“Big” Bob O’Rourke, Ray Bouchard And Bob Finan To Be Inducted To Riverhead Cromarty Wall Of Champions Aug. 17

(Press Release from Riverhead Raceway)

Riverhead Raceway owners Connie Partridge and Tom Gatz announced on Friday three 2024 inductees who’ll be enshrined on the Cromarty Wall of Champions Saturday August 17th during an on-track ceremony. The 2024 inductees will be unique as it’s the first time since inception none of the three are being enshrined for driving or owning race cars. “Big” Bob O’Rourke longtime NASCAR chief steward and race director, Ray Bouchard, award winning crew chief and Bob Finan, former announcer and public relations director will be inducted prior to the Baldwin, Evans & Jarzombek 77 race program.

For five decades “Big” Bob O’Rourke of Glen Cove oversaw all NASCAR sanctioned racing on Long Island, whether at Islip Speedway, Freeport Stadium or Riverhead Raceway.  Bob would position himself on the ramp of all three tracks, ruling with an iron fist with a black flag curled up in his hand for backup. Once O’Rourke felt it was time to pass the on-track officiating to others, he remained a race director and in later years the general manager at Riverhead.  

Aside from being a driving force on the Island, O’Rourke played a major role in Modified racing on the Eastern Seaboard. It was Bob that was in charge of the All Star Racing League during its heyday with O’Rourke also the Gerber families right hand man for the annual Race of Champions fall classic for the Modifieds. Bob also tried his hand at race promotion with the Dog Leg 200 events at Trenton Speedway. While tough when needed, “Big” Bob loved his Modifieds and those who competed with them and would offer advice to anyone who asked, or he thought needed it. At every turn of his racing career Bob was accompanied by his wife Martha working every event. Together they considered the racers family, many referred to Martha as “Ma” 

If races are truly won at the race shop, not on the track, then Ray Bouchard possess the most successful shop in Long Island racing history. Starting with “Dynamite” Dan Turbush in the Charger division, Bouchard has overseen 191 feature event wins and 15 track championships for the Turbush clan. After Dan was finished winning five Charger and 1 Late Model titles, “Uncle” Ray then steered the racing ship for his nephews Chris and Roger. The brothers rewarded Ray with another 99 wins and 7 track championships between them. Then along comes the third-generation driver under Ray stewardship in Dan’s grandson Mark Stewart who added 25 wins and 2 Super Pro Truck championships to Ray’s portfolio. 

Ray Bouchard was recognized nationally when he won the Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series Craftsman Tool Mechanic of the Year on two occasions. Ray resides in Riverhead and remains active in Turbush Racing.

Bob Finan will be inducted for his 47-year career as an announcer and public relations person. Finan started his racing journey with the Long Island Mini Modifieds. Bob, who now calls Dunedin, Florida home credits four men from the Mini’s for pushing him, “Joe Santiago, Joe Aragona, Jack Scott & Dan Meservey, they started the ball rolling” Finan called his first Mini Modified race in 1975 at Riverhead under the watchful eye of Tom Galan. It was in 1979 that Barbara & Jim Cromarty took notice of Bob asking him to expand his career to Islip Speedway. As a kid who grew up at Islip, Finan could hardly contain himself. Bob continued his career until the completion of the 2022 race season at Riverhead Raceway. 

“First, a big thank you to Connie Partridge Tom Gatz and John Ellwood for this honor. I know my longtime partner Stephen Halpin drove this effort, I truly appreciate it, we will have to see who cries first August 17th” Finan stated. “Those who know me best know, I always felt the Cromarty Wall of Champions was only for drivers and owners. I always felt if any non-driver goes up first, it should be Bob O’Rourke” Bob pulled back the curtain. “When the idea of my going up on Barbara & Jim’s wall on the same night as Bob, my thinking changed, it really is a perfect storm”.

After the Cromarty Wall of Fame induction, the business at hand August 17th will be the running of the Baldwin, Evans & Jarzombek 77 NASCAR Modified event. Kyle Ellwood of Riverhead is the defending winner of the 77, a victory that propelled him to the 2023 Crown Jewel Series championship and the Ted Christopher Cup. Complimenting the program are the Eagle Chevrolet Crate Modifieds. Super Pro Trucks, INEX Legend Race Cars, Eddie Partridge Vintage All Stars and a Truck Enduro. 

for all 2024 events please visit http://www.riverheadraceway.com, emails reach us at [email protected], the phone number remains 631-842-RACE. 

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