Nancy Lombardo first showed up at New England Dragway in the early 1970s when her husband at the time, Tom Johnson, decided to stop street racing. Nancy soon became an integral part of the New England Dragway community.
Back then having a Chevy Suburban was the equivalent of a Provost Motor Coach today, so raising two children and having a husband that raced was no easy task. Luckily Nancy had a strong ability to notice things that looked out of place, such as the time that Tom tried to take their son Jeff for a ride in the 442 without a helmet.
As the children, Jeff and daughter Michelle and got older, Nancy began to work part-time at the track. Nancy could be found selling tickets or handing out time slips. She soon transitioned into the tower assisting with the pairings and dial-ins. Nancy could also be seen walking the track and noticing the smallest of items out of place. Over the years Nancy earned a solid position in the tower for her keen eye, ability to decipher dial-ins written in all kinds of formats, and located in any number of locations. That is no easy task, but it’s an essential function in maintaining a fair and timely event.
Nancy earned the nickname “Eagle Eye” during this period for her ability to see everything that went on, including identifying when something was out of place on the race track, and when there was a problem with a vehicle or a driver. Nancy has continued to persevere over the years, with a personal commitment to ensure that the racers at New England Dragway have a safe and positive experience. No one can fully appreciate the commitment and personal sacrifices she has made over the years.
Nancy is fully capable of operating the various track equipment and is often seen driving the vacuum truck around the facility cleaning up after a storm. Nancy is not afraid to take on anything that needs to be done, including emptying trash barrels at night when the rubbish company may not have performed as expected. She truly does whatever she can to support the racers, spectators, and track.
Nancy has outlasted five managers, including her current husband Joe Lombardo’s 23-year tenure, and is currently keeping an eye on her sixth, Ron Heath. Members of the board and racing community will tell you that Nancy is perhaps more important to the racing operations on a daily basis than the manager, so we should always remember who the boss really is.
Now referred to as “Hawk-Eye,” Nancy is really the Guardian Angel that watches over all of us that enter the hallowed gates of New England Dragway. We are truly blessed that Nancy has been here to ensure fair and safe competition over the years.
The Orientals Hot Rod Club is honored to induct Nancy Lombardo into the 2018 class of the New England Hot Rod Hall of Fame.