Turning Laps: New London-Waterford Speedbowl Comes To Life With Open Practice

SK Modifieds hit the track for open practice Saturday at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl

WATERFORD – As he and his crew made the trek from Lisbon to Waterford on Saturday morning, reality suddenly hit for longtime New London-Waterford Speedbowl Mini Stock division driver Ken Cassidy Jr.

“On the way here, we were saying ‘We weren’t expecting to take this ride this year.’ Cassidy said. “This is my playground. I’m so glad to be back.”

Cassidy, a five-time Mini Stock champion and the division’s all-time winningest driver at the track, was one of the many drivers who arrived at the Speedbowl Saturday morning for the first open practice of the season.

Saturday’s practice marked a rebirth of sorts for the historic shoreline oval.

Questions arrived about the future of the facility after track owner Bruce Bemer was arrested in late March, charged with patronizing a trafficked person.

The track was originally scheduled to open May 6-7 for Blastoff Weekend. Track officials announced the postponement of Blastoff weekend on April 26.

On June 5 it was announced that the track would open for the 2017 season under the management of longtime team owner George Whitney, who would lease the facility.

Whitney beamed seeing teams practice at the track Saturday in preparation for the season opener on June 24.

“I was a little nervous this morning when I only saw three trailers sitting outside as we were going over things with the officials,” Whitney said. “Then they all just started rolling it. I’m happy. A lot of guys told me they wouldn’t be here today but they’ll be here next week. … We got all this done in two weeks. Everything is moving along awesome. Everything is in place.”

Whitney confirmed that town officials will make final inspections of the grandstands on Monday. Track officials cited issues with the grandstands for the original postponement of Blastoff weekend.

“I think today is great,’ said four-time and reigning Street Stock division champion Al Stone III. “It’s great to see racecars back at the track. The new Speedbowl crew has done a great job getting us back here. The track looks great. It’s just a good feeling to be back at the track. I don’t know what the car count is going to be like next weekend, but it’s not bad today. Everyone seems to be pretty happy and positive so that’s a good thing.”

Cassidy said he understands that certain teams and individuals would make the decision not to participate at the track.

“There’s going to be certain people that don’t come back,” Cassidy said. “I’ve never been to a racetrack because of a certain owner, because I like the owner. I came back because it’s the best racing in the United States, I think. A lot of people don’t like it, but I’m here to stay.”

Longtime track competitor and former general manager Shawn Monahan was at the track Saturday with his eight-year old son Brody, who was practicing in the Bandolero division.

“It feels really awkward for me … I raced here for a long time and I have always been an animated competitor,” Monahan said. “Then I pulled the reigns back and took on the professional role of management for two years. To come into the property with no affiliation, but to concentrate on having fun with my son racing, it’s a little bit of an awkward feeling. But at the end of the day, this is where I grew up. For the track to be open is what I’m really happy about.”

Monahan said he may return to competition at the track in the SK Modified division.

“We’ll let the first few weeks of racing figure out how much I remain a fan of the Speedbowl,” Monahan said. “I live so close. This is the best racing surface out of all the tracks I’ve ever been to. You see great racing in every division. I just hope that the calls are made good. I hope that this was just hiccup and we can move forward. Only time will tell.

“With the Modified, that’s a lot of money on the line. You’ve got to make sure things are running smoothly if you’re going to come out and jeopardize that car. So, I’m definitely going to watch and see how it plays out for a while before I show up with my Modified. But I hope to come out here and run with the boys.”

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Comments

  1. humphry says:

    Words of wisdom from Shawn the showman Monahan who always made the right call when he was GM. Really? A legend in his own mind, lol………..

  2. Great day thank you NLWSB #9 SK look forward to nest Saturday..

  3. darealgoodfella says:

    “Whitney confirmed that town officials will inspect the grandstands on Monday. Track officials cited issues with the grandstands for the original postponement of Blastoff weekend.”

    That took a long time. Figure that could have been done weeks ago.

    That’s cutting it close.

  4. bystander says:

    support the track…rah rah, support the racers…rah rah. where were all the cheerleaders? where were all the racers you are supporting? or did the racers stay home because their morals told them to?

  5. What the heck. This Monahan guy gets a special article on his preparation and disappointment when racing was put on hold and now he’s Mr. lets wait and see. Bet the Gada’s aren’t waiting and seeing. Fine, wait and see. But the MRS series is going to be the shows top billing next week and we know Rocco and many of the top SK guys will show up. It should be a great night……I’m in.

  6. Having witnessed the end of a great track in the Danbury RaceArena. One that was completely successful and ended only because of the rise of malls. Ironic now in view of the rise of on line shopping and the demise of malls. So I say who gives a s__t about who owns the track. Whoever owns it is temporary. The track and racing is important since no new tracks will every be built in CT. Don’t support it and it’s gone forever.

  7. Joe tobin says:

    Is NASCAR gonna be back in this track

  8. Joe,
    My understanding is that the new management company has been in contact with NASCAR concerning a sanction. That’s all we know at this point.

  9. Dareal do you really have to be some kind of genius to know that the inspection is being held now because they’ve been working on the stands for the last few months. How many times to you need to hear that? Do we need to explain that to you a little more clearly? What I’d like to know is what you’re going to do now that the stands are about finished? Are you going to be OK? Should we be concerned?

  10. humphry says:

    Rich, he will go back to carburetors and flux capacitors………..

  11. jeffrey says:

    Dareal please stop talking
    It is embarrassment

  12. humphry says:

    Dareal, watch the channel 3 news at 5PM tonight and you will get your answer on the stands.

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