Tuesday January 21, 2014

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The Waterford Speedbowl and its owner Terry Eames have dodged the bullet again. An agreement made in Superior Court in New London a week ago allowed Eames to avoid an auction date that would have put the 2014 racing season at the track in danger.

Judge Emmet Cosgrove put in place an agreement that will set Oct. 18 for the foreclosure auction sale for the Speedbowl.

There are some stipulations. Eames has to repair the grandstands and their under pinnings plus he has to allow an independent individual or company to oversee the track’s finances for 2014.

Fifty miles up the road at the Thompson Speedway, Connecticut Governor Daniel Malloy’s Department of Economic and Community Development will provide the speedway with an $800,000 loan. The money will be used to upgrade the Thompson facility, including repaving the existing 1.7- mile road course, upgrading safety and fencing systems and building a 15,000-square-foot garage with classrooms for driver education. Other planned improvements include upgraded storm water control systems, bridge and other facilities.

As a bonus, DECD will forgive $200,000 of the loan principal if the company retains its existing 48 employees and creates 23 more positions by 2015.

In an unrelated matter, Jeff Zuidema was forced to resign his position as Director of Competition at Thompson Speedway due to ongoing and worsening back conditions. In a short time Zuidema earned the confidence of both management and competitors with the way he dealt with matters at the track.

Before we know it the 2014 racing season will begin. As of this coming Friday, Jan 23, three weeks remain before the engines roar at New Smyrna on Feb 14 and at Daytona on the 15th.

Early Modified entries received at New Smyrna so far include JR Bertuccio, Patrick Emerling, Al Ermmarino, Tommy Barret Jr, Ryan Preece, Eric Goodale and Matt Hirschman. Barret will be behind the wheel of the Robert Our entry and Preece will drive his family owned mount.

The Valenti Modified Racing Series received a shot in the arm in the form of the announcement that Whelen Modified Tour Series driver Justin Bonsignore will be driving the Art Barry entry in the New England based series. Rowan Pennink has set his focus on winning back-to-back Valenti Modified Racing Series championships and will return to the Casella-owned No. 25 in 2014. In addition to his plans to run full-time with VMRS, the 28-year-old driver will run full-time on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and compete weekly with the SK Modified division at Connecticut’s Stafford Motor Speedway.

Congratulations to the 2014 Seekonk Speedway WPRO Wall of Fame inductees Don Dionne, Wayne Dion, Ron Manfredo and Billy Clarke. Induction ceremony will be Saturday May 24 in a pre race ceremony at the track.

On the speedway stock market scene last week two of the three speedway stocks ended the week in the green. Leading the way was the International Speedway Corporation, which went up 2.04 to 36.94. Speedway Motorsports went up 0.07 to 19.88 while Dover Entertainment dropped 0.11 to 2.35. 52.99 NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear dropped 1.46 to 24.53 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) dropped 0.95 to 52.99 and NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint dropped 0.49 to 8.97. With the exception of Ford going up 0.45 to 16.52, the car builders had an off week as General Motors dropped 1,48 to 38.60 and Toyota dropped 1.62 to 119.19. In the home improvement sector, Lowes dropped 2.07 to 47.61 and Home Depot dropped 1.01 to 81.00. With the exception of Dupont which went up 0.48 to 64.02 the big team sponsors stocks were down for the week as Coca-Cola dropped 0.17 to 72.30, Target dropped 2.38 to 60.24, Aarons rentals dropped 2.12 to 26.85 and Fedex dropped 2.12 to 140.51.

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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