Sammy Packard began racing midgets in 1937, in the
Bay State Racing Association. He quickly found himself supporting
his family by racing seven nights a week. He tried his hand at
stock cars, too, competing in the first stock car race at the
Thompson Speedway, in 1939. Sammy was also instrumental in staging
the first stock car race at Lonsdale, held October 27, 1947. In an
effort to draw more fans to that first event, he and Buddy Shuman,
who came up from North Carolina, went to the Lonsdale Sports Arena
and staged an exhibition race for fans during the halftime break at
a football game.
Although he called Rhode Island home, Sammy raced
all over the country, in midgets, stock cars, motorcycles, and even
boats. When D. Anthony Venditti flooded the infield at the Seekonk
Speedway, Packard became a two time Class D New England champion.
Sammy also competed in the New York Outboard Marathon, where he,
along with 350 others, would start out in Albany and race down the
Hudson River to New York City.
The first time Packard raced at Daytona, he threw
his ’37 Buick Phaeton into the north turn, and promptly slid across
the seat over to the passenger side of the car. His crew quickly
went to work, finding some rope that had been discarded on the
beach, and tied him into the Phaeton. Bill France Sr. later
invited Sammy to a meeting with a group of men at the Streamline
Hotel in December 1947 that resulted in the formation of NASCAR.
Sammy Packard took on a new challenge in his auto racing career by
starting an antique racecar restoration business. He restored well
over 100 racecars, which have been shipped coast to coast, and as
far away as West Germany. Today, we welcome Sammy Packard
posthumously into the NEAR Hall Fame.