BARRE — American-Canadian Tour President Tom Curley passed away on Friday, May 5, 2017 after a long battle with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Curley was born on May 10, 1943, enrolled in Norwich University in 1961, and began attending stock car racing at Thunder Road shortly thereafter, transitioning from spectator to driver through the 1960s.
Curley returned to racing in 1978 as the NASCAR Northeast regional director and ran the NASCAR North Tour from 1979 to 1985. In 1986, Curley founded the American-Canadian Tour, an independent stock car racing sanctioning body, and departed from NASCAR.
Under Curley’s guidance and leadership, the American-Canadian Tour grew into one of the nation’s top regional touring series and his staff managed multiple race tracks throughout its time, including Airborne Park Speedway, Catamount Stadium, and Oxford Plains Speedway.
During his tenure with NASCAR, Curley formed a partnership with legendary announcer Ken Squier and the two regained control of Thunder Road Interational Speedbowl in 1982. From there, the duo grew it into the gold standard for short track stock car racing in the United States and North America.
Curley instituted the legendary Flying Tiger division in the track’s return and has since been one of the nation’s top intermediate divisions since that time. He is touted for his creation of the track’s ladder system that has seen many of the track’s top driver start in the entry level Street Stock division and work their way through the Flying Tigers and into the Late Model ranks, with many going on to further regional and national success.
Curley oversaw multiple changes with the American-Canadian Tour throughout its tenure, the biggest coming in 1995 when the famed Pro Stock Tour folded and the Late Model program taking center stage. From there, Curley engineered the famed “Spec Motor” program and began to put together a universal rules packages, focusing on controlled costs and level playing fields, for Late Model racing that is still used throughout New England today.
Curley was named North American Promoter of the Year by Racing Promotion Monthly in 2004, the nation’s top stock car auto racing promotion award, and was the Northeast Promoter of the Year three times. He was named Trackside Magazine Promoter of the Year in 1992 and Lowes Motor Speedway National Short Track Promoter of the Year in 2003.
He was inducted in the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2009 and honored by the Vermont Sports Hall of Fame in 2014 with the David Haskins Memorial Award.
When asked what his biggest influence was in an interview in 2013, he cited a famous Robert Kennedy quote: “Some men see things as they are and say “why.” I dream things that never were and say “why not.”
Curley was 73 years old.