Robert Lee Echo was born and raised in Casper, Wyoming. He had an extremely tough family life that forced him to leave home and strike out on his own at the young age of 15.
After many years of hardship Robert settled into a career of sales and became an award winning salesman for many businesses through the years. His way of doing things while in sales was once you reached the top you moved on to new challenges.
It was while residing in East Greenbush, New York with his wife Bonnie, their oldest son Shane and youngest Jared, when he caught the racing bug. It only took one trip to West Lebanon, New York’s high banked half mile oval, Lebanon Valley Speedway and they were all hooked.
just over a year later the family relocated to western Massachusetts. Riverside Park Speedway in Agawam was just a few towns over and it didn’t take long for Robert and family to attend a race at the then 1/5th mile asphalt oval in 1975. The family began attending Riverside Park Speedway religiously. Soon Friday nights were spent at Stafford Motor Speedway and Sundays at Thompson Speedway with a few trips to Seekonk, Plainville and Lebanon Valley thrown in.
In 1978 Val LeSieur gave Robert his own little “corner” of the then New England Speedway Scene and the “NERF’ers Corner” was born.
Following the 1978 racing season Robert was approached about promoting Claremont Speedway in Claremont, New Hampshire. Although he had never promoted a facility he was not one to back down from a challenge. He accepted the position.
After a successful season as promoter of Claremont Speedway to which his duties involved not only gathering sponsorship and doing publicity work such as car shows, radio shows, and press releases he also created and put together a program called the Checkered Flag Review, ordered trophies, and was the track announcer.
Towards the end of the 1979 season, on a race night at Claremont Speedway he was visited by Speedway Scene Editor/Publisher Val LeSieur. After numerous phone conversations in the couple weeks following Val offered Robert the Promotional Director job at Speedway Scene.
In 1980 Speedway Scene began a campaign to put forth an all out assault on expanding coverage and readers. Throughout the early 80’s grew it’s fan base leaps and bounds.
Robert “Bob” Echo, a.k.a. “The NERF”, soon became recognized as a well respected racing personality who dedicated himself to the Northeast auto racing community through many entities and organizations. He co-created the Racearama ‘n Trade Show in 1981 with Speedway Scene owner Val LeSieur.
The Racearama soon became the largest auto racing car and trade show in the Northeast. Robert was the director of that show from 1981 through ’84 and then returned to promote and direct the Racearama in 1994 and ’95.
Robert Echo’s NERFer’s Corner RELOADED is a tribute to not only his work as a columnist, but his non-stop 24/7/365 dedication to the Northeast auto racing community throughout his life. His career in the Northeast racing community included;
- Auto Racing Journalist for Local Newspapers in Western Massachusetts: 1976-’78
- Speedway Scene Journalist “NERF’ers Corner”: 1978-’81
- Claremont Speedway- Claremont, NH – PR Director, Promoter and Announcer: 1979
- Speedway Scene Promotional Director: 1979 to 1984
- A Founding Member of NEAR (New England Antique Racers) – Logo Design, Club Promotions, Event Organizer & Fund raising
- Racearama’n’Trade Show Co-Creator with Val LeSieur.
- Organizer and Director of the famous Racing “Roasts” 1980-’84
- Racearama’n’Trade Show Show Promotional Director and Show Director: 1981-’84
- International Mini-Modified Championship Tour and Mini Bandits Championship Event PR Director, Promoter and Announcer: 1982
- Claremont Speedway- Claremont, NH – PR Director, Promoter and Announcer: 1985
- Sugar Hill Speedway PR Director, Promoter and Announcer: 1986-’87
- CVRA (Connecticut Valley Racing Association; Albany/Saratoga Speedway – Malta, NY., Airborne Park Speedway – Plattsburg, NY., Devil’s Bowl Speedway – West Haven, VT.) – PR Director, Promoter and Announcer: 1988
- Airborne Park Speedway – Plattsburg, NY – PR Director, Promoter and Announcer: 1989
- Sugar Hill Speedway – Weare, NH – PR Director, Promoter and Announcer: 1991-’93
- Racearama’n’Trade Show Show Promotional Director and Show Director: 1994-’95
- *Organizer of numerous auto racing related events throughout the Northeastern States
- *Member and contributor for many charitable organizations by assisting with organizing fund drives and promotional support throughout the Northeastern States
In early May of 1995 Robert “Bob” Echo passed away after suffering an aneurysm. Since his passing his dedication to the northeast auto racing community, his positive out look and personality has not been forgotten by his fellow racing fans and his peers as stated by many in the Northeast racing community…
“The thing about Bob Echo that comes to mind immediately is that the man was a race fan, first and foremost. His Speedway Scene columns were done from the standpoint that ‘the show’ was the most important element of racing. Whether he was writing about rules, or handicapping procedures, or a speedway that couldn’t get its programs over at a decent hour, Bob’s main concern was that the fans saw a lively, competitive show. It’s very easy in this business to get caught up in what drivers are thinking, what car owners and mechanics are thinking, and what promoters are thinking, but Bob waded through all that stuff and gave a voice to the fellow sitting in the grandstands with his wife and kids.
“Having said that, the guy obviously had a great promotional mind. When he and Val LeSieur conceived the early Racearama shows, Bob hyped those events with the enthusiasm of a carnival barker. Right from the start, Racearama became a big part of the Northeast season, like an appetizer in early March before all the tracks opened up. A lot of its success was a direct result of Bob having drilled that word – ‘Racearama’ – into the heads of racing people all winter long.
“I couldn’t begin to count the late nights and laughs we had in the days when he was the Promotional Director at Speedway Scene. I was part of the editorial staff and had a lot of production responsibilities, which meant pulling one or two all-nighters just about every week, especially in the summer months. Because of that, I didn’t always have a lot of patience for anyone who stopped in, but when Bob visited we’d end up discussing what had gone on over the past weekend, or where we’d be off to on the next weekend, or what our favorite racing characters had been up to lately. The work never stopped, but the hours definitely passed a little quicker when Bob was around.”
– Mark “Bones” Bourcier (Author, Journalist, Auto Racing Enthusiast and Friend)
“My memories of “Bob” are many. A hard working dedicated man who loved auto racing and one who did his part to make it better.
I always appreciated and respected Bob’s contribution.
Bob was a constant fixture on our radio show ‘Speedline’ both on the phone or in-studio. He always brought a ‘hot’ story to the show that he was either working or had just released in Speedway Scene. He always helped promote our radio show because he believed the show had it’s place. We always enjoyed our relationship.
Bob’s hard work was what made Race-A-Rama what it was, each year bigger and better, each year delivering on what he promised..
A lot of good times at the banquets with Bob. He always knew if he had a ‘real’ good time he had a place to hang that famous Western hat.
Even after all this time Bob has been gone, there isn’t a season that goes by I don’t think of the guy who when he’d be at Star, I’d let the fans know Speedway Scene’s Bob Echo Echo Echo was in the house house house !!!
.R.I.P !! NERFer !!!”
– John Spence Sr. (Public Relations, Announcer, Journalist, Auto Racing Enthusiast and Friend)
“Little known fact. Bob Echo was a founding member of NEAR (New England Antique Racers) and the club may not have gotten off the ground except for Bob’s outstanding promotional work in the early days.”
– Al Fini (President of NEAR)
“I knew Bob for 20 years. He was always an aggressive promoter for the sport. Bob always kept his word with me. It’s sad (regarding his death) because he was such a good friend to racing, the people who race and the people who sponsor it all. That was probably his greatest strength, getting the sponsors the proper recognition.”
– Allan Whipple (Former Modified Driver and Friend)
“He had a tremendous understanding about the give and take our sport demands. Racing has lost a great friend. Bob Echo’s heart and soul belonged to the sport.”
– Archie Archambault (Former Speedway Owner and Friend)
“He made some people mad, including me, but you could not question the man’s dedication to the task at hand or his ability to work. He was dedicated to make any venture he was a part of a success.”
– Val LeSieur (Editor/Publisher of Speedway Scene and Friend)