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NEAR HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 2001
 

    The winner of the first Race of Champions and an Indianapolis 500 Rookie 
of the Year are part of the New England Antique Racers' Hall of Fame "class 
of 2001." The 10-member group represents hundreds of victories throughout the 
northeast.
    Drivers Art Rousseau, Bobby Santos, Dennis Zimmerman, Ralph Cusack, the 
late Don MacTavish, Hully Bunn, Don Rounds and Chick Stockwell (the latter 
three in the pioneer class);  car builder Fred Rosner and track 
owner/promoter Jack Arute Sr. will bring the NEAR Hall of Fame membership to 
40.
    NEAR President Al Fini introduced the Hall's fourth class at the 
Riverside Reunion Saturday night at the Dante Club in West Springfield. The 
group will be inducted on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2001 at the La Rennaissance Banquet 
Hall in East Windsor, CT. 
    Ticket information regarding the induction dinner is available by calling 
(860) 569-1299. Fini points out the previous induction dinners have been 
sellouts.

    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

For More Info, Click Below, Visit the NEAR Web Site!

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