Innovative Racer Part II

Episode 158

April 23, 2017

Dick Boisvert, The Racing Years

In Part One (Episode 156) of this two-part story about Dick Boisvert he had left the Air Force and was in New Hampshire to be with his dying father. After his father passed away from colon cancer, Dick decided that Aroostook County was the place to continue his career. He did not enjoy city life and open spaces of Northern Maine appealed to him.

In September 1970, a job as a lineman drew him back to the place he now calls home. He went to work with Maine Public Service, the electrical power and distribution company for Northern Maine.

Boisvert emphatically stated that when he began work with fellow lineman Adam Albert from Limestone in 1972 it was the highlight of his career at Maine Public Service.

“Adam was one of the best friends I ever had,” said Boisvert. ” One of the best people I ever worked with!”

“Every Monday morning he would tell his racing exploits,” Boisvert noted.

He decided to help Albert with his stock car in 1972. “Adam was not a technical sort of guy and what I knew, I learned on my own from watching races and from Steve Smith Autosports books”, said Boisvert.

Boisvert decided to buy his own stock car in 1973, a Ford Galaxy built by a guy from Gardiner, Maine area. Boisvert said,”I bought it from Graydon Adams in Limestone.  The car was raced here one week and he left it for Graydon to sell.”

How did Boisvert chose the number 48? He replied,”I had asked for 61JR first, after my favorite super mod driver, Eddie West.  61 was already taken and no JR’s were allowed.  Then asked for #34 after a modified driver Freddy Borden in Westborough Mass. But it was already taken.  So, I asked for my birth year 48.  (Boisvert laughed and said “Jimmy Johnson stole it from me)

In 1975 Boisvert was laid off as a lineman and assigned to the steam generating plant in Caribou where he was for the next 2 1/2 years. While there, he qualified as a steam. diesel, and hydro system operator.

The shop at the steam plant had a lathe, milling machine, and welders which Boisvert took full advantage of by building his own stock car from the ground up. With rotating shifts, during his off days and nights. he found the time to work on his race car.

He decided to build a 1964 Chevelle body on a 65 chassis. He had never done this type of project, however, with the equipment available and the knowledge he gathered by reading, he finished the car by mid- season in 1975. He raced that chassis from 1975 -78 with some success as pictured below with track owner Barry Thibeau in 1977 after Boivert’s first feature win.

Barry Thibeau the owner of Spud Speedway in the early 1970’s hands Dick Boisvert his feature winning trophy in August 1977. Dick Boisvert Collection

Boisvert said his first season (1975) behind the wheel was a learning experience. He had seen numerous races and was Adam Albert’s mechanic, yet driving was a whole new experience. A few heat race victories were won and Boisvert learned about driving the top class at the Caribou track.

Boisvert had enough of working at the steam plant and decided to move back to New Hampshire in 1978. He applied to Public Service of New Hampshire when back in his home state.

In the interim, he met with Jack Bateman owner of Jack’s Speed Shop in Cornish, New Hampshire. “He ran modified cars,” said Boisvert. “While I was out of work looking for a job I worked for Jack in his garage. He built the new car in the fall of ’78, a modified with a Pinto body.” [Pinto bodies were the rage in those days]

Boisvert stated “ I learned a lot about chassis building and the behavior of the modified chassis which was helpful when I built my last car after returning to Maine”.

“So I started out with skinning the body off and cleaning it up. We built the frame on the floor and leveled it off.”

Jack raced the car at both Winchester Speedway near Keene,  New Hampshire and at the local track in Claremont”.

“A guy named Bob at the Public Service of New Hampshire shop in Nashua had strong interest in racing and once he found out I raced in Maine, we hooked up to attend races in the area. “We used to go to Epping (Star Speedway) on Saturday nights. A couple of nights we went over to Lee when it was a tri-oval, but didn’t care for that so we mostly went to Epping.”

“I had called Maine Public Service and they had a job for me back in the County. I left there in the spring of 1980. Three weeks before leaving Bob bought a modified from Mike Murphy and wanted me to drive it.”

As tempting as that was, Boisvert already had committed to Maine Public Service and he hated city life in New Hampshire. No modified racing in his resume as a result.

Upon arrival back in Maine, he decided to sell the ’64 Chevelle which had been stored in Adam Albert’s garage, to Bradford Boone. Rather than build another stock car, he worked with Adam Albert once again.

 

The Dick Boisvert built Chevy Nova awaiting action at Spud Speedway. Mario Bosse of Caribou is pictured with the race car. His older brother Danny Bosse was a member of Boisvert’s pit crew. Boisvert Collection photo

The itch to build his own car returned in the winter of 1983 when he decided to build a Chevy Nova. Maine Public’s generous policies allowed employees to use company facilities and tools and once again the steam plant became a place to construct the new car in the evenings when weather permitted.  He utilized many of the tricks he had learned at Jack’s Speed Shop, reading Stock Car Racing magazine, and the Steve Smith books.

“That Nova had Cadillac spindles in it,” said Boisvert. “I shortened the upright on the spindle to gain more favorable suspension geometry over the stock height.”. The Cadillac spindle had an eccentric on the top that you can adjust caster and camber simultaneously. That was one of the advantages I had.”

“That car intimidated a lot of people at the track and raised ongoing questions about its design and function. I built it to do just that. I wanted as much adjust ability as I could get in that car. I wanted it as low and light as I could get it. I wanted as many strange things as I could come up with to drive people nuts”

One example he gave was the movement of the clutch engagement mechanism to the passenger side of the bellhousing because there was no foot room in the crowded foot well. He mounted a slave cylinder on the opposite side from the traditional mounting point with a hydraulic reservoir mounted behind the dash. People thought he was running his engine backward to gain an advantage due to engine torque.

“I got a free windshield from Jim Wilson,” said Boisvert. ‘ He came to me the second night of the season that we were at the track and said, ‘I’m going to protest your car. You dropped the roof in it.'”.

“Ok,” I said. “Here’s the deal. You can protest my car if you want. I am going to win the protest. When I do I want you to come to the race track for that protest with a Nova windshield 1968-72.”

“We’ll take the one you brought and we’ll put it right back in there. If it fits, I am going to keep it along with your protest money.”

“He showed up with a windshield the next week and protested the car. I went home with a windshield and $150.”

One of his greatest accomplishments was winning double-header 50 lap mid-season races on the same night in the mid 1980’s.

Boisvert said, “We had spent the entire week going over the chassis and engine which included a two hour session on the scales setting ride height and weight proportion.”

His car was dialed in that night as he dominated both 50 lap segments winning from rear starting positions. The race wins should have yielded $800 in prize money yet the owner Herb Towle offered him tires instead of cash. “It was kind of a letdown as I wanted to do something special for my crew with the winnings. We went out and celebrated anyway with some of the money from tire sales.”

In 1989 he moved to Caribou and began work on his shop where he would have his own work space. In 1989 Spud Speedway closed down and Boisvert got rid of much of the race equipment he had accumulated over the years.

He did keep the engine from his racer, a Chevrolet small block 283. He liked that engine despite the relative small displacement. The other cars were allowed 350 cubic inches and Boisvert’s engine with overbore only displaced 292 cubic inches.

The engines were always built by Boisvert so no one knew what went on in his engine which could rev 7200 rpms which was very fast for those days. He was curious and went to great measures to satisfy that need to know.

He called General Motors Product Promotions Engineering and spoke with GM engineer Bill Howell. “I talked to him about a half-dozen times a year about that engine,” said Boisvert. “The second time I called he said, ‘Hello Dick, how is that motor working out for you?'”

“He and I had some lengthy discussions about the 283 and I will always be grateful for the technical advice he so willingly shared.”

Boisvert still has that engine at his shop and hopes to build a vintage race car and install the 283 into that stock car. He hopes to use the vintage racer at car shows and displays. Who knows, maybe the race driver in him may make a few hot laps at a race track.

He wanted to mention crew members who assisted him along the way; Rick Jandreau with the 64 Chevelle and John Gilbert and Danny Bosse with the Nova.

Boisvert was able to finish his shop to the extent that he was able to work on projects in 1991.

Since coming back to Maine Public Service in 1980 he worked in a variety of jobs until retirement in January 2011 after 38.5 years in the electrical power industry.

He has a son Troy, daughter–in-law Mindy, and two grandchildren, Jacob and Sera. A third grandchild, Kyle, was tragically killed in a vehicle accident in December 2016.

An older sister Carmen splits her retirement days between Wells Beach, Maine and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

His younger brother Gerry, also retired, lives in Woodland Park, Colorado.

Austin Theriault at High Banked Salem Speedway in Salem, Indiana

Austin Theriault tested at the sometimes scary Salem Speedway with its high banks and rough asphalt. The ARCA Series will race this Sunday April 30 at 2:30 pm and can be seen on MAVTV.

Theriault currently leads the ARCA Series by 25 points over Kyle Weatherman and 50 points over Dalton Sergeant. Some of Theriault’s comments about Salem are in this film clip from a test at the southern Indiana track last week.

Loring Timing Association (LTA) Spring Event May 5-7

A pair of Corvettes and a slew of motorcycles await their turn at the Loring Timing Association’s Fall Event. HTF Motorsports photo

Tim Kelly Loring Timing Association (LTA)  Race Director said this about the upcoming Spring Event May 5-7 at the former Loring Air Force Base in Limestone, “The spring event will be our largest spring ever. The ECTA (East Coast Timing Association)  is not operating any longer so we have a lot of entrants from the heartland that gave never come before.  We are also building a much larger base in Ontario.”

” I’m not really sure about the new equipment until we see it though.
We are expecting about 60 entrants.”

More information can be found on the LTA Facebook page and website http://www.loringtiming.com

Rain at Wiscasset

This is what Saturday’s season opener looked like at Wiscasset Speedway. The Super Late Models will race in two weeks. Photo courtesy Wyatt Alexander Racing

MIK Get’s Wrapped

As karts at Maine Indoor Karting (MIK) in Scarborough get sponsors, Evan Beaulieu wraps them. This is one of the most recent wraps. MIK is a sponsor of HTF Motorsports Senior Cage Kart. Photo courtesy Evan Beaulieu

I Can’t Believe This Vermont Dirt Road!

I was so “impressed” with Kenyon Road in Richmond, Vermont I had to take photos. I might add that about 1/4 mile earlier on this road was a sharp left turn where the guard rail looked like it had been hit numerous times. HTF Motorsports photo

To give you some perspective of how close this dairy barn is to the road, I had my daughter Jessica hold her arm out the window and try to touch the corner of the barn. Her fingertips were only about a foot from the barn. HTF Motorsports photo

This is what the road looks like if you meet another vehicle at the barn. With roads like this, I think I discovered why Vermont has so many good rally drivers. HTF Motorsports photo

Swanson Wins Again in Ohio

Kody Swanson likes season openers, this time he won at Waynesfield Raceway Park, Waynesfield, Ohio with the K & L Racing 410 cubic inch #21K non-winged sprint car . Pictured here with track announcer in Victory Circle. Jordan Swanson photo

Tough to Get Excited About Racing With Scenes Like This

Difficult to get excited about the upcoming race season when you look at this scene. This was Saturday morning looking out upon my driveway at HTF Motorsports headquarters. It was magnificent paint job, however, it is almost May. HTF Motorsports photo

Let’s Go Racing,

Tom Hale

Soli Deo Gloria

 

Tom Hale

About Tom Hale

Tom wrote 14 years as freelancer for the Bangor Daily Sports covering motorsports in Maine. Now blogging and concentrating on human interest stories about people and places in racing.