Obituary Carl Stephen Berghman

Obituary: Carl “Bugsy Stevens” Berghman (1934-2024)

Carl Stephen Berghman, of Rehoboth, MA and Edgewater, FL, more widely known as auto racing legend “Bugsy Stevens”, peacefully crossed the finish line into the great beyond on May 20th, 2024 at the age of 90. He was the beloved husband of Doris (Baldwin) Berghman, with whom he shared 65 years of marriage.

Carl was born and raised in Rehoboth, the son of Evelyn (Beugling) and Carl Berghman. He attended Rehoboth schools and graduated from Dighton High School, where he was a Hall of Fame Athlete. After high school, Carl continued his athletic career at Dean College and after his graduation from Dean, he enlisted in the Air Force. While stationed at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, Carl developed a passion for racing cars at the nearby Pan American Speedway. Officers at Lackland did not approve of Carl’s racing, but one female cadette certainly did. The cadette, the daughter of a coal miner from the hills of Appalachia, would help sneak him off base to attend his races. Eventually that cadette, Doris, became his wife and Carl adopted the racing alias “Bugsy Stevens” as a way to avoid being found out and punished by his superiors. As his racing career took off, Bugsy and Doris began a family and started out on a life full of laughter, fast cars, and fun that spanned from Texas, to Florida and New England.

Bugsy became a three-time NASCAR Modified Champion, earning consecutive titles in 1967, 1968, and 1969. He also secured track championships at Thompson Speedway, Stafford Speedway, Norwood Arena, Catamount Stadium, and Seekonk Speedway. In addition to these accolades, he had major victories at Trenton Fairgrounds Speedway in New Jersey, Martinsville Speedway in Virginia, Oxford Plains Speedway in Maine, and New Smyrna Speedway in Florida. He scored multiple feature-event wins at weekly tracks like Albany-Saratoga Speedway, Utica-Rome Speedway, and Westboro Speedway. His triumphs generated countless newspaper and magazine headlines, but what made Bugsy special was his unique connection with fans and fellow competitors. Always ready with a kind smile or a fierce practical joke, whatever the situation required, he cultivated lasting friendships up and down the East Coast. His popularity was such that track owners would go any lengths to entice Bugsy to compete in their major events, knowing that his advertised presence meant a guaranteed boost in ticket sales. Children loved him; there’s no telling how many young fans went home from the track happy because their hero had playfully tousled their hair or signed their souvenir programs. Decades after his retirement as a driver, he could still draw a crowd simply by strolling through a speedway’s pit area or grandstand midway. In 1998, Bugsy was part of the inaugural class for the New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame, delivering an acceptance speech that drew laughter, applause, and nostalgic tears.

In addition to his wife, Bugs is survived by his son, Carl Berghman Jr. and his husband, Jason Plouffe of Dighton, MA, daughter Zoe Kelliher of Tiverton, RI, son David Berghman and his wife, Robin, of Assonet, MA, and daughter Debra Hanatow and her husband, Rick, of Dighton, MA. Bugs was “Papa” to his five grandchildren, Lea Savas and her husband Derek Savas of Portsmouth, RI, Tyler Fitzpatrick of Rehoboth, MA, Weston Kelliher of East Falmouth, MA, Talia Berghman of Fall River, MA, Brooke Hanatow of Dighton, and his three great-grandchildren Jake, Callie, and Bode Savas of Portsmouth, RI. Bugs also leaves a sister, Nancy Willson, of Wilbraham, MA, son-in-law Robert Kelliher of East Falmouth, MA, many nieces, nephews, cousins, and countless special friends including Carl Chace, Ric Mariscal, Don Leffort, and Bones Bourcier. The Berghman family also wishes to thank the staff of Tockwotton on the Waterfront, who embraced Bugs and provided compassionate and impeccable care for him during his stay.

Relatives and friends are invited to attend a time of visitation on Wednesday, May 29, 2024 from 3-8 PM in the Hathaway Community Home for Funerals, 900 Buffinton Street, Somerset, MA. A funeral service will be held on Thursday, May 30th at 10 AM at the Rehoboth Congregational Church, 139 Bay State Rd. Rehoboth, MA. Burial will be private.

For race fans wishing to pay their respects, Bugs will be taking a final ride around the track at Seekonk Speedway on Saturday, June 1st at 5:30pm prior to the NASCAR Whelen’s Modified Tour J&R Precast 150 race.

In lieu of flowers and for those wishing to remember Bugs in a special way, contributions may be made to ProNyne Motorsports Museum ( or the Michael P. Stefanik Charitable Foundation (




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