Rene Charland’s extraordinary career
spanned 35 years starting with his first race at Riverside Park in
1949 and ended at Fonda Speedway in 1984. During that time it is
estimated that he won over 700 races. He raced with ease on either
dirt or asphalt often running alternate nights on different surfaces
with the same car. He was mostly closely identified with the Number
Known everywhere as “The Champ”,
Rene won an unprecedented 4 NASCAR National Sportsman championships
from 1962 through 65. His quest for a fifth title ended as he was
seriously injured in the famous fire crash Memorial Day weekend at
Malta in 1966. He was forced to sit out the rest of the season but
at that point he had already earned 5700 points, enough for a third
A member of the famed “Eastern
Bandits” he won track championships at Stafford, Ct,(2), Norwood
Arena, Mass., Millers Falls Mass., Keene N.H., Brattleboro Vt.,
Islip, N.Y., Manassas, Va., Fort Dix, N.J., and Utica Rome, N.Y.
(3). In addition he won 4 Canadian National championships.
Rene had just 2 Grand National
(now Winston Cup) starts. In a Grand National race at Islip he
finished third behind David Pearson and Richard Petty.
Besides his racing success
Charland was best known as a cigar chomping prankster. Stories about
the “Champ” and his pranks continue to today.