NERF'ers Corner by Robert Echo

ROUND 3: Dropping Some Knowledge

Friday, June 16th, 1978 – NEW ENGLAND SPEEDWAY SCENE


Once upon a time many years ago at the Arena known as Norwood in Eastern Massachusetts was a man who won feature after feature and seemed to be unstoppable.

Bill Slater was one of the best Modified drivers to strap a helmet on (1964). Howie Hodge photo
NEAR Hall of Famer Bill Slater was one of the best Modified drivers to strap a helmet on and one of the division’s greatest friends (1964). Howie Hodge photo

At the now defunct Norwood Arena was a group of fans who were tired of seeing one man dominate racing so much.  What did they do to stop the gentleman in question?  No, they didn’t all run out on the track and lay down in front of the man’s car in question nor did they throw bottles and cans at him either.

What these disgruntled fans did was organize a fan club to show their displeasure with this drivers winning all the time.  They put together the “Slater Haters Fan Club” in honor of Bill Slater, who is now the promoter of “Speed Week” at New Smyna Beach, Florida in February and is also part of the management corps at Thompson Speedway.

Bill Slater was ruling the track at Norwood in the early 1960’s with win after win and in doing so he brought out the worst in the fans or did he.

Mr. Slater is well liked by everyone today and is considered to have one of the finest racing minds around, besides being one of the best modified drivers to ever come out of New England.

Does this look like a guy who was bothered by the Slater Haters Fan Club? Not a chance (1967). Howie Hodge photo.
Does this look like a guy who was bothered by the Slater Haters Fan Club? Not a chance (1967). Howie Hodge photo.

The fan club that was organized in protest of Slater’s victory skein didn’t seem to hurt the driver or anyone else, so what’s the big deal about having a club against a driver.

It seems as though we have a lot of skeptical racing fans out there or should I say Geoff Bodine fans who fear their heart throb is losing his appeal. It’ll never happen, so don’t worry about it.  No matter where the Dick Armstrong Nu-Style Jewelry #1 Pinto goes, the stands will be full of racing fans. Some will want to see Geoff win and some will be there in hopes of seeing him lose. Some will cheer and some will boo.  Some will wear Bodine T-Shirts, some will wear the shirts of other drivers and some may wear “I Hate Bodine” T-Shirts. Big deal!

I don’t know what’s so revolting about the idea that was given me at Stafford, but one thing is for sure the idea wasn’t the first of it’s kind.

Bodine is one of the finest drivers around with probably the best equipment money can buy and those two factors will over ride any obstacle he could or will encounter.  It’s all part of the battle for victory lane.

Bill Slater's V8 was his trademark. Well that and his great personality. We all miss you Bill (1965). Howie Hodge photo.
“Wild” Bill Slater is famous for his success in the Vitari-Bombacci V8. Bill was equally famous for his personality. We all miss you Bill (1965). Howie Hodge photo.

To the people who would like to know my favorite driver, well, I don’t really have a true favorite.  I like all who keep the feelings of their fellow competitors in mind along with their equipment.

All I can say is, to the gentleman who wrote to me this week, It’s good to know you are reading my column, thanks.  Oh yes!  I did interview the other drivers after the original incident and since it happened, but what did that prove.  If you show four people a 30 second film clip, wait one hour and then when the people are separated ask them what they saw.  You’ll most likely get three to four different stories.

By the way!  Bodine ran two races I saw this past weekend at Stafford and Riverside Park Speedway.  He ran both races flawlessly leading seventy of the eighty laps involved in entering Victory Lane twice.

I’m still not a Geoff Bodine fan as I’ve always liked the underdog.  I will say this;  I want to see him beat on the track while he’s running and a victory in any other manner would not be a victory in the hearts of any racing fan. Right!!!

Next week RELOADED is back with “OPEN SEASON”.

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