By Brian Danko, Staff Writer
The New Britain Herald & Bristol Press
Photos & Video Courtesy of Tom Ormsby's
How many people would admit to having
a clown as your father? Sure, there are many family members who you
wouldn’t claim but this clown was beloved to thousands of people and a
father to two special girls.
John ‘Butch’ Farone of Berlin led a double life. He was a father, husband,
friend and also a clown. You see Butch moonlighted as the famous Seymour T
Clown in his second life. He was the clown ‘clowning’ around at the
Stafford Motor Speedway every week pulling pranks on drivers and bringing
smiles to every kid and parent alike.
“He made everyone feel special. It didn’t matter if you were handicapped,
small, big, rich or poor he treated everyone equal with such love.” said
his oldest daughter, Angela Muir, now living in Newington after growing up
in New Britain. “Seeing him give that smile, that smile that showed he
According to youngest daughter, Andrea, it was racing that was a big part
of his life, but family, friends and ‘us girls’ were always first.
The toughest part for his daughters was they couldn’t tell anyone he was
their father. “It was tough.” Angela said laughing, “I wanted to tell
everyone especially where we sat every week but I couldn’t and who would
have believed us anyway.”
“You see.” Andrea said, “Seymour never speaked so how could he say he was
our father, even if he wanted too.”
Nationally known television announcer and New Britain native, Jack Arute,
Jr is the one who gave Butch the name of Seymour but said it was a play on
words. “I wanted to play on the name See More at Stafford. He was a
pioneer in the shift of entertaining fans in addition to the racing. What
many don’t know is almost everything he did was contemporaneous, it just
Seymour with Modified Legend Eddie Flemke, Sr.
Seymour at a New Britain Parade with his New Britain
Herald candy bag. Roger Gaudio Photo
Arute, who knew Butch since they were youngsters added, “In the beginning,
he would hand out lollipops in a New Britain Herald newspaper bag to the
kids. That led to the interaction with the drivers and the Legend of
Seymour took root. He was a critical part of Modified Racing’s Heritage.”
It was the mischievous Seymour that the fans loved. Seymour would be on
the track when the drivers were being introduced and he would always be
pulling pranks on such ‘stars’ such as Eddie Flemke, Sr., Bugsy Steven,
Ronnie Bouchard and even Geoff Bodine, who clearly in the beginning didn’t
like the attention.
“Geoff Bodine was winning all the time and he really didn’t have a
personality with the fans. He came over to our house to ask my dad’s
advice on how to be more personable and interact. He listened and my
father came up the idea that he (Bodine) should run for mayor of Stafford
(Speedway) against him.” Angela said. “It was the start of Geoff’s
interaction with the fans.”
If you ever saw Bodine, once he moved to NASCAR’s highest series, the then
Winston Cup, now Sprint Cup series and saw him friendly and jovial with
the fans, it was his learning under the old professor, Seymour.
One of Seymour weekly antics was climbing the fence when certain drivers
would supposedly be ‘upset’ with the clown and they would chase him up the
front stretch fence. After he saw Tony Stewart doing that after winning
races, Butch came up the idea of him and Stewart doing it for a charity
fundraiser but sadly that never took place.
Butch died from colon cancer one month after his wife died of M.S. and he
dedicated his life to doing everything for her when her condition was so
“Being Seymour meant everything to him. He wanted to be the strong father
and not let us know he was dying of cancer. He wrote Jack Arute, Sr. a
note to let him know how much Stafford Speedway meant to him.” Andrea said
while fighting back the tears.
Angela remembers when Stafford decided to let Seymour go as part of their
weekly program and how much it devastated their father.
“You know it was tough because my father worked for the Arute Brothers
Construction Company and they were friends but he knew business was
business and friendship was friendship, one had nothing to do with the
other.” Angela said.
While Seymour was no longer Seymour the Stafford clown, he still was
performing for thousands of fans as other tracks would bring him in to
entertain the fans.
Both daughters remember when drivers like Ronnie Bouchard, Geoff Bodine
and others made it big, racing on television and winning big races he
would always say those are my boys with such pride.
“My dad always put on a show. Whether it is jumping his mini-Gremlin body
styled car over a kids pool filled with ‘piranha’, or crashing his car
into the wall (Styrofoam), the fans, drivers and the kids especially,
loved it.” Angela said.
Both daughters said it was a little odd that they had to share their
father with all of the other kids but they said as they grew older, they
understood what he meant to the other kids.
“He was truly the heartbeat of the racing fans. He did not have any
dislikes of the drivers. He treated everyone the same-with his spirit.”
While Andrea has a three year old son, who didn’t
know his grandfather, she can’t wait until he is old enough to
understand more about his ‘Pops’. “
Seymour making a jump with his Clownmobile.
Bob Parker Photo
“I really want him to meet people who knew him and understand what a
unique and special person he was.”
Butch’s brother, Beetle, who would fill in at times if Butch was running
late from work said they always did it in the spirit of making people
laugh and enjoy themselves.
“He always wanted to make people happy and smile.”
While Seymour did everything in the sport he could, his family, Jack Arute,
Jr. and others feel that he should be inducted into the New England Auto
Racers Hall of Fame for his contributions to auto racing and one day he
will be in, playing havoc with the Hall of Famers.
Tribute to "Butch"
Farone aka Seymour T Clown
More Photos Below Video
Click on Photo for Full Size
Whenever there was a lull in the action you could
count on Seymour to entertain the crowd. Clint
Pete Hamilton & Seymour at Daytona 1972. Clint Lawton Photo
1978 at Stafford with Geoff Bodine and a young Mike
Brian Danko has
been covering Auto Racing for over 30 years for various magazines &
and racing papers including Area Auto Racing News. His weekly column
can be seen "In The Print Editions" of The New Britain
Herald & The Bristol Press.