Pines Speedway reunion set for Oct. 2

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Sep. 23—GROVELAND — The popular Pines Speedway reunion, now in its 18th year, will feature a long list of vintage race cars, custom cars and former well-known drivers as part of the program.

Presented by the Groveland Historical Society, the event will be Saturday, Oct. 2, from 10a.m. to 4p.m. at the Pines Recreational Area, site of the original race track, next to Town Hall at 183 Main St.

This year's event is rain or shine and offers free admission.

As a special feature, the Haverhill Citizens Hall of Fame will induct Russ Conway, a prominent figure in northeastern racing and a longtime sports editor at The Eagle-Tribune.

Among the roughly 50 race cars on display will be the Silva Challenger, Lee Allard's Twister car, Smokey Boutwell's Flyin' 5, Choppy Baldwin's Double L, Eddie West's No. 61 Jr., Bentley Warren's Dynamite No. 707, Jim Landry's No. 38, Jim Martel's No. 14, Billy Murphy's No. 8, Art Rousseau's No. 616, Ollie Silva's Big O and Ron Bouchard's car.

The Pines Speedway opened in 1940 and operated until 1973. It launched some driving careers that zoomed from the Pines to Daytona 500, Indy 500 International glory and various racing hall of fames.

The 2020-2021 honorees are Phil Baril, Dave Simard and Mike Weeden, and the late Andy Cote and Dick Noel.

Haverhill Trade School friends Baril, Simard and Weeden had an interest in auto racing from watching friends and relatives race at the Pines Speedway as young children.

Together, the 1971 freshman classmates decided to try their luck behind the wheel driving three class C cars before any of the trio obtained their driver's licenses. All three went on to very successful local championship careers.

Cote from Lowell, was a winning class A car builder most known for his No. 444 cars. His cars were driven by many different drivers to feature wins including local legend Ollie Silva. New on display this year at the reunion will be the 1965 Thunder Road Vermont Milk Bowl No. 13 winning car built by Cote.

Class A driver Noel of West Newbury began racing on dirt tracks while serving in the U.S. Air Force. He notched his first of many wins at the Pines Speedway in 1960 driving for Lenny Caron and Mike Holland. A special recognition is scheduled for 11:30a.m. when organizers induct Conway into the Haverhill Citizens Hall Of Fame.

Conway died at the age of 70 at his home in Haverhill in August of 2019 after a lengthy battle with coronary disease.

In 2006, a year after his retirement from The Eagle-Tribune as sports editor, Conway was inducted into the New England Racing Hall of Fame. Conway helped promote more than 1,000 events and more than 10,000 races.

Conway was also recognized for his investigative journalism. In 1992, he was nominated as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in beat reporting for stories that exposed corruption at the highest levels of professional hockey.

"We're inducting Russ as a sports journalist and Pulitzer Prize finalist," said Joan Cranton, a member of the Haverhill Citizens Hall of Fame Committee. "Former Bruins player Terry O'Reilly agreed to speak about his friend, Russ, and we also hope to have Indy 500 racer Bentley Warren talk about Russ as well, while Eagle-Tribune sports editor Bill Burt will serve as our main speaker." The Haverhill Citizens Hall of Fame honors those Haverhill sons and daughters who achieved fame in their lifetime and brought recognition to the city.

A display is on a wall on the first floor of the Haverhill Public Library, where hall of fame inductions are normally held.