July 10, 2010

Remembering Blackie

1st Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame included Hilliard, 12-time champ at Unity

By Bill Stewart
Staff Writer


click image to enlarge

QUITE A RIDE: In this 2005 photo, Blackie Hilliard poses with a replica version of the 1938 he raced to fame in. Hilliard, who won 12 track championships at Unity Raceway, passed away Tuesday.

Staff file photo by Andy Molloy

Staff Writer

Unity Raceway will honor Leonard "Blackie" Hilliard with a moment of silence Saturday before racing begins at 5:30 p.m.

Hilliard, who was part of the Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame's inaugural induction class in 2004, died Tuesday.

He was 84.

"He was a very tough racer in his day," said George Fernald Jr., who leases the track from Ralph Nason. "He was a tough guy to beat. Racing was in his heart. He just loved it. I gave him a lifetime pass at the track."

Hilliard won 12 track championships at Unity and ran his last competitive stock car race in 1964, when he suffered a fractured skull as a result of a horrific crash.

Dave Darveau, 73, of Whitefield, raced with Hilliard in what was then the open wheel modified division. Darveau, whose son David Jr. races at Unity, said he a developed a close friendship with Hilliard.

"We always had good racing with each other," he said. "We had good respect for each other. He always gave you your lane. He was quite a boy. We raised some hell together. We always had a good time."

Darveau began racing in the late 1950s and sold his last car "about 10 years ago."

"I raced 40 years, mostly at Wiscasset and Unity," he said. "But I went all over, down south and lots of places."

Hilliard owned Hilliard's Garage in Manchester for more than 35 years. In the last few years, Hilliard enjoyed bringing his restored 1938 Hudson Terraplane coupe to Unity, Fernald said.

"We'd have championship old timer appreciation nights, and we brought him there," Fernald said. "He brought his car and you could tell it was the highlight of his year."

Added Nason: "He was a legend back in the day."

News of Hilliard's death began circulating around the tracks this week, and some drivers heralded the driver as a pioneer.

"I didn't know him that well, but he accomplished so much," Farmingdale native and four-time Pro All Stars Series North champ Johnny Clark said. "He got the ball rolling at Unity. It was pretty cool what he did in the 1950s and 1960s."

* * *

The good news for Scott Chubbuck is that he's fifth in points on the PASS North tour.

The bad news?

"I'm not going for points," the Dresden driver said. "We took out only eight races.

"Things are not going so good right now."

Chubbuck has one top-five finish in his five PASS North races. He plans to be at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway on Saturday, when the PASS North tour makes its second of three stops at the Scarborough track this season.

Chubbuck finished eighth last weekend in the Firecracker 150 at Canaan Fair Speedway in Canaan, N.H. He didn't finish a PASS race June 26 at Unity.

"We got run into on lap 6 at Unity and we parked it by lap 70," Chubbuck said. "And then going eighth last weekend, it's not what we wanted."

* * *

Beech Ridge is one of the trickiest tracks he's ever raced, Clark said.

"It's a hit or miss track for everyone," said Clark, who finished sixth at Beech Ridge in the PASS North season opener in May.

"Hopefully, we'll hit it. Momentum has been on our side, but I haven't seen any track that is as weather sensitive as Beech Ridge."

Clark added that the track changes dramatically from the heat races to the feature.

"You have to stay on top of it before the track changes," he said. "If I could ever figure it out, we'd all go good there. If you don't stay on top of it, it could be a long, miserable day for you."

Clark last won at Beech Ridge in September 2008.

"We haven't figured it out yet either," said Ben Rowe, who snapped Clark's PASS North win streak at three last weekend at Canaan, N.H.

"Beech Ridge is hit or miss for me. We're either really good there or really bad there. We haven't figured it out."

* * *

Left turns: Pete McCollett, of Readfield, is second in points (428) in the Mini Stock division at Wiscasset. Rob Greenleaf, of West Bath, leads with 534. ... Chelsea native Dan Nesmith trails only Ian Bresnahan in points in the Strictly Street division at Wiscasset. ... Brian Hoar, of Williston, Vt., leads the American-Canadian Tour with 473 points. Eddie MacDonald, the reigning TD Bank 250 champion, won both ACT races at Oxford Plains Speedway this season.

Bill Stewart -- 623-3811, ext. 515

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