NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Driver Wade Cole Killed In Accident

Wade Cole (Photo: Jim DuPont/RaceDayCT)

Multiple sources have confirmed that longtime NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour driver Wade Cole was killed in an accident at his home Sunday. 

Cole was 67 years old. 

“Just an absolutely great guy that you always looked forward to seeing pull through the gate,” NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour series director Jimmy Wilson told RaceDayCT. “I’m just absolutely shocked.” 

Cole was also the First Selectman in the town of Hartland, CT

Cole had competed with the Whelen Modified Tour since its first season in 1985. He started at least one race every season with the series besides 1986. 

Overall Cole made 371 Whelen Modified Tour starts since 1985. He had a career best 11th place finish in the series standings in 2017.

Cole started all 16 Whelen Modified Tour events on the schedule in 2019.

Multiple sources indicate that Cole was killed while working on his race car late Sunday.

His familiar No. 33 car was not known for being near the front of the field often, but Cole was revered among those on the Whelen Modified Tour for his dedication to the series and Modified racing.

Cole was a throwback, rolling into the track for each event with his car on a flatbed truck. He typically went to events with a very limited crew.

“My team and I are extremely saddened by the news of Wade’s passing,” six-time and reigning Whelen Modified Tour champion Doug Coby told RaceDayCT. “Wade taught all of us that above everything else, racing is supposed to be fun, and his dedication to our series was unmatched. No matter how his day was going, Wade always had a smile and kind words for everyone in the pit area. The Modified Tour will not be the same without him.”

He was a second generation driver, who grew up working on his father’s cars. He began racing in 1972.

“I used to drive a little crazy on the road and now that I drive the race car I pretty much drive real slow,” Cole told reporter Denise DuPont for the Chrome Horn website in 2010. “My wife tells me ‘Can you go a little faster?’ It’s not a thrill on the road. The thrill is driving on the race track with the people that are here. the fans and the little kids that are here.”

Cole had seven top-10 finishes over his Whelen Modified Tour career. His 371 career starts ranks eighth all-time on the Whelen Modified Tour.

“Wade was a part of the backbone of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour,” Wilson said. “Always had a smile on his face, hard working, had fun and happy to be at the race track. Wade will truly be missed by all. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Wade’s family, friends, race team and fans during this very difficult time.”


  1. Stuart Fearn says

    Terrible news for the racing community. Wade was quite possibly the most committed owner and driver in the entire history of the modified Tour if you think about it. Rest In Peace

  2. 😢

  3. James Scott says

    So sad. Wade was a great guy and will be missed by many.

  4. What the heck is going on. Wade Cole. Say it ain’t so.
    Besides family Hartland is taking the biggest hit. Small towns elect people the know and trust. Cole was at the back of the field in NWMT races but he’s been the leader in Hartland forever.

  5. Shocking news. So sad. He will be greatly missed.

  6. This is horribly sad news. I used to tell people that Wade Cole was one of the bravest people in racing after he got back into a race car following that awful Riverside Park accident with resulting fire. I used to call him “Mr. Riverside” when I’d see him at the track. The last couple of years at the fall finals I’d tell him “make sure you get next year’s give away photos printed. He’d just laugh and wouldn’t answer me if he was coming back the following season. God Speed Wade. You are going to be greatly missed.

  7. Fast Eddie says

    Thoughts and prayers to the Cole family. I always rooted for him to have a good run. In my view he was the consummate “little guy” out there, doing the best he could with what he had. Godspeed Wade!

  8. Sad to hear of this news. As noted Wade was not always near the front and sometimes did not qualify for a race but I was a fan of Wade Cole and always rooted for him to do well. No doubt about it he will run well in Heaven.

  9. Rick Martin says

    Sad day in racing, never met Wade but always respected his never quit attitude, Race in peace my friend, Prayers to his family, God Bless

  10. Wade was truly one of a kind whether you are talking about him as a boss, race car owner and driver, First Selectman of the Town of Hartland, a boss, or a man. He put all of his effort into everything he did. It seemed that he had more energy to fulfill his commitments than The Energizer Bunny. His heart was big and he cared about everyone — their joys or their needs. The vacuum is immense with his passing.

  11. Tom Massaro says

    One of the truly good guys always friendly and with a smile. Never too busy to talk to RIP Wade🙏🏁🙏

  12. A true racer does it for the love of the sport, not the wins of races. People like Wade are the heart and soul of racing, and he was the best. Always a smile and a kind word. Gave many younger races a chance to drive a Tour Mod in the 38 car. He will be greatly missed. RIP Wade.

  13. He may not have been the fastest, didn’t have the best equipment, but Wade Cole always had a smile. He had personality, and was never too busy to stop and chat with you. He will be sadly missed. My thought and prayers go out to the Cole family, their friends and Wade’s team.

  14. Wade was just at my house this past Friday, I am numb that he is gone. A man with a big heart that would help anybody, no matter what. The male members of my family have a long history with loud, fast machines starting with my dad running the New England circle tracks in the 50’s as a owner/driver, myself, my son repeatedly winning in autocross & nationals and now my grandson. To all of Wade’s racing family used to winning and losing, this is an incomprehensible loss.
    I can’t imagine anyone not instantly liking Wade the moment they met him, just had that kind of affect on folks. This is really hard news for the Town of Hartland, Wade wore a lot of hats and will truly be missed by all.
    Tom Kean
    Hartland Resident

  15. getserious says

    Sad to lose a fixture of New England racing . Who else was still racing after 50 years? Each year it was nice to know he was still there behind the wheel, making the rest of us who have been around all that time somehow feel younger and that age is just a number, as they say.
    It’s also a grim reminder that working alone can be a dangerous place to be. Wade will be missed but remembered strongly and fondly.

  16. When you think of passion for racing his name came up first, He did it for the love of the sport and nothing else. He will be missed.

  17. My prayers go out to the Cole family. You will be missed. RIP Wade……

  18. I agree with Bob P, One of the most dedicated drivers, He knew his chances of winning were slim to none. But he made every race and that damn car never broke. He finished just about every race! Always was pleasent to talk too. It sucks. he really loved racing.. He will be missed! Always hoped some how he could pull a rabbit out of the hat and win one. Too Bad It Never Happened! R..I.P. Wade. Godspeed!

  19. I’ve known Wade forever. Friends with his crew, car owners, everyone. The man epitomized the term “Racer” to me and all that knew him. We helped with tire takeoffs and scuffs all along, to keep his costs down. Not one of my owners had a problem with that. I always wished that a major owner would give him a shot in top notch equipment, because Wade would have done well. Wade was respected in every circle, and he helped many get a start in racing. I am totally decimated at his loss, and my deepest condolences to his crew , friends, and family. He was “the old school guy” that all of us looked up to. No better example of dedication or heart could ever be found. R.I.P. m,y friend, thank you for the memories.

  20. Ms. Carole Ann Robinson II says

    I am the daughter of Charley’s Radiator who sponsored Wade starting from 1985 for many years, our garage painted his cars had them lettered he was our friend and we loved him. Wonderful Man! RIP Wade

  21. Don weigand says

    Miss the smile already !!!!!!!!!

  22. Steve Holton says

    Like Mike Joy, I first met Wade in the pits at The Park in 1970 and have liked him immensely ever since. I was in a state of absolute shock when my son-in-law called me Monday morning at 9:30 saying he had heard the news from Dale Evonsion. It made me sick to hear We had lost Wade. Wade was the NICEST person in racing. He exemplified The Best Racing has to offer, A True Love of the Sport and All Those Involved In It! Race In Peace, my friend, You will be missed for the rest of the race of our lives Stevie

  23. One of biggest questions going into 2020 for me was whether or not Wade was going to haul out to Iowa. Does anyone know what his intentions were regarding Iowa?

  24. I am shocked and very saddened to hear of Wade’s passing. His father, Walt, built some of the old coupes that my dad, Jerry Humiston, drove at the Park in the old days. I remember going to the Coles in the late ’50s with my parents. I am forever grateful that I finally caught up and visited with Wade at New Hampshire International Speedway one summer when he was racing his modified #33 and I was with the media. He will be missed by his family, racing colleagues, his town, the media and his fans. With sincere sympathy, CIndy Humiston Weed

  25. I am shocked and saddened to learn of Wade’s passing. My dad, Jerry Humiston, drove some of his father’s (Walt ) race cars in the good old days at Riverside Park. I still remember going to the Coles in the late 50’s with my family. I am extremely fortunate to have finally caught up with and visited Wade at New Hampshire International Speedway one summer when he was driving the #33 on the modified tour and I was with the media. He will certainly be missed by all who knew him. Most sincerely, Cindy Humiston Weed

  26. I hope there will be a tribute(s) of sorts at the Icebreaker and Sizzlers. A #33 car on display, parade laps, and perhaps act as an honorary pace car.

  27. Agree with you Dareal. There should be some sort of tribute to Wade, at both tracks. Wade was such a nice guy. There’s that old saying ” nice guys always finish last ) well, that may be true, but Wade did it with a smile on his face. Like many others I always rooted for him. He is the ultimate definition of the word RACER. His never quit attitude inspired so many drivers as well as owners, some of which went on to have great success. He will be sadly missed when the command to start engines is given. I hope out of respect to him, NASCAR retires his number from modified competition, after over 50 years in the sport, I think it’s the right thing to do. Just my opinion.

  28. Easily….the nicest guy at the track…. gentleman, and a role model to all… Incredible passion for racing…Rooted for him…he was the ultimate professional….RIP

  29. Patrick Delaney says

    Wade will always be a legend, and too soon at that. Is there anything we can share to bring some awareness to the accident that caused his death? With the potential of preventing the loss of others?

  30. Very sad to hear of Wade’s passing, always a constant with the tour. IMO, it would be nice to see a owner//driver like a Keith Rocco or Todd Owen drive Wade car for the 2020 season

  31. Enfield Race Fan says

    I’m hoping that Wade is seeing all these postings from heaven and seeing what he meant to everyone who knew him or watched him race. Good speed Wade Cole. You’ll be greatly missed.

  32. I Agree, Wade Deserves Some Kind Of Tribute!! No Doubt!!

  33. Jay Jackson says

    Was looking at the modified schedule and saw a Wade Cole memorial race. I was shocked to see that, I live in Texas now and had not heard of his passing. I always rooted Wade on. I was at the Riverside race and amazed when he returned. I met Wade at S.J’s house many years ago. Nice guy! Love the grass roots!

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