50 Greatest Modified Drivers – Carl “Bugsy” Stevens
Carl ‘Bugsy’ Stevens is a four-time Stafford Modified track champion. Stevens, who has 72 wins, all on asphalt, is the only driver to win track championships on both dirt (1966) and asphalt (1968, 1971, and 1974). During his career at Stafford, he drove for John Koszela, Sr. on dirt and then on asphalt for Len Boehler, John ‘Sonny’ Koszela, Jr., Joe Brady, and he closed out his Modified career in the Garbarino Brothers Mystic Missile.
Stevens began his racing career in 1957 while in the Air Force in Texas. He was discharged in 1968 and began racing at Seekonk in 1961 where he won his first track championship. Stevens joined forces with Len Boehler in 1965 and moved up to the tough NASCAR Modifieds in 1966. He took the New England scene by storm winning track championships at Norwood Arena and Thompson plus the dirt championship at Stafford. At season end, he found himself in the second spot for the 1966 NASCAR National Modified Championship.
Starting in 1967, Stevens and Boehler wracked up three consecutive NASCAR Modified championships. In addition to the New England circuit, the pair raced at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, NY, Catamount Stadium in Milton, VT, Utica-Rome in Vernon, NY, and at Trenton.
Stevens backed off in 1970 as a Grand National ride materialized. After a split season, he returned to the Modifieds where he stayed until he retired in 1987.
During his short stay in the south, Stevens raced at Charlotte, Darlington, and Atlanta.
Always popular with the fans, Stevens, at one time, had over 500 people in his fan club. He was a promoter’s dream. Whenever he was advertised to be racing, he would bring at least 800-1,000 fans.
In addition to his national championships and four titles at Stafford, Stevens also recorder track titles at Norwood (2), Seekonk (3), Thompson (2), Albany-Saratoga (1), and Catamount Stadium (1). He won major events at Trenton, NJ and was a multi-time winner at Martinsville, VA.
As a fitting tribute, Stevens was inducted into the New England Antique Racers Hall of Fame in February 1998 as well as being voted one of the Fifty Greatest Modified Drivers of All-Time.
By: Phil Smith