Jake Johnson Hopes To Honor Bugsy Stevens With Whelen Mod Tour Ole Blue Win At Seekonk

(Press Release from NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications)

Jake Johnson celebrates victory in the Whelen Modified Tour Granite State Derby on May 4 at Monadnock Speedway (Photo: Jim DuPont/RaceDayCT)

Growing up in Rehoboth, Massachusetts, Jake Johnson used to ride his bike to a small corner store near his home.

The interior of the establishment offered an array of products like food, drinks or household supplies. Johnson often found more, namely a man called Carl Berghman who frequented the store. Berghman was better known by his racing pseudonym, Bugsy Stevens.

“He was always there eating chicken,” Johnson recalled. “He would harass me every time I went in there. It was probably the only time I really got to meet him over and over again, at that corner store in town. He would see me and give me a hard time.

“He always had a lot of personality.”

Then a middle schooler, Johnson had no way to know he and Stevens would someday have much more in common than their hometown.

Stevens, who passed away on May 20 at the age of 90, made a name for himself racing Modifieds, winning countless track championships in the Northeast and three consecutive NASCAR Modified National Championships from 1967-69. He won many of his races and all three of his NASCAR championships driving the Boehler Racing Enterprises Ole Blue No. 3, which is widely considered the most legendary car to compete in NASCAR’s Modified division.

Fast-forward to 2024 and Johnson, now 21, races the same Ole Blue No. 3 full-time on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.

It’s appropriate, then, that the next race on the Modified Tour schedule takes place at Seekonk Speedway, the home track for both Johnson and Stevens, this Saturday night (8 p.m. ET on FloRacing).

“Everyone has heavy hearts — the whole team — because everyone was pretty close,” Johnson said. “The history of the No. 3 car is very related to Bugsy. We’re going to put his name on the car for Saturday’s race.”

Johnson and Stevens both have victories and championships at Seekonk on their resumes. Johnson is a two-time champion in the Legends car division at the third-mile oval. He’s also won races in the Late Model and Pro Stock divisions, giving him plenty of experience at the track.

In fact, Johnson made his first start in a Modified at Seekonk in 2021, an experience he said helped him get his foot in the door at Boehler Racing Enterprises a few years ago.

“It’s kind of like a homecoming for us, the whole team, really,” Johnson said. “The team is based out of Freetown (Massachusetts), and everyone’s home track is Seekonk. It’s pretty cool to go back to Seekonk. It’s a short drive, and there is a lot of history there with the No. 3 car. I always love going to Seekonk because I have so much seat time there. It’s a home away from home.”

In his first full Modified Tour season, Johnson is off to an incredible start. Through the first five races, he already has a victory at Monadnock Speedway and sits third in the championship standings behind perennial contenders Ron Silk and Justin Bonsignore.

The victory at Monadnock was notable because it was the first Modified Tour win for Boehler Racing Enterprises since 2017.

Johnson hopes to deliver another Ole Blue victory in Saturday’s J&R Precast 150 not just for himself, but for Stevens’ family, friends and fans.

“It would definitely be special (to win),” Johnson said. “There would be a lot of emotions in the pit area and within the team. Their roots are so deep at Seekonk, and so is Bugsy’s family and the No. 3 car, it’s all kind of smashed together.

“It’s going to be a really important race, but I’m not going to go into it overthinking it. I’m just going to go out and have a nice, smooth weekend at the race track and put on a good show.”

Seekonk Speedway and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will pay tribute to Stevens prior to Saturday’s J&R Precast 150. Following the conclusion of Mayhew Tools Dominator Pole Award qualifying, Stevens will be driven around Seekonk for one last ride in one of his old Modifieds.

Stevens’ family will be on hand, and teams and drivers are invited to line the speedway wall to honor the three-time NASCAR Modified National champion. This tribute to Stevens is expected to take place at approximately 5:45 p.m. ET.


  1. Suitcase Jake says

    This kid has all the Talent, There will not be a dry eye in the House….Weather looks Great !! Come on down …..79 and Sunny…

  2. Hope Jake can pull it off, that would be a fitting tribute to a true legend of the sport. Bugs was one of the most underrated successful drivers of his time, as well as a friendly guy. Years ago at Stafford, Kirby Monteith was driving the L21 for uncle Nick. He and Bugsy crashed hard in turn 1. They both ended up in the hospital overnight, and ended up in the same room. The next morning we went to pick Kirby up, and him and Bugsy were laughing up a storm. No hard feelings about the wreck, which destroyed both cars. Bugs was a true gentleman racer. He will be missed.

  3. Fast Eddie;
    I know not the same thread, but I did not realize how big of a deal the drags are up north this weekend, until I spoke to a buddy of mine.
    He has co-ownership of a business that has vip’s for that venue this weekend. He is a short track modified fan like me, and would there if not for the drags this weekend. It’s a really big deal, and I did not realize how big! After talking to him, I now get why you choose that over the palace this weekend. Well done. Have a great time!
    So tell me who to pull for, for you this weekend, and I will. (Unless the 3 out front lol!)
    My son and I are headed for turn 2 on sat, and suffice it to say, I’m all in on the 3. Stop by suitcase. Its time for me to get off the Flo and smell the fuel and rubber.
    Everyone enjoy!
    Rip bugman…..

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