Tag Archives: Nu Style Racing Pinto

Geoff Bodine and the Big Red Machine: ROUND 2

Friday, June 9th, 1978 – NEW ENGLAND SPEEDWAY SCENE

NERFer's-CornerHey NERF’ers!!!  It’s your ol’ buddy, Robert “Howard Cosell” Echo here for another weekly fat chewing session.

WOW! How can anybody pass judgement on someone when they didn’t even witness the incident in question on May 19th at Stafford Motor Speedway.  You see, I was in the Press Box along with a dozen or so other News Media people.  The lady wrote the letter about the May 26th NERF’ers Corner was not in attendance at Stafford.

In the first paragraph of her letter, she said that some people might think you’re speaking out of line.  Definitely!  But also, you do have the right to speak your mind and this I respect.

Geoff Bodine in the 1978 version of Dick Armstrong's Nu Style Racing #1. Martinsville Speedway. Mike Adaskaveg Photo.
Geoff Bodine in the 1978 version of Dick Armstrong’s Nu Style Racing #1 at Clay Earles’ Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Virginia. Mike Adaskaveg Photo.

I think you should read the article of May 26th again.  Not once in the column did I say that the crash was Geoff Bodine’s fault and right up until now I doubt if anyone other than the four drivers who were in the front two rows on the restart really know what happened.

As for the “I Hate Bodine” club, that wasn’t my idea but I thought it was a very interesting one and why not?  If you can have a club for a driver then why not one against him.  This world is filled with Pros and Cons.  Let’s face it; if I was Bodine I would like having an “I Hate” club in my honor showing that the fans know I’m there rather than having a bunch of people claiming to be racing fans throwing bottles and cans at me.  Oh!  You want to know where this happened?  It was at your hometown track, Seekonk Speedway on Saturday night, May 27th after fans thought Bodine purposely put out George Savary.  I wasn’t there and I cannot pass judgement as someone else did.

No one should hold Seekonk owner-promoter D. Anthony Venditti responsible for the actions of a few so-called racing fans who have criminal intentions of bodily harm.  This type of fan is not needed and if they are known, they should be barred from future events.

The thing was not so much the accident of May 19th but the action of Mr. Bodine following the crash.  The raising of the arms in what the fans thought was a victory sign, showing more compassion for his car than he did the injured Ken Bouchard and the “Victory Lane” remark of ;  “If these people were real racing fans, they would understand”.  If you had been in the stands, would you have accepted this remark without a single boo?

The NERF could not deny that Geoff Bodine was by far one of the greatest driving talents to strap themselves in behind the wheel of a Modified. Howie Hodge Photo.
The NERF could not deny that Geoff Bodine was by far one of the greatest driving talents to strap themselves in behind the wheel of a Modified. Howie Hodge Photo.

Geoff Bodine is a good driver if not the best and this I do not dispute.  With the equipment he has I don’t think he should have to put anyone into the wall at any track.  What I dislike is some of his actions and one that comes to mind happened at Riverside Park last year.

Bodine was my older son’s favorite driver but when he asked Bodine for his autograph one Saturday night, the driver of the Dick Armstrong #1 Pinto refused.  My son was a track regular last season but since the incident he has been turned off to auto racing and hasn’t attended a single race this year.  Would your favorite, George Summers, refuse to give an autograph to a fan.  Funny things happen when you become a star.  You seem to forget how you started and where you were before.  Aw heck!  Who cares…

Now on to other things!  For the letters we’ve had inquiring about the address of the “Bugsy Stevens Fan Club”.  The club’s president, Patti McConnell, has given me the info you want.  Here’s the address; Bugsy Stevens Fan Club, P.O. Box ****, East Providence, R.I. 02914. Membership fees are $3 for adults and $2 for children.  For your money you’ll receive one (1) autographed picture of Da Bugman, one (1) bumper sticker and membership card and the club’s newsletter.  If ya want a Stevens jacket, they are $18 for adults and the child’s is $16.50.  Adult T-shirts are $4 while the children’s cost $3. Other items available are bumper stickers – 50 cents; patches – $1.50 & 50 cents; pictures (Large) $4, (medium) $3, (small) $2.  You can also find the “Bugsy Stevens Fan Club” on Fan Club Alley beneath the grandstands on Friday nights at Stafford.  Stop down and see Patti and support the “Bugman”.

I received a very interesting fan club newsletter from a NESS counterpart this past weekend.  Thanks to Bob Paulin who pens “Maine-ly Racing”, a column on racin’ in the State of Maine. Bob sent me a newsletter from the “B&H Club” (Beds and Herts Stock Car Supporters Assn.).  The club follows stock car racing in all places, Merry Ole England from way ‘cross the Atlantic.  The newsletter has seven pages, front and back, of very interesting European stock car racing news and also indicates that this is probably one of the finest clubs anywhere in the world.  I pan on writing to the English club and will have future articles and addresses of the “B&H”.

*For those fans who may in any way be sensitive to republished columns penned over 30 years ago, please read the NERF’ers Corner by Robert Echo DISCLAIMER located in the Site Notices category or read the ABOUT page.  Thank you.

Geoff Bodine and the Big Red Machine: ROUND 1

Drivers have their fair share of not so great days, even the very best of them.  I speak of the face-palm tantrum moments of playing park-and-go with a tow truck on the track after being black flagged or foolishly spinning someone out well after a race is over.  Another form comes outside of the car in front of the fans with an interview or an altercation.  The better you are on the track the brighter the spotlight that’s cast upon you.  Enter one Geoff Bodine.  The driver of the Dick Armstrong owned Nu Style Racing red Pinto bodied Modified during the mid to late ’70’s.  Geoff’s unbelievable talent behind the wheel got overshadowed on occasion by an uncanny ability to do the wrong thing at the wrong time.  Some of his most notable racing feuds with  fellow competitors are well documented (Bones Bourcier’s RICHIE and BUGSY” books) and every once in a while it would happen outside of the car and make the papers.

The NERF had an additional reason for starting his anti-Bodine campaign and it all started when Geoff and his Big Red Machine decided to compete regularly at Riverside Park Speedway in 1977.

Geoff Bodine in Dick Armstrong's Big Red Machine speeds down the backstretch at Riverside Park Speedway, in Agawam (MA) 1977. Mario Fiore Photo.
Geoff Bodine in Dick Armstrong’s Big Red Machine speeds down the backstretch at Riverside Park Speedway, in Agawam (MA) 1977. Mario Fiore Photo.

Back in the mid to late 70’s Riverside Park Speedway featured Modifieds and Figure Eights.  After intermission the Modifieds would roll out of the pit gates, run over the scales in the infield in turns three and four, and park in their respective positions on the front stretch.  The drivers would then get out of their Mods and start signing autographs for the mobs of fans at the fence.  On this night in ’77, my older brother Shane was in that mob hoping to get an autograph from his new favorite driver, Geoff Bodine.

After waiting his turn, Shane started to pass the driver his new WINSTON Racing hat through the fence.  Geoff looked up at my brother with a distasteful expression and blurted out; “Sorry, but I don’t sign autographs for older kids.  Go bug someone else.”

Up until that moment my family attended the Park with an equal amount of interest each Saturday evening.  After that night the trips were less a family member.  The negative response wiped out my brother’s interest of attending the Park for quite some time and his new favorite driver became his last.  On a scale of 1 to 10 my father’s anger reading was nothing short of severely pissed off.

Obviously many years have passed since then and as I stated earlier, every driver sees their fair share of not so good days, but at that moment in 1978 and being as it was his son, it was taken personally.

The next week Robert Echo began setting aside space in every article he submitted to the local paper and that space focussed on Geoff Bodine.  When he left that local publication and started writing NERF’ers Corner, it only took one nasty incident at Stafford Speedway for that space to creep back into his column.  So, to quote Apollo Creed in ROCKY III; “Ding.. Ding..”


Friday, May 26th, 1978 – NEW ENGLAND SPEEDWAY SCENE


Hello once again from Fan Club Headquarters here in NERF’ers Land. I’m sitting here at my rickety old wooden desk, that must have been left over from the days of President Washington, typin’ my column for all you NERF’s. In fact I think ol’ George used this desk to cross the Delaware in. It’s not really a bad old desk as there are only a couple of minor things wrong with it. The top drawer on the right side has never been open cause I ain’t gotta key and when you pullout the drawer on the bottom left, the right front leg falls off. Oh yes, I call my desk “Sexy” because the top has more bumps in it than Raquel Welch or Charo.

Well back to fan club news.

One New England fan club is presently planning their second trip to the “Cardinal 500” in Martinsville, VA in late October. Details have not been completed and the fan club’s president has asked that the club not be named at this time. When full details are set, we will pass them on to you.

I know there must be several fan clubs out there with some news for all the NERF’s in the Northeast. It could be you who might want to add some new members to support your favorite driver or you could need information on how to start a fan club. Drop us a line and we’ll put your news in this column or we’d be glad to help you organize a club for support of your favorite track gladiator.

Do you remember the old “I hate Elvis” clubs when the late Elvis Presley hit the scene in the 1950’s. Well after last Friday nights 30 lap Modified feature at Stafford Motor Speedway, there may be a new ”I hate” club and with all the tee shirts around with ones favorite driver scrolled across the front with a picture of his car, the new shirts would read “I Hate Bodine” with a big “X” across the picture of Bodine’s Pinto.

The Sherwood Industries No. 12 Vega Modified of Ken Bouchard get some attention in the Stafford Motor Speedway pit area in Stafford Springs (CT). Howie Hodge Photo.
The Sherwood Industries No. 12 Vega Modified of Ken Bouchard gets some attention in the Stafford Motor Speedway pit area in Stafford Springs (CT). Howie Hodge Photo.

Bellingham’s (Ma.) Geoff Bodine and Ken Bouchard of Fitchburg (Ma.) are the only ones who really know what happened on the 25th lap restart with the possible exception of Ken’s brother Ron and Rehobeth’s (Ma.) Bugsy Stevens who lined up behind Bodine and Ken Bouchard.

With Bodine in the number one spot and Ken Bouchard on the outside, the two touched wheels sending the latter for a wild ride into the fourth turn wall. He then rolled back down across the track through traffic where he collided with Plainfield (Ct.) Dick Traynor.

A confrontation between Ron Bouchard and Bodine was thwarted by starter Frank Sgambato and several drivers sitting out the action in the infield.

It was twenty minutes before they removed the badly shaken Ken from his modified and he was later taken to the hospital for examination and release.

I don’t know who or what really caused the accident as there are many versions of the accident, but I do know Ron stirred the crowd up to a frenzy by going after Bodine and rightfully so as he was disturbed over his brother being hurt.

A couple of things cost Bodine a lot of his faithful fans. One was when he climbed from his car after the accident and raised his arms in what everyone in attendance thought was a gesture of victory. This brought a loud booing from the stands. Bodine also later remarked to fans in a “Victory Lane” interview with Pete Falconi; “If these people were real racing fans, they would understand.” Again the boos rose loud and strong from the spectators. The statement was a bad mistake. The people that attend Stafford week after week would have to be considered good dedicated racing fans and without them there would be no payday for winners like Bodine.

Just wonderin’ who’ll be the first to dawn an “I Hate Bodine” shirt or who’ll be the first to start a club under the same name.

NERF’ers Corner by Robert Echo DISCLAIMER