STEADY EDDIE INDUCTED INTO HOMETOWN HALL OF FAME by Mike Twist
Late Great Flemke The First Racer To Make It Into New Britain (CT) Sports HoF
In a country obsessed with stick and ball sports, racecar drivers have been slow to gain acceptance into the mainstream of the sports culture. The explosive success of NASCAR’s top divisions have helped change that somewhat, but sadly many short track legends have been left out in the cold when it comes to recognizing their accomplishments.
“This is a very good thing,” said Flemke, Jr. “It’s not just because they are recognizing my father, but because they are recognizing a racecar driver. It would mean the world to him and I really wish that he was here to go up and do this for himself.”
So when a mainstream sporting Hall of Fame notices the accomplishments of one of its state’s best Modified drivers ever, it is a reason for all short track fans to feel good.
On March 31st, Ed Flemke will be inducted into the New Britain Sports Hall of Fame along with seven other sporting figures. Among those receiving the same honor as the racer will be two pre-World War II football players, one of the most notable Boston University track stars ever and Bernadotte "Bert" Loomis, who developed the dribble in basketball.
Flemke passed away in 1984, but his son Eddie Flemke Jr., is a well known name to modern race fans as a top competitor on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
Flemke, Sr. was well known by his nickname, “Steady Eddie.” He typically picked big races and went after checkered flags in those events. He won approximately 500 races including the Spring Sizzler at Stafford Motor Speedway (CT) and the Thompson 300. He was also known for his willingness to help young drivers and when Pete Hamilton won the 1970 Daytona 500, he invited Flemke up to the press box and told the assembled reporters that he owed the victory to his mentor.
This will not be the first Hall of Fame that Flemke will be in. He was inducted into the New England Antique Racers Hall of Fame in 1998 after helping to found that organization before his death.
Flemke ran $ as a number many times. Here he is winning at Plainville Speedway (CT) in 1964. (Vintage Modfieds Photo)
Several members of the Flemke family will be attending the New Britain induction ceremony.
“My whole family is excited and we are all getting together to go to this,” said Flemke, Jr. “It is such a tremendous honor and it means so much to all of us. But even so, it would mean even more to him if he was here.”
The fact that it is the hometown Hall of Fame that Flemke will be inducted into is something that Flemke, Jr. knows would be very special to his father.
“Back then, people had a lot of pride when it came to where they were from,” said Flemke. “We traveled all over to race and my father would always be telling people that he was from New Britain. He was proud to be from there. Back then, it was the hardware capital of the world [Stanley Tools is based in the city along with several other similar companies] and it was a really neat place to be.”
The cars that Flemke raced looked a lot different than the ones that his son drives today. (John Grady Photo)