As I sit here soaking in the dreadful news of the passing of Ron Bouchard, great memories fly by in my head. I met him plenty of times as a kid after the races and watched him put on many great performances through the years. But the one memory that I think of is the moment some of us found out Ron was victorious in the 1981 Talladega 500.
On Sunday, August 2nd, 1981 My father and I along with many were attending a Modified-SuperModified double header at Oswego Speedway. The radio broadcast of the Talladega 500 wasn’t being piped in over the speedway intercom, but the reaction this little kid witnessed, when the results of the race were announced as I stood in the mostly empty grandstands at Oswego Speedway summed up what Ron meant to all of us in the Northeast auto racing community.
As the infield pit area was starting to fill up and teams were in the process of unloading, track announcer, Roy Sova turned on his microphone quite early to make an announcement, “Attention everyone here at Oswego Speedway! Welcome. We just wanted to let everyone who wasn’t listening in on the race taking place in Talladega, Alabama..
..RON BOUCHARD HAS WON THE TALLADEGA 500!..“
Hearing the news, one of Richie Evans’ crew members, who was unloading tires, (I believe it may have been Kenny Hartung) tossed one of the Good Years up in the air in reaction with raised arms and clenched fists. Celebrations, applause, arms raised in victory, fists punching the air and folks patting each other on the back could be seen throughout the infield pit area. Screams and howls of approval could be heard from outside the track, in the parking lot, and under the grandstands from those walking inside the gates as well as those working in the concessions.
It was such a natural reaction from everyone on the speedway grounds in celebration of the amazing news that one of our very own just won one of the biggest events in NASCAR’s elite series.
The replay of that moment has continued to roll around in my head as I write this..
While Ron’s family, friends, fans, fellow competitors and press (including the NERF himself) that passed before him greeted Ron with open arms in heaven, Ron’s family and friends can take comfort that on this day everyone in the Northeast and those who had the privilege of witnessing his talent behind the wheel and kindness off the track are with them in spirit and share in their loss. The memories he gave us will forever be cherished and never forgotten.
Thank you Ron for all the wonderful memories you have provided us all throughout the years.
The Echo family would like to express our most sincerest thoughts and prayers to Ron Bouchard’s family and friends. We pray for strength for his family and friends in this trying time during the Holiday season.
RIP Ron Bouchard. God Speed.
*Featured image courtesy of Howie Hodge.