Tuesday December 9, 2008

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The new and recycled Waterford Speedbowl management team held their first public meeting with competitors at the Groton Motor Inn on Monday, December 1. The new is Shawn Monahan and the recycled is property owner and former track operator Terry Eames. Monahan has a lot of good ideas and could very well become a successful promoter of the shoreline oval that has had more than its share of financial woes in recent years. Before leasing the track to Jerry Robinson, Eames had all but run the track into the ground. Financial, marital and personal problems contributed to his demise as track operator. The Robinson lease was hoped to breathe new life into the facility but in 2008 things went from bad to worse with virtually no one in the grandstands and competitors not being paid. Once Robinson’s lease ran out he was given the boot by Eames who would retake control of the 1/3 mile oval.

Enter Monahan. A former racer and a successful businessman, Monahan has come on board as a management partner. Monahan’s goals include bringing the fans back to the Speedbowl and making it enjoyable for competitors. The meeting was jammed as over 300 interested fans and competitors were on hand to hear what Eames and Monahan had to say. It was announced that a “Board of Directors” would augment the new management team. Among those on the “Board” in addition to Eames and Monahan are new racing director Tom Fox, Tom "Sid Dimaggio, Brian Darling and former Waterford Speedbowl regular and 2008 Camping World East Series champion Matt Kobyluck.

The new management team alluded to the fact that there will be a full season of racing at the shoreline oval starting with the Budweiser Modified Nationals on March 28-29 and finishing up with the Town Fair Tire Finale on Oct. 10-11. The first 2009 event for the new regime is the annual banquet to honor the 2008 track champions. It will be held on January 10 at the Groton Inn and Suites in Groton, CT.

Hopefully former track operator Jerry Robinson will pay the competitors what he owes them.

The Whelen Modified Tour Series honors 2008 Champion next Saturday night, December 20. The 2009 schedule is slowly coming together and should be made public at that time. To date, the Stafford Motor Speedway will host four events including the Spring Sizzler on April 26 and the Fall Final on Oct 4. The New Hampshire Motor Speedway will host two events on their NASCAR Cup weekends in June and in September. Riverhead Raceway on Long Island will host one of the dreaded Flash type events on Aug 1 and despite many rumors to the contrary, Martinsville will be back on the schedule, this year with a Sunday event on September 27. Spencer and Chemung, both in New York state have indicated interest in holding an event again in 2009.

The Thompson Speedway has released their rules and purse structures for the 2009 season. Among the changes are that the Sunoco Modifieds (SK type) will have a two tire a week in effect for the season. It is hoped that this change will help the independent racers to be able to compete with the better financed teams. Competitors will be limited to eight tires in their inventory. Tire brand is the American Racer 13.5 slick. All tires must be purchased through the authorized track vendor. This rule will not apply to the season opening Ice Breaker or the season ending World Series.

The speedway also announced a name change for its long-time Pro Stock division. First introduced in New England in 1982, Thompson Speedway selected the name of Super Late Models to make it easier for fans to identify with. The Super Late Models will be joined by the Sunoco Modifieds, Late Models, Limited Sportsman, Thompson Modifieds and Mini Stocks. These divisions be featured weekly during the Thursday Night Thompson Thunder schedule and they will also play a key role in other major racing events at the historic oval in 2009.

Next up at Thompson will be the awards banquets for the 2008 racing season. The Pro Stocks (now called Super Late Models), Limited Sportsman and Mini Stock divisions will be honored on Friday night January 23rd. The track’s Sunoco Modifieds, Late Models and Thompson Modifieds will have their special night on Saturday night, January 24th. Tickets are available for teams finishing in the top ten in the final points standings for 2008. There are limited numbers of tickets available, so anyone wishing to attend should contact the Thompson International Speedway track office as soon as possible at 860-923-2280.

In TV land this week, reruns rule the roost. He Speed Channel starts it off on Tuesday morning at 8:00am with the Nov 17 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Banquet that was held at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel in Hollywood, FL. On Wednesday Speed presents the June 10 Quaker Steak & Lube Summer Shootout, Round #1for Legends Cars, Thunder Cars, Bandoleros and School Bus Racing that was held at the Lowes’ Motor Speedway in Charlotte, NC. On Thursday at noon Speed will show the Oct 31 World of Outlaws late models that ran on the dirt track at the Lowes Motor Speedway in Charlotte. The action moves to ESPN Classic on Friday at 7:00pm for the 1999 Daytona 500. The Speed Report, normally seen on Sunday night, has been put on hold until after the first of the year.

On the Speedway Stock Market Scene last week it was an up and down market for many. Hopefully the latest downturn has bottomed out. Two of the three speedway stocks ended the week on a positive note. Leading the way was the International Speedway Corporation which went up 1.20 to 27.15. Speedway Motorsports went up 0.87 to 14.70. On the negative side was Dover Downs which went down 0.05 to 1.45. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint dropped 0.19 to 2.60 while second tier sponsor Nationwide went up 0.45 to 51.25. NASCAR fuel supplier Sun Oil dropped 3.82 to 35.92 and Goodyear dropped 0.36 to 6.07. NASCAR team sponsors continue to struggle. Dupont dropped 0.94 to 24.12 while Coca-Cola went up 0.26 to 42.82. Target Department Stores jumped 1.20 to 34.96 while Aaron’s Rentals dropped 0.73 to 25.70. In the home improvement sector all was positive. Lowes went up 1.68 to 22.34 and Home Depot went up 1.29 to 24.40. The parcel carriers also had a good week. Fedex went up
3.06 to 73.71 and UPS went up 0.23 to 57.53. Still in the bottom of the barrel is World Racing as their shares are listed at 0.02.

That’s it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly RI 02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E-Mail is

Phil Smith has been a columnist for Speedway Scene and other publications for over 3 decades.

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