HEDGER: The Long Look


BALLSTON SPA, N.Y. — “Wicked Fast — Racing Through Life with Bentley Warren.”

The title says it all. Supermodified star Bentley Warren was, to use the popular New England term, “wicked” fast. But the title also refers to how quickly you’ll want to read the book, a terrific “as-told-to” book done in collaboration with longtime racing author Bones Bourcier that you won’t want to put down, even to sleep.

From the foreword by Davey Hamilton, who thought he was headed toward a win in Oswego Speedway’s 1998 International Classic until he caught leader Warren in a pickup ride Hamilton thought was a lapped car until he couldn’t pass it, all the way to the closing segment on Bentley’s Saloon in Arundel, Maine, readers will marvel at what Warren did over the years and, more importantly, how he did it.

In a sport populated by scores of drivers with both great skill and unwavering determination, Warren stood head and shoulders above his contemporaries, advancing from the bomber class in his native Massachusetts and New Hampshire to the Indianapolis 500.
Warren was getting great results in the Indy car circuit in less than stellar equipment and had he not been seriously injured in a USAC sprint crash at Toledo Speedway in 1971 that kept him away from the Indy car circuit for the rest of ’71 and all of ’72, observers had him pegged for rides with well financed teams and even greater success.

The story of how he started a trucking business while he recovered, got his own Indy car team up and running, and eventually went back to the supers to again become the division’s biggest gun, is fascinating.

And whether he was dominating the winged supers, grabbing features by the handful at Oswego without a wing or winning the Little 500 in a sprint car, Bentley’s “fun meter” and the throttle on his ever-present motorcycle were both pegged most of the time.
In 2006, Warren marked the 40th anniversary of his first Oswego win by winning yet another on the exact day, Sept. 17, that he had first scored in the famed Purdy “Deuce.” He finally quit racing in 2011, at age 70, but continues to run wide open. His saloon’s motto is “Who has more fun than us? We do!” and Bentley’s draws bikers, racers and civilians from far and wide to partake.

With Bentley telling the stories after Bourcier does the setup for each chapter, the pair has a winning formula. And the comments from family, fellow racers and people from all segments of the sport at the end of each chapter, under the heading “Eyewitnesses and Co-Conspirators,” are a captivating bonus.

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