New Hampshire Motor Speedway Founder Bob Bahre dies at 93


Dick Berggren, Cheryl LaPrade, Tony Stewart, Regina O’Brien, Bob Bahre, and David McGrath (Photo Courtesy of NHMS)

LOUDON, N.H. (WWLP) – New Hampshire Motor Speedway founder Bob Bahre passed away on Friday. He was 93.

Bahre grew up in Suffield, CT.  Bahre owned Oxford Plains Speedway in Oxford Plains, ME. Bahre purchased the track back in 1964 and ran it with his brother Dick. He started one of the most prestigious short track events in the country known as the Oxford 250 in 1974. The inaugural race was 200 laps and the following year was extended 50 laps more.

Former and current NASCAR drivers have raced in the Oxford 250. Kevin Harvick won the event back in 2008 and Kyle Busch took down the Oxford 250 in 2011. Local driver Tom Rosati out of Agawam won the Oxford 250 back in 1979. Bahre sold Oxford Plains Speedway in 1987 and purchased Bryar Motorsports Park which became New Hampshire International Speedway.

New Hampshire International Speedway opened in 1990 as Tommy Ellis won the first race on the Magic Mile in NASCAR Busch Series/Busch North Series combination race which is now the NASCAR Xfinity Series.  The NASCAR Cup Series had their inaugural race in 1993 and Rusty Wallace won the event. 

The first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and ARCA Menard Series East which was the NASCAR Busch North Series events were held on September 2, 1990, as Mike McLaughlin took down the win in both races.

Bahre sold the speedway to Bruton Smith and Speedway Motorsports Inc. in 2008 and became New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Bahre was an avid car collector and his collection would be shown once a year during the summer.

Jonathan Smith races in the SK Modifieds at Stafford. He ran in the ARCA Menards Series East at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. He told 22News what it was like to race up there.

“Back when I first started there, it was New Hampshire International Speedway. It was just a real motorsports track. Bob Bahre always took pride in being the motorsports place and he did that right up through my first years of racing until he told to SMI,” Smith said. “His accomplishments speak for himself. Everything he did is still standing today and the biggest thing you take away from Bob Bahre is he loved motorsports. He did everything in his power to keep this sport alive,” Smith said.

Bruton Smith is the Speedway Motorsports Inc. Executive Chairman released a statement on Friday.

Bob Bahre was a true pioneer for motorsports in New England. He wanted to grow our sport and build things that people will remember. He was a smart businessman and I have a lot of respect for that, but I have even more respect for the positive impact he had on people. I’ll pray for Sandy and Gary during this tough time, and I know they are proud of the legacy Bob leaves behind.

Bruton Smith, Speedway Motorsports Inc. Executive Chairman

Marcus Smith is the Speedway Motorsports Inc President and CEO. He released a statement on Friday.

What I’ll remember most about Bob Bahre will be his character, understated yet charming. Every time I saw him he had on khakis and a white shirt. I always enjoyed our genuine conversations. He was very generous to people in the motorsports industry and to the New England communities where he did business. He went about things in a quiet, dignified manner and often times that simple approach is the most impactful. It’s truly an honor to have known Bob. He lived a meaningful life. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.

Marcus Smith, Speedway Motorsports Inc President & CEO

David McGrath is the Executive Vice President and General Manager of New Hampshire Motor Speedway released a statement.

On behalf of our team at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, I’d like to extend our deepest condolences to Sandy, Gary and the entire Bahre family. Bob left an incredible mark on auto racing through the New England region, and his love of motorsports was legendary. He had a passionate commitment to both drivers and race fans, and that commitment was evident when he built our facility in 1990. I am proud to have known Bob. It was a true pleasure to have spent time getting to know him and learning from him over the years. He will be missed, but his legacy of supporting and building motorsports in New England will live on forever.

David McGrath, Exec. VP & GM of New Hampshire Motor Speedway

Bahre was inducted into the Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2004 along with NEAR Hall of Fame back in 2009 and the Maine Sports Hall of Fame in 2017. Bahre was the Grand Marshall in 2019 Oxford 250.

The funeral for Bob Bahre will be held this upcoming Wednesday at Oxford Plains Speedway at 1 p.m. Face coverings will be required and social distancing measures will take place.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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