If you read these posts regularly, you know about our affection for the Modifieds that race on the dirt tracks of the Northeast. For the uninitiated, a Modified is a stock car with open wheels, the direct descendant of the prewar coupes that shoved the Midgets aside in weekly Northeast auto racing after World War II. A tube-frame car with upright center seating and a replica production body, a Modified can be commonly powered by a Chevrolet big-block displacing 467 cubic inches. The unquestioned home turf for dirt Modifieds is upstate New York, plus Ontario and Quebec in Canada; they’re almost as numerous in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. But other pockets of Modified fandom exist: Vermont, western Ohio, and the Delmarva Peninsula. One of the stars from the last circuit, for many years, was Harold Bunting, a native of Milford in downstate Delaware. On July 23rd, he will become the first racer from Delaware to be enshrined in the Northeast Dirt Modified Museum and Hall of Fame in Weedsport, New York.
Bunting started out racing karts before getting his first crack at a dirt Modified in 1969. He amassed an amazing 53 feature event wins, using both V-8 and six-cylinder power, in 1973 at all four Delaware dirt tracks: Delaware International Speedway, Georgetown, the now-defunct Little Lincoln Speedway and the Delaware State Fairgrounds in Harrington. This image by photographer Don Allen Jr., supplied by hall of fame selection committee chairwoman and racing journalist Buffy Swanson, depicts Bunting with the ride for which he’s arguably best known, the Blue Hen Racing number 30 fielded by Eugene Mills, himself a hall of fame inductee. They combined to run up 29 feature wins in Delaware and New Jersey from 1981 through 1983. Bunting them teamed up with car own Steve Dale through 1986, when he captured 13 races and season championships at all three active Delaware dirt tracks. At the height of his career, Bunting retired from driving, having amassed 234 career feature wins at speedways in Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia.