Bob Bahre, a self-made millionaire, former owner of New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Oxford Plains Speedway, and owner of a world-famous car collection, has died at age 93, according to tweets and news accounts on Friday.
Maine native Ricky Craven, a winner in each of NASCAR’s top three divisions and a current NASCAR analyst for Fox Sports, described Bahre as “my friend & mentor.”
“Bob had a tremendous positive influence on auto racing in New England & its trajectory into NASCAR,” Craven tweeted. “He built for the fans & worked for the sport! He had a Profound Impact on my Life… I will miss him.”
Bahre was inducted into the Maine Sports Hall of Fame in 2017 for his contributions to the sport of racing. He was a powerful force on the auto racing circuit, both nationally and in the Northeast, for many years.
In 1990 he brought a Busch Series — now the Xfinity Series — race to New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, which he built. The race attracted nearly 90,000 fans, and three years later, the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series — then the Winston Cup — descended upon Loudon. Two NASCAR races have been held at the track for several years before NASCAR changed it to one for the 2018 season.
In the 1960s, Bahre bought Oxford Plains Speedway, which has turned into one of the marquee racing venues in the Northeast. The Oxford 250, held every summer, has attracted some of the best stars in motorsports — such as NASCAR champion Kyle Busch — to Oxford.
The Oxford 250 began in 1974 as a 200-lap race. Bahre added the extra 50 laps the following year to make sure racers had to pit.
Said to own one of the world’s finest car collections, Bahre opened his garages to the public annually and loved telling how each car came into his possession, according to the Sun Journal.
“Some guys chase broads,” Bahre told the Robb Report in 2013. “I chase cars.”
One of his favorite vehicles, a 1937 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Coupe by Rollston, came into Bahre’s possession with his usual sense of drama and style, according to the Robb Report. Knowing that the owner of the vehicle, a man from Michigan, didn’t have a lot of money, Bahre put $500,000 cash into a carry-on bag that he dumped on the floor of the man’s living room.
“I sat there and sat there and ended up falling asleep on the couch,” Bahre told Robb Report. “It was at least an hour before they came back upstairs and he said to me, ‘Well, you better call your driver to come get it.’ But he wouldn’t say, ‘I’m going to sell you the car.’ And that’s how I got that one.”