SEEKONK, Mass. — Story by Race Chaser Online New England Correspondent Kyle Souza — Lester Gray/Seekonk Speedway photo — The name Rollie Lindblad has made headlines in the Northeast going back to the 1960s.
Back then, Rollie raced his self-built dragster at Connecticut Dragway, but that was only the beginning of the Lindblad story.
Rollie moved on from dragsters to build Pro Stocks, midgets and modifieds, three of the divisions he has been a part of in some way since he began in racing.
Lindblad’s midgets dominated the whole of the 1970s. With Butch Walsh winning the NEMA championship in 1973, things shot off for Rollie and many turned their heads to see what he was doing. The team added titles in 1974 and 1978 with Johnny Mann and Dave Humphries, respectively, behind the wheel, two of the best midget racers of all-time in the Northeast.
Rollie rounded his midget campaign out with multiple championships by veteran Drew Fonoro, who went on to win many more races during his career.
The story of Lindblad doesn’t end there; there are stories for days on end about the historic and win-filled career of Lindblad in the Northeast region. However, instead of the past, let’s dive into the present day stats for the famous Lindblad No. 48.
After multiple years away from Seekonk, Rollie and the gang decided to return late in the 2013 season, with multiple time track champion Rick Martin at the controls. Martin struggled to grab a handle at first and the team never really got the setup where it needed, thus struggling to finish inside the top five on any occasion.
The off-season saw many changes for Lindblad in setup, along with the addition of a new driver behind the wheel. While Rick Martin decided to return to racing full-time with his own ride, Lindblad was forced to search for a driver that would run his car for for the full 2014 season.
Ryan Lineham quickly stepped up to the plate, putting his former Street Stock days in the rear-view mirror and jumping behind the wheel of one of the most storied cars to ever hit the New England racing scene.
Lineham had come off one full season in the Late Models and had one career Street Stock championship on his resume, but many people were speculating if this was the right decision for the team to make.
Now looking at the final week of the season, it appears the decision that Rollie made was a good one.
Lineham has been a consistent front runner in the Pro Stocks, collecting multiple top five and top ten finishes during his 2014 season. The one night that stood out for the team was earlier in June, when a breakthrough that many people said wouldn’t happen, finally did.
Freddy Astle had led much of the 40-lap Pro Stock main until Lineham came to strike. Ryan used a crossover move to slide under Astle, pick up the advantage and eventually walk away with his first career Pro Stock victory. Not only was the emotion high for Ryan, but emotion was equally high for Lindblad, finally scoring a victory after years of absence from the speedway.
Today race fans see the famed No. 48 in the pit area and still walk by and point saying, “That’s the Lindblad ride!” Rollie and his team have worked hard every single week this season to maintain the storied legacy of his car not just for himself, but for the fans as well, and it’s finally paying dividends.
Every time the Pro Stocks roll onto the race track and fans hear, “Lindblad Special Number 48,” from track announcer Kevin Boucher, they know history is among them.
And for Ryan, Lindblad and the whole squad behind that yellow machine, they have a lot to celebrate and be proud of this year, with hopes of much more history yet to come.