Thursday, March 12, 2009

Legendary Stub Fadden Gone at 75

Short track racing hero and Thunder Road Int'l Speedbowl legend Stanley "Stub" Fadden passed away on Wednesday, March 11 at the age of 75. Fadden won over 230 feature races during a five-decade career that won him legions of fans and friends on and off the track.

Fadden got his start racing flathead-powered Coupes and Flying Tiger cars at tracks like Thunder Road in Barre and Northeastern Speedway in Waterford in the early 1960s, and remained competitive through his final start behind the wheel at the 2003 Chittenden Bank Milk Bowl at Thunder Road. Fadden was a welder and garage operator in the small town of North Haverhill, New Hampshire, where he also served as Fire Chief for many years, and was in no small way responsible for putting that town on the stock car racing map early in his career. Along with the famous Ingerson brothers of the same town, Fadden quickly rose to the forefront in the northeast by taking more than his share of victories.

As the Flying Tigers of the 1960s morphed into the NASCAR Late Model Sportsman division, Fadden kept winning, and earned his first Milk Bowl victory in 1970. Wildly popular in the mid-1970s, Fadden was jokingly dubbed the "Senior" member of the young "Mod Squad" that ruled Thunder Road and Milton's Catamount Stadium, including drivers Joey Kourafas, John Rosati, and Robbie Crouch. A second Milk Bowl win 1979, along with back-to-back Thunder Road championships in 1978 and 1979 were proof that he could outrun any driver, senior or otherwise. He also earned Catamount titles in 1981 and 1986, and a total of 13 wins on the former NASCAR North/ACT Pro Stock Tour. Signature victories included the 1980 New England 300 at Catamount, the 1984 NASCAR North 250 at Cayuga Int'l Speedway in Ontario, and the inaugural $5,000-to-win Molson Bash all-star event at Thunder Road in 1982. Other wins came at Twin State Speedway in Claremont, N.H., Autodrome de Mont-Laurier in Qu├ębec, and Westboro Speedway in Massachusetts.

Fadden was a major player on the NASCAR Busch North Series (now Camping World Series East) from the series' formation in 1987. He was a four-time winner on the series, taking victories at Monadnock Speedway and Lee USA Speedway in New Hampshire and Jennerstown Speedway in Pennsylvania. In a dozen full seasons on the tour, he finished among the top-ten in championship points eight times, including a career-best fifth in 1992. He also earned a top-ten finish in what is now the NASCAR Nationwide Series at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 1991. Fadden retired from full-time driving after the 1998 season, but made occasional appearances until 2003. In his final Busch North Series start, Fadden finished ninth at Thunder Road in August 2003. His last race came with a 21st-place finish at Thunder Road's Milk Bowl in October of that year.

Along with his on-track achievements, Fadden was honored with many special awards. He received the Don MacTavish Award in 1976 for outstanding lifelong contribution to stock car racing, was the NASCAR North Most Popular Driver in 1982, and won Sportsmanship Awards on the Northern NASCAR Circuit (1968), NASCAR North Tour (1981), and NASCAR Busch North Series (1990). He was named to the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2003, and was honored with the Bunk Sampson Memorial Award at the Camping World Series East Champion's Banquet last December.

Fadden leaves behind his wife, Charlotte, who was an integral part of not only her husband's career, but was also a key scoring official for Thunder Road and NASCAR for many years. Fadden's legacy will live on in the #16 Fadden Racing entry field by his grandson Mike Olsen on the Camping World Series East and ARCA Re/Max Series. Olsen got his start at Thunder Road in the Flying Tigers in the late 1980s, and has since become a two-time CWSE Champion. Olsen's brother, Todd Aldrich, is a top Late Model driver at New Hampshire's White Mountain Motorsports Park, and grandson Travis Fadden is a top driver in the track's Strictly Stock class. Fadden's long-time crew chief, Frank Stoddard, has been a prominent figure in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing for over a decade.

Public calling hours for Stub Fadden are on Sunday, March 15, from 2 to 5 PM, at Ricker Funeral Home, 1 Birch Street, Woodsville, N.H. Funeral services will be Monday, March 16, at the North Haverhill United Methodist Church, Dartmouth College Highway, North Haverhill, N.H., with Pastor Susan Ellery officiating.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Norris Cotton Cancer Center, c/o Hematology and Oncology Department, One Medical Drive, Lebanon, N.H. 03756-0001; North Country Home Health and Hospice Agency, 536 Cottage Street, Littleton, N.H. 03561; or to the North Haverhill Volunteer Fire Department, c/o Thomas Mayo, P.O. Box 429, North Haverhill, N.H. 03774.

(Photos courtesy Leif Tillotson, Gene Gagne, Cho Lee collection,, and Thunder Road)


48jc said...

Today the Northeastern Stock car comunity has lost a Great Man..Stub Fadden..A Legend..Husband..Father..Racer..but most of all a great friend to all who crossed his path in his life..The world would be a better place if we had more like Stub..yet his legacy will live on in the Racing world by those who learned from him and were taught the true meaning of Sportsmanship and Teamwork...His Trademark smile I will cheerish forever and relive all the few ,yet, magic moments we shared over the years..Godspeed my friend, your race has ended and you carry the checkers to the Race Track above without anymore pain and leave us all better people on this Earth by just being a small part of your life.

Kevin F said...

I love that last picture of Stub in your posting. As a kid watching from the stands and into my teens being in the pit area, Stub was one of my racing heros. He was as much a legend as Dion, Crouch and Cabana.

At first it broke my heart to see him in wheelchair but there he the track...with that gigantic smile of his.

I think we'll all miss that.
Rest in peace