BILL'S SOMEWHAT WEEKLY BLOG
Since I seem to have lost my forum, Mark Thomas' "Racin' Paper", I will apparently enter the 21st Century and start doing my column as a
blog. In certain times of the year, this may not be weekly; but I promise to keep it regular. Many of the site regulars have only been able to
get my columns via this site, anyway, and representing the very newspaper that was given out at Thunder Road gave me no press courtesies.
So, I might as well do it this way and reach some different readers. Let me know what you think. -Bill
Week of June 18, 2012
BILL'S BACK IN TIME
HAROLD HANAFORD: POSSIBLY THE MOST - TRAVELED
DRIVER OF THE EARLY ERA
Whenever discussing well – traveled stock car drivers of the early years of racing, I have tended to include Cropseyville, New York’s racing pioneer, Steve Danish [an owner – driver combo] and Bradford, Vermont’s George Barber, an owner, as people who seemed to appear at races over a far-flung area in the Northeast. Actually, no one may have outdone Barber, who traveled extensively with drivers starting with the young Bradford, Vermonter Stub Piper, going on through the immortal Roy “Pappy” Forsythe [who had barnstormed all over before joining Barber], Larry Granger, Lee Ingerson, Junior Coffin, and anyone other drivers I may have overlooked.
But, one of Barber’s regular competitors was also a man who seemed to appear at every track – especially in the Granite State. I had known Harold Hanaford, from Plymouth, NH, for years due to his successful participation at Thunder Road and at Northeastern Speedway. The more I have gotten into the research of racing in the Northeast, however, the more his name pops up.
Hanaford first purchased the potent George Hodgdon 280, proceeded to travel around, and won frequently.
[George Hill’s NH Stock Car Heroes Site Photo, via Scott Haskell]
Hana, as his name was painted on some of his cars, seems to have started out close to home, at the Plymouth fairgrounds track. With car re-painted and numbered 77, Hanaford roamed throughout New Hampshire and into the eastern reaches of Vermont. Whereas many of the tracks had primarily drivers from their immediate area, the barnstorming Hanaford became one of the first stars – sometimes welcome to a track and sometimes not. If he didn’t win at a new and unfamiliar track, he could be counted on to finish well, provided the locals did not gang up on him or sabotage the car. Both of those possibilities happened more often than you would think, according to Harold.
The 280 was now the winning 77 of Harold “Hot Rod” Hanaford. [Courtesy of R. Scott Haskell]
Just over the border in Boltonville, Vermont, was a little track that operated for a couple of years. The Je_Jo_Clin Raceway [named for the 3 guys with money in it] featured mostly neighbors, relatives, and anyone directly from the area who felt like giving it a try. In as story I received from one of the people who frequented the track, they were quick to point out that Harold Hanaford was “the only real star they had”. Doubtless, he probably appeared in the #77.
As information has been becoming available on the race track in West Lebanon, NH, it is very possible that Hanaford was there, as well. The track was owned and run by Pop Goodwin, and his son, Peanie was one of the track’s stars. The track roster included several of the names of drivers Hanaford had faced further North in the state: Charlie Jemery, Warren Randlett, Warren LeRoux, and Carroll Weeks, to name a few. One of the names among them was “Hot Rod Henerford”, which is likely Harold, slightly misspelled. Warren Randlett would appear in several photos of the Hanaford team in later years.
Anyone in the earlier years of Thunder Road got to have a McIver portrait photos taken.
This is Harold’s. By now, he is Hardluck Hanaford. [Courtesy of Cho Lee]
When a committee of men got together at the Ralston plant in St. Johnsbury, Vermont and formed one of the first safe and organized tracks – Northeastern Speedway, they were primarily running local cars at first. Then, the New Hampshire invaders started to arrive at the little fifth mile oval in Lower Waterford, VT. The track regulars, knowing they were standing to be outclassed, did not welcome these Granite Staters with open arms,
Harold tells of finding wires removed on his car, as well as receiving more than his share of nudges during the races on the tight-quartered little track. One time, he noticed a youngster who seemed to be alone with his car in the pits. The kid came limping into the pits with the drive shaft in disrepair. Harold put aside his own work and was the only one to help the young driver get his car back together with a shaft lent by Hanaford.
Harold with the famous #30 now restored and owned by Paul Zampieri. This particular
shot was taken at Northeastern Speedway. [Source Unknown]
“Then he goes out in the feature and beats me”, laughs Harold. But that probably did a lot to ease him into the fraternity of the Northeastern track than anything. When the new Thunder Road International Speedbowl opened up in Barre, Vermont in 1960, Hanaford was one of the early success stories, then driving a #30 car against many of the same drivers he had faced at Northeastern. There were even a few still surviving from those early fifties tracks in New Hampshire, like the Franklin Motordrome, Hurricane Road, the Gilford Speedway, the 106 Midway track, and others.
Somehow, unbeknownst to Harold, he was nicknamed “Hardluck” Hanaford by the publicity – conscious Thunder Road track announcer and part owner, Ken Squier. Hanaford, and most of his entourage, thinks he was quite successful and quite fortunate with the career he had, but the nickname was alliterative and attention – grabbling – so it stuck. Hanaford actually won two out of the first three Milk Bowls at Thunder Road [while winning a total off our legs of the races], a nearly impossible feat. After his successes, the Cote team which included former Hanaford rivals Marvin and Martell dominated the next Milk Bowl, in 1965, although Russ Ingerson took the overall title.
The Andy Cote Racing Team, included Ronnie Marvin  and Paul Martell [3J], both of whom faced Hanaford in a number of earlier tracks. [Cho Lee Photos from Geo, Hill’s Site]
After the flathed coupes were phased out of almost every track in the region, Hanaford ended up running for a while at that bastion and refuge for the flatheads, Bear Ridge Speedway. He later would hook up with the Plymouth, NH – based Mosely’s Express Racing Team and take a former Daytona Permatex car [ a former Elmo Langley car that went through drivers like Jean-Paul Cabana, Jack DuBrul, and Denny Dearborn] to the Bryuar Motorsports track in Louden.
Harold, with a similar – looking #30 car at Bear Ridge. [Courtesy of Cho Lee]
Now Harold managed to win because, as he tells it, most of the other cars blew their rear ends during the road race. Apparently, he also had an altercation with one of the Bryar family sons on the track, which did not settle well with management. Now we need to keep in mind that Hanford had the Havelock boys on his pit crew, and they were not ever going to be candidates for the monastery. So, when the track said they would not pay the 03 crew for their win, the Havelocks backed a log truck [or some such thing] up to the main grandstands and attached a logging chain to them.
The Pontiac with which Hanaford won at Bryar. He also drove it at Daytona. [Courtesy of Ken Paulsen]
The Bryars were told [according to the Hanaford group] that they could either pay out the purse or the team would be “leaving with their stands instead. Sometimes, Harold got tired of having to bail his wild men out of jails; but, this time, the behavior came in handy. Today, Harold attends races – usually with nephew Scott Haskell - but no longer races, The Havelocks are either gone or in more respectable pursuits. The Bryar Pontiac is absolutely crushed and buried. However, the legendary purple 30 coupe is restored and he appears with it and its owner Paul Zampieri, now and again. Harold is a legend and treasured link to the sport’s past.
Harold poses with nephew, Scott Haskell, and the restored 30 coupe. [R.Scott Haskell Photo]
Please email me if you have any photos to lend me or information and corrections I could benefit from. Please do not submit anything you are not willing to allow me to use on my website - and thanks. Email is: email@example.com . For those who still don’t like computers - my regular address is: Bill Ladabouche, 23 York Street, Swanton, Vermont 05488.
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