When he picked up the phone, Lee Bundy had just wrapped up his day doing some AC work in his shop. Sitting on his porch in Maine with his dog, we began our conversation and almost immediately it took a different direction than I had originally planned.

Bundy has returned to racing in 2024 and to Legend Cars, a vehicle he hasn’t driven since the mid-1990s. The call ended up being a series of small snippets of his life, which of course began during his childhood. He was raised in Kennebunkport, Maine and was raised by his grandmother and her brother. They made their living selling flowers and raising chickens. Bundy’s assistance in the family business began at the age of nine, when he sold flowers to hotels. It was at this time he watched his grandmother’s brother’s work ethic, as he worked seven days a week to provide. Something that has stuck with him all his life. At 16, he attempted to join the United States Marine Corps in 1959.

“I got halfway there and they figured it out and sent me home,” Bundy shared.

The next year he officially joined the Marines and eventually found his way to Camp Pendleton in California. At one point during one of his leaves, he helped a fellow Marine’s family move to Indiana, where he even spent time on a farm picking corn. But did you know he was a move star?

Okay, maybe he wasn’t the star of the movie, but Bundy was an extra in the 1961 film, Marines, Let’s Go. He explained that the film production needed some spare hands and being from Maine proved to be an advantage.

“They needed a few Marines to do different things, like walk behind the trucks and all that kind of stuff,” said Bundy. “It was in the winter time at Mount Fuji and it would snow. So, the guys from the Northeast, there wasn’t many of us, we could deal with the snow but the boys from down south didn’t do well. I tell yeah, the snow line up on Mount Fuji, it gets pretty cold up there.”

Bundy doesn’t care for the snow and winter, but his mechanical business makes some money during the winter months, so he doesn’t complain, too much.

His first taste of auto racing, aside from “wrecking cars in the Marine Corps in California,” was after he his time in the Marines. He spent many years in motocross, then he moved on to enduros. In 1992 he bought a champ kart and “ended up whooping everybody.” It was around that time that Legend Cars found their way to Maine.

“I bought my first Legend Car from Charlotte and had it shipped up here on a flatbed,” recalled Bundy. “I remember the first time I got in it to bring it to the body shop to get painted. I did a 360 by the time I let the clutch out. And I said, ‘Oh boy, this thing has more stuff than I figured.’”

Not the biggest fan of the then tires on a Legend Car, going as far as saying they didn’t even belong on a wheelbarrow. He knew a guy in Scarborough, Maine who ran a speed shop who then assisted with getting half the rubber taken off the tires at a recap shop.

“If I remember right, [Legend Cars] had Carrera Shocks on them at first and were four-way adjustable,” said Bundy. “[My friends] Robby and Barry Meserve knew somebody at Carrera and they had a list of where the shocks needed to be for each track in Maine. That was a big help.”

For the next few years he raced Legend Cars and won races. He even was invited to go test at a horse track at the Skowhegan Fairgrounds. At the time, Gary Dunphy was the dealer in Maine and he invited Bundy to tag along. Bundy started to chuckle as he shared how after only two laps people were yelling and waving their arms at them to stop because they were tossing rocks all the way to the top of the grandstands. The man who was in charge started to yell at Dunphy, who was also in a Legend Car, but Dunphy kept his Legend Car at half throttle in order not to hear what was being said. It was a short, but fun experience.

Bundy has also had his share of what he referred to as “rides.” The common word would be “wrecks,” but listening to him you probably thing he was on a ride more so than just a crash. His biggest was at New London-Waterford Speedbowl in 2001. That day he was testing a NEMA midget and if you blinked while driving one at New London-Waterford, you missed the entire straight. That’s how fast you went.

He was asked by the person who built the chassis what the RPM was reading because he was lifting his front tires off turn four. As he checked, he slammed into the turn one wall at 130 mph.

“I broke my left leg, my right arm, broke all the bones in my face, had five skull fractures, and lost all the hearing in my right ear.”

He attributes his survival to his cheek bones being broken, which relieved the pressure in his head. It would be four months before he was cleared to strap back into a race car again.

Bundy quickly moved on to his next “ride” story. “At Thompson Speedway, I ran over some wheels and was told I set the record for a midget going in the air some 30 odd feet upside down,” he said.

A driver ahead of him “was paying more attention to the infield” and swerved in front of Bundy’s car unexpectedly. Bundy’s midget climbed over the top of the driver’s right rear tire and soared into the air, landing on his wing. That was the only thing damaged in the accident however and with a quick repair was back racing.

His crew chief that day was Glen Cabral, who he met after purchasing his first NEMA midget from Skip Armstrong that had originally belonged to Jerry Dolliver, who had passed away in 1991.

“A guy by the name of Skip Armstrong, a good friend of his, took his car, put it in his garage in mothballs and that was supposed to have been the end of it,” Bundy started. “Somebody sent me in the direction of Skip, so I showed up at his house and told him that maybe I’d like to buy it.”

Armstrong told Bundy that he’d think about it and call him. A few days later, Armstrong called him back and thought selling the car to him would be something Dolliver would’ve wanted. A few friends helped Bundy fix up the car and getting it ready for the track once again. The first time he took it to the track was at Thompson Speedway. The car jumped from left to right several feet and Bundy received assistance from Cabral to fix the car’s setup.

The conversation drifted to the current Nelcar Tour and GO Motorsports, and Bundy praising one of the series managers, Kevin Girard. The subject of road course racing came up about how Nelcar is hosting road course races at Thompson to be compliment the Granite State Legends Cars series at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. He was surprised to hear that Legend Cars used the full frontstretch at New Hampshire while road course racing there. Which stirred up his own unique memory at The Magic Mile.

Bundy recounted the time he took his NEMA midget around New Hampshire Motor Speedway’s mile oval. Yes, you read that right. He drove a NEMA midget around the entirety of New Hampshire’s one-mile oval.

“We were [burning] a gallon of methanol fuel a lap. We only ran like three laps and I remember going into turn one and it was like being on an ice pond. Can you image how fast we were going?”

For reference, Bundy estimated that a NEMA midget could hold 12 gallons of fuel. That would be a very short race or a pitstop filled one around New Hampshire.

The first time Bundy ever ran ran an official race on dirt was in 2001 during that year's Chili Bowl in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He was so green to the dirt racing world that he didn't know who he offered to help when he saw someone stuggling to park their truck and trailer. Bundy offered to help the guy who said, "You think you can do better?" 

Bundy responded with, "I don't know but I certainly can do better than you're doing."

The driver of the truck was Benny "Wahoo" Taylor, a well known dirt racer in his time. Bundy and Taylor would end up parking next to one another again inside the arena. When Taylor crashed his car early in the event and was preparing to go pack up because his car was beyond repair. Bundy, along with two friends from NEMA, helped fix Taylor's car before the next day. For his efforts, Bundy was awarded the 2001 Chili Bowl Sportsman Award.

Bundy has done a lot of racing and has lived a fast life. He’s still doing it at 81, so I asked him if he feels 81 years old? His answer was philosophical.   

“I’m not sure how that is supposed to feel.”

Quickly, he pivoted to a story about how he owns and observed trials bike, specifically an Electric Motion, which he said that it’s great for exercise but he also hurts himself every time he hops on it. He did an observed trial run last year and after three sections, he was “hating life,” because he was so exhausted he could hardly move.

Despite it all, he has returned to not only Legend Cars in 2024 but also racing. About 12 years ago he put racing on the hold when his wife unexpectedly passed away and was left to raise their five-year-old daughter on his own. Now that she is old enough, he wanted to get back behind the wheel.

With the cost of racing NEMA midgets being too high to simply be able to compete, he chose the Legend Car for its affordability and because they are fun. It’s a completely different experience in 2024 compared to those early years. The cars look the same but drive different with today’s brakes, tires, and engines.

Even Girard was taken aback when Bundy said how hold he was while they filled out some paperwork and he kindly said to Kevin, “Remember how old you were when I first started in Legend Cars?”

What is it about racing that has kept Bundy interested for over 60 years? When asked, he replied with a non-racing story.

“Years ago, I was on my [Honda] ST1300. I bought one of those a long time ago and one morning I was out on one of the backroads and the Bushs were here.”

Former President of the United States, George H. W. Bush and his wife, Barbara, were at the Walker’s Pointe Estate, aka the Bush Compound.

“There was this straight stretch of road and I looked down and I was doing 139 mph. I happened to catch my mirror, [and I had] headlights about a half mile behind me. I didn’t have blue lights, just headlights. I backed it down a little bit for about two or three more miles until the road comes out to Route 9, a pretty busy road.

“I could see the car coming up behind me pretty hard and it turned out to be a [Ford] Crown Vic. It slides past me smoking the tires and goes down Route 9. Nothing was said. The next day I’m in the post office and the chief of police is coming out and he says, ‘How was your ride yesterday?’ And I said, ‘Interesting.’”

The chief of police replied to Bundy saying, “That’s what I’ve heard.”

When not racing, Bundy keeps busy with his mechanical business. At 81, there seems to be no slowing down and his track record, pun intended, doesn’t indicate that he will any time soon.

“I’ve always had a tendency to go fast.”