MODIFIED CHAMPION GAHAN PASSES
Maine Resident Was The 1966 National Champion
Ernie Gahan, the 1966 NASCAR Modified national champion, passed away
Thursday night at his home in Cranberry Isles, Maine at the age of 83.
Gahan, originally from Dover, N.H., got his start in auto racing at
his hometown track - Dover Speedway - in 1948 after serving more than two
years as an Army military policeman in Germany following Word War II. After
getting his start at Dover, Gahan competed in the NASCAR Sportsman division
until 1965, when he moved over to Modifieds.
Gahan compiled 6,560 points during his 1966 run to the title to
distance himself from runner-up Bugs Stevens and third place Ray Hendrick.
Driving a 1936 Chevrolet coupe, Gahan won 15 of the 71 races he entered that
season, but led Hendrick by just 48 points heading into the season finale in
Atlanta, Ga. Hendrick was caught up in an early race accident and Gahan
crossed the line 10th to earn the crown.
Gahan made 11 starts in what is now known as the NASCAR Sprint Cup
Series from 1960-66. He was bestowed the Buddy Shuman Award for outstanding
contributions to NASCAR following an incident in which he helped Tiny Lund
rescue Marvin Panch from a fiery crash prior to the 1963 Daytona 500.
Winner of an estimated 300-plus races during his nearly three
decades as a racer, Gahan was a member of the inaugural New England Auto
Racers Hall of Fame in 1998 and was a 1990 New York State Stock Car
Association Hall of Fame inductee. Additionally, he is a member of the Maine
Motorsports Hall of Fame and Beach Ridge Motor Speedway Hall of Fame.
Gahan was in attendance at the 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour
Awards Banquet as many of the NASCAR Modified champions gathered to kick-off
the celebration of 60 Years of Modified Champions. He was honored for his
1966 title at the 2008 Spring Sizzler at Stafford.
"Ernie was part of the Modified legacy that has helped make NASCAR
what it is today. He was a great racer and true New England legend," said
Jim Hunter, NASCAR vice president for corporate communications. "On behalf
of NASCAR and the France family, our thoughts and prayers go out to Gahan's
family and friends."
Arrangements are pending and will be made available at a later
Source: Jason Cunningham