Former Modified Driver Bill Slater Dies

Legendary Modified driver Bill Slater passed away Sunday morning.

(Photo: New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame)

Slater, of Manchester, was 83. “Wild” Bill Slater, a Norwich native, began a 20-year career driving racecars in Lonsdale, R.I. in 1949. He was part of the inaugural class of the New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame in 1998.

Slater won championships at Stafford Motor Speedway, Thompson International Speedway and the Waterford Speedbowl. He won races at Stafford while the track was still dirt and also asphalt.

He was a 4-time champion at the old Norwood (Mass.) Arena and also. Slater scored victories up and down the East coast at some of the nation’s most legendary short tracks and also competed in Sportsman events at NASCAR’s highest levels. In 1960 he competed in the first World 600 at the then newly opened Charlotte Motor Speedway, sharing a ride that day with fellow Modified driver Ernie Gahan. The tandem recorded a 13th place finish in the event.

Slater was most recognized for driving the Vitari-Bombacci owned V8.

In later years he worked in a management capacity at Stafford Motor Speedway and Thompson International Speedway.

“He was a product of Modified’s golden ages of the 60’s when you had guys like Bugsy Stevens and Ed Flemke Sr., the guys we talk about with young kids here all the time,” said longtime motorsports journalist Peter Zanardi, a close friend of Slater. “He was really part of that. He won a lot of races. That V8 probably won over 100 races during a six years span in the 1960’s. He was the only New Englander to win at Langhorne and Trenton. And then later he was an important part of Modified racing at Stafford and Thompson.”

(Photo: New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame)

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