By Mike LaBella
---- — HAVERHILL — Memories of the roar of race car engines and the thrill of victory will be relived today when the Groveland Historical Society hosts its 11th annual Pines Speedway Reunion. The event is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Pines Recreation Area.
This site was the home of the original quarter-mile track known as the Pines Speedway and the reunion is always held on the first Saturday in October, rain or shine. Admission is free, but donations are accepted. Cyrus Rogers and his band will perform music of the 1950s and ’60s.
Over 60 midget race cars were on display last year.
The annual ceremonial starting of the engines will be at noon and will be followed by racing stories, awards and acknowledgements.
This year’s walk down memory lane will honor Ken Small, Nate “Smokey” Boutwell, Howie Brown, Art Rousseau and Danny Wilson.
Small, from Holbrook, started racing midgets in 1947 with the Bay State Midget Racing Association. From 1947 to 1953, he drove midgets and sprint cars throughout New England and New York. Small tried driving stock cars in 1953, but liked the midgets better. In 1954, he started flagging races at the Pines Speedway and did so through the mid-1960s. He will always be remembered for the flashing way in which he started races from down on the speedway.
Boutwell, from Pelham, N.H., began driving midgets and sprint cars in the late 1940s and switched to stock cars in the early 1950s after midget racing died out. Boutwell won over 100 races from Canada to Florida.
Brown, from Epping, N.H., drove his first race at the Newmarket, N.H. Speedway in 1948. He drove his signature car, No. 069, the “Woodchoppers Special,” and won his first championship in the Class B division at the Manchester, N.H. Motordome. In 1965, Brown was the Pines Class B champion and subsequently won over 100 races in this division.
Rousseau, from Ipswich, followed in his father Russ’s footsteps as a second generation race car driver. Brothers Charlie and Steve were also part of this family of racers. Rousseau started running at the Pines in the early 1960s and drove the 616 owned by Gene Trask. Rousseau ran in the Class B, then in the Class A divisions and won many features at the Pines. Driving his own car in 1967, he won the Class A championship.
Danny Wilson, of Salem, N.H., was a graduate of Leland Powers School of Communication in Cambridge and was the announcer for the Pines and Hudson Speedways from 1957 to 1968. Wilson was also a well known announcer at the Wonderland Race Track, Seabrook Dog Track, Topsfield Race Track and the Rockingham Horse Track. When he wasn’t announcing races, he was a radio disc jockey playing early rock ‘n roll on WHAV.
The Groveland Congregational Church will provide refreshments.