Groveland's popular Pines Speedway reunion, now in its 17th year, will feature a long list of vintage race cars, custom cars and former well-known drivers as part of the program.
The event, presented by the Groveland Historical Society, will be Saturday, Oct. 5, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Pines Recreational Area, site of the original race track, next to Town Hall, 183 Main St., Groveland.
"This year's reunion is dedicated in memory of Russ Conway, who died in August," said Claire Walsh of the Groveland Historical Society. "Conway and the late Ken Smith were key players in the final years of the speedway's operation and went on to contribute enormously to the reunion's success."
Conway, a Haverhill native and longtime sports editor and reporter for The Eagle-Tribune, was recognized for his investigative journalism. His meticulous reporting uncovered illegal activity in the NHL Players Association by its longtime executive director, Alan Eagleson, also an agent for many players.
One of the most powerful and well recognized people in the sport, Eagleson was brought down and charged by U.S. and Canadian authorities as a result of Conway’s work. Conway's subsequent book, "Game Misconduct: Alan Eagleson and the Corruption of Hockey," revealed that Eagleson had deceived Bruin's great Bobby Orr into leaving the Bruins for the Chicago Blackhawks near the end of his career.
Pines Speedway was a famed quarter-mile track, built in 1940, that operated until 1973. It was one of the fastest quarter-mile tracks in New England and became a launching platform for many racing careers.
Former Indy 500 drivers Johnny Thompson, Bentley Warren, Bill Schindler and Bill Randall all won races at the Pines, as did Talladega 500 winner Ronnie Bouchard and Dayton 500 winner Pete Hamilton.
New England Racing Hall-of-Famers Ollie Silva, Don MacLaren, Paul Richardson, Eddie West and Jim Martel also started their careers at the Pines, becoming Saturday night heroes to large weekly crowds as the Merrimack Valley became a car racing hotbed.
This year's reunion will feature special exhibits from the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame, STAR racing legends and Coastal 181 Publications.
Among the roughly 40 cars on display will be Silva's famed Big 0, No. 191 Challenger, Lee Allard's Twister Car, Smokey Boutwell's Flyin 5 and the Crown 7 Indy roadster which was driven by Silva, Warren and Richardson.
This year's honorees will be introduced following the noontime firing of engines.
Legend Honoree Eddie Witkum was a winner at both the Pines and Star Speedway and is the patriarch of the successful Witkum family of Super Modified standouts. Legend Honoree Trigger Watson, a jovial and speedy competitor in both jalopies and cutdowns, won at the Pines and most tracks in the region.
Special Honorees are Eddie Perkins, a former Essex marina owner who built race cars with ultimate craftsmanship; Florence Hudson, a track manager with a calming influence; the DeAlmeida brothers, Rowley-based Jack and Tony, who towed many race cars to Groveland; and Dave Kane, owner of the Speed Car #0 driven by Silva and Warren.
Groveland Congregational Church is in charge of food and refreshments at the reunion. Admission is free and this event will be held rain or shine, under a big tent. Donations are appreciated.
Tables for collector, novelty and swap items are available for $25 each.
More information is available from Claire Walsh at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
11 a.m.: Photos of drivers and crew members
Noon: Start of race car engines
12:30 p.m.: Honoree interviews and questions and answers with fans