Rene Charland, a member of both the New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame and the DIRT Hall of Fame passed away Monday.
Charland was 84.
Charland’s racing career began at the former Riverside Park Speedway in his hometown of Agawam, Mass. in 1949. Charland retired from racing in 1984 after running at Fonda (N.Y.) Speedway.
It is estimated that Charland, affectionately known as “The Champ”, won over 700 races during his career. He won four NASCAR National Sportsman championships from 1962-65.
As a member of the barnstorming group knowns as the Eastern Bandits, Charland won championships at an array of short tracks across the Northeast and Canada. He won Sportsman titles at Stafford Motor Speedway in 1961 and 1962.
Charland once finished third behind David Pearson and Richard Petty in what is NASCAR’s top level Grand National division in an event in Fonda, N.Y. in 1966. He had nine career Grand National starts from 1964-71, the division now essentially known as the Sprint Cup Series.