May 17, 1932 – August 9, 2012
Red O'Keefe former West Haven Speedway champion Red O’Keefe passed-away on August 9, 2012.
Red, who had turned 80 earlier this year, was a standout New England modified competitor for many seasons claiming feature events at a number of the regions speedways.
He was the 1966 West Haven Speedway track champion and nearly repeated in ’67 placing second to fellow United Stock Car Racing Club star, the late Johnny “King” Cambino. The winning margin for that’s years title race was a scant single point.
In reminiscing about Red’s career, family friend Mike Guerette stated “Red probably had his best years at West Haven competing in the tough Non-Ford division. He also built his own cars, always with an emphasis on safety. He added innovations like front & rear firewalls, a fire extinguisher, and a full roll cage not unlike today’s NASCAR designs. In addition to his championship, he also received many other awards at West Haven such as “Top Driver/Mechanic” and “Most Popular Driver.”
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At his home, with his loving family by his side August 9, 2012 William Francis "Red" O'Keefe, Sr. 80, of Hamden. Beloved husband of 57 years to Mary Jane (Collins) O'Keefe. Loving father of Linda Dillon (William) of Wallingford, William O'Keefe, Jr. (Gail) of Hamden, and Christopher O'Keefe, W.H.F.D. of West Haven, brother of Margaret Guerette (Sonny) of Clinton, Martin O'Keefe (Karen) of Hamden and David O'Keefe (Betsey) of East Haven, grandfather of Michael Dillon (Marianna) of Wallingford, Shannon Cornejo (Rodrigo) of Bedford, MA, William O'Keefe, III (Nina) of St. Louis Park, MN, Diane O'Keefe of Arlington, VA, Timothy O'Keefe of E. Long Meadow, MA, Christopher O'Keefe, Jr. of N. Branford, great grandfather of Nicholas and Anthony Dillon and Julio Cornejo.
Also survived by his sister in laws Joan and Dorothy O'Keefe. Predeceased by brothers James O'Keefe, John O'Keefe, Sr., Jerry O'Keefe and a sister Catherine Flannery and her husband Thomas. Mr. O'Keefe was born May 17, 1932 in New Haven, son of the late James and Delia (Carey) O'Keefe. Red was the owner of First Avenue Sales and Service of West Haven for 20 years. He was employed by the CT. Motor Club in Hamden from 1975 until his retirement in 2011.
He was well known as a West Haven Speedway Champion in the 1960's. His mechanical and woodworking skills were known to all. He will be missed by his family and friends for his kindness and generosity. Funeral from Sisk Brothers Funeral Home 3105 Whitney Ave. Hamden Monday at 9:30 am, Mass of Christian Burial at 10 am in St. Joan of Arc Church. Burial in All Saints Cemetery. Friends may call Sunday from 3 – 7 pm. In lieu of flowers contributions to the St. Raphael Foundation, c/o Masotta Family Fund, 1450 Chapel St. New Haven, 06511. www.siskbrothers.com\