Rich Belmonte, NEAR Member
Steve Kennedy Photo

The Moose Hewitt Cavalier #19 vintage race car found a new home in the garage of Rich Belmonte in 2009. Rich is currently campaigning the race car in NEAR events bringing back memories of racing in New England to many race fans.

Belmonte began his career of racing in 1976 at the much talked about Plainville Stadium with his own modified coupe. In 1977 he prepared and wrenched the #74 Late Model at Waterford Speedbowl. Then in 1978-79 Belmonte drove the George Buffington owned #123 Street Stock/Super Stock at Waterford Speedbowl and Thompson Speedway. Belmonte, missing the modified division, had a chance to return to his first passion -- he prepared and drove the (former Boehler #3) #14 Chevette SK Modified at Stafford Motor Speedway in 1983 before leaving the sport for twenty-five years.

Howie Hodge Photo

The next ten plus years Belmonte attended aircraft school, college at night graduating in ‘98 with a BS in business from Albertus Magnus College and then was “Mr. Mom” as a single father to his youngest daughter (who is currently in Grad School) during the mid-80s into the late 90s. He also has two other daughters and four grandchildren - all living in NC.

Racing has always been a “family affair”...Belmonte’s cousin is Lou Franco, a NEAR member, and part of his race team (Belmont Greco Franco Team). Franco was also a team member for the late George Greco, Jr., in the Late Model and Modified divisions back in the 90s at both Waterford Speedbowl and Stafford Motor Speedway.

Franco was instrumental in restoring the Billy Greco #43 Pinto. The team is currently building a replica North End Auto Parts #54 Chevy coupe that won the 1964 Plainville Stadium Modified Championship driven by Belmonte’s late Uncle and Godfather, Hall of Famer, Michael 'Sparky' Belmont.  The Belmonte garage also houses the original Billy Greco #43 big block coupe that is being restored; and if that does not keep them busy, they have the last Lenny Boehler Chevette/Cavalier to be restored as well.

In addition to competing in NEAR races with his Moose Hewitt #19 and restoring antique race cars, Belmonte also regularly hauls his pal, Hall of Famer Billy Greco’s vintage #43 to display at NEAR events.

By Judy Poirier