(WEST HAVEN, CT) It was months in the making, and all
the hard work yielded big dividends on Sunday, August 11th as a large
appreciative crowd attended Billy Greco’s New England Auto Racing Hall of
Fame fundraiser held on the grounds of the Polish American Club in West
A 1999 inductee into the prestigious New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame
himself, Greco spearheaded the event as a method to raise funds for NEAR,
a non-profit club that celebrates the rich history of the sport in New
England. All proceeds went into the Hall of Fame fund.
Still remaining as popular as-ever following the conclusion of his driving
days, Greco was a crowd favorite during a career highlighted by multiple
modified track championships at both the Riverside Park Speedway in
Massachusetts and Connecticut’s West Haven Speedway. He was a feature
event winner at virtually all of the region’s raceways.
Greco was known to be “fan-friendly” during his time at the controls of a
modified, and it showed on Sunday. It seems that just about-everyone from
fans, to fellow competitors has a favorite Billy Greco story.
Not-unlike of his days of winning on the ovals of the Northeast, Greco was
quick to state that it took a full team-effort to put-together the event.
“There were a lot of people that helped in putting this fundraiser-on, and
I greatly appreciate that,” he stated. “Many worked behind the scenes. It
was a true team-effort for a great cause. NEAR is very important in
keeping the history alive.”
Many of Greco’s fellow Hall of Fame members were present including Ray
Miller, Dennis Zimmerman, Bob Potter, Pete Zanardi, and Val LeSieur. It
was indeed, a long list of those who pioneered the sport.
Award-winning Racing Journalist and 2008 HOF Inductee Zanardi was
impressed, noting that “Such events prove that interest in the history of
the sport remains high.”
In addition to what seemed like a never-ending supply of food, attendees
were eligible for a number of door prizes. The raffle drawings offered a
varied-selection of racing-related items, many being one-of-a-kind gems.
Several displays were set-up under the Pavilion offering attendees a
unique peek into the beginnings of short track racing in the New England
As current NEAR President Al Fini noted, it was perhaps the largest
gathering of vintage race cars that’s occurred in many years. There was a
wide selection of historical rides representing tracks from all over New
England. The show field was a busy place all day giving guests a chance to
get “up close & personal” with the cars of their racing heroes. Also
on-hand was several vintage classics of the street category.
Among the race cars on display was Greco’s signature #43 Pinto, a
work-in-progress that he and NEAR member Rich Belmont have been recently
restoring back to its former glory.
The New England Antique Racers club is a non-profit organization that
supports the history of New England auto racing. NEAR has been in
existence since 1981 and has a growing membership of approx. 350-400
members and 80 antique race cars. Members live throughout New England and
are available, on a no charge basis, for exhibition events at local race
tracks in New England and several tracks in the New York area, with both
original and historical replica race cars.
Since 1998, NEAR has inducted 166 individuals into the New England Auto
Racers Hall Of Fame, which is administered by the New England Antique
Racers. Some very notable inductees include Richie Evans, Ron Bouchard,
Bugs Stevens, Rene Charland, Pete Hamilton, Fred DeSarro, Ed Flemke, Sr.
and Billy Greco.
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