Modified Racing Great Bob Potter Dies

Bob Potter (Photo: Shawn Courchesne/RaceDayCT)

Bob Potter, a former championship winning Modified driver at multiple Connecticut short tracks, died Wednesday in Norwich.

Potter was 78 years old. 

Potter was a multi-time SK Modified champion at Stafford Motor Speedway and had championships in the former Modified division and current SK Modified division at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. 

Norwich Police reported that Potter had a medical emergency while driving Tuesday in Norwich. Potter’s daughter Ginny posted on Facebook Tuesday that Potter had a heart attack while driving.

Potter’s achievements behind the wheel of race cars between Stafford Motor Speedway and the New London-Waterford Speedbowl earned him a place in the New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame.

He won five SK Modified championships at Stafford and ranks seventh all-time on the track’s SK Modified win list with 24 career victories. His last win at the track came in 1999. He won titles in the division in 1988, ’91, ’92, ’94 and ’95.

At Waterford Potter won six track titles, three in the former Modified division (1976, ’80 and ’83) and three in the SK Modified division (1986, ’87 and ’89). His 94 career victories rank him fourth all-time overall at Waterford. He’s second all-time in the former Modified division with 59 victories from 1965-84. He ranks fifth all-time in the SK Modified division with 29 victories from 1985-96. He also has five wins in the track’s old Bomber division from 1963-65 and one Late Model win at the track in 1983.

Potter walked away from full-time competition in 1999 but returned to the track regularly in 2012 as the driver of the two-seat ride-along Modified at Stafford Speedway. Since 2012 Potter had been taking fans for rides in the two-seater Modified during practice, heat races and features during event at Stafford Speedway. He he stepped away from driving the car in June in preparation for a medical procedure. 

In an interview for the Unmuffled podcast in July 2018 Potter talked about his love for getting behind the wheel in the two-seat Modified at Stafford.

“I still love it,” Potter said. “That’s why I do it. And I’m trying to help the track out. Giving people a good ride and making everybody happy, that’s what it’s all about.”

Potter was inducted into the New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame in 2007. In 2016 he was inducted into his hometown’s Norwich Sports Hall of Fame.

“It’s like the icing on the cake for me,” Potter said at the time. “They never had race car drivers in it, I was the first [racer honored by the Norwich Sports Hall of Fame] in 1994 because some of the guys on the committee said ‘Hey, racing is a big sports so we’ve got to get some racers in this.’ I love Norwich. Norwich was dying for years and years and we kept Norwich alive with the Freddy’s TV car and everything. I was the only part of Norwich that was still kind of active. I’m so proud. … It makes me feel good.”

Norwich police responded to a crash on West Town Street in Norwich Tuesday involving multiple vehicles.

According to the Norwich police, witnesses said Potter “appeared to be having a medical emergency” and lost control of his pickup truck.

Potter’s vehicle struck several other vehicles and a school bus before coming to a stop at the Global Gas Station on West Town St. Potter was the only person injured in the crash.

Bob Potter with his daughter Ginny for a two-seat Modified ride at Stafford (Photo: Shawn Courchesne/RaceDayCT)
Bob Potter and Keith Rocco at Stafford Speedway (Photo: Shawn Courchesne/RaceDayCT)
Bob Potter and Dick Ceravolo at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl (Photo: Shawn Courchesne/RaceDayCT)
Dick Berggren and Bob Potter at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Photo: Shawn Courchesne/RaceDayCT)
Bob Potter at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl (Photo: Shawn Courchesne/RaceDayCT)
Bob Potter with his daughter Ginny in the two-seat Modified at Stafford Speedway (Photo: Shawn Courchesne/RaceDayCT)

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  1. steve georgiades says

    Bob Potter touched so many lives in our racing circle – Will be missed always.
    Thanks for the memories Bob RIP #51

  2. Scott Cowden says

    Man, what a brutal week for Northeast Racing Legends….. 🙁

  3. Lynda Lamothe says

    Great times, great memories.

  4. Angelo Cerase says

    Great man and Driver I will miss him.

  5. Steff LaFlash says

    He was a force to be reckoned with and will be sorely missed by the racing community. RIP, Bob.

  6. One the best drivers to watch and such a cool nice guy. He will will be missed R.I.P. Bob

  7. donald super says

    r.i.p. bob,i will miss your visits to my trailer,you are truely the best

  8. Jeff William says

    He was the guy who showed up out of nowhere with 5 to go and made you pay attention. After his driving days, I was fortunate to know Bob as a close family friend. Very sad to know we won’t be talking racing when I come back to CT. RIP Potter

  9. Jeff Williams says

    He was the guy who showed up out of nowhere with 5 to go and made you pay attention. After his driving days, I was fortunate to know Bob as a close family friend. Very sad to know we won’t be talking racing when I come back to CT. RIP Potter

  10. david sylvester says

    Sorry to see you go Bob, you were one of a kind, we will always miss you, Race in peace # 51

  11. BrendaLee Street says

    R.I.P. Bob I hope my father Roger Bonville has a car ready for you when you get to heaven You will truly be missed by the racing family Always loved your smile

  12. So sad to hear this news. Bob was a true legend at the Speedbowl. Thoughts with his family and his many, many fans. RIP!

  13. We loose another legend of the racing community Bob Potter. My best memories of Bob include his days behind the wheel of the Roger Bonville and Jiggs Beetham rides. R.I.P. Bob we will never forget you!

  14. Nels wohlstrom says

    So sad to hear. Bob was one hell of a racer and a down to earth guy. Many memories of watching bob at the speedbowl in the 70s and 80s. Rest in peace Bob. Prayers for ginny , bob and family.

  15. Watched him since I was a kid with his legendary passes off turn 4 for the win. He will be missed.

  16. Sandy Violette says

    I’m so sorry to hear this. Condolences to his family and friends and may you RIP Bob.

  17. So sad to hear another great driver has passed he was a gentleman RIP Bob we will all miss you God bless you my friend my sympathies to the family

  18. Didn’t follow Potter’s career at the Speedbowl but when he came to Stafford to race in the SK’s his reputation preceded him and he didn’t disappoint. They were rough and tumble days with a couple young studs named Christopher plus Gunning and others bumping and grinding.every Friday night.. Potter always seemed to avoid the drama and next thing you know he’s taking the checkered flag. Late 80’s to mid 90’s no one was better then Potter at Stafford and he did it so elegantly. That’s my recollection anyway.

  19. A amazing man with a heart of gold. The greatest ride of my life was in that 2 seater and I know Bob loved giving that thrill to everyone who ever got the privilege to ride with him. Week in and week out, he did it for free; only the track got paid. You’ve earned your wings Bob. RIP Prayers for Ginny, Bob Jr. and all his family and friends.

  20. Not much could beat going for a ride in the 2-seater on your birthday!
    Nascar flag should be at half staff this weekend at Loudon.

  21. Bob was a great competitor, and also a great guy. He will be missed

  22. Jeffrey Smolen says

    Rest in peace number 51, nobody lit up the back stretch and the front stretch like Bob did at the Waterford Speedbowl. My friends and I would go and we would paint our chests 51 in hopes that he would dominate the race and of course win. Trust me the majority of the time he won, a true legend and a true champion. Our deepest sorrows go out to his wife Dale and children

  23. William G Brown SR says

    Many nights my children and i enjoyed watching Bob later in life a good friend R.I.P

  24. Steven woodward says

    He was related to my mother.we went to Waterford back in the early 70 ties to watch him race.all I remember was number 20 and the checker flag paint bob

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