July 27th 2020
Racing Loses Maurice Petty & Bob Bahre
NASCAR Hall of Fame engine builder Maurice Petty and the man who brought NASCAR to New Hampshire, Bob Bahre, have passed away. Petty was 81, and Bahre was 93.
The Petty family announced the loss of Maurice Petty, who died peacefully on Saturday, July 25, 2020. Maurice, a stock-car racing pioneer whose career supplied the horsepower that propelled Petty Enterprises to victories, passed away surrounded by family earlier this morning. He was 81-years old.
Born in 1939 into the Petty’s of Level Cross, N.C., Maurice was a participant at track even before his teenage years, and would be part of his father’s three championships and 54 wins.
Chief engine builder at Petty Enterprises, Maurice was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2014. He was the first engine builder to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Brothers Richard and Maurice Petty comprised part of a Petty family dynasty that netted 198 victories and seven titles in the sport’s premier series. He built engines that roared, and was a talented mechanic and driver, an occasional crew chief and team general manager who became known in the garage simply as "Chief."
Maurice’s talent building engines secured his place in history – credited with 212 wins as an engine builder among six different drivers. In addition to Richard Petty, other drivers who won with his engines were Lee Petty, Buddy Baker, Jim Paschal and Pete Hamilton.
Maurice was the crew chief for Pete Hamilton for the 1970 DAYTONA 500 and the Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway victories. As a driver, Maurice had 26 NASCAR Cup Series starts with seven top-five and 16 top-10 finishes between 1960 and 1964.
He was preceded in death by Patricia, his wife of 52 years, in 2014.
Bahre, one of the visionary pioneers of auto racing in New England, built New Hampshire Motor Speedway and elevated it into the premier racing venue in the region. Under Bahre’s stewardship, the "Magic Mile" became a staple of the NASCAR’s regional series in the northeast.
"Bob Bahre’s passion and belief in NASCAR helped bring our sport to millions of New England fans over the last three decades," said NASCAR Chairman and CEO Jim France. "As founder of what is now New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Bahre’s bold vision helped set a tone for the sport’s national growth. Throughout his career, he was a trusted and valued voice in the industry, and will be greatly missed. My family and all of NASCAR extends its deepest condolences to Sandy, Gary and the entire Bahre Family."
Then known as New Hampshire International Speedway, the track was built on the old Bryar Motorsports Park and opened in June 1990.
The first NASCAR race was a combination event of what was then the NASCAR Busch Series (now NASCAR Xfinity Series) and NASCAR Busch North Series (now ARCA Menards Series East), won by Tommy Ellis on July 15, 1990.
New Hampshire held its first Cup Series race in July of 1993. From 1997 to 2017, NHMS hosted two Cup events per season. Jeff Burton and Kevin Harvick have four Cup wins apiece. Prior to the 2008 season, Bahre sold the track to Speedway Motorsports.
"He wanted to grow our sport and build things that people will remember," said Bruton Smith, Speedway Motorsports Executive Chairman. "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."
Said Marcus Smith, Speedway Motorsports President and CEO: "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. "