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Former racer cherishes his fans, memories
CHERISHED — Former stock car racer Glenn Andrews, from Harrison, holds up a replica of his 1956 Ford, known by fans as "The Lady Bug," which was made by some of his dearest friends and fans, Cliff and Mike Parsons.
TROPHIES — Glenn Andrews, left, holds the replica of his 1956 Ford made by Mike Parsons, right. Parsons and his father Cliff made the replica as a way to thank Andrews for his care and generosity when Parsons was injured in a bicycle accident years ago. Parsons, one of Andrews' biggest fans, holds up the first place trophy that Andrews won in a race at Oxford Plains Speedway and gave to him as a gift.
HARRISON — Twenty-year stock car racing veteran Glenn Andrews, now 77, of Harrison says although he hasn't raced since the early 1970s, he still gets choked up reminiscing.
He had some pretty amazing fans back in the day, Andrews says – even some he's become close friends with over the years.
"They bring out the good things in life," says Andrews, proudly. You can sense the pride as soon as the subject of his early dirt track racing days are mentioned.
Andrews says he even has fans from Vermont who visit him and his wife, Helen, once in awhile – most recently, in June.
But there is one fan in particular, Mike Parsons, whom Andrews has gotten to know and who he still appreciates very much, he said, pointing to a letter dated September 9, 1967.
"We greatly appreciated your attention to Mike when he was ill," wrote Clifford and Mary Parsons of Paris in the letter addressed to Andrews.
"Your thoughtfulness meant so much to him and also to us. To see his eyes light up with happiness when you came to see him and when you brought him the trophy meant so very much to us as parents who only three weeks before expected he would be taken from us."
Parsons, who was 10 years old at the time, is now a resident of Norway.
"He [Parsons] was coming down on a bicycle on [Streaked] Mountain hill. He took a tumble on his bicycle and they thought he was going to die. He was a fan of mine ... so I took a lot of interest right off," says Andrews explaining what prompted the letter.
Andrew recalls he felt so touched by the letter he presented Parsons with a first place trophy he won at Oxford Plains Speedway in 1967.
On Monday, Andrews said that he was surprised to find out Parsons had kept the trophy after 45 years.
"I wouldn't part with it," Parsons said.
"I thought it was very impressive that he'd give up a trophy that he'd won!"
And while he learned now that those trophies weren't too expensive, to Parsons, as a child, receiving it meant a lot.
"I would've thought he'd want to keep every single one of them. So I thought it was pretty special that someone would give that up," said Parsons.
"We've been friends for years," says Andrews, of the Parsons family. Andrews says he loves visiting with his fans, as it's a chance to remember all the great times he had racing.
The same is true for Parsons. "He stopped at the house one night; he picked me up and took me for a ride," he said. "We've always been friends and speak whenever we see each other, ever since. He's been very good to me over the years."
Along with the letter, fans from all over have sent Andrews photographs of his early racing days, even some with the first car he drove at the age of 14.
Andrews' first stock car race was in 1950 at Oxford Plains Speedway, racing a 1932 Ford Model B, he remembers.
His career consists of many feature wins at several tracks, including Oxford, Unity, the old Arundel Speedway, the Thunder Road International Speedbowl in Barre, VT and the historic Northeastern Speedway in Waterford, VT, where Andrews won eight races and the track championship in 1960.
Though Andrews is retired and no longer races, he was recently inducted into the Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame, which Andrews feels "fortunate" to be a member of.
Andrews also cherishes the memories he has of taking Parsons around the Oxford track in his red and white 1956 Ford, known among race fans as "The Lady Bug."
"I took him around the track and it was quite a thing," says Andrews. Thinking back, it made him feel "very good" to share his experience with someone else, he says.
Parsons appreciated the ride so much that he and his father created a replica of the car and gave it to Andrews as a way to say "thanks."
"Back in the '60s, I used to go to the races all the time," Parsons recalled. "My folks would take me. I always liked the color of his car. We went over to meet him [Andrews] one time, and after that, I liked talking with him and going to see the races that much more."
"I call it my trophy," says Andrews, holding up the miniature red and white car, which he says he still cherishes to this day. "It's always out on display."
"It's one of my more valued trophies," says Andrews.
Even though it's been over 40 years, Andrews says it still makes him feel good that someone would do that.
"It meant a lot to me," he says. "The [trophy and] letter really tells the story, and how people do care."
For Andrews, the feeling's mutual. "I cherish my fans," he says. "They are great fans – and I just want to thank them for staying with me for so many years."
Not to mention he really misses the sport.
"I will always miss it," he says. "It gets in your system."
Edited on August 16 to correct the kind of vehicle Andrews used to drive – a 1956 Ford.
NUMBER ONE FAN — Andrews holds up a crayon drawing of his 1938 Plymouth Coupe that one of his "number one fans" – Raymond Chase, now 55 – drew for him as a little boy.