Rene Charland
Class of 1998

Rene Charland’s extraordinary career spanned 35 years starting with his first race at Riverside Park in 1949 and ended at Fonda Speedway in 1984. During that time it is estimated that he won over 700 races. He raced with ease on either dirt or asphalt often running alternate nights on different surfaces with the same car. He was mostly closely identified with the Number 3.

Known everywhere as “The Champ”, Rene won an unprecedented 4 NASCAR National Sportsman championships from 1962 through '65. His quest for a fifth title ended as he was seriously injured in the famous fire crash Memorial Day weekend at Malta in 1966. He was forced to sit out the rest of the season but at that point he had already earned 5700 points, enough for a third place finish.

A member of the famed “Eastern Bandits” he won track championships at Stafford, CT, (2), Norwood Arena, MA, Millers Falls, MA, Keene, NH, Brattleboro, VT, Islip, NY, Manassas, VA, Fort Dix, NJ, and Utica Rome, NY (3). In addition he won 4 Canadian National championships.

Rene had just 2 Grand National (now Winston Cup) starts. In a Grand National race at Islip he finished third behind David Pearson and Richard Petty.

Besides his racing success Charland was best known as a cigar chomping prankster. Stories about the “Champ” and his pranks continue to today.