April 4, 2014
Fifty years ago in 1964 Ray Delisle was the Modified winner at
the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Daring Dick Caso was the Bomber winner.
Forty five years ago in 1969 Ed
Yerrington Sr won the season opening 30 lap Modified feature at the
Waterford Speedbowl. Jim Mazzella was the 20 lap Daredevil winner.
Forty years ago in 1974 Don Bunnell
won the season opener at the Waterford Speedbowl. Rick Elnicki was the Grand
Thirty five years ago this week in 1979,
Thompson opened for the season. Ronnie Bouchard won the small block Modified
feature over John Rosati and Dunk Rudolph. Rudolph was subsequently
disqualified when it was found that his car's engine had illegal heads.
Bobby Fuller was the late model winner. The speedway sported a new look as
the Connecticut DMV mandated that the Speedway eliminate all light poles
from the infield. Track owner Don Hoenig had purchased high intensity
lighting that had been used at the Lincoln Downs Horse Track in Rhode
Island. In other news, Dale Earnhardt won the Winston Cup event at Bristol
as a rookie and Geoff Bodine was fired from the Jack Beebe Winston Cup Car.
Thirty years ago in 1984, it was
night No.2 at Riverside Park. Stan Gregger wasted little time and took down
the win. Jim Spencer finished second and was followed by Ray Miller, Richie
Evans and Corky Cookman.
Twenty five years ago in 1989,
Reggie Ruggiero was the top dog at Riverside in the Mario Fiore No.44. There
were only 21 cars on hand but they were all good ones. Stan Gregger finished
second and was followed by Dan Avery, Brad Hietella and John Zavisa.
Twenty years ago, in 1994, the roles
were reversed at Riverside as Gregger took the win with Ruggiero, second.
Avery finished third and was followed by Eddie Spiers, Wade Cole and Tom
Jensen. In SMART action at Caraway in North Carolina, Tim Arre won a 150 lap
event over Frank Fleming, and in Hickory, N.C. Ricky Craven took the lead
with 32 laps to go and went on to win the Sundrop 300 over Randy LaJoie.
Fifteen years ago, in 1999, David
Green won the Busch Series 320 at Nashville. Casey Atwood finished second.
Sterling Marlin provided the only competition but his day ended after his
car spun and was wrecked by a wrecker in the pit area.
Ten years ago in 2004, in a joint
announcement from NASCAR and the Thompson Speedway last Thursday; the
Thompson Speedway Icebreaker was postponed until April 17-18. The early
cancellation was made in order to prevent fans and competitors from making a
needless trip. The Thompson Connecticut area was pounded by over two inches
of rain and with more forecast for the weekend, it was a wise move to pull
the plug on the event. The Waterford Speedbowl also fell victim to rain as
Saturday night’s races were canceled. In Nextel Cup action at the Texas
Speedway Elliott Sadler won by inches over Kasey Kahne. Jeff Gordon recorded
his best finish in quite a while as he finished third. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
finished fourth. In Busch Racing Series action in Texas, Matt Kenseth took
the win over Kyle Busch. The Caruso family sold the Oswego Speedway to Steve
Gioia and Pat Furlong. In operation since 1951, Oswego is considered the
next best thing to going to Indianapolis.
Five years ago in 2009, The Waterford
Speedbowl opened for the season with the SK Modified Nationals. The track
opened for practice on Friday with quite a few race teams on hand to shake
down their cars in preparation for the coming season. A beautiful Spring day
greeted competitors on Saturday for qualifying at the shoreline oval. A
somewhat meager field of SK Modifieds was on hand, 21, for time trials for
the 150 lap-$5,000 to win feature. Conspicuous by there absences were the
“Outsiders”, non-Waterford regulars. The only outsiders on hand were Jimmy
Blewett from New Jersey and Eric Goodale from Long Island. Defending
Connecticut State Champion Keith Rocco was the top time setter as he toured
the 1/3 mile oval in 14.138 seconds. Frank Ruocco was second fastest with
Diego Monahan, third. Jeff Paul and Ron Yuhas Jr rounded out the top five.
Defending track champion Dennis Gada was tenth fastest. The top ten redrew
for starting positions. Ruocco drew the pole and Paul, the outside pole.
Yuhas drew third with Monahan and Gada filling out the top five. Rocco drew
the seventh starting spot. In Late Model qualifying Bruce Thomas Jr put a
new track record in place for the division as he toured the shoreline oval
in 15.240 seconds. Tim Jordon was second with Jeff Smith, third. There was
no redraw as the Late Models would start straight up from time. There were
only 15 Late Models on hand.
Jason Palmer was the last Legends Car competitor in Speedbowl Victory
Lane in the 2008 season, and picked up where he left off on Saturday
capturing the 20-lap Legends Car race during the Budweiser Modified
Nationals opening weekend. Saturday marked the 59th consecutive season of
operation for the ‘Bowl. Palmer, the 2007 and 2008 Wild ‘n Wacky Wednesday
Legends points champion, topped a full field of talented Legends
competitors. He out dueled Shaun Buffington and Flyin Ryan Morgan in an
entertaining 20-lap event. An extended red flag situation was necessitated
after a scary incident in turn 4 involving Tom Gray. Gray’s car became
airborne and slammed the wall. He was transported to L & M Hospital for
observation, but did get out of the car under his own power and acknowledged
Other winners from Saturday’s action include Allen Coates (Speedbowl Truck
Series), Paul Tuthill (Allison Legacy North Racing Series), Curt D’addario
Sr. (X Car) and Jon Porter (Super X Car).
Coates picked up his 65th career Speedbowl victory leading the 25-lap
Truck Series event from start to finish. A late race caution regrouped the
field and Coates was able to hold back the challenges of Keith Chapman. The
four-time Speedbowl track champion (Late Models, Street Stocks) has won two
consecutive starts in a Truck, also winning last July’s 100-lap ARTS event
at the shoreline oval.
Opening day at the Waterford Speedbowl was not meant to be as heavy rain
pounded the Connecticut shoreline during the early morning hours on Sunday.
Shortly before 8:00am the Speedbowl Management announced the postponement of
the 13th Annual Budweiser Modified Nationals due to the weather
In NASCAR Sprint Cup action, Jimmie Johnson nudged Denny Hamlin aside in
the third and fourth turns with 15 laps to go at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway
and gave team owner Rick Hendrick a perfect place to celebrate the 25th
anniversary of his first victory in NASCAR's premier series. Johnson won for
the fifth time in the last six races in Martinsville, and for the sixth time
overall, second among active drivers to Jeff Gordon's seven. And he did it
by biding his time, falling back in the pack early in the race to get his
car right, and then using the improved car and some slick work in the pits
to make it pay.
The victory was the 18th for Hendrick Motorsports at Martinsville, where
a victory by Geoff Bodine in 1979 gave the fledgling company a needed boost,
and the 10th in the last 13 races. Johnson has won six of those, and Gordon
has won the other four. Johnson's 41st career victory came after Gordon, who
led 147 laps, and then Hamlin, who led 296, dominated for most of the race.
Hamlin was second, followed by Tony Stewart, Gordon and Clint Bowyer. Ryan
Newman was sixth. Still looking for success, Joey Logano was 32nd.
The Philadelphia Business Journal reported that Sun Oil Chairman and CEO
Lynn Elsenhans said that the federal government should increase the gasoline
tax to provide money for infrastructure repairs. Elsenhans suggested the
idea in a speech to the annual meeting of the National Petrochemical &
Refiners Association in San Antonio, Texas. “We should support a sizable
increase in the federal gasoline tax for the expressed purpose of funding
much-needed infrastructure investment,” she was slated to say in the speech,
according to Thomas Golembeski, a Sunoco spokesman.
With all the problems with the economy going on, this woman needed to
have her head examined! Granted, fuel prices have come down and stabilized.
The big oil companies need to dig into their own pockets to repair their own
equipment. The consumer should not be responsible for this.
The Associated Press reported that Brazilian race car driver and "Dancing
With The Stars" winner Helio Castroneves owes more than $2.3 million in U.S.
taxes because of unreported income and improper deductions over a five-year
period, an Internal Revenue Service agent testified Friday at his tax
evasion trial in Miami. The testimony, by the final prosecution witness,
capped the fourth week of the trial. Castroneves, 33, his 35-year-old sister
and business manager Katiucia, and Michigan lawyer Alan Miller, 71, each
face more than six years in prison if convicted of conspiracy and tax
evasion involving about $5.5 million in income.
Last year, 2013, The 2013 northeast
racing season got its official start as the Waterford Speedbowl hosted
Budweiser Blastoff. Budweiser Blastoff Weekend marked the beginning of the
63rd consecutive season of racing at the shoreline oval.
After drawing 128 cars for practice on the week previous the Speedbowl
drew 197 cars, including 30 Valenti Modified Racing Series cars and 26 SK
Modifieds. It was cold and blustery but dry none the less.
Sunday’s winners included Steve Masse of Bellingham, MA in the 100-lap
Valenti Modified Racing Series event, the popular northeastern tour’s 10th
anniversary season opener. In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action Keith
Rocco of Meriden scored wins in both the SK Modified® and Bob Valenti Auto
Mall Late Model division races, the second consecutive season he has opened
the year with wins in each division. Corey Hutchings of Salem was the Street
Stock winner and Garrett Denton of Hope Valley, RI won the Mini Stock
feature. Todd Bertrand of Suffield took down a popular win in the
Northeastern Midget Association race.
Keith Rocco scored a convincing win in the SK Modified portion of
Blastoff 2013. Rocco started third in the 26 car starting field. By lap
seven he was in the lead. One of the few that didn't pit for fresh rubber,
Rocco held off Ron Yuhas Jr who finished second. Rob Janovic finished third
with Craig Lutz and Ted Christopher rounding out the top five. Eleven of the
26 original starters completed the 63 lap distance. The win was Rocco’s
fourth consecutive Budweiser Blastoff weekend win and 45th career victory in
Ten cars were collected in a massive wreck with less than ten laps to go.
During a restart with nine laps remaining Nicole Morgillo took over second
spot after roughing up Rob Janovic in a dive under-elbow job which moved him
up and out of the racing groove. Janovic maintained motion as Ted
Christopher went by and subsequently made contact after trying to pass the
young lady on the low side. The two made contact and Boom!, Morgillo hit the
wall. Morgillo was credited with 12th finishing position. A post race video
clearly showed that Teddy had the line and Nicole came down to block.
In Valenti Modified Racing Series action Steve Masse took the lead with
four laps to go and went on to take the series opening 100 lap win. Todd
Annarummo finished second with Anthony Nocella, third. Rowan Pennink and
Mike Holdredge rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Louis
Mechalides Mike Willis, Jr., Norm Wrenn, Dana Smith and Keith Rocco. Of note
was the fact that Tom Barrett Jr was displaced out of a top ten finish after
he was put to the rear for spinning Chris Pasteryak on the 98th lap.
There was a total of 33 cars on hand. The Valenti Modified Racing Series
next visits New Hampshire’s Monadnock Speedway on Saturday evening, April
Saturday’s main events at the Speedbowl saw Randy Churchill of Oakdale
winning the evening’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Light Modified
race, Keith Rocco of Meriden scoring the honors in the NEMA Lite touring
series race, and Chris Turbush of Riverhead, NY won in the visiting New
England Truck Series. In INEX racing, Dana Dimatteo of Farmington claimed
the win in the opening day Legend Cars feature and New Jersey driver Alex
McCollum won the Bandolero feature.
Other winners included Jon Porter of Canterbury in Super X-Cars and Wayne
Shifflett of Preston in the X-Cars. Rocco's NEMA Lite win was later dis-allowed
as it was determined that the car in which he drove was under weight and had
illegal fuel. Mike and Ted Christopher must have felt a little bit older
after the running of the legends feature. Mike Christopher Jr, son of Mike
and nephew of Ted finished 15th in his debut race.
Waterford native Tom "Sid" DiMaggio, a long-time track enthusiast, will
receive one of the John Wentworth Good Sport Awards from the Connecticut
Sports Writers' Alliance during its annual Gold Key Dinner on April 28.
DiMaggio has devoted countless hours compiling statistical data at the
Speedbowl, which culminated in the launch of a website -
www.speedbowlhistory.com - as well as a documentary film project that will
be released in 2014.
Racedayct reported that a group of creditors still owed money from a debt
reorganization plan arranged through state bankruptcy court have moved to
have foreclosure action taken against the owner of the Waterford Speedbowl.
Speedbowl owner Terry Eames confirmed following the conclusion of BlastOff
that a foreclosure action was filed on March 27. The State of Connecticut
Judicial Branch lists the plaintiffs in the action as Rocco Arbitell, Peter
Borelli and the Committee of Sale.
Eames said the action will not effect in any way the current day-to-day
operations of the Speedbowl.
“It doesn’t really change anything in the near term,” Eames said. “It’s
going to take some time to play out. At that track it’s business as usual.
We’ll get through it.”
The action adds to a long list of legal financial issues faced by
ownership at the Speedbowl over the last seven years. In July 2007, Arbitell,
a Southbury businessman and local racing supporter, along with his business
associate Borrelli, stepped in to offer Eames and his ownership group, 1080
Hartford Road LLC, financing to avoid a foreclosure action being taken then
by former mortgage holder Washington Mutual Bank. The deal with Arbitell was
announced a day before the track’s auction date for a foreclosure in 2007.
In May 2008 Arbitell brought his own foreclosure action against the
ownership group after former track operator Jerry Robinson failed to pay the
Speedbowl’s property taxes. Facing another pending foreclosure auction,
Eames and 1080 Hartford Road LLC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection
in October 2009.
A debt reorganization plan was accepted by bankruptcy court in January
2012 and the ownership cleared bankruptcy not long after that. “They found
some technical default with how we had performed under the [debut
reorganization] plan,” Eames said. “… At the end of the day these people
haven’t been paid and they need to get paid and they will get paid. It’s
just taking longer than any of us had wanted to deal with this, but they’ll
get taken care of and we’ll keep going.”
In NASCAR Sprint Cup action at Martinsville, Jimmie Johnson led a
career-best 346 laps Sunday and pulled away on a restart with eight laps to
go for his eighth career victory on the shortest track in the Sprint Cup
Series, taking over third place on the career victories list on NASCAR's
That’s about it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly, and
R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E-mail:
Phil Smith has been a
columnist for Speedway Scene and various
other publications for over 3 decades.
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