Pioneer Racing Promoter C.J. Richards Passes

Photo courtesy of CVRA.com

Charles James “C.J.” Richards, 74, of Rutland and a former resident of Fair Haven, died Thursday evening February 9, 2012, at his residence following a long illness.

He was born on July 17, 1937, in Rutland, the son of Leon and Marion (McGuire) Richards.

Mr. Richards grew up in West Haven on his family’s farm where he attended local schools, graduating from the Fair Haven High School. He attended Ithaca College and Castleton State College.

He established the Champlain Valley Racing Association (CVRA) in 1960, first leasing the Fairmont Speedway in Fair Haven, then during the winter of 1966 he built the Devil’s Bowl Speedway in West Haven, opening it in 1967. In 1977 he leased the Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, N.Y., prior to purchasing the track. He also owned and operated the Airborne Park Speedway in Plattsburgh, N.Y., for many years. He was a pioneer in many aspects in the sport of racing and was one of the original founders of the Northeast NASCAR tour.

Racing Promoters Monthly named Mr. Richards the Northeast Promoter of the Year in 1997. He was also a member of the New York State Stock Car Association (NYSSCA) Hall of Fame.

He was a member of American Legion Post #31, and the Benevolent and Protective order of Elks #345, both in Rutland.

Mr. Richards enjoyed hunting, fishing and golfing.

Survivors include his wife Jo Anne Richards whom he married on August 19, 2000; a daughter Sharon Richards of Malta, N.Y.; three sons, Timothy and his wife Eileen Richards of Hampton, N.Y., and their two sons Scott and Patrick; Jerry Richards of Fair Haven and his children Rachel (Mike) Totten, Cody, and Kaylee; and Bruce and his wife Salina of Malta, N.Y., and their children Evelyn and Connor; a step-daughter Kristine Lovullo and her daughter Allison, and a step-son Michael Lovullo, all of Rutland; a sister Marleen Cenate and Marc Bates of Pittsford, VT, and their children Lee Ann and Hunter, and grandson Jayden; a brother Raymond Richards and his wife Carol of West Haven, and their children Michael, Sue Ann, Marcia and Amy; and two great-grandchildren Kaidyn and Lillian. He also leaves his beloved dog K-Cee.

He was predeceased by his first wife Judith L. Richards in 1997, his parents and a brother-in-law Jim Salvi.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, Feb. 13, 2012, at the First Congregational Church of Fair Haven. Burial will be at a later date in the Fairview Cemetery in Benson.

Arrangements are by Aldous Funeral Home and Cremation Service.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Rutland Area Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice, c/o Rutland Health Foundation, 433 West St., Rutland, VT 05701; or to Regional Ambulance Service Inc., 275 Stratton Road, Rutland, VT 05701.

Published: February 11, 2012
Rutland Hearld