Father Time: Bob Potter An Entertainer For The Ages In Connecticut Short Track Racing

Bob Potter (Photo: Fran Lawlor)

Today we look back in remembrance of Connecticut short track racing great Bob Potter, who passed away on Sept. 18, 2019

Column republished from RaceDayCT from Sept. 19, 2020

They are the men and women that pilot vehicles built from the first piece in the hopes of finding speed and domination of the competition. 

They strap themselves into rides that they know could very well cost them their lives.  And yet, they jam the accelerator and put on a show. 

They are the performers that have for decades made short track racing a staple of local entertainment in nearly every corner of the country. 

And they are the people that often prove to be lifelong heroes for many of the devotees that so loyally cheer them on. 

Bob Potter was one of those people. A winner on the track, an entertainer behind the wheel and an individual that cultivated a fan base with a foundation built on enamored devotion. 

In most instances for the heroes of short track racing at every level, time catches up on competitive ability. So many of the heroes of the track have to come to grips with the fact that it’s time to walk away. 

Those drivers transition in many different directions. Some walk away from the sport entirely. Many became fixtures in the pits or the grandstands, continuing to revel in their local fame and admiration away from competition. 

Few though get to transition from competitor to entertainer in quite the unique and timeless way Bob Potter had the opportunity to do at Stafford Speedway.

The Connecticut short track racing scene lost a great of Modified racing and an immense ambassador for the sport with the passing of Potter on Wednesday

And local racing lost a man who also reveled in his opportunity to give local fans an inside look at the sport the likes of which would be hard to find or experience anywhere else across the grassroots of the industry. 

Potter spent decades as an ultra-successful competitor at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl and Stafford Motor Speedway. He gathered up a total of 11 championship titles in the premier divisions of the two tracks over his reign. He walked away from full-time competition in 1999 to care for his cancer stricken brother Wayne. 

In 2012 though he got back behind the wheel of a Modified, but it wasn’t to compete, but rather to truly entertain. After years of being the show on the track, Potter jumped at the opportunity to be the one to put fans in the show with the introduction of Stafford Speedway’s two-seat Modified. 

The new concept gave fans at the track the opportunity to buy laps riding shotgun in a Modified with a Modified racing great – Potter – behind the wheel. 

And from the 2012 season up until this past June Potter delighted in his role at Stafford with the two-seat Modified. 

And the beauty of Potter in that role wasn’t just that fans got the chance to say they rode in a Modified at speed on track at Stafford with him, but that he made them feel like they were the most important person at the track when they did it. 

Anyone who has been around racing knows that the ranks of drivers run the gamut of personalities, from the gregarious and playful to the ever-grumpy and everything else in between. 

Potter was the man who was a talker. He talked about the racing today, he spun tales of racing of the past, he talked about the racing at the uppermost levels of the sport right down to the lowest levels at the short track. And he knew everyone. If there was a tale to be told he was the one to tell it. And he gave fans who signed up for rides the same treatment he gave his racer friends.

A welcoming and gracious storyteller who made them feel a part of the show even before they got on the track with him. 

And ultimately he gave them a ride they likely would never forget. 

Talk to drivers at any level of racing for long enough and you’ll hear them say how it’s hard to put into words exactly how it feels to be running at speed on a race track. 

That speed and desire to find it and turn it into victories on the track was a passion that drove Potter for decades in competition. 

And while that immense success in competition is so much of what defines the racer he was, a large part of his lasting legacy to Connecticut short track racing is that in retirement he was the lucky soul who got to take his passion and let regular people truly understand what that appetite for speed felt like when the wheels were in motion and the gas pedal was jammed.  

Connecticut short track racing is better today for all that Potter brought to it, in both phases of his career. 

The New London-Waterford Speedbowl will host the inaugural Bob Potter SK Modified Memorial 102 on Saturday


  1. Viva race fan says

    Amen , Miss him at all the local tracks . The smell of cigar and his smile. Must be 1 heck of a race in heaven . Missing the greats .

Leave a Reply

Copyright 2018 E-Media Sports

Website Designed by Thirty Marketing