50 Greatest Modified Drivers – George “Moose” Hewitt 1933-1997
“Backyard Independent Racer”
George “Moose” Hewitt raced regularly at Stafford during the 1970s and has four feature wins there to his credit including the Winston 100 on August 26, 1975. A carpenter by trade, Hewitt worked seven days a week often putting in 12 hour days in order to be able to afford his desire to own and race his own cars. Hewitt was a unique racer. He not only drove Modifieds, but he built them and did most of the engine work himself right up until he passed away in 1997.
Before getting into auto racing, Hewitt was a factory rider for the Indian Motorcycle Company and was extremely successful on the tough New England Motorcycle Scramble trail. After a 1960 New England Championship, an attic full of trophies, many wins and broken bones, he retired from motorcycles to devote more time to his young family. Midway through 1966 he joined the Novice division at the Waterford Speedbowl and his career in auto racing began. At the conclusion of his first year he had two wins to his credit, but the division was eliminated and the decision was made to build a Modified for the track’s top division.
The first year was one of learning. His first victory came during his second year in competition and from then on he became a consistent top finisher at the shoreline oval. By late 1969, Hewitt was in contention for the track’s Modified Championship. With only a few weeks left in the season, Hewitt got involved in a dispute with another competitor and was suspended by the track management for two weeks. Unhappy with the track’s decision, Hewitt joined NASCAR and finished out the year on the old Stafford, Norwood, and Thompson circuit.
NASCAR outlawed fuel injection on Modifieds for the 1970 season and that ruling played into Hewitt’s hand and at the same time, Stafford, as well as Thompson, went to the 25-lap features formats instead of the single 30 or 50 lap features. Stafford opened the 1970 season on April 18 and Hewitt evenly split the top honors with then ‘King Pin’ Bugsy Stevens. Hewitt finished second to Stevens in the first 25-lapper and Stevens finished second to Hewitt in the second event. In what was to be his best season, Hewitt ended up with top-five points finishes at Stafford and Thompson as well as a top-five in the NASCAR Connecticut State Point Championship.
From 1971 through 1975 Hewitt drove his own cars plus those of Bob Johnson, Fred Doolittle, Craig Kirchoff, and Hank Milum. In addition to weekly racing at Stafford and Thompson, Hewitt raced at Malta, New York, Martinsville, Virginia, Trenton, New Jersey, Longhorne and Pocono in Pennsylvania. In 1976 Hewitt made the decision to return to Waterford as costs for a competitive Modified were getting out of reach for the average working man.
With the exception of a few SK Modified® events at Stafford and Thompson during his later years, Hewitt remained at Waterford until he passed away after returning from Speedweeks in Florida in 1997. Hewitt was the perfect example of the independent backyard racer. Through all of his years in racing he continued to work a full time job, plus always found time to spend with his family. One the Fifty Greatest Modified Drivers of All-Time, George “Moose” Hewitt will always have a place in Stafford Motor Speedway’s History.
By: Phil Smith