Bob Bahre, the founder of New Hampshire Motor Speedway and a key figure in New England auto racing for decades, died Friday at the age of 93, according to a NHMS news release.
Bahre founded New Hampshire International Speedway in 1990 — the name was changed in 2008 when it was sold to Speedway Motorsports — and brought the highest level of stock car racing to the region when NASCAR’s Cup Series began visiting in the 1990s.
“What I’ll remember most about Bob Bahre will be his character, understated yet charming,” Speedway Motorsports president and CEO Marcus Smith said in a release. “He was very generous to people in the motorsports industry and to the New England communities where he did business.”
Former NASCAR driver and current Fox analyst Ricky Craven expressed his condolences on Twitter. Craven, a Maine native, credited Bahre for his “tremendous positive influence on auto racing in New England.”
Deeply saddened by the loss of my friend & mentor... Bob Bahre— Ricky Craven (@RickyCraven32) July 24, 2020
Bob had a tremendous positive influence on auto racing in New England & its trajectory into @NASCAR
He built for the fans & worked for the sport!
He had a Profound Impact on my Life... I will miss him 🏁 pic.twitter.com/Rgg2B8iuqx
Bahre, who grew up in Suffield, Conn., spearheaded the building of NHMS in Loudon, N.H. The project broke ground in 1989, and the speedway has hosted NASCAR races since 1992 on the tour’s lone annual stop in New England.
“Bob Bahre was a true pioneer for motorsports in New England,” Speedway Motorsports executive chairman Bruton Smith said. “He wanted to grow our sport and build things that people will remember.”
Bahre sold the track in 2008 for $340 million, but remained on as a consultant.
“Bob left an incredible mark on auto racing through the New England region, and his love of motorsports was legendary,” said David McGrath, New Hampshire Motor Speedway executive vice president and general manager. “He will be missed, but his legacy of supporting and building motorsports in New England will live on forever.”
Bahre and his family purchased and renovated Oxford Plains Speedway in Maine in 1964, quickly turning it into a haven for racing fans. In the mid 1970s, the Oxford 250 became one of the most important races in New England. Craven and Kevin Harvick are among the former winners of the Oxford 250.
Bahre sold Oxford Plains Speedway in 1987. He was inducted into the Maine Sports Hall of Fame in 2017.