WATERFORD — Ken Robinson of St. Johnsbury participated in many races at Northeastern Speedway.
It was just like old times, then, Saturday at the annual reunion held at the historic race track on Route 18. With Robinson looking on, his number 11, the number on his 1948 Ford Sedan he raced in the heyday of the Waterford oval, was unveiled in race-ready condition.
Scott Ingerson and Rodney Hannett from the North Haverhill, N.H. company that restored it, rolled up in a trailer and as Robinson waited – not knowing the extent of work that had been done – the rear doors of the trailer opened, and out came the fixed-up racer ready to burn rubber all over again as a pleased Robinson and onlookers applauded.
Robinson, a resident of Crepeault Hill Road, raced the car until the speedway’s 1965 closing. In its first life it had been the Robinson family car, his daughter Donna noted, before they made a race car out of it. Robinson has the distinction, pointed out speedway official Paul Bellefeuille, of winning the last race ever held there, albeit in a different racecar.
After the speedway closed, the car was taken to his property. Then, after 50 years in the elements, in 2015 it was towed out of the woods, and transported to the speedway where it was put on display. Last October (2020), it was taken to North Haverhill to be restored, and was unveiled on Saturday.
“They did a super job,” Robinson said as he sat behind the wheel of the car, motor running, waiting to take a few laps. “I didn’t know a thing about this, had no idea.” The gauges and dashboard were left untouched, and one of the two windshield panels was missing. After 50 years, given the condition of the car did it feel as if he was in some kind of time warp getting ready for a race? “I guess it does,” he replied with a laugh. It had a new flathead V8 that was donated by Butch Elms, Bellefeuille said.
Robinson took a few solo laps around the oval, then was joined by other vintage racers on the track.
Members of the Robinson family came from Connecticut, and as far away as North Carolina for the occasion, Donna Robinson said.