A Man Who Could Be Easily Called "Dean of Northeast Racing"


Courtesy of Cho Lee

George Barber, later on in his career, with his car at Bear Ridge Speedway.

     It is presumptuous for me to try and write up a bio on George Barber. 1.) there is far too much about him to put in one web page; and 2.) Cho Lee would have far more knowledge on George than I. But, I don't have Cho and Cho doesn't run a web page, so here I go.
     George Barber, proprietor of Bradford Auto Parts in the Connecticut Valley town of Bradford, Vermont, started getting involved in Vermont - area stock car racing practically at its inception in the early 1950's. Photos of Barber's familiar cream-colored flathead Ford coupes began to surface in state newspapers at such tracks as West Brattleboro, Stateline, and maybe even Pico. I am sure he also tried the Cheshire Fairgrounds, in Keene, New Hampshire and maybe Rhythm Inn near Millers Falls, Massachusetts.

 


Barber Collection Courtesy
of Cho Lee
The original Barber coupe, probably with Piper, overheats at West Brattleboro

Barber Collection Courtesy
of Cho Lee
The original Barber coupe,
with Piper or Forsythe, is chased by Steve Danish
at Stateline.

Les King Photo
Barber Collection Courtesy
of Cho Lee
Barber, Forsythe, and crew
pose with Cokes in
Victory Lane at some
1950's N.Y. track.
 
Source Unknown
An early
Barber car, at
speed on an unfamiliar track.
I don't recognize the stands.
 
  
Courtesy of 8MM Footage
From Bud Brooks

An early
Barber car, at
the old Fairmont Park
Motor Speedway in Fair
Haven, VT in 1951.


     George's first driver of his original team [#46] was Stub Piper. There are pictures of Stub at some of the previously - mentioned tracks in the early 1950's, which suggests George was not afraid to range quite a ways from home in search of the best stock car competition. When Barber was starting, the races at Cheshire Fairgrounds were being starred at - and sometimes run by - a good - looking driver named Pappy Forsythe. After a bit, Forsythe got on board with Barber and began a long run of driving the #46. One picture shows Forsythe [or possibly Piper] chasing the legendary Steve Danish around Stateline Speedway in North Bennington, Vermont around 1954 or 5.

 


Barber Collection Courtesy
of Cho Lee
An early shot of George &
Pappy winning a race
at Stafford Springs, CT.

 

Marty Harty Collection
An early shot of
that fast and ratty
first car, involved in a wreck at
Claremont Speedway.

 
Charland Collection Courtesy
of Brad Charland
The early Barber team seemed to
have its share of scrapes. Here,
Forsyth returns to an old stomping grounds - Rhythm Inn - and plows
Rene Charland.

 
Courtesy of 8MM Footage
From Bud Brooks

An early
Barber car, at
the old Fairmont Park.
The car [no trunk lid]
heads off into Turn 1.
 
Courtesy of 8MM Footage
From Bud Brooks

An early
Barber car, at
Pico Raceway - next to
the Loomis P38.


     Forsythe and Barber were effective right away. Another shot from that same approximate time period shows Barber, Forsythe, and crew holding unopened bottles of Coca-Cola and being the apparent recipients of a championship feature win at [as George's caption puts it] "a New York track". That could have been Stateline or Granville's Mettawee Speedway, most likely. Eventually they would run closer to home. The Barber operation began to run some of the tracks in Colchester, Vt., at Northeastern Speedway in Lower Waterford, Vt., and - by 1960 - at Barre's Thunder Road.
     It was here that Barber added a second, nearly identical coupe #47 with the same graphics, driven by New Hampshire's Leland Ingerson, the eldest of four racing brothers. Barber's team was extremely successful at Barre and Northeastern, with Forsythe finally being replaced by Libero Buzzi's driver, Larry Granger. The team continued to make a name for itself until NASCAR came to T Road in 1965 and the flathead - engined pre- 1936 coupe were phased out.

 


Barber Collection Courtesy
of Cho Lee
Forsythe wins another
for Barber at
Thunder Road.

Barber Collection Courtesy
of Cho Lee
Lee Ingerson with
the second Barber car.

Barber Collection Courtesy
of Cho Lee
Lee Ingerson [left]|
joins brother, Doug
& Johnny Gammell
in T Road Victory Lane

Barber Collection Courtesy
of Cho Lee
George Barber's cars
at T Road:
Pappy Forsythe 46 &
Leland Ingerson 47

Barber Collection Courtesy
of Cho Lee
George Barber [right] and
Pappy Forsythe are
trophied at T Road around
1960.

 

   


     Disappointed, Barber was determined to save the flathead racing from extinction. As Northeastern was closing its doors, and T Road was out of reach, he took some land in the boondocks of his Bradford township and carved Bear Ridge Speedway out of the dense woods. Legend has it that track builders scared more than one bear from the site in the construction of the "Home of The Coupes', which eventually made its was onto the pages of Stock Car Racing magazine. As coupe racing was becoming more sophisticated at places like Airborne, Thunder Road, and Catamount, low - buck teams and lovers of the flathead racing engine flocked to Bear Ridge to run at the only place left for them.
     Barber ran the track until selling it to the Chuck Elms family. He actually fielded a flathead race car up into the 1970's. At 90, George is still living today. It completely escaped logic why he is not in the NEAR Hall of Fame. Hell, he should have been in the first class of nominees. He occasionally speaks with racing historians like Cho Lee, and has generously let Lee take some of his old trophies and other materials to help preserve racing history. My hat is off to George Barber - and pioneers like him.


NEAR Portrait Photo
George Barber.

McIver Portrait Photo
Barber Collection Courtesy
of Cho Lee
Pappy Forsythe,
the first of George's
drivers to be posed
for a portrait.

 


McIver Portrait Photo
Barber Collection Courtesy
of Cho Lee
Lee Ingerson's
McIver portrait.

 

McIver Portrait Photo
Barber Collection Courtesy
of Cho Lee
Larry Granger,
Pappy Forsythe's
replacement.

McIver Portrait Photo
Barber Collection Courtesy
of Cho Lee
Stub Piper, George's
first driver, had a
less formal portrait.
 
Courtesy of Barbeer
Collection

George
Barber car, at
home with son, Frank.

McIver Portrait Photo
Barber Collection Courtesy
of Cho Lee
Ray Coffin, Jr.,
the last of George's
drivers at Thunder Road.

Courtesy of M. LeFrancois
Forsythe, in a lineup
at Rutland's Pico
Raceway. [far left]

Barber Collection Courtesy
of Cho Lee
Barber watchers make a lot out
of the fact that this Lee Ingerson
[maybe the first ?] was the only
1932 Ford out of his fleet of
numerous 1934's.
 

     George Barber, unfortunately is such an unassuming man that he placed very little stock in the trophies and awards he had accomplished. Most of them were stored in an outbuilding, and shared their accommodations with chickens. So, many of the trophies' inscriptions are gone or unreadable. For example, we are not sure which is his most important ones. There is one, from a "Colchester-Bayview Speedway, for instance; and no one even know which Colchester track it was. Most agree it was probably Barcombs' track, near the Malletts Bay Drive - In.


Barber Collection Courtesy
of Cho Lee
One of the several trophies
made available from the
Barber Collection to Cho
Lee.

Barber Collection Courtesy
of Cho Lee
A 1955Trophy

Barber Collection Courtesy
of Cho Lee
A trophy from Colchester
Bayview Speedway.
 
Courtesy of Barber Collection
From Cho Lee

George with a Thunder
Road trophy.

 


Courtesy of Ken Paulsen
The Ingerson car looks like it had some spirited action the night before as the 46 car sits
in the relative safety of George Barber's garage. Check out how high that donut is on the driver's side.


Courtesy of Ken Paulsen
Junior Coffin poses with is old car at a recent Milk Bowl at Thunder Road.

 
Courtesy of Cho Lee
George
Barber, with a
later car, at his own
Bear Ridge Speedway.
 
Courtesy of Cho Lee
The last Barber car, at
Bear Ridge. It was driven
by Arnie Stygles to the track's
last flathead win.
 
Courtesy of Barber Collection
From Cho Lee

George with one of his
last cars.

MORE TO COME

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