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Donald F. MacLaren, age 75, a longtime Tewksbury businessman and
Hall of Fame driver, died Wednesday, January 12, at Lowell General
Hospital following a brief illness. He was the fiancÚ of Lorraine
Reiss-Campbell, with whom they had planned a spring wedding.
He was born in Tewksbury, May 19, 1935, a son of the late George and
Myrtle (Flint) MacLaren. He lived in Tewksbury for most of his life.
During the Korean War, he enlisted into the U.S. Army. He was a
member of the Tewksbury- Wilmington Elks Lodge 2070, American Legion
and Veterans of Foreign Wars. He founded and continued to operate 5
D's Welding Company in Tewksbury.
Don's passion was stock cars, specifically the super modified class
stock car. He built and drove dozens of them during his long history
of racing. He earned numerous titles and championships during his
racing career, highlighted by his induction into the New England
Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2002.
He is survived by four children, Donald W. MacLaren and his wife
Linda (Kirkland) of Tewksbury, Douglas MacLaren and his wife Gisele
(Boucher) of Dracut, Daren MacLaren and his wife Ellen (Herlihy) of
Londonderry, NH, Bonnie Capuano and her husband Michael of
Tewksbury; nine grandchildren, Donald R. MacLaren and Jennifer
Kelley both of Tewksbury, Jonathan MacLaren and Renee MacLaren both
of Dracut, Kayla MacLaren of Londonderry, NH, Michael Capuano of
Dracut, Kimberly Capuano, USAF, currently stationed in Augusta, GA,
Kerri Capuano of Tewksbury, and Adam Silva of Townsend; two great
grandchildren, Quentin and Aidan; three sisters, Beverly Beckwith of
Durham, ME, Priscilla Blumenstock of Dalton Gardens, ID, and Louise
Dlugolenski of Apopka, FL; and numerous nieces, nephews, and racing
friends both locally and across the Eastern Seaboard of the US.
He was also father of the late Dennis MacLaren; and brother of the
late Philip, Lloyd, George, Willa Wolcott, and Pauline McClendon.
Visiting hours Monday 4 to 8 p.m. in the funeral home. His funeral
service will be held Tuesday, Jan. 18, at 10:00a.m. at the funeral
home followed by burial with Army Honors at Pine Ridge Cemetery,
Chelmsford. In lieu of flowers, memorials to The American Heart
Association, 20 Speen st., Framingham, MA 01701 will be appreciated.
Biography from NEAR Website
Don MacLaren drove his first race on his 15th birthday, driving a
homebuilt supermodified, a Willys Coupe with a Ford engine. Telling
officials at the Norwood Arena he was 18 years old, MacLaren went
out and won the first heat he ever drove.
From Canada to Florida, Don has won well over 500 races. His 1st big
win came at Oswego, driving the Tewksbury Auto Parts "Flying 5".
Today, MacLaren says no one win, or one championship, stands out.
"Each week was exciting as hell", says the gentle giant
affectionately known as "Big Daddy". "Each feature win was exciting,
each championship a battle. You took your car home, worked on it,
slept with it, and worked on it some more. If you worked hard
enough, you'd win."
Dick Berggren remembers one classic NESRA season opener at Thompson.
"Ollie (Silva) and Don (MacLaren) were racing side by side with
three laps to go. Ollie was the classic hero, and, in the eyes of
the crowd, MacLaren was the classic villain. Three laps they ran
side by side, with neither driver giving an inch. They took the
white flag, and both drove deep into the turn, with neither driver
lifting. Big Daddy was on the inside, Ollie on the outside, and both
drove in too deep. They never touched, but both cars spun at the
same time, with Eddie West coming through to take the win." Don
grinned after hearing the story retold. "Ollie and I would start
dead last every week, and battle our way through the pack. That's
what made it exciting. That's what made it fun", says Don.
Don was a fierce competitor on the track, but a gentleman once the
racecar was parked. Berggren remembers Ollie and Sue Silva's wedding
day. "Sue was sooooo worried to learn that MacLaren was coming to
the wedding. 'What would he do?', Sue wondered. Would there be a
fist fight? Would he drive a car through the reception hall? What
would happen? Well, Don showed up". Dick continued. "He was a