By mid July of 1974, Joey Kourafas had already won just about every major race on the northern Late Model Sportsman tour. 

At the tender age of 21, he was beating veteran drivers more than twice his age on tracks they’d been running forever. It’s no wonder they called him ‘Kid’ Kourafas, because in that era, unlike the teenage revolution we see now, you still were at 21.

“I’m still a kid today,” the now 63-year-old Kourafas said. “I’m working on race cars and really enjoy going to the tracks. I still manage to have my share of fun.”

Kourafas, of Sharon, Massachusetts, won the inaugural Oxford 200 on July, 14, 1974. Driving a Chevrolet for car owner Bob Curtis against New England’s top talent and several veterans from the south, he started 19th on the 38-car grid and steadily worked his way into contention.  

He had a little luck on his side when George Summers ran out of gas while leading the race (200 laps that year) with roughly 10 laps to go and brought out a caution. 

“I saw George almost a straightaway ahead of me fall off the pace as his car started to sputter. I had been thinking about how I was going to get around the six lapped cars between us to get to him, and we get a caution as he coasts onto pit road.

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“I remember looking over at Steve Poulin, who was running beside me at the time, thinking it was going to be me and John Rosati in a final sprint to the finish.” 

Kourafas had ample car to fend off a hard-charging Rosati on the ensuing restart, and drove on to etch his name into history and record the biggest victory of a stellar 22-year driving career. Summers charged back to third in the closing laps.

Despite taking a couple of breaks from the sport, Kourafas returned sharper than ever when NASCAR returned to New England in 1987. Driving for famed car owner Sandy McKinnon, he won the Busch Grand National North championship.

In that unforgettable 1974 season, Kourafas also won “King of the Road” honors at Vermont’s famed Thunder Road at a time when veterans typically ruled the Barre highbanks. To quote Hall of Fame broadcaster and track owner Ken Squier, it was a time when “common men performed uncommon deeds.” 

The New England Auto Racers Hall of Famer (Class of 2012) now serves as Crew Chief for Modified driver Richard Savary, of Canton, Massachusetts. The team races in the Tri-Track Modified Series at Star Speedway, Monadnock (both in NH), Seekonk (MA) and at the Waterford Speedbowl in Connecticut.   

“Richard is a talented driver, and I think I still know a little about how to set up a race car,” Kourafas said. “I really enjoy working with him, and running at a few different tracks it keeps it interesting. 

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“It’s no cakewalk on the Tri-Track Series, especially when you’re up against guys like Keith Rocco, Woody Pitkat and Ted Christopher in their home territory. You have to be pretty well dialed in and run as hard as possible to beat those guys.”

Still active, still competitive and involved with racing after all these years. When people say Joey Kourafas is one of the nicest living legends of New England short track racing, they’re saying it from the heart.

His unmatched driving resume, vast mechanical skills and easy-going personality make him a terrific ambassador for an ever-changing sport. It’s a sport forever blessed just to have him strap into a race car on any given Saturday or Sunday.”

“I drove for some great car owners, had several smart people working on the cars, and had some great results over a lot of years. The names I raced against changed from the early days until the end, but we always managed to stay competitive.”

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