Vic Kangas gained notoriety as the mechanical mind behind the rise
of young Ron Bouchard. With Vic massaging the chassis, Ronnie won
the four Seekonk "Class A" championships (1966-69) that propelled
him to New England fame. When Bouchard got his first solid NASCAR
Modified ride with Dick Armstrong in 1971 (leading at Pocono and
then finishing second in the Trenton Race of Champions) he had
Kangas in his corner again.
But Kangas had done some winning before pairing with Bouchard. He
worked with Brookline/Westboro icon Pete Salvatore, wrenched Tinker
Progin to the 1965 Hudson Speedway title, and helped build one of
the Modifieds that carried Ernie Gahan to the 1966 NASCAR
championship. And in the years ahead, Kangas stood in victory lane
with a number of drivers.
Another Bouchard, Ken, blossomed under Vic's guidance, shining in
both Late Models (in the fabled Oxford Opens) and Modifieds (taking
the Yankee All-Star League crown) before his 21st birthday.
Vic's path intersected with several NEAR Hall-of-Famers. George
Summers won the 1976 Maine State Championship for Late Models with
Kangas, and Pete Fiandaca often relied on Vic's setup advice. Dave
Dion, Gene Bergin, and Rene Charland also benefited from having
Kangas in their pits.
After decades of short-track success, Kangas hit the big time,
directing NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series efforts for
drivers Ron Bouchard, Greg Sacks, Rob Moroso, and Kenny Wallace. In
1992, Vic served as crew chief for Nationwide Series hotshoe Joe
Nemechek, and together they won the division championship.
Motorsports America now knew what New England racers had known for
years: that Vic Kangas was an asset to any team, anytime, anywhere.