THOMPSON, CT – This January, within four days the Northeast Modified racing community lost two pioneers. Photographer, Howie Hodge, and Modified legend, Leo “The Lion” Cleary, both passed away. At this weekend’s Icebreaker, Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park Officials have announced that they will honor the memory of both men, inviting their families’ as honored guests.
Howie Hodge, who has been a photographer on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, as well as other NASCAR regional touring series, has also frequented the infields of short tracks throughout the country, but most consistently in his home state of Connecticut. For nearly 50 years, Howie shared his passion for motorsports photography with his wife, Mary. The two were married for 53 years, and spent 50 of those years providing the motorsports community with many memories, memorializing – through photo – some of the sport’s iconic events and moments.
Mary, along with her son, Kevin, will be on hand to honor Howie’s late memory during pre-race ceremonies on Sunday afternoon, April 2. Also, Kevin Hodge will act as the Honorary Starter for the 150-lap NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race.
Three short days after Hodge’s passing, Leo Cleary passed away. Known for being an cagey and aggressive driver, Cleary earned the nickname of “The Lion.” He was fearless, and raced as often as he could, frequenting tracks throughout the northeast. Cleary etched his name indelibly into the Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park record books in 1967, winning a Modified Championship.
Cleary’s sons will be on hand on Sunday to honor their late father’s memory, and they will also give the command to start engines for the Sunoco Modified 30-lap main event.
Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park Officials invite friends, family, and fans to join them in honoring these two pioneers, reflecting on the great contributions that they have made to the Northeast Modified racing community.
For more information on the Icebreaker, which is scheduled for Friday, March 31 – Sunday, April 2, please visit thompsonspeedway.com, or follow their social media channels.
-Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park Press Release.