Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Champion race car driver Bob Potter passed away on Wednesday at the age of 78.
Potter. appeared to be having a medical emergency while driving his vehicle on the street, suffering a heart attack.
Potter’s racing career started at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl in 1962, He began winning in 1966 and before it was over captured 11 championships an estimated 140 features at Stafford, Thompson and at Waterford. A model of consistency, he ran a streak of 37 straight top-six finishes at Stafford in 1994-95.
Bob Potter is the only active driver to run on all three surfaces at Stafford. He only ran one event on the dirt and only a few in the early days on asphalt including the first Spring Sizzler in 1972, when he drove Roger Bonnville’s outlaw NO. 110 to a 9th place finish. A good part of his career was spent at the Waterford Speedbowl where he has six championships and 96 career wins.
With the advent of the SK Modifieds division, Potter became a regular weekly competitor at Stafford. His first Stafford win came on Sizzler weekend in 1982 and then tallied up 24 wins through 1999. Potter is the track’s five- time modified champion, winning titles in 1988, 1991, 1992, 1994, and 1995 and ranks second to Ted Christopher who has nine track titles..
A retired x-ray technician at General Dynamics in Groton, Connecticut, Potter did most of his own race car fabrication. His partner and car owner Jiggs Beetham supplied the power. Potter, who was in his mid 50’s at the time, became the first modified driver to turn a lap on the newest Stafford surface.
In addition to his successes at Stafford and Waterford, Potter had numerous wins at Thompson and had successful drives at Trenton, New Jersey and Martinsville, Virginia.