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Racing Commentary

Email Lew at lewboyd@coastal181.com

 Ricky Craven, carving a name for himself at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 2004.
(NHMS Photo)



Ricky Craven, the TV commentator and former Cup star, flew up from North Carolina last week for a press conference about the forthcoming North East Motor Sports Museum at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Ricky and I got to talking about racing history up this way, about how some people got involved, and how a single interchange can impact someone’s whole approach to life.

Take, for example, Bob Bahre, the power source behind Oxford Plains Speedway in Maine and builder of the Cup track at Loudon itself. Ricky remembers clearly as yesterday venturing out some 20 years ago, a frightened, unpolished kid, from his Saturday night track in Unity to give the infamous Oxford 250 a try.

The 250 had become an extraordinary event, an annual mob scene of fans and competitors, the crowning jewel of Bahre’s outreach to NASCAR from his unlikely facility in the Pine Tree State.

Ricky was nervous walking up for the pay off after the race. He had reason to be. The pay window has a distinctive racing legacy of its own. It was often the place of high noon – sometimes with fisticuffs – between shady and short-sighted promoters and cash-starved racers, especially testy after a few beers. Ricky recalls Bob Bahre, already famous in racing circles for both his business acumen and his crustiness, sitting at the booth.

It was gruff, but certainly not the antagonistic conversation Ricky anticipated.

Bahre barked: “How many people at Unity last week?”

Ricky had no idea. Flustered, he replied, “About 10,000.”

“You don’t know that,” snapped Bahre. “How many were really there?!”

“About half full.”

Bahre, satisfied, said, “Now there’s an answer.” He carefully counted out the purse due and congratulated the kid for his first 250 showing.

Craven never forgot the exchange. He’s a bright guy, and Bahre had made him think. They became great friends, and Ricky sought our Bob whenever he could, just to talk. “I was just a guy from a farm area in Maine. When I won the 250 (in 1991),” says Ricky, “I had never seen so much money. Bob asked me what I was going to do with it. That’s when I realized I had to learn enough about finance to have a plan.”

In short order, Ricky was off to NASCAR for the start of a spectacular career. He became Rookie of the Year and a popular winner in trucks, Nationwide, and Cup. His wins included the 1997 Winston Open, but that same year a savage crash left him with post-concussion syndrome that likely led to ultimately hanging up his helmet.

Through it all, however, Craven’s intelligence and purposefulness have been obvious. He is doing well today with various business ventures and he serves as a popular and articulate NASCAR analyst for ESPN and Yahoo. Summing it all up, Ricky points out that “there are two people who know most about my position in life and where I am going: my wife and Bob Bahre.”

 Bob Bahre. His orientation towards the racers paid off big time. 
(NHMS Photo)

Bob Bahre’s thoughtful and generous attitude at the pay-off window was an uncommonly good business technique. He went on to leverage his early NASCAR experiences with the 250 – for a time the highest-paying short-track race in the country – to ride the comet of Cup racing for nearly 20 years at Loudon. It was sell-out after sell-out at his Magic Mile, and he was often seen roaming the pit area after the races offering even the Cup teams a few extra bucks with his appreciation.

It’s paid off pretty well for him, too. In 2007, Bahre sold the facility to Bruton Smith for a rumored $340 million.

© 2011 Lew Boyd, Coastal 181

If you were interested in this Tearoff, you might enjoy the books below:

Behind the Scenes at New Hampshire International Speedway

by Allen Lessels 
  Busch North Scene:
A Ten Year Retrospective

by George Campbell 
  Life Wide Open
Dave Dion: No Holds Barred

by Dave Dion with Dave Moody

Stop by our Book Store Directory for a look at our book and DVD selections:

Book Store

.: Previous Tearoffs :

1/7/11 - Route 169 South, Algona

10/19/11 - Otto Does the 'Cuse

9/30/11 - Saturday Folk at New Hampshire

9/14/11 - About J.R. Hildebrand - and that Last Lap

8/30/11 - Sideways and the Dzus Queen

8/16/11 - Totally Fast

8/2/11 - Perrotte at Plattsburgh

7/14/11 - So Here's What Jack Says

6/30/11 - Quick to Quickest - Jim “Mr. Magoo” Maguire

6/16/11 - Climb to the Clouds

6/2/11 - Irv and the Hall of Fame

5/18/11 - Makin' MOWA

5/4/11 - The Running of the Racers

4/21/11 - Pruett's Perspective

4/4/11 - Winter of Discontent

3/23/11 - Thinking of Gene Bergin

3/8/11 - Sprint Car World Record?

2/21/11 - Dinner at Daytona

2/10/11 - The Call Him 1/4ley

1/28/11 - Doc's Beard

1/15/11 - Reconsidering Generalizations

12/31/10 - Powerful Passion

12/19/10 - Tearoff at Yuletide

12/6/10 - Indy in December

11/21/10 - Mutt and the Brutal Ballet

10/29/10 - The Johnny Bensons and Their Supers

10/13/10 - Anatomy of an Accident

9/28/10 - Maybe Marty

9/14/10 - Push Refresh for Speedway Illustrated

8/23/10 - An Ode to Senior Supers

8/6/10 - Adrian and the Deep Water

7/20/10 - Holdout in Yuppieville

7/7/10 - The Wins are Gustin

6/16/10 - Racin' Kid, Racin' Dad

5/28/10 - The Monk and Matty D.

5/15/10 - Bluebird

4/27/10 - Catching Up With Steve Arpin

4/11/10 - The Song of the Fifties

3/22/10 - Davey!

3/8/10 - Restart!

2/21/10 - Miracles of the Rock

2/8/10 - Roger The Remarkable

1/21/10 -  Shane's Sensational '78

12/28/09 - The Flying Finn and The All American Boy

12/12/09 - Hello Wall

11/29/09 - Once More for Ernie

11/15/09 - Ernie's Excellent Chase

11/1/09 - In The Zone

10/19/09 - Rough Week in the Midwest

10/1/09 - Common Starts, Uncommon Comebacks

9/4/09 - South Dakota Chris

8/15/09 - Facial Exposure

7/31/09 - Dying in the Pits

7/9/09 - Barn Rat's Last Race

6/18/09 - Catching Up With Brad Doty

5/20/09 - Big Boys in The Attic  - rare photos of legends

5/6/09 - Back Up In The Attic - more rare photos

4/22/09 - The Son of Hard Luck - accessible racing
experience for the handicapped

4/3/09 - Racin' In The Attic - Gordon Ross photo collection

3/18/09 - About That Mike Spaulding

3/3/09 - Dick Berggren's First Win - (you had to be there!)

2/11/09 - Peter at the Park - Peter Fiandaca at Riverside Park

1/30/09 - Steve - Steve Arpin

1/4/09 - Racer Speak -cool quotations

12/16/08 - Wimble Power, Will Power - Bill Wimble

11/24/08 - Remembering Chuck Amati - by Joyce Standridge

11/11/08 - That Rick Ferkel

10/24/08 - Beyond Bionic - Bentley Warren

10/6/08 - Fifty Second Classic - Skip and Lois Matczak

9/20/08 - Joey's Dad - Tom Logano

9/1/08 - One Night at The Park - the death of Les Ley

8/20/08 - Transitional Technology - early supermodifieds

8/6/08 - Wallace on Wednesdays - dirt trackin’ Kenny

7/19/08 - Star(ter) of the Show - importance of good flaggers

7/7/08 - McUnderdog - Eddie MacDonald

6/18/08 - The Night Buzz Was Worried - Buzz Rose

6/5/08 - John Richards - Boomer Role Model

5/20/08 - The Spirit of a Racer - the late Al Powell

5/1/08 - Bobby's Blues - Bobby Santos III

4/15/08 - Thinking About Rene Charland

3/26/08 - Carl and Corey - Carl Edwards and Corey Dripps

3/4/08 - A Cool Track with Cool Racers - West Liberty, Iowa

2/14/08 - Doug Wolfgang

1/25/08 - Frankie Schneider

1/7/08 - When Drivers Can't See - cockpit vision

12/21/07 - When Starters Couldn't See - flagstand vision

12/1/07 - Ride Along with Erica Santos - in-car camera midget win

11/15/07 - Tough Drivers

11/1/07 - Cockpit Safety

10/15/07 - That First Race

10/1/07 - Racing Nicknames

9/15/07 - Too Many Officials

9/1/07 - The Look of a Real Driver

8/15/07 - Being Dale Junior

8/1/07 - Armond Holley

7/15/07  -  Red Farmer

© 2007-11 Lew Boyd, Coastal 181





































































































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