Waterford Speedbowl Owner Says Love Of Track Keeps Heart Invested In Keeping It Going

NEW LONDON – Waterford Speedbowl owner Terry Eames is no stranger to the world of social media, and in turn he’s well versed in the insults bandied about across cyberspace concerning his struggles of ownership of the track.

Waterford Speedbowl owner Terry Eames (Photo: Tiesha DiMaggio)

Waterford Speedbowl owner Terry Eames (Photo: Tiesha DiMaggio)

He’s heard and viewed all the insults. All the insinuations that he’s a thief trying to steal from short track competitors and fans.

And after six years of fighting to regain financial stability with his business, nothing surprises him as far as the comments that are made.

“Regardless of what some of these parties would want you to believe, there are not bushel baskets of money being secreted out of the place,” Eames said Monday.

On Monday Eames got what he was hoping for in New London Superior court when Judge Emmet Cosgrove agreed to set an Oct. 18 auction date as part of the foreclosure proceedings taking place against the track. Creditors had been arguing for an April 12 auction, which would have essentially stripped away any hope that Eames had of trying to somehow dig out of the hole he’s in.

What Eames wanted to express to his detractors Monday was that he’s fighting as hard as he is because he wants to keeping racing alive at the Waterford Speedbowl.

“We spent $52,000 last year on grandstand repairs, in addition to paying off a whole bunch of bills left over from before last year,” Eames said. “In the last few years we’ve replaced the Armco barrier on the straightaways with concrete walls, we’ve paved substantially our parking lot, we redid the entrance to the place substantially, we paved the back pit road. We continue to reinvest in the place to the best of our ability. It’s unfortunate that it doesn’t look like it because we haven’t been to have the big new building yet and that kind of thing. That’s where the money goes is that kind of stuff. The place is 63 years old in April and some of the wood they used was used wood when they built it in the first place. A facility like that takes a lot of constant care and we’ve been doing that constant care and that’s where the money goes. It doesn’t go in my pocket.”

Eames essentially said if he was in racing for some sort of take the money and run deal he would have done that a long time ago. Eames owes $2 million to creditors against a facility valued at just over $3 million. If he was able to sell it for fair market value he could possibly put $1 million in his pocket and walk away.

“I’m 60 years old, before I took over the Speedbowl I had a successful career in business management,” Eames said. “I made more than $100,000 a year before I took this job 18 years ago. I really take umbrage on what some of the commenters say that [I] do nothing but bleed the place. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I designed and built my dream house in the late 80’s. I don’t own that house any more strictly because I put that equity into saving this business.

“I don’t have a Harley, I don’t have a golf membership. … I sing karaoke one night a week, that’s my hobby. It’s very challenging when I hear ‘He’s just raping the place for his own gain.’ Had I really been thinking about my own gain, there were several junctures where I had a good jumping off point. Coca-Cola offered me north of $3 million in 2008 to buy the property. And I didn’t even negotiate with them. I probably would have sold it for just south of $4 million had I had any interest it. And here I am hoping that I either refinance it or sell it in the fall for $3.1 million. I’m hoping that it gets to that level, when I’ve had the opportunity to have that burden handed off. There’s been other junctures where if I really was that guy that was going to leave town with a bunch of money, I would have done it.

“My attorney tells me that I’m making decisions with my heart and not my head. …. I’ve said many times before, smarter business people would have run away from this thing a long time ago. I’ve fallen in love with it, as has my family.”

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Comments

  1. Gil says:

    As have your fans and supporters!

  2. Didi says:

    This fan would love Mr. Eames to pay his bills and go without until he is current with all he owes. Keep your fingers out of the cash drawer, because that is what you need to pay your debts. Love doesn’t pay the bills.

  3. ryan says:

    I support this man. Loves the track and support. I hate when people critisize and judge when they arent in the position or even have a clue whats going on.

  4. craig engelman says:

    For 52k I could have fixed all the grand stands !

  5. James Ruff says:

    we NEED this track. Once it is sold it is gone. Wake up people

  6. kim roberts says:

    Terry Eames is a good guy fighting to keep a local race track alive. So many have fallen to the economy. I Thank Terry for sinking his EVERYTHING to keep this place going. Thanks Terry for all you do all you’ve done and all you continue to do. See you in the spring. :)

  7. fred says:

    Soo 18 yrs of doing very little to keep up the place and I’m supposed to feel sorry for someone that can’t pay for anything now. Maybe if some of the money from seasons past was saved this won’t be an issue. Most business savvy people have the foresight to see there may be cost related to there business. Racing is a money pit from the owners to the racers. But oddly enough Stafford has an outstanding facility and does it on one night of racing. This pace is open 5 nights a week and can’t pay the racers half the time. I hope this place stays open but I could care less if Terry is involved..

  8. Jim says:

    I bet a lot of people wish that the banks had to fight this hard to take their homes for owing a lot less money. I wouldn’t sell the speedbowl a hot dog wrapper without it being COD and I mean CASH. Pay your bills. Times are tough for a lot of people but good people pay the bills first then play instead of just playing the system.

  9. justwanarace says:

    Fred well said. 50+k spent on the stands, where? I cant feel sorry for the guy this place didn’t fall apart in a year. Remember this place is only worth what someone is willing to pay. To say I could have sold it for said amount is complete speculation. Do not make the fans and competitors your scape goat, if you loved this place as much as you say we would not be where we are today. I have nothing personal or bad to say about the guy but for heaven sakes MAN UP!

  10. JChim says:

    There are people out there that buy or build weekend houses for more than 3 million. So this is not a lot of money for something that generates money and is good real estate. The problem is, is the buyer going to keep the place a race track for long? Terry did keep it as a race track. It did not take the savior of Bridgehampton Raceway long to convert one of the greatest tracks in the world into a golf course on Long Island. It needs to be a corporation made up of the drivers and fans. Like Silverstone in England was owned and operated by the BRDC drivers club.

  11. Dan says:

    $50K and the stands are still roped off..some of the best seats up top are roped off thats pretty bad and has the town of waterford even signed off that they have been repaired correctly?
    On another note, Wouldn’t you think if Dick Ceravolo, Cobyluck or someone with $$ would have stepped forward to bail the track out if it was worth it by now? They say the track needs constant repair and business hasn’t been the greatest so what is the incentive?? to burn your money? The place is in disrepair and needs to extensive upgrades. Furthermore, why would any smart businessman/woman or racing supporter partner with someone that went thru bankruptcy and less than a year later started to fall behind again by not paying property taxes? That shows that person is a poor manager of money and business isn’t as great as they say it is and that’s truth that can’t be refuted

  12. Luke says:

    I have never heard such BS in my life. Does anyone actually believe what Terry Says anymore?

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