December 26, 2020
Best of 2020 Recent Book read
Best of latest read, The Soul of a Modified; Lennie Boehler’s Ole Blue by Lew Boyd. Available from Coastal 181. (Photo of cover by HTF Motorsports)
When Cary Stratton of Coastal 181 sent me the Lennie Boehler book to review, my mind immediately went to the collection of Stock Car Racing magazines in my attic. I knew that somewhere in that collection were some articles about the Massachusetts modified constructor.
As Lew Boyd laid out the chronological path of Boehler and his modifieds nicknamed Ole Blue, my curiosity got the best of me. I had to make a venture into the attic to find the magazine(s) with Boehler featured.
With LED light in hand and warm clothing, I shoved the heavy insulated door into the air, and ventured into the not-that-cold attic, the warm weather had tempered the air.
I found the three-by-three foot cardboard box of Stock Car Racing magazines amongst the boxes of Hot Rod, Car & Driver, Speedway Illustrated, Racer, and miscellaneous other titles. The box was rather large and full, so I knew my hunt would be long.
As daylight faded, my light came in handy as I read the dates on the covers and narrowed the search to 1972. I did not find every issue in 1972, however, I did find the key ones. As I was looking my mind wandered back to what I was doing in 1972.
I think I purchased those issues from Habeeb’s Smoke Shop in Caribou when I was home from school at UMO. I probably thought the 75 cents cover price was excessive to this poor college kid.
I hit the jackpot when I found November 1972 issue which featured interviews of Cecil Gordon and Lennie Boehler. When I turned to page 50, there it was. The photo which in my mind characterized Lennie Boehler.
Lennie Boehler in his East Freetown, Massachusetts garage where many Ole Blue modifieds were launched. Boehler along with friends Tony Cortes and Oscar Norton attended New Bedford Vocational High School. Boehler concentrated on auto mechanics graduating in 1956. (HTF Motorsports photo of photo by Dr. Dick Berggren)
Boyd’s book details the more than 65 years of life of Ole Blue the race car. Boehler died on Mother’s Day May 13, 2001 only two weeks after attending the Spring Sizzler at Stafford Motor Speedway in Connecticut. When he returned home to Freetown his wife Janice and son Michael took him to Mass General Hospital.
They hoped beyond hope that Lennie would make another comeback. That never occurred when he never woke up from unconsciousness. The doctor revealed he had a tumor on his spine on top of everything else.
The next Thursday, the funeral at the Rock Funeral Home in New Bedford was huge. The entire Boehler family was present as well as dozens of New England area racers. After the funeral, the racers in the crowd headed to Nazareth National Speedway in Pennsylvania for the next race. Tommy Cravenho finished sixth in Ole Blue at that race.
The exploits of drivers of Ole Blue including Bugs Stevens, Fred DeSarro, Tony Cortes, Don Hall, Leo Cleary, Ron & Ken Bouchard, Doug Heveron, Mike McLaughlin, Bruce “Gomer” Taylor, Bobby Santos, Matt Swanson, Ted Christopher, and Jerry Marquis are portrayed in the book.
The New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame inducted Lennie posthumously in 2004 citing his six NASCAR Modified Championships along with multiple race wins and old time racecraft skills.
The cover of the 1972 Stock Car Racing magazine with a cover spread of two ideas of modified race cars. (HTF Motorsports photo of cover)
The colored center spread showed the difference between Lennie Boehler coupe and the Beebe Speed Shop Vega bodied mods. (HTF Motorsports photo of Dick Berggren photo)
I have no problem recommending this book. Get the book and several other regional race titles at http://www.coastal181.com
My top stories in 2020…good and bad
Tame the Track Snowmobile Racing Tour had 42 one-lunger entries at Turner, Maine event. The Tour was well on its way to a successful year right up to the season finale at Caribou which had to be cancelled. The 2021 season is in peril with no races scheduled due to restrictions on crowd size and other COVID related ideas. (Photo Elizabeth Agnew Hartford)
One of my greatest disappointments in 2020 was the permanent closing of Maine Indoor Karting in Scarborough, Maine, in the spring. Not only were they a loyal sponsor but they also provided a first-class karting facility which always challenged me. I had over 130 races at the indoor track including this chance to race with Team JRT in 2016. (Team JRT photo)
One of my most interesting days at Maine Indoor Karting in Scarborough was with Cumberland Motor Club members. Front left to right Ben Spatafora, Portland, Dan Morency, Freeport, and Rachael Clukey, Portland. Back row left to right Fernando Stelser, Brunswick, Mark Danielle, Pownal, yours truly, Michael from Freeport, Christian Banker, Scarborough, and Scott Guimond, Standish. (HTF Motorsports photo)
One of my biggest surprises in 2020 was my six week journey learning about the hydroplane racing in the County which lasted about 2 1/2 decades. This journey began with a Facebook conversation with Fran Cyr of Caribou about Glenn Campbell from Fort Fairfield. I got to interview Campbell shown here with with a two-blade prop, typical of what was used in that era. His Paul Castagneto Casta Craft built race boat was restored by Campbell, who raced it in the 1960 era. (HTF Motorsports photo)
Gary Locke on left with Glenn Campbell after a race. Campbell thought this was a river race in the 1960s. (Glenn Campbell collection)
Hoisting aloft the huge Wilson Trophy after winning it at the 1967 Lake Maranacook Regatta sponsored by the Winthrop Lions Club. Castagneto is holding the trophy and on the left is Don Pigeon who helped Castagneto and raced with him for many years. Pigeon’s boat built by Casta Craft in 1961 and raced by Castagneto to a National Championship in “D” Stock Hydro was bought by Pigeon and after racing it two years sold to Glenn Campbell whose story was told in Episodes 310 through 313. That boat was restored by Campbell who owns it today. (LaVallee photo)
While researching hydroplane racing in the County, I was privileged to talk to CastaCraft builder Larry Castagneto at his home. He was very cooperative and mailed me precious documents and trusted me to return them unharmed. (they were returned). One was this magazine clipping of young Larry Castagneto Junior on right with his father Larry Senior. They are looking over the plans and scale models of new hydros to be built in the basement of their Melrose home. Senior was a power sales engineer and Junior would be heading to Northeastern in Boston. (Castagneto Collection photo)
My next interview was with Van Buren native, Lyn Michaud. His race career followed that of the Campbell era. A somewhat grainy photo of Lyn Michaud at the Van Buren Regatta June 30, 1989 just a 1 1/2 months from the race in Thompson, Connecticut where he was severally injured which changed him from racer to race boat owner. (Gregg Cyr video screenshot)
Lyn Michaud retired Van Buren Ski Shop owner, holding one of his Dewald Props, Reading, Pennsylvania #0349 serial numbered three blade racing prop. Note the difference in racing props from the Glenn Campbell two blade props used in the 1960’s. The conversation with Michaud detailed what would be the final organized hydroplane racing era in northern Maine. (HTF Motorsports photo)
The “Mystery” hydroplane at the beginning of Fran Cyr of Caribou restoration project. The boat had spent many years sitting in an area potato storage. View of Scat Cat after rotten and broken parts were painstakingly removed. Note the basic framework was mostly intact. (Fran Cyr photo)
The “Mystery” Scat Cat is back on the water at Monson Pond in Fort Fairfield in 2020 with restorer Fran Cyr at the helm. He hopes to include a day in 2021 with Glenn Campbell at Monson Pond with Glenn’s boat and others of that era. (Fran Cyr photo)
Fred Ashmore, Hancock, Maine, at Red Ball Garage in New York City on morning of record setting adventure. The sea-to-sea record by a solo driver would be shattered by Ashmore in 25 hours and 55 minutes in a rented Ford Mustang GT. The run was preceded by a run in 2018 in a 1963 Ford Galaxie coupe with a 187 gallon fuel tank allowing a non-stop no-fuel added run. He set the Pre-1965 car record at 37 hours 15 minutes. In 2019 aboard a movie prop 1979 wide body Cobra with a co-driver, he made the trip in 31 hours and 47 minutes. ( Fred Ashmore photo)
Off exit 211 Kellyville/Drumwright on Interstate 44 in Oklahoma waited Grant Goss on right and Brady Mullins center with 150 gallons of high test pump gas. Their 20 gallon per minute pump allowed them to make the stop in under eight minutes. Less than one minute later, an Oklahoma Highway Patrol officer was on that spot looking for any suspicious activity. By that time Ashmore was moving at 104 mph on I-44. (Fred Ashmore photo)
The win at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway of the Wyatt Alexander Racing (WAR) team seemed to renew the spirit of the team for the remainder of 2020. Alexander beat some of the best pro stock racers in the Maine/New Hampshire area. (Tom Morris Racing Photography photo)
Edwin Walker, Caribou, Maine with his 1983 VW Rabbit GTI gave me a ride in his freshly restored car to Spud Speedway for a photo shoot. The car, now sporting new Felgenwerks wheels and Achilles tires was one of four purchased from me and is the second of two GTI he restored. Walker is now an aviation student in Florida. (HTF Motorsports photo)
Mike Morneau formerly from Oxford, Maine now living in North Carolina, is the tire carrier for the Stewart Haas #4 entry driven by Kevin Harvick. Harvick won both of these trophies in the Cup races weekend doubleheader at Michigan International Speedway. The two wins assured Ford Motor Company the retention of the Michigan Heritage Trophy for the top manufacturer at the Michigan track. The two races were wins five and six this season for Harvick and crew. Harvick went on to win the most races in 2020 with 9. Denny Hamlin was next with 7 wins. Harvick did not make the final four despite those race wins. (Mike Morneau photo)
Five-time USAC Silver Crown Champ, Kody Swanson in the Legacy Autosports #20 leads the #2 Juncos Racing car driven by Sting Ray Robb. Robb won the series last race at Mid-Ohio a couple weeks before. Swanson won the race at Lucas Oil Raceway, a track where he has dominated in USAC Silver Crown races. Kody raced one more RTI event at Gateway International Raceway where he finished one lap down in 12th place.
The winner of the Road to Indy Freedom 90 at Lucas Oil Raceway Kody Swanson in his first drive in an aero rear engine race car. Swanson did not have much time to savor the victory since the Silver Crown race immediately followed the RTI event. Swanson will be racing for Doran Racing based in Lebanon, Ohio in USAC pavement events.(RTI photo)
Juncos Racing’s Sting Ray Robb in prayer prior to racing in the Road to Indy Pro 2000 Series races at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Lexington, Ohio. The last race at Mid-Ohio turned out to be the turning point of the 19-year-old from Payette, Idaho. He went out into the wooded area in Mid Ohio where he could be alone and laid out his worries to God in prayer. He came back with a sense of peace that this was all part of the plan. He went on to win 7 of the 14 races. (SR2 photo)
Championship photo says it all! Sting Ray Robb from Payette, Idaho, not necessarily the breeding grounds for race champions. With the championship, Robb won a season scholarship to race in the Road to Indy Indy Lights Series in 2021. The scholarship is worth over $600,000. Sting Ray will be announcing shortly his choice of race team with which he will be affiliated in the Indy Lights Series in 2021. With a name like Sting Ray, I hope he does very well. (Road to Indy photo)
Washington Football Team quarterback Alex Smith with the leg stabilizer that was turned into football art by Tom Patsis. Smith suffered a severely broken right leg in 2018 and endured 17 surgeries. When infection set in amputation was mentioned and a return to football seemed far away. He is back with the team in 2020 and the team may make the playoffs. (Photo by Elizabeth B. Smith, his wife)
NFL Quarterback Alex Smith leg stabilizer turned into football art by Cold Hard Art artist Tom Patsis.(Cold Hard Art photo)
NASCAR/IndyCar star, Danica Patrick commissioned Cold Hard Art to make this lotus flower for her. She picked up the art at Patsis’ Brownsburg, Indiana shop. With Tom Patsis is his daughter, Luna. I featured multiple Cold Hard Art projects this season and I suspect will do many more in future episodes of UpNorth Motorsports. This guy is amazing. Talent on loan from God. (Cold Hard Art photo)
2020 was the year that I was introduced to the Northern Maine Off Road Excursion Club. I featured this club twice and expect to in 2021 as well. The first time I wrote about them was when the toured the former SAC base at Loring. This members photo taken by a drone was in the parking lot of the US Fish and Wildlife headquarters which now oversees much of the 15,000-acre former Strategic Air Command facility (SAC) (Fickett photo)
Thank you! Thank you! Thank YOU!
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See you next year!
Let’s go racing in 2021,
Soli Deo Gloria (Isaiah 9:6)