COMMENTARY BY DAVE DYKES, Speedway Scene Columnist and Waterford Speedbowl Historian.
One of the Waterford Speedbowl's most popular early stars, FRED "FUZZY" BAER, a lifelong resident of Montville, CT., was born in 1932 in Norwich, Ct. Fuzzy would become interested in racing at a very early age, spending many hours assisting his father Fred Sr., (Pops) as the elder Baer worked on the cars of the Way Brothers Midget Race Team. This exposure to the then popular Midgets would serve as the inspiration for a racing career that would span over three decades.
The racing endeavors of Fuzzy would begin at the Waterford Speedbowl during the 1952 season. Upon his discharge from the U.S. Army, Fuzzy would climb behind the wheel of a racecar for the first time. That first event would be a memorable one, as halfway into the second lap, the steering wheel would come off in Fuzzy's hands, resulting in quite a ride for the first-time chauffer. The next few seasons would find Baer honing his skills at a number of different New England Speed Plants. In addition to racing at the Bowl. Fuzzy and his father would compete at such track as Cherry Park, Plainville Stadium, Millers Falls, Ma., Norwood Arena and the Stafford Speedway Dirt.
This was the 1950's, and racing three or four nights a week was not uncommon, During the 1955 season, while competing at the Speedbowl, Fuzzy would suffer the worst racing injury of his career. During an excursion over the wall during a weekly feature, a post managed to ram itself through the drivers door, breaking Fuzzy's leg in three places, Not one to sit around, Fuzzy cut the cast off himself, much to his doctors displeasure, and resumed his racing schedule.
During his many years behind the wheel, Fuzzy was able to branch out a bit, giving the Midgets and Super Modifieds a try. While driving a three-cylinder Opel powered Midget, Fuzzy raced against such drivers as Joe Ciski, Len Duncan, King Carpenter and Dutch Schafer. Fuzzy also took in a number of early Super Modified races at Thomspon Speedway, driving the cars when they were known as Cut-Downs.
Fuzzy's biggest career win came at the Speedbowl during the 1966 season when Fuzzy won the Annual 75 lap Championship Race. After giving up owning his own cars in the late 70's, Fuzzy went on to drive the #38 LaJeunesse Racing's Team Car until his retirement as a driver in 1985.
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from the Collections of Dave Dykes and Dave Roode
Photographers include Shaney, Rene Dugas and Steve Kennedy
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