ADDED LAPS, $1,000 TO WIN FOR MANCHESTER MEMORIAL LATE MODELS AT SEEKONK
Bill Bernard of Holliston, owner of W. A. Bernard, Inc. of Holliston and a top-flight racer at Seekonk Speedway, has sponsored a thousand-dollar prize to the winner of the James “Crab” Manchester memorial race, which Bernard initiated following the August death of Manchester. Manchester, a lifelong race fanatic and commercial fisherman from Westport, MA, adopted Bernard’s race team and became a regular member of the crew . The laps-added, Saturday night race on September 14 will be for 50 circuits around the one-third mile oval, and all competitors are invited to participate in the Late Model division action. Leading national car buildes, Crazy Horse Racing of South Paris, Maine, has donated a plaque to be given to the race’s “Hard Charger”. To be decided by the speedway for the individual who has shown the greatest effort, whether he wins or not.
According to Bernard, “He (Manchester) just stumbled upon Joe & I a few years ago. We invited him to sit a spell, have some chow, share a story or two. We adopted him, or more so he adopted us. For the last couple of seasons we all became pretty close. Crab would often bring oysters, clams and stuffies to the track to, as he put it, “Give us an edge”. We looked forward to seeing him every Saturday night and got to spend some real quality time getting to know this charismatic old devil. He was a fascinating guy you couldn’t help but love.”
Manchester was a fixture at Seekonk Speedway as well as on the Westport waterfront, where for many years, he ran his Novi lobster boat, the “Jessie M”, named after his daughter. For several years during the 1990’s, father and daughter combined to race in Seekonk’s Formula Four division, with Crab as car owner and Jessie as driver. During that time, he showed his mettle by surviving being struck by lightning in the Speedway’s parking lot – twice, just minutes apart. It was an event that was witnessed by race fans and became part of the speedway’s lore.
Bernard hopes that the race, to be held within a month of Manchester’s August 16th death, will celebrate and memorialize the man that came to mean so much to them. “I can’t say much more about a guy we barely knew yet knew him all too well. You see, we didn’t know much about his past; it didn’t really matter, because we just enjoyed his company. We’ll never forget the enthusiastic zest for life and the magic he brought into our pit space come race night. He left a huge hole in our hearts, one which he’ll always be a part of and we’re proud to have called him dear friend.” The team hopes to extend the effort into another “Crab” Manchester memorial race next year.
Bernard is calling for all competitors in the Late Model class to join the Seekonk division to help pay tribute to the stalwart James S. Manchester. The main gates at the track on Route 6 in Seekonk, open at 6:00 pm. Directions and general information can be found on the website, www.seekonkspeedway.com or by calling 508-336-9959.
Bernard concludes: “You know it’s great that our company W.A. Bernard Inc. is able to co-sponsor, with the Speedway, this special race for a special guy. Seekonk Speedway has really embraced this event and we sincerely hope that to have a good showing of Late Models to pay tribute to Crab. He was a loyal fan of the speedway since the mid-fifties, you could probably count on less than one hand how many races he missed since then.”