September 9, 2014

Cunningham, Forsyth, Borden Added to NEAR Hall of Fame

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, Nov. 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.


November 11, 2013

NEAR Introduces “Class Of 2013” At 16th Annual Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony

South Windsor, CT — On Sunday November 10, the New England Antique Racers (NEAR), presented the 16th annual New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Conducted at Manelley’s Banquet Hall in South Windsor, CT., the HOF celebrates literally hundreds of feature victories, championships, and untold contributions to the sport of auto racing within the New England region.

Instituted in 1998, the HOF now boasts membership of well-over 100 deserving individuals.

Opening comments by NEAR President Al Feeney along with a stirring rendition of the Star Spangled Banner & God Bless America performed by past NEAR President Bob Seller and his wife began the day. Award-winning sportswriter Matt Buckler served as Master of Ceremonies.

Inducted this year were drivers Ralph Nason, Stan Meserve, Drew Fornoro, Bill Eldridge, Bob Sharp, Brian Ross, the late Bob Stefanik, and longtime car owner Ron Berndt.


November 12, 2012

Joe Cast Passes Away at 80

Filed under: Brookline,Hudson,Medford Bowl,Nostalgia,W. Peabody,Westboro — mod134 @ 9:07 am

Joseph Castellucci

Joe Cast of Somerville, MA began his career in stock cars at the old Medford Bowl in the mid-1950s. He competed at a number of tracks including Hudson, Manchester, Norwood and West Peabody. He drove the #72, 46, 15 and the Falconi #10 cars.

He was as driver with the Atlantic Auto Racing Association circuit at Brookline, NH and Westboro, MA. A regular winner at both facilities in the Class A cars, Cast won an incredible 9 in a row at Brookline in 1964.

After his retirement from driving, he served as the flagman at Westboro Speedway.

[Photo Gallery] from LaSheefs Racing Photos

Here is my interview with Cast from the 2010 Westboro Speedway reunion.



September 9, 2012

2012 New England Auto Racing Hall Of Fame Pioneer Inductees Announced

Twenty racing pioneers considered central to the success of the sport in New England during its formative era will be inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame on Sunday, November 18 at the Speedway Clubhouse located on the grounds of the Thompson International Speedway in Thompson, Connecticut.

Just completed, the selection follows a lengthy voting process administered by a committee of the region’s foremost auto racing historians.

Slated for induction are stock car drivers Tony Mordino, Sparky Belmont, Hank Stevens, Ed Patnode, Johnny Georgiades, Wally Silva, and Ray Brown.

Midget racing standouts Eddie Casterline, George Rice, Al Pillion, Billy Tibbert, Frank Simonetti, Charlie Ethier, and George Monson round-out the open-wheel inductees.

Completing the list of those entering the Hall of Fame are car owners Anthony “Beebe” Zalenski, Ed Stone, Wen Kelley, Bob Oliver, Gordon Ross, and owner & promoter of Connecticut’s former Plainville Stadium, Joe Tinty.


January 30, 2012

NEAR Presents “Class of 2012” At 15th Annual New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame Inductions

East Windsor, CT — On Sunday January 29, The New England Antique Racers (NEAR), presented the 15th annual New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame Inductions. Award-winning sportswriter Matt Buckler served as Master of Ceremonies for the well-attended event held at LaRenaissance Banquet Hall in East Windsor, CT.

Receiving induction honors this year were drivers Reggie Ruggiero, Joey Kourafas, Moe Gherzi, Jerry Humiston, and Roland Lapierre Sr., owner/mechanics Mario Fiore and Jim Jorgensen and track operator Irene Venditti.

Though not present due to prior commitments, longtime Northern media personality Dave Moody was the recipient of the prestigious “Jack Ratta Memorial Media Award.” Veteran auto racing journalist and Hall of Fame Member Pete Zanardi received the Danny Pardi Memorial Award for his many contributions to NEAR over the years.

A pivotal figure during the formative years of the sport and truly one of the regions earliest stars, Moe Gherzi came to stock cars following a brief fling with midget racing during the busy post-war era. Gherzi won for some of the best teams in the early days of the sport while displaying a flashy style which became his trademark. Nicknamed “Moneybags” owed to a knack of winning many big-dollar events, he tasted success at virtually all of the regions tracks. He later served as the longtime Racing Director at Connecticut’s Plainville Stadium. Accepting for her late father from presenter Dave Dykes was Ms. Alma Michaud.

[Photo Galleryby Nicholas Teto


November 17, 2011

Gherzi, Humiston, Lapierre Hall of Fame Inductees

A trio of modified racing pioneers – Moe Gherzi, Jerry Humiston and Roland Lapierre – are the veterans committee selections to join the New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame Class of 2012.

The trio will be inducted along with drivers Reggie Ruggiero and Joey Kourafas, owner/mechanics Mario Fiore and Jim Jorgensen and track operators/promoters Irene Venditti and Donald Hoenig at the 15th annual Hall of Fame Banquet on Sunday Jan. 29 at the LaRenaissance Banquet Hall in East Windsor, CT.

Ticket information and order forms will be available soon on the NEAR website (www.NEAR1.com).

The colorful Gherzi was one of Southern New England’s first racing stars. Driving for a number of owners including the Scambato and Garuti families, Gherzi, who started in the Midgets, built an impressive stock car resume in the formative years at Plainville Stadium, Riverside Park and the Waterford Speedbowl. Following his 25-plus years in the cockpit, Gherzi was racing director at Plainville.


November 13, 2010

Bill Balser to Receive NEAR 2011 Jack Ratta Memorial Media Award

Filed under: Lakeville,NEAR,Norwood,Nostalgia,Seekonk,Thompson,W. Peabody,Westboro — mod134 @ 3:54 pm

Pioneering New England auto racing photographer Bill Balser has been selected as the recipient of the New England Antique Racers 2011 Jack Ratta Memorial Award.

Balser will accept the award at the 14th annual New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame Induction Banquet on Sunday, Jan. 30 at LaRenaissance Banquet Hall in East Windsor, CT. Ticket forms and further information will be on the NEAR website (www.near1.com) in the near future.

Hailing from Brocton, MA. Balser’s distinguished career in auto racing photography began during the 1950s. He regularly shot at tracks such as West Peabody, Westboro, Norwood, Seekonk, and Lakeville in Massachusetts, and also Connecticut’s Thompson Speedway and Brookline, NH, among others.


August 23, 2010

Lapierre at W. Peabody

Filed under: W. Peabody — mod134 @ 9:00 am

W. Peabody, Mass., Aug. 23, 1952 – Roland Lapierre of Woonsocket, R.I. finally received the nod of Dame Fortune and came through the winner in tonight’s hectic Ford feature at the West Peabody Speedway. Roland started in 17th spot and took over leadership just after the ½ way mark had been reached. The original starting field of 28 cars was whittled down to 18 after three first lap restarts due to jam-ups and multiple spills. At the start, Johnny Daluz held the lead briefly, then it was Paul Finlayson who hung on to be taken by Lapierre.

At the ½ way mark, it was Finlayson, Lapierre, McGovern, McKenzie and Daluz. These top-runners varied little during the remainder of the event but competition was still tough as they began lapping the slower cars on this tight little oval and the fans kept on their feet cheering on their favorite driver during the entire distance.

1st heat, 10 laps, Fords – Earl Bentley, Guy Barbanty, Paul Finlayson, Dave Humphrey.

2nd heat, 10 laps, Fords – George Smaldone, Red David, Roland Lapierre, Hugh McGovern.

3rd heat, 10 laps, Non-Fords – Barney Atherton, Ed Monteiro, Jack Young, Bob McDermond.

1st Semi-Final, 15 laps, Fords – Humphrey, Norm Canuel, Bentley, Finlayson, Paul Leger.

2nd Semi-Final, 15 laps, Fords – Barbanty, Frank Traverse, Doc McKenzie, David, Fred Borden.

Feature, 25 laps, Fords – Lapierre, Finlayson, McGovern, McKenzie, Humphrey, Martin.

Non-Ford feature and hurdle race, 14 laps, Monteiro, Gillis, Daluz.

Sources: National Speed Sport News

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