NER Celebrates 50-Year Anniversaries

Traditionally, during our region annual meeting, we take the opportunity to recognize those members that are marking key milestones in their participation and membership with the club. This year, we have 10 members that are passing the half-century mark, with 50-years of membership to SCCA. Six of these members took a few minutes to share their memories of five decades of SCCA. Here’s what they had to say.

Congratulations to Jane and Bill Goodale, Paul Capel and Linda Fanning as well for their 50-year anniversary.

Ron Bartell

Wow – fifty years. It seems like yesterday when Ted Goddard helped me with my application at an Autocross in a supermarket parking lot in Great Barrington in 1971. I had already run one event with the SCCA as a non-member in NH, winning my very first ever autocross in a relatively stock bugeye Sprite. But the Great Barrington autocross gave me the ability to drive down the road and see a National at Lime Rock. When I saw all of those Sprites having fun on that iconic track, I thought to myself, “I can do that”.

So, I horse-traded for the use of a trailer and race tires and brought my car up to Bryar Park in NH at a Corvettes of Mass event. I took the windshield and muffler off and ran my daily driver Bugeye Sprite, turning lap times that were equal to the fast Regional guys. Well-known NER driver, Ken Duclose, noticed this and made a call to Jeff Jones of Racetune in Boston, and sort of greased the skids for me to get the help I needed to make the switch to Road Racing.
My first drivers school was a bust because of a clutch problem, but at my second school I had instructors saying “give him a license” when I won the little race they had at the end of the school. So, I went to my first Regional and got lapped by the leaders. In short order I was winning Regionals, so I ran a National and got lapped by the leaders. With seven eventual National Champions vying for the three or four Runoffs invitations, needless to say it was not an easy thing to go to the National Championship, and when I finally went in 1979 it felt like a real accomplishment. Randy Canfield, Ray Stone, Jim Miller, and Fred Wentzel certainly didn’t make it easy.

I sold the Bugeye and bought a newer version that had some of the goodies that the front-runners had, and soon I was winning Nationals on a regular basis. But the next challenge was winning the Runoffs, and it wasn’t going to be easy. There were people spending more than my annual salary racing in H Production, so you had to beat them on driver talent. In 1992 I put the car on the pole at the Runoffs at Road Atlanta, but I couldn’t bring it home. In ’96 I got my first Runoffs podium, and at that time I knew that if I stayed with it, I would some day win.

At the Runoffs in 1999 I qualified on the front row and opened up an 11 second lead on the field with 8 laps to go, but a full course yellow allowed the field, including a very fast Honda that had spun on the first lap. After a couple of attempts he finally helped me off the track at the kink at Mid Ohio, and I missed my first chance to win. However, the next year I finally won the Runoffs from the front row, and I can tell you my feet didn’t touch the ground for a week. The next year I won again from the pole and it also felt really good.

Fast forward a number of years and with the addition of what used to be G Production cars, it has been very difficult for the original H cars to win again. The newer sedans with more modern drive trains and larger motors have taken over the class. The old British iron is still competitive but not able to win without some help. My last race was the 2019 Runoffs at VIR where I set the lap record while not being able to keep up with the Hondas. After 6 Runoffs poles and two National Championships my car is in someone else’s hands now, and I am a spectator again, as I love the sport and will always be a fan.

I want to thank all of the workers and officials who give up their time and effort to help put on these races so that the drivers can have fun. It is a great thing that they do, and I hope that the sport will remain healthy with their help well into the future.

David Foote

A strong memory and welcome to NER Drivers’ school. At Thompson in July 1972 my first drivers school started with about 70 males in the stands all with substantial egos. Our chief instructor, Sandy McDonough, a woman. Things were different back then. She gave us a brief welcome and then said” If you want to learn how to go fast around this track there are about 200 things you need to learn”! Talk about getting attention. For those of us that had some track experience but did want to learn, that set a great tone for the weekend and future education in road racing.

In the first few years racing two Datsun 510s, a Regional car I built and a National car that I bought, I got to meet, race with and enjoy the company of P.L Newman, Janet Guthrie, Elliott Forbes Robinson, John Stevens, Rob Dyson, Bill Coyendall, Bob Leitzinger and a number of other fine drivers.

I know that Mark Saviet is still actively racing. I had a number of fun races renting his Datsun Z car. Subsequently I rented Formula Vees and then started endurance racing in VW Golfs and GTIs.

For 15 years beginning in 2001 I began doing Miata endurance races with car owners/teammates, Rob Goldfarb, Christopher Tier and Matt Miskoe. We had a wonderful crew, which is essential to be successful in endurance racing. Over 20+ races of 12 to 24 hours we were able to achieve 70% class podiums and 30% class wins including an overall win in the 2008 Nelson Ledges24 hour race.

I retired from wheel to wheel and endurance racing in 2016. My retirement time in Arizona has included the Silver State Challenge open road race primarily in the 150 MPH average class, driving and instructing in HPDEs at a good number of tracks out here and a number of straight line trap speed events in my street 2009 Corvette Z06. In 2018 I was able to make two passes at the Mojave airport in the 1.5 mile standing start traps at 201.2 MPH. Getting old doesn’t need to mean slowing down.

Gordon Medenica

Thanks for reaching out and reminding me that I’ve been a member for 50 years! And yes, I’m sure we met at some point over the years.

Of course, I started my motorsport odyssey by hitchhiking from Boston to the old Thompson, for a regional race, probably in 1970 or 1971. I was picked up by a guy towing a Triumph Spitfire who was racing that weekend, so I thanked him by helping as extra crew. Can’t remember who that was!

I then joined the Club and started working as a Paddock Marshall, and helping various friends who were racing. I also roped in my good friend Chris Yerkes, who was trained as an EMT, and he became head of the Medical Squad. I recall he bought an old panel van and fixed it up to be the NER Ambulance. Good times.

I finally started racing in Formula Ford in 1974, first with a Winklemann WDF4, then a Titan Mk6B in 1975, and then a Lola T-340 in 1976. I finished third in the NERRC championship in 1976, but had a bad crash at Lime Rock that put me in a wheelchair and on crutches for 5 months. That ended my “serious” aspirations about being a racing driver.

I went onto graduate school, started on a career, got married, had a family and got absorbed by work and life in general. I kept my hand in by instructing at BMWCCA driving schools, and then began to get back by competing in the Car & Driver One Lap of America in 1992, 1994 and 1995, winning the Vintage Imported Class in a BMW M1. That started my desire to get back into racing through vintage and historic events.

I started vintage racing in 1999 with a 1967 Chevron BMW B6, winning the SVRA Enduro Championship in 2002. I then got a 1978 March BMW 782 Formula 2 car, and won the Monoposto F70 Formula 2 Championships in 2012, 2013 and 2014. Next I purchased the ex-Villeneuve 1975 March Cosworth 75B Formula Atlantic car, and am still racing it to this day.

I could go on and on, but the memories are plentiful and oh-so pleasant. I recently reconnected with a bunch of the old Formula Ford guys during the 50th Anniversary year, long timers like John Herne, Steve Nickless, Paul Pfanner, Bob Goeldner, David Kaplan, Mike Rand, Bruce MacInnes and many more. Those were definitely the good old days!

All the best to everyone at NER!

Ken Payson

Wow, 50 years. It has been a great ride. I have met a super group of people, both racers and workers. It is a large family that I’m grateful to be a part of. I hope I can keep racing and enjoying NER for another 50 years. Thanks for all the memories.

Ron Pellman

My racing journey started in 1969 while working with Ford in Dearborn. I enrolled in the Michigan International Speedway Formula Ford School which was the first such driver’s school in the US. It was patterned after the multi-tiered Jim Russell school in England. Only two people ever graduated from the top level of the school before it shut down – myself and Howdy Holmes. Howdy, of course, went on to a very successful professional career. My racing journey followed a much more modest path.

I relocated to Connecticut in 1970. In ’71 I joined the SCCA and purchased a used Formula Ford from Fred Stevenson. In the spring of ’72 I received my novice license at a driver’s school at Thompson. Paul Newman was a classmate. What followed was twenty five years of racing in three class – first in FF, then FC, and finally C Sports Racing. Along the way I earned a few NARRC and NORRDIC championships. I met many wonderful people and fantastic competitors during these adventures – far too many to list. I loved the racing but I also greatly enjoyed modifying/designing/building my cars and engines. I hung up my helmet at the end of the 1996 season.

My crew consisted of my sons Mark and Scott (when they became old enough), and a few others who helped out off-and-on. My wife, Susan, also a NER member, was my stellar crew chief for all of our 25 year racing journey. She passed away in 2000. In connection with a USGP F1 race at Indianapolis I met another wonderful lady. In 2003 we moved to Florida to start a new chapter in our lives together. We watch a lot of racing on TV and have attended many races including several Runoffs, IMSA, Indy, and F1 races. Our trip to the Monaco GP was a particular highlight.

When I stepped away from racing in ’96 I intended that my retirement would be temporary and I started restoring an old Formula Ford for vintage racing. But at about that time my eyesight deteriorated and although I can thankfully still get around OK I could never pass the vision requirements for a competition license. This pretty much eliminated my motivation for the restoration and the unfinished chassis and many other components are still sitting in my shop.

Although I am now a member of the Central Florida Region I have also kept my NER membership, and always will. I used to enjoy reading my printed issues of Pit Talk cover-to-cover. I still greatly enjoy the excellent annual printed edition and periodically check out the NER website to read the latest news and stories. I usually come across a few familiar names when I do. I still think of NER as my home region.

Thanks again for remembering my NER anniversary – I had forgotten.

Andre Quetel

It’s hard to believe it’s been 50 years! I remember coming home from High School and opening up my new Competition Press and Autoweek, back when it was a newspaper, in the breaking news it said the SCCA was allowing 18 year olds to join! I joined, at 19 I started building my first car. Don’t know how I did it, was living at home, in College with no job. Got signed off in 75 at old Thompson by Dave Belden,I still have a picture of it, he wrote, good driver, ready to race. Which brings me to John Travers, sad to hear of his passing, we raced FP Migets in the 70’s and early 80’s. I never beat him. So I retired from racing in 94, but tomorrow I be at Homestead for the Majors, with a friend I finally got to Drivers School in 88. He has a new F500 motorcycle car, then on to Sebring next week. I guess I’ll be a member until I tip over! It’s been a long fun expensive ride, thank you SO much NER and SCCA?Andre?

This is 2 of the 4 cars I built and raced through the years. 78 in the MG at Lime Rock and 92 in the VW at The Glen.