Jerry Dolliver
Class of 2011

2011 NEAR Hall of Fame inductee Jerry Dolliver was never known to the national racing community, but he was one of the shiniest gems ever to come out of the Merrimack Valley and certainly one of the most admired.

Jerry was born in 1929 in Melrose, Mass., and as a young man, set up automotive shop in Kingston, N.H.  He never ventured far.  Instead, he was always there, steady as the morning sun, always warming customers with a smile.  His Sunoco pumps were the epicenter of town talk for decades.

Jerry's racing was the same:  nearby, competent, reliable, fan-friendly.  It all started in a hulking wire-wheeled ice machine in 1949, and just five years later, he defeated Ollie Silva and Oscar Ridlon's finest to become Champion at The Pines Speedway. Eight championships were to follow, along with scores of victories at more than 15 New England venues.  There were cutdowns, modifieds, supermodifieds, sprinters, and midgets.

Probably Jerry's most telling accomplishment, though, was his unparalled success with one engine - a flathead built by Hall of Famer Bill Welch.  Ever so smoothly, Jerry coaxed that old-time power plant along to over 100 feature wins, right when the vastly lighter and more powerful overheads were sweeping the pit area.

Jerry's non-stop smile and gentlemanly nature lent him great popularity and respect.  But under the surface, his life was not easy.

He suffered terribly painful and lifelong complications from an explosion in his garage in the fifties.  It shattered Jerry, along with his neighbors' windows.

Ten years later, a team of Dartmouth surgeons operated to repair a defective heart valve, significantly and permanently diminishing his energy level.  It was a struggle to function normally, let alone bring up a family and toss around open-competition race cars.

Twenty-five years and hundreds of races later, on September 1, 1991, Jerry warmed up Skip Armstrong's at Star Speedway.  He was exhausted.  He emerged slowly from the car and sat down immediately on the edge of the trailer.  Then he slumped over.

The unassuming gentleman from nearby Kingston, who had lived and raced with such grace and civility, quietly slipped away.