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September 1, 2014 12:39 am

NEAR Announces 2014 Hall of Fame Class

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, Nov. 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 Antique Racers’ website (www.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 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 Fairlane, 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.


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