANNUAL PLAINVILLE STADIUM REUNION
CONTINUES TO IMPRESS

(Click here for photos)
October 26, 2014

BERLIN, CT — It’s gates where locked for the final time over three decades-ago. The place remained unceremoniously silent for a grieving period before progress intervened & claimed another pound of flesh from Connecticut’s stock car racing landscape.

Sadly, it’s a fate that’s become a stark reality for many of our nation’s short tracks.

The reasons surrounding the demise of Joe Tinty’s little oval of asphalt known as Plainville Stadium are of minor importance now. What’s not is the fact that the track that meant so-much to people was gone in what seemed like blink-of-an-eye.

Plainville launched the careers of many of the sport’s best, and it provided a destination for generations of fans & racers who called the place home every summer Saturday evening for years.

On Sunday, October 12th at the 6th Annual Plainville Stadium Reunion the legends surrounding the old girl were revived again thanks to a dedicated group that refuses to let the memories fade.

Throughout the day, a steady-stream of fans of the former oval converged on the Berlin Fairgrounds to meet the drivers that were a staple of the excitement that was Plainville Stadium. Along with a host of admired track regulars, the place was full of New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame members. 

A packed-house, once-again proving that it’s become one of the premier racing reunions in all of New England.

The display of vintage Modifieds that had competed at Plainville along with other rare memorabilia was in a word, impressive. The presence of the NEAR New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame Mobile Museum added to the “vintage-vibe.”

Over the years, the event has proven extremely popular with the racing media. Among those on-hand were the Brothers Danko, Gary and Brian. It was Gary who manned the microphone keeping fans abreast of the day’s activities. The Danko’s have definitive ties to Plainville, having attended frequently during their younger years.

Also on the slate were races sanctioned by the Nutmeg Kart Club on the club’s high-banked clay oval. It’s always a popular part of the day.

Dave Alkas, Stadium “King” and also a member of the prestigious New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame, the much-accomplished Don Moon, and Gary Bienkowsky of the of the Nutmeg Kart Club remain among the primary organizers of the event.

“This has again turned-out great,” stated Alkas. “To think that after all-these years Plainville Stadium is so fondly-recalled, is almost an emotional experience for those of-us that called it home. Back-then, we were kind of known as a track that was sort-of a rough-place to race with boisterous fans and kind of a rowdy reputation. Today, it proves that a lot of people miss Plainville Stadium. It really was a great track and a fun place to be a part-of. I know I miss it a great-deal,” he said.

By Dave Dykes
Support the Hall of Fame
October 17, 2014

NEAR is currently soliciting ads for the NEAR Hall of Fame program book.

This is an excellent opportunity to support your favorite racer as he will experience one of the greatest events in his racing career - being recognized for all his achievements. Many ads congratulating one or all the members of the Class of 2014 have already been received, but we will gladly accept more.

The book is in a 5” X 8.5” format and a half page is $65 and a full page is just $100.

Often several friends or crew members jointly buy an ad congratulating their favorite. It is also an excellent opportunity to promote your business to other like minded racing fans.

For the first time, NEAR is offering businesses a great opportunity to promote their business on our popular website. For $50.00 we will link your website from our home page for twelve months. We have already had over 16,000 visits since our NEAR1.org site was revamped in April 2014.

For more information contact Al Fini at finiplants@aol.com.

Deadline is October 31, 2014.


By Al Fini

Impressive Presenters at NEAR Hall of Fame Banquet
October 15, 2014

An impressive list of presenters are set for the New England Antique Racers Hall of Fame Banquet on Sunday, Nov. 16 at Maneeley’s Banquet Hall in South Windsor.

Click on this link for Ticket information and order forms.

A NEAR Hall of Famer himself, the multi-talented Dr. Dick Berggren will induct driver Jim Martel. Berggren has excelled at every level of the media - announcer, TV commentator, writer and photographer.

A Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame member and the long-time Beech Ridge Speedway announcer Bruce Elder will induct fellow Maine resident Mike Rowe.

One of the nation’s premier auto racing writers, Bones Bourcier will pave the way to Hall of Fame status for outstanding car designer/builder Dave Tourigny.

Bourcier will be on the receiving end as well, getting the Mitchell/Ratta Media Award. Sportswriter Peter VanderVeer, the 2013 Mitchell/Ratta recipient, will be the presenter.

Lew Boyd, who continues his association with New England racing as a principal at Coastal 181, a publishing company, will induct drag racing legend Bob Tasca. Boyd,  a former racer, is also an accomplished writer.

Former car owner Bruce Cohen, who has a never-ending love for Norwood Arena, is the perfect fit to induct Fred Schulz, Norwood’s last Modified champion.

David Dykes, the proprietor of the popular Racing Through Time website and last year’s Pardi Award winner, will do the honors for driver Ron Wyckoff.

Steve Grant, one of the most colorful starters in the Northeast, will induct driver Deke Astle.  The son of the late Earl Grant, Steve is one of the area’s top story tellers.

A Hall of Famer, writer Pete Zanardi will introduce historian R.A. Silvia.  A Pardi winner, Zanardi has been part of the NEAR Hall of Fame since its inception.

Perhaps the most familiar voice in New England, Matt Buckler will again be Master of Ceremonies.  Buckler is the announcer at Stafford and Thompson Speedways and Waterford Speedbowl.

Briggs Cunningham, Pappy Forsyth and Fred Borden, all selected by the NEAR Veterans Committee, will also be inducted.

New England Antique Racers at Gathering of the Faithful
October 13, 2014

On October 18, 2014, the New England Antique Racers (NEAR) Mobile Hall of Fame Museum will be at  Plum Corner, Route 105  in Rochester, MA (GPS address: 565 Rounsville Road, Rochester, MA).

The members of NEAR who bring a car for display will be granted FREE admission with your current NEAR membership card.

In order to plan the space around the HoF, please contact Jack Wegman, (508) 888-3103, to let him know you are bringing a car. The event runs from 9am to 3pm for the public, so please be there by 8am to be set up in time for the opening.

The events include many displays, vending booths and instructional venues; of course there will be food...including ‘chowdah’...

This event is an excellent opportunity for our members in the Massachusetts, Cape Cod and Rhode Island area to enjoy a wonderful final outing before the cold weather and the yard work begins in earnest and the cars are stored till spring.

If you can’t bring your race car, bring your street car.

If the weather looks troubling call (508) 888-3103, Rain date is Sunday, October 19, 2014.

See you at the show and be sure to wear your NEAR gear!

By Bill Henry

Damp Forecast Moves Plainville Stadium Reunion
To This Sunday, October 12th
October 10, 2014

(EAST BERLIN, CT) Due to a forecast calling for heavy rains on Saturday, organizers of this weekend’s Annual Plainville Stadium Reunion have opted to move the event to this Sunday, October 12th.

Always a can’t-miss affair for New England race fans, the event runs from 10am – 3pm at the Berlin Fairgrounds located at 430 Beckley Road, East Berlin, Connecticut. 

Included on the day’s agenda is a full schedule of Go Kart competition on New England’s only WKA Dirt Master track. The appearance of several vintage race cars along with a display of classic & custom autos adds to the day’s festivities. Also featured will be several memorabilia exhibits highlighting the colorful history of Joe Tinty’s much-missed Connecticut ¼-miler. 

Many of the racers that called Plainville Stadium home each & every Saturday night for decades will be present to greet fans.

Coming-off another successful season of competition on the Berlin Lions Club 1/12-mile World Karting Association dirt oval, the two organizations have teamed to make the day a family-priced event. Adult admission is only $5.00.

By Dave Dykes

NEAR Hall of Fame
Honors Bones Bourcier
September 23, 2014

Photo Courtesy of
Billy Harman and late wife Donna

Mark “Bones” Bourcier will receive the Charlie Mitchell/Jack Ratta Memorial Award at the New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame Banquet Sunday, Nov. 16 at Maneeley’s Banquet Hall in South Windsor, CT.

Bourcier, a native of Southington, CT, and currently an Editor At Large for Speedway Illustrated Magazine, joins an impressive list of honorees. Drivers Mike Rowe, Deke Astle, Jim Martell, the late Fred Schulz, Ron Wyckoff, the late Pappy Forsyth and Fred Borden, car builder Dave Tourigny, historian R.A. Silvia and sports car pioneer the late Briggs Cunningham will be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Click on this link for Ticket information and order forms.

Honing his skills at local media outlets and then at Speedway Scene and Trackside Magazine, Bourcier has become one of America’s premier auto racing scribes, twice winning the coveted Miller Racing Award of Excellence in Honor of Russ Catlin. They are part of a host of writing awards that also includes the Eastern Motorsports Press Association’s Frank Blunt Memorial Award.

He did memorable work for Stock Car and Open Wheel magazines and has appeared in several national outlets including National Speedsport.

While Bourcier, who began watching race cars at Plainville Stadium, is a national figure in the motorsports writing fraternity, he has never forgotten his roots.  He has written and/or edited books on New England racing heroes Bugs Stevens, Richie Evans, Ed Flemke and most recently Bentley Warren. They are on a list of books that include biographies of Bill Simpson, Tony Stewart, Parnelli Jones and Dave Darland and a history of Utica-Rome Speedway. 

The Mitchell/Ratta award honors the memory of two of New England’s top scribes, Mitchell writing for the Norwalk (CT) Hour and Ratta for the Manchester Union Leader.  

Bourcier has been part of the NEAR Hall of Fame almost from its inception, serving on the selection committee and making presentations. 

Cunningham, Forsyth, Borden
Added to NEAR Hall of Fame
September 10, 2014

Briggs Cunningham II, Roy “Pappy” Forsyth and Fred Borden are the veterans committee picks for inclusion into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame.

The trio, along with drag racing great Bob Tasca, car builder Dave Tourigny, historian R.A. Silvia, and drivers Mike Rowe, Deke Astle, Jim Martel, Fred Schulz and Ron Wyckoff will be enshrined at the NEAR Hall of Fame Induction banquet Sunday, November 16, 2014 at Maneeley’s in South Windsor, CT.

The veterans committee deals with accomplishments prior to 1960. Still to be announced is the winner of the Ratta/Mitchell Award which goes to a member of the media.

Click on this link for Ticket information and order forms.

 

Starting his career immediately after serving in World War II, Forsyth, a West  Swanzey, NH product, ran up an impressive record over three decades including championships at Claremont and Keene in New Hampshire and at Connecticut’s Stafford Springs. His prowess continued into the 1960s including a sensational season at Thunder Road in 1961 (10 wins in 18 starts) driving for George Barber. Forsyth passed away in 1988.

 

 





A Waltham, MA native, Borden began racing at West Peabody, MA in 1950, winning twice. Over the next 17 seasons, in the employ of some top car owners, he carried away checkereds at Medford, Brookline, Norwood, West Peabody and Westboro. He was so successful at Medford they put a bounty on him. He was a dominant force driving for Rick Falconi in the 1960s at Westboro and Brookline. He now resides in Florida.

 


Cunningham called Westport, CT home for much of his life. A pioneer in American Sports Car racing, he was a competitor, patron, sponsor and car builder. Determined to put America on a level with the Europeans, he produced a list of high-performance prototype machines and competed on the international stage at LeMans and Sebring, his car winning at the latter. NEAR Hall of Famers Fitch and Walters were among his drivers. He passed away in January of 2003.        

NEAR Announces 2014 Hall of Fame Class
July 29, 2014

Drivers Deke Astle, Jim Martel, Mike Rowe, Fred Schulz, Ron Wyckoff, drag racing icon Bob Tasca, historian R.A. Silvia and car builder/mechanic Dave Tourigny make up the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame’s class of 2014.

They, along with the still to be announced pioneer class, will be inducted at NEAR’s 16th Hall of Fame banquet  Sunday, November 16th, at The Lodge at Maneeley’s  in South Windsor, CT.

Banquet ticket information will be announced shortly and will be posted on the New England’s Antique Racers’ website (NEAR1.org) in the near future.

Part of one of New England’s foremost racing families, Astle, a Westport, MA resident, was a champion at both Seekonk and Lakeville Speedways. Noted for his adaptability, “The Little Man with the Big Cigar” was also a major force throughout Eastern New England, most notably at Westboro and Thompson Speedways in addition to Seekonk and Lakeville.

 

 

Martel, of Ipswich, MA, won in cars ranging from Cutdowns to Supermodifieds over four-plus decades of competition.  A two-time NESMRA Late Model champion, his resume includes a Late Model win at Fredrickson in the Canadian Maritimes and a Supermodified win at Thompson Speedway in Connecticut. He has victories at over a dozen tracks.

 

Turner, ME resident Mike Rowe continues to compete, adding to a list of accomplishments that includes over 200 victories and 13 championships. Starting in 1968, Rowe, a three-time Oxford 250 winner,  has won, in addition to seven Oxford crowns, NEPSA (1999), ACT (1994), PASS (2006), BRMS (2013) championships and has ruled at Wiscasset (1991) and Beech Ridge (2009).


Noted for an intense competitive zeal, Schultz’s championships at Norwood (1969) and Westboro (1978) figure among a list of accomplishments over a career that began in the post-World War II “cutdown” era. Also part of a racing family, Schulz, who passed away in 1999, and car owner Jim Susi won 14 straight at three different tracks in 1959.

 

 

 

 

 

Wyckoff, a Southington, CT resident, was a major winner at Plainville Stadium and Riverside Park Speedway and a force everywhere else in the 1960s and ‘70s.  A winner of three-straight Riverside 500s, the Florida native rarely sat idle, testimony to both his ability to take care of equipment and his standing among his fellow competitors and the fans.

 


Working with the Koszela family, Tourigny designed, built and maintained an impressive list of Modifieds. They included the legendary Woodchopper coupes and Vegas, the Logroller Corvair and a revolutionary Ford-powered Pinto that the likes of Fred DeSarro, Bugs Stevens and Mike Stefanik drove to a host of victories and to a half-dozen championships.  

"A Dave Tourigny Masterpiece"


A Providence-area Ford dealer for 55 years, Tasca came to drag racing in the late 1960s, seeing it as a boom to his business. He quickly became a major power. Starting with a ’64 Ford Fairlaine, Tasca moved to Funny Cars and full-blown “fuelers,” bringing New England into the national spotlight. Tasca died in 2010.


Silvia has emerged as one of New England’s premier auto racing historians and preservationists.  “The man to go to” for those seeking historical clarification or a photograph, he has served promoters, competitors, media and fans alike for over three decades out of his home in Warwick, RI. From a historical standpoint, his impact on New England racing is immeasurable.