Legendary Northeast Racing Pioneer Bob Bahre Dies



Bob Bahre (left) with NASCAR Cup Series driver Ryan Newman (right) in 2012 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Photo: Courtesy New Hampshire Motor Speedway)

New Hampshire Motor Speedway founder and legendary Northeast racing pioneer Bob Bahre died on Friday. 

Bahre, a Suffield, CT native and longtime Maine resident, was 93. 

Bahre founded New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon, N.H. in 1990 and was responsible for bringing NASCAR’s highest levels of racing to New England. The track’s name was changed to New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 2008 when Bahre sold the facility to Speedway Motorsports Inc. 

“What I’ll remember most about Bob Bahre will be his character, understated yet charming,” said Marcus Smith, president and CEO of Speedway Motorsports Inc. “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. ”

Said SMI executive chairman and founder Bruton Smith: “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.”

Before his time in Loudon, Bahre owned Oxford Plains Speedway in Oxford, Me. Bahre purchased Oxford Plains in 1964 and operated the track with his brother Dick until 1987. Bahre established the Oxford 250, long one of the country’s most legendary short track racing events annually. The event was launched as a 200-lap race in 1974 and became the Oxford 250 in 1975.

Bahre purchased the former Bryar Motorsports Park road course in Loudon, N.H and turned it into the 1.058-mile New Hampshire International Speedway oval. Bahre built New England’s first major motorsports facility without any commitment from NASCAR that he would get on their national series schedules. 

The track hosted its first second tier Xfinity Series event in 1990. The track got its first NASCAR Cup Series race in 1993 and secured a second date on the Cup Series schedule in 1997. 

“Bob left an incredible mark on auto racing through the New England region, and his love of motorsports was legendary,” New Hampshire Motor Speedway executive vice president and general manager David McGrath said. “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.”

Comments

  1. Condolences to the Bahre family. Bob will sadly be missed.

  2. David J Bamber says

    I always looked forward to getting a hand signed Christmas card signed by one of the Bahre’s personally. A real legend in New England in many ways other than just racing. RIP

  3. Ironic he passes with Loudon race up next. A good man. RIP.

  4. getserious says

    Now, there was a guy who couldn’t sit still. Good for him, and good for all race fans.

  5. Lori (red) G says

    I worked in checkerd flag restaurant for 6 years for Bob.He was always nice to me and we had a lot of laughs.He loved hearing about my pet pig.He was very worried about what I would do when I told him I was leaving but it wasnt the same after he sold.I thought about him often,he was a good man.RIP Bob you’ve earned it.

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