The "Class of 2001" reads like a history of New England racing.
There is no area in the nation stronger than New England when it comes to short track activity. Stafford Motor Speedway owner Jack Arute has had much to do with that. Since purchasing the half-mile in 1970, Arute has established lofty standards for the entire sport, building his facility into one of the country's premier short tracks.
Coming from a construction background, Arute had a long association with auto racing as a car owner before becoming a promoter. His participation goes back to the beach course at Daytona and his association with the Garuti brothers resulted in one of the great racing teams (G&A) of the 1960s.
Zimmerman, the 1971 Indy 500's top rookie, is the fourth Eastern Bandit in the Hall, joining the late Ed Flemke, Rene Charland and Red Foote. In the early 1960s, the group moved up and down the eastern seaboard, winning from Maine to the Carolinas. It was the Eastern Bandits that brought New England stock car racing into the national picture.
A soap box derby champion, Zimmerman began racing with the United Stock car club. It was at Riverside Park he joined up with Flemke and Charland. In the mid 1960s Zimmerman moved to the open-cockpit cars. After driving Sprint Cars for a number of years, he reached Indianapolis in 1970..
Rosner was also a member of that vagabond group, building and maintaining equipment for four-time national sportsman champion Charland. That resulted in Rosner winning several Mechanic of the Year trophies. A product of the old United Stock Car Club as well, Rosner later provided winning equipment for, among others, John Rosati. He then became one of the first of the independent chassis builders.
Bunn, who began racing after returning from service in World War II, gave New England its first major stock car win, the 1951 Race of Champions at Langhorne Speedway. Bunn literally bounced around the northeast through the 1950s, scoring wins in New York State and New Jersey as well as New England. He was a frequent winner at Stafford during that era. Later in his career, Bunn found much success at Plainville Stadium.
Rounds also started right after World War II at Kingston Fairgrounds in Rhode Island and quickly developed a fondness for the dirt. "Roundsie" won one of the first-ever features at Waterford Speedbowl and soon after became a standout at Stafford, winning the 1959 Sportsman crown. Also successful at Keene, NH, Lebanon Valley, Millers Falls, and Morristown, NJ, he raced into the 1970s at Lakeville Speedway.
Rousseau's career begain in 1939 at Dover, NH. Before it was over, he was successful in open-cockpit and stock cars. A very busy racer, he was a standout on the dirt at Cheshire Fairgrounds, Brattleboro, Stateline and Beech Ridge. In the 1950s he teamed up with legendary car builder Bob Oliver, winning at Stafford and Keene, NH and on the pavement at Riverside Park, Plainville Stadium and Seekonk Speedway.
Don MacTavish was on the verge of national stardom when a crash in the Permatex race at Daytona in 1969 took his life. A demolition derby expert initially, he started in the "ramp races" at Norwood Arena then moved through the hobby cars and then into the sportsman division, winning the 1966 national championship. Equally at home on big and small tracks, he was very busy and posted an impressive number of wins.
Santos also took full advantage of the Hobby division at both Norwood and Stafford, the latter still dirt. He won championships at both tracks during the mid 1960s before moving up to the Modifieds. Part of the "Circuit of Champions (Stafford-Norwood-Thompson) in the late 1960s, Santos joins many other Hall of Fame members from what some call Modified racing's "Golden era." Driving, among others, the Paul Clark Ford #41 and the Art Barry #909, Santos was among the national Modified point leaders throughout the 1970s.
Stockwell ran in an era when "you could run every night. There was something going on someplace." Between Plainville Stadium in 1949 and Danbury Raceareana in 1981 he collected a host of wins and championships including nine at the Raceareana (two of those on dirt). He also won at Rheinbeck, NY in 1957. He was part of the United Grand American circuit in 1963-64, winning the sportsman division both years as well as 100 a lapper at Thompson. He captured well over 100 features, 51 at Danbury alone.
Cusack spent 30 years as a driver in northern New England, but it was on the dirt at Beech Ridge where he prevailed, winning well over a hundred features and 12 championships between 1953 and 1980. Known for his easy, come-from-behind style, he ranks among the best ever in the Pine Tree State. He purchased Beech Ridge in the spring of 1981 and made it one of New England's best-run facilities.
The Induction ceremony for the Class of 2001 will occur Sunday February 4, 2001 at the LaRennaissance Banquet Hall in East Windsor, Conn. The banquet is located right off exit 44 of route 91, half way between Springfield and Hartford. Dinner will be served at 1.p.m. Tickets are $35.00 per person and reservation forms can be obtained by contacting Danny Pardi or Al Fini
This Class will increase the total membership of the Hall of Fame to forty. This year Mike Joy has again agreed to serve as Master of Ceremonies. Every year this event sells out. Please order tickets early as no tickets will be sold at the door. Don't miss this opportunity to honor some of New England's greatest racing personalities.