Tuesday January 8, 2008

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The Waterford Speedbowl is scheduled to hold its annual banquet of champions this Saturday night at the Groton Inn & Suites in Groton, CT. In what should be a gala affair for champions Rob Janovic (SK Modified), Bruce Thomas Jr. (Late Models), Dwayne Dorr (Sportsman), Ken Cassidy Jr. (Mini Stock) and Michael Gervais Jr. (Saturday Night Legends), could turn into a wake because of the fact that Track Manager Bill Roth has left his position. Roth, along with the efforts of Pete Zanardi were responsible for keeping the shoreline oval from slipping into oblivion after property owner and former track operator had all but run the track into the ground. Jerry Robinson, who was Rothís partner in running the facility is still involved but chances are he will not run the facility on his own. Chances are that Eames will re-take control of the facility which means the end of the Speedbowl as we know it will fade into oblivion as it will be cut up into industrial sites and sold.

Champ Trail has been told that Robinson and others are involved in the development of a proposed 1-1/2 mile speedway that could be built behind the football stadium in East Hartford, CT.

Rumors have also been rampant concerning the demise of the Wall Township Speedway in New Jersey.

While the future of the Waterford Speedbowl is at best cloudy the future and far beyond at the Thompson Speedway couldnít be brighter. Speedway owner Don Hoenig is spending a ton of money upgrading the lighting at the historic 5/8 mile oval. Thompson will host five Whelen Modified Tour Series events. Two of them will be on Thursday nights under the lights. According to those in the know the speedway will be lit up like a major league ball park. Electricity and its cost is not a factor as Hoenig had the foresight back in the mid 1970ís to purchase his own diesel generator and make his own electricity. Thompson opens April 6 with the annual IceBreaker.

For the most part itís pretty quiet on the auto racing front. As of this Friday, Jan 11, its only 28 days before the green flag drops at the Annual World Series at the New Smyrna Speedway in Florida. In the mean time there will be plenty of racing related activity. The auto show circuit moves to Atlantic City in New Jersey for Motorsports 2008, this weekend, Jan 11, 12 and 13. Also this weekend on Saturday night is the True Value Modified Racing Series Annual Owners/Drivers Meeting at the Best Western Sovereign Hotel, 401 Winchester St. in Keene, NH. The third weekend in Jan will see the annual indoor Auto Parts Swap 'n Sell at the Big E in West Springfield, MA plus the annual Seekonk Speedway Awards banquet at the Venus DiMilo in Swansea, MA. The Thompson Speedway holds their annual awards banquets on Jan 25-26. Rounding out the month will be the 11th Annual New England Antique Racers (NEAR) Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony & Dinner at the LaRenaissance Banquet Hall in E. Windsor, CT.

In TV land this week itís a somewhat return to racing as NASCAR Pre-season Thunder, Sprint Cup testing begins in Daytona Beach Fl. A daily recap will be shown every night this week on the Speed Channel at 7:00pm . Also this week on Speed will be boat racing taped this past September in Windsor , Colorado and in Marble Falls , Texas in August. More boat racing will be shown on Saturday at 11:00am . At 7:30 on Saturday night Speed will show the highlights of the July Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series that was run at the Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon Beach , IL . Sundayís viewing will consist of Round #6 of the Summer Shootout at 1:00pm featuring Legends Car, Bandolero and Thunder Roadster racing that was held at the Lowes Motor Speedway in Concord , NC on July 10. The Speed Channel wraps up the weekend with The Speed Report at 7:00 .

On the Speedway Stock Market Scene last week many of the racing related stocks took a digger. Its amazing that all the politicians out there looking for our votes almost never mention the rising costs of gasoline, diesel fuel and fuel oil that reflect on all of our paychecks. Even the so-called blue chips were down. All three speedway stocks had a negative ending. Leading the way was Speedway Motorsports which went down 1.79 to 29.52. The International Speedway Corporation dropped 0.96 to 40.26 and Dover Downs dropped 0.18 to 6.36. Sprint/Nextel dropped 0.33 to 12.83 while Sun Oil (Sunoco) took a dive as they dropped 3.61 to 68.04. Goodyear also hit a bump in the road as they dropped 3.93 to 24.58. DIRT Motorsports was also down as they dropped 0.02 to 0.45. The home improvement giants didnít escape. Home Depot dropped 1.72 to 24.96 and Lowes dropped 1.58 to 21.08. The parcel carriers really took it on the chin. Fedex dropped 6.52 to 84.10 and UPS dropped 3.55 to 68.01. Coca-Cola, a blue chip to say the least, dropped 3.57 to 55.80. Dupont, which sponsors Jeff Gordon fared better as the dropped only 0.92 as they finished the week at 43.38. Target Department Stores continues to muddle through millions of Christmas returns and refunds as they dropped 2.66 to 48.08. Nationwide Insurance which has taken over what was the Busch Series dropped 1.54 to 42.99. Aarons Rentals was also down as they dropped 1.77 to 17.63.

The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co, the largest U.S. tire maker, plans to raise prices on car and light truck tires by up to 7 percent in North America effective Feb. 1, a spokesman said on Friday, January 4. Goodyear notified retailers that prices on its consumer tires would increase for orders on or after Feb. 1 because of continued increases in raw materials, transportation and other costs, spokesman Jim Davis said. Manufacturers globally have been able to raise prices on tires over the past few years to more than cover increased costs for natural rubber, petroleum-based synthetic rubbers and other materials.

On Thursday, January 3, French tire maker Michelin said it would raise prices on passenger and light truck replacement tires in the United States by up to 7 percent on March 3, and raise prices on industrial vehicle tires sold in Mexico and the U.S. by up to 3 percent on Feb. 1.

Thatís it for this week from 40 Clark St. 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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