In a sport where it is easy to make enemies, Gary Bellefleur of Stetson didn’t have any.
Stock car racing is a volatile sport because drivers are fiercely competitive and have a lot of money invested in their cars.
But 49-year-old Gary Bellefleur simply loved the sport passionately and he loved the people involved with it.
When he wasn’t driving his car in the Pro All-Stars Series Super Late Model North class, he was announcing the action at Unity Raceway.
Unfortunately, Bellefleur’s life was cut short Monday night when his race car rolled on top of him in his garage in Stetson.
“It’s a sad day, that’s for sure,” said Morrill’s Travis Benjamin, a PASS regular. “He was a great guy. You very rarely ever saw him upset. He loved to race. You could tell that his family came first and they were part of the [racing] deal. You would always see him with his wife [Melodie] and kids [Cathy and Joe]. Racing came after that.”
“I’ve been talking to people all day and there isn’t a person who had a bad word about Gary,” said Marco Thomas, who is the announcer for the PASS series and also tutored and worked with Bellefleur at Unity. “Everybody loved him.”
One of them would do the announcing and the other would do interviews and they would swap off.
“He was a very nice fellow,” said longtime racer Jeff Taylor, who owns Distance Racing Products in Fairfield. “He would be somebody I would have like to be if I could change.”
“This is tragic. He was a perfect guy. He would do anything for anybody, almost to a fault. If he had a fault, it was that he tried to do too much for other people. You could go to him for anything,” said Bangor’s Gary Smith, a veteran racer who was a close friend of Bellefleur.
Smith gave a perfect example of how much Bellefleur enjoyed racing.
“We went to pick up a race car he had bought and he told me at one time he thought about going to college to be a doctor because he thought that would be the best job to have to support his racing habit,” quipped Smith.
Bellefleur had success during his days as a weekly racer in the Pro Stock division at tracks such as Hermon’s Speedway 95. He finished sixth in points there in 2004.
“There was a time he won a lot of races. He was a force to be reckoned with,” said Smith, who pointed out Bellefleur started his career in Pro Stocks in the 1980s at Speedway 95.
But Bellefleur was under-funded on the PASS tour. Most of the money came out of his own pocket and he did most of the work on his race cars by himself.
It never spoiled his enthusiasm for the sport.
“I never saw him happier than when he was talking about racing while going to the track even though he was taking a ‘knife to a gunfight,’” said Thomas.
“If he had more sponsors, I’m sure we would have seen him racing more,” said Speedway 95 co-owner Del Merritt. “He was a very likeable person.”
“I know he didn’t have what he needed [to run consistently in the top 10 on the PASS tour] but he kept going because it was what he liked to do,” said Taylor. “He kept trying and you had to admire him for that.”
“There wasn’t a nicer man out there. He was a class act,” said four-time PASS North points titlist Johnny Clark of Hallowell. “I remember when he used to race against my dad. He never had a dominant car but he always had fun.”
Clark said he and Bellefleur used to work on their race cars in the same MacMaster race shop.
“I was only 18 or 19 at the time and he had been doing it a lot longer but he would come over to my bay and help me out. And I would help him out,” said Clark.
George Fernald Jr., who leases Unity Raceway, said Bellefleur made dramatic strides as a track announcer.
“He was a little rough when he first started but he loved the track and everything so much that he just kept learning and learning,” said Fernald. “He learned a lot from Marco. He improved in leaps and bounds.”
Fernald said Bellefleur was great with young drivers and would encourage them while calling the races at Unity.
“He made quite a few of them famous,” said Fernald, who listed his sons George III and Alex as two of the youngsters who benefited from Bellefleur’s encouragement.
Bob Knowles used to own Unity Raceway and Maine X-Ray and he hired Bellefleur to be his financial guru at Maine X-Ray.
On a business trip to Vermont one time, there was a man trying to load a deer he had shot into his truck.
“We were both in suits and ties but Gary still got out and helped this man load his deer onto his truck,” said Knowles.
Fernald said they will honor Bellefleur in some way.
“Maybe we’ll dedicate the whole season to him,” said Fernald.