Black Flag: Owner Terry Eames Says Foreclosure Auction Likely For Waterford Speedbowl

Waterford Speedbowl owner Terry Eames (Photo: Tiesha DiMaggio)

Waterford Speedbowl owner Terry Eames (Photo: Tiesha DiMaggio)

Waterford Speedbowl owner Terry Eames told RaceDayCT Thursday afternoon that he has likely exhausted all possibilities of refinancing his track.

A foreclosure auction is scheduled for the facility on Saturday at noon in Waterford.

Eames said all recent possibilities of putting together deals to keep the track under his ownership or under a new partnership fell through.

He said Saturday’s Smacktoberfest Family Thrill show could likely be the final event at the facility, which opened 64 years ago.

“I’ve got nothing put together so I guess an auction is likely,” Eames said. “There’s just as much interest from people that just want to develop it as there is from people that want to run it as a racetrack. I think Saturday’s Demo Derby and Enduro’s and stuff could be the last event ever here.

“There’s still an outside chance for an 11th hour maneuver, … but at this point everything I had hoped to have done ahead of time has just fallen through.”

Twice before Eames has staved off foreclosure auctions at the track. Saturday’s foreclosure auction was scheduled in January.

In July 2007, Rocco Arbitell, a Southbury businessman and local racing supporter, along with his business associate Peter Borrelli, stepped in to offer Eames and his ownership group, 1080 Hartford Road LLC, financing to avoid a foreclosure action being taken then by former mortgage holder Washington Mutual Bank.

The deal with Arbitell was announced a day before the track’s auction date for a foreclosure in 2007.

In May 2008 Arbitell brought his own foreclosure action against the ownership group after former track operator Jerry Robinson failed to pay the Speedbowl’s property taxes.

Facing another pending foreclosure auction, Eames and 1080 Hartford Road LLC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October 2009. A debt reorganization plan was accepted by bankruptcy court in January 2012 and the ownership cleared bankruptcy not long after that.

In March 2013, Arbitell and the rest of the creditors involved in the bankruptcy moved to have foreclosure action retaken against the Speedbowl ownership, which led to Saturday’s auction being scheduled.

“Better than 20 years of my life, 19 years full-time and involvement even before that, here,” Eames said. “It’s a sad day. I have really endeavored to keep it as a racetrack and made decisions for many years based on keeping it as a racetrack. Hindsight is 20-20 as they say and looking back I probably could have come out with a better situation for myself personally had I given in to pressures to develop it or sell it for development when the market was good. But today it’s just a climate issue right now. It’s unfortunate, but racing has not faired well over the last few years and there are other tracks across the country facing the same thing. It doesn’t help in this situation.”

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  1. Kudos for Him keeping it as a racetrack for as long as he could…..And Thanks for giving us “The best racing around…..for 20 years”

  2. Wow. This sounds bad. He’s always been so optimistic about keeping the track. And to read this now is just painful. Saturday is gonna hurt. Shawn, when will we know the outcome of the auction? Will you be one of the first to know?

  3. Jason,
    I will be attending the auction on Saturday and we will have the news here.

  4. Hnm yes a thanks is needed but.theres got to be a local race fan that has deep pockets and with a good business plan we can bring racing back up.i hope someone steps up at auction time that will keep it a fun family oriented establishment.

  5. I wish Rocky would comment more about his plans. I bet a lot of people would like to know.

  6. That is sad to hear. We should blockade the place if any buyer tries to tear it down. The Bowman Grey track is around a football field or something? Why cant a buyer just leave it up and run some special events or some charities. Where are our NASCAR boys we fans have supported all these years? 3-4 million is interest on their bank accounts.

  7. That’s awesome Shawn 🙂

  8. finally another mall will be built. not enough retail in that area. problem solved.

  9. Folks,
    We understand that there are a lot of people very passionate about the Waterford Speedbowl who aren’t happy to hear this news or the possibility that the track could be gone. That said, we’re not going to allow the comments section here to be turned into a cesspool of lobbing personal insults at those involved in the management or ownership of the track. There are plenty of other places these days where you can post your feelings in whatever way you please, but this isn’t going to be the place where we let this turn into a breeding ground for hate and insults directed at individuals.

  10. Yes it will be a sad day Saturday there’s gonna be haters an bad comments so lets just enjoy maybe the last day for speedbowl.. Be there to see what happens cause in sure there will be rumors ….

  11. Shawn, Thanks for the info 1st hand. I agree, it IS a sad day that the very REAL possibility exists that Waterford Speedbowl may be no more. :'( I, and thousands of others, literally grew up there. All of us TRUE race fans can do now is hope & pray SOME ONE with racing in their veins has the coin & capital to keep Waterford an active race track.
    It was a sad day in racing history to lose “The Park”; sadder still will be losing “The Bowl”. There’s no finger-pointing, no blame here….. just a huge empty hole in my heart thinking that a place like Waterford could be gone. Although my dad didn’t achieve any real success there, he loved Waterford. I still call it “my home track”.
    God willing – it will remain…..

  12. justwanarace says

    Shawn thanks for keeping us updated. That being said this is an emotional time for many of us who have spent lot’s of money and time trying to support the bowl. I would have much rather seen your article reflecting on the history of the bowl rather than reading about TERRY and his feelings! In respect for the track i will leave it at that.

  13. “We’ll sell you the seat, but you’ll only use the edge.”

  14. Only the strong survive. Its the law of nature. Sad to see her go but it may be the time for only 2 tracks in Connecticut. I think Stafford and Seekonk come out winners here, both in fan attendance and cars. Those two tracks seem to work well together too. Thompson could benefit as well but who knows what is happening over there.

  15. I’m

  16. It is sad their is a lot of history at that track . I also started going to the track at a very young age and always loved it .But I have heard over the last few years that their has been interest from drivers that wanted to buy the track and keep it as a race track but Terry wouldn’t sell to them .Terry has been on the down hill slide for 5 years ,he had to know time was running out .So if we lose the track who do you blame for it .

  17. Steady Eddie Fan says

    Ct has lost far too many good racetracks, it will be a sad day for racing in Ct if we loose another great track with a lot of history.

  18. 🙁

  19. Tragic;a racetrack is a terrible thing to lose; We are facing that same situation all over America; prayers that someone with deep pockets shows up.

  20. We can only hope the new owners keep it a race track. Some of the most fun I’ve had at a race track. What’s even sadder is that I competed at the last race and did not get paid.

  21. As a friend and business owner who understands the challenges of running a business,this saddenes me greatly. A good part of my childhood was at the Speedbowl and my love of race cars stems from the many experiences there. Many jobs will be lost, supporting business will be effected negatively, and a long standing piece of Waterford may disappear as we know it. I can only hope that everything Terry has done was not in vain.

  22. I have no concrete info, so just for fun, and hopefully, possibly……, there is a central CT based large construction company that has the letter “M” as the first letter of its name, that might, just maybe, be an interested buyer, and if so, keep the land as is, a great competitive racetrack.
    Again, I have no concrete info to backup my post. Perhaps just a guess!
    Lets just wait and see

    P.S. I did use the word “concrete” a couple of times, but I was not referring to Tilcon Corporation

  23. Great Place to Race. Thank you and hope something happens before Sat.

  24. I really hope those big dollar racers try to buy it, if it shuts down I really need Seekonk to step up and take Sk Mods!

  25. I ain’t hearin’ no fat lady singin’…..yet. 🙂

    Stay tuned tomorrow…..because if there are that truly that many prospective bidders that really would have showed up Saturday, you can bet there are at least a couple of them that do NOT want it going to auction, and will potentially pay a higher price to secure the deal rather than risk auction.

    And I gotta believe at least 2-3 of the prospective bidders want to keep it as a racing facility.

    Anyone that thinks they are going to outbid NU or a major developer in an auction Saturday and keep it a racing facility is probably fooling themselves.

    Buckle up!

  26. Ken Woodward Jr. says

    Love the facility, won a bunch of truck races there in the late 90’s, helped a bunch of guys back in the day and today, Crazy Charlie, John Puglisi, my cousin Al Stone lll, Ronnie Oldham Jr, plus some I forgot I’m sure. Best side by side racing PERIOD, hope it stays a track and consider it my home track, I’m staying positive that we will have our track stay for years to come. I have had a rocky relationship with Terry over the years, but do appreciate his struggle to keep it a racetrack and thank him for us having our BOWL to come to and for all the memories. KW69

  27. The Speedbowl is great place and had awesome side by side racing and great officals and owner. I had the awesome best 3 years of flagging at Waterford Speedbowl it would be a shame to see it go hope it stays as a track

  28. Terry Eames, thank you for your love of the bowl. If I were a rich man the bowl would race forever. You know who I am and anything I can help with you reach out.
    Andy Seitz / [email protected] / #17 super

  29. Wish I had the money I really think even in these times with racing in general taking a hard hit since the economy went in the crapper I could make it the best track in Ct. and region to go to. Sure will be a shame if it goes away.

  30. Grey Matter says

    It seems to me like there is a paradigm shift in the racing in the New England region in general. With two new road course tracks being operational in between this year and next, oval tracks are getting less popular. 1st of all, the average Joe can attend a track day for a fee with just a helmet and seat belts. Try doing that in any kind of Nascar track. Secondly, it’s a different atmosphere. As a whole, road course tracks have better facilities such as garages, pits and amenities for fans and can also host a slue of events which are not based on one particular racing organization which tend to be more appropriately officiated. Thompson did the right thing to stay alive, the made the right choice. Otherwise, with the dwindling car counts and a much smaller fan presence, Thompson was on the same track of Waterford a couple of years ago.

  31. Too many variables at work here. The sizable difference btwn the debt to the Arbitell group and the appraised value makes this auction sale too attractive to non-racing investors. Whether or not The Bowl has spent all its 9 lives remains to be seen.

  32. I’ve read all of the comments here any I am surprised that no one picked up on the key statement here. Terry can’t refinance or find a partner. Its still for sale. If a true racer that has the pockets deep enough for this wants it a check will be written before tommarrow at noon. I believe the asking price if more than what the notes are. So if Terry can put a few bucks in his pocket, pay off the debt, and keep it a track. Lets get it done. If Terry truly wants to preserve the bowl it maybe time for him to step aside..let it go …. And buy a pit pass like everyone else..

  33. I saw my very first race in the summer of 1954 at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. My family would attend every Saturday night with our next door neighbors and it became a part of my life. I did not realize until years later that my future father-in-law was also a regular at “the Bowl” and actually welded frames for one of the top modified race teams. Now, 60 years later, racing is still an important part of my life. It would be a shame to lose the Speedbowl and I can only hope that it is sold to someone who is willing to invest in some upgrades and continue to provide the exciting weekly action of NASCAR Whelen All American Series racing.

  34. Its sad to think that this place that many of us call home on a Wednesday or Saturday night will be gone forever. But, we don’t know the outcome as of yet. So, lets all be positive and hope that somebody who has a love for racing buys it and we still get out local race track! As many of you I have spent many nights throughout my life at the track, I even worked there for half the 2014 season. So if it goes away forever then so it does. We can’t hate people for making it the way that it is, just hope that things get better.

  35. James Scott says

    I am optimistic after reading the article in the bulletin. Mr. Arbitell feels it will remain a race track. Let’s keep hoping.


  37. It is my understanding that a few weeks ago an offer was made for around 2.5 million to purchase the bowl in order to keep it a racing facility however it was withdrawn because the current owner wanted to be retained to run the place. Has anyone heard about this or is it just another rumor?

  38. Whatever ends up happening, I just hope the place stays as a track. I’m not sure what I’d do without the Speedbowl, it’s my second home and I’ve made tons of good friends from just being in the pits down there.

  39. Angryracefan says

    The biggest losers here are the racers… Not all the racers, just the ones that came to the last race, paid their hard earned money at the gate, raced their cars to bring the fans into the grandstands and then went home with empty hearts and pockets. I pity those racers because they have not gotten paid and never will now.

    You know they say you can’t cheat an honest man. Ever here the other saying, what comes around goes around? I could go on and on…. Any business run like a personal piggy bank where you employ most of your extended family (hello INS) is bound for failure more times then not.

    Sad to see this happen. I’m not happy just looking at the facts as an outside business man.

  40. Angryracefan,
    Your facts are wrong, hence they are not facts. Teams were paid for the final event and I have not heard of anybody that has had any failure cashing any checks from the final event. To the contrary, all I have heard from any participants is that there were no issues cashing any checks from the final event. I get the passion involved here, but if you’re going to post things with the singular goal of personally insulting individuals involved, at least check your facts.

  41. Doug DiPisa says

    Sorry but all teams were NOT paid. I’m still waiting. A stamp doesn’t cost that much. I left messages at track office machine. Even wrote a private message to Terry on his Favebook, and that didn’t seem to work. I guess I’ll have to move to the next step, a return self addressed envelope sent to track. One more option after that.

  42. @humphry, I don’t know about that specific rumor, but Terry Eames has always made it clear that he wants to be a part of the Bowl. Which is why I don’t understand how people have accused him of stealing from the place over the years. It doesn’t make sense. The guy has nothing but passion for the place.

  43. Just catching up on this rather sad but not unexpected news. Rumors of demise started a long time ago and I respect the people who kept it going this long when they could have just as easily walked away with a pile of money before the economy tanked. it’s a sad day for those who ever raced there too. A lot of passion expressed about this track in all the emails above, but this is a reality check. Times have changed. Attending a race every week, especially if you have family, is cost prohibitive. If you live as I do in the western half of the state it can take an hour or more to get to any of the CT. tracks and another $ 40 on top of the cost of tickets and food for the gas. If you are not a competitor I can’t see how a middle class wage earner can afford to attend races weekly. As someone who has had some direct involvement and been a fan for 50 years I also have to say that watching 10 -15 cars in a feature at tracks that have so many divisions you can barely tell them apart unless they don’t have fenders on them , ain’t all that exciting. Long gone are the days when there were 20 cars in the consi for 4 spots in the feature, and modifieds were just modifieds without some marketing genius trying to re-brand them differently at every track. As an economic model of how to run a race track it is just my opinion, but Thompson’s got it right, at least in terms of the racing format – special events with lots of cars is the way to go if you want high car counts and butts in the seats. NASCAR hasn’t done us any favors either. I’m just a fan but if I have a choice of sitting home watching a Cup race on my HD flat screen or going to a local track running the same night, I have to weigh the convenience and low / no cost of home entertainment options against the appeal of the product on the local short track. It’s a no-brainer. Back in the day my decision would not have been so clear. Miss a Saturday night at the Park ? Only for a death – mine. For a state that once had 8, yes 8, weekly operating stock car tracks, it is sad to see another one so close to extinction. I hope Stafford is paying attention.

  44. Crazy in NY says

    God!! please!! if your accepting prayers from a crazy New Yorker could you see to it

    that the Speedbowl lives? Thank you in advance. CINY

  45. While the potential of losing the Speedbowl is and emotional issue for many I think we all need to ask ourselves one pointed question; why can’t the current owner secure funding to avoid foreclosure? Is it the economy, is it the property is not worth what is owed to creditors, is it the property needs major renovations to the infrastructure, is it this business is a losing proposition or is it just time for new owner to take over hopefully keeping it as a racing facility.

    Looking from the outside in I would think when you are in business you incur debt however, to stay in business you have to pay the creditors. When you don’t pay the creditors they will look at avenues to get their money back because the creditors can’t stay in business if they can’t collect the debt owed so this becomes one vicious circle. I don’t know how you can survive in business when the money going out exceeds the money coming in.

    From what I understand this facility is in debt to the tune of just short of a 2 million so how did that happen? Where did the money go? How do other current racing facilities stay in business, turn a profit but this one can’t? A better business model/business plan, stronger financial partners? I don’t know the answers here however, it is troubling.

    I salute the current owner for what he has done for the fans and competitors and this is an absolute travesty. No one more than me wants to see the Bowl return in 2015 however, as the saying goes “it is time to pay the piper”.

  46. Shawn, trust me when I say I hate reading all the negative comments about the bowl but a fact is that I hold in my hand a bounced check from the Speedbowl that was given to me at the finale and I have not received a check from the finale race. It’s sad but it is a fact even if u have not heard about it. Let’s all hope the auction goes our way today and we can continue racing at the bowl for years to come.

  47. If Thompson went back to Sunday racing I think you would see the car count and the fan base improve like it used be .

  48. It is a fact! As the publisher of this article, you should know that….

  49. I may be getting overly cynnical here, and I don’t listen to Danko’s show but all the guy said was, it will remain a race track. Now that all the high fiving is over becuase it will still be a race track, he still hasn’t said at least publicly what kind of racing, who will run it or any other “Minor “details that I’d want to know as a competitor before I spent a nickel on next year’s build. NO ONE spends almost $2 mill without a business plan, especially if they need financing for the deal. So if he knows what he is going to do why couldn’t he just come out and say it by now? He bought the property for about half what it’s worth in the market, if I have my facts straight, and we all know land is a vualuable commodity. So is there some intention to keep this as a racing facility long term or just keep it operating long enogh to see real estate appreciate and flip it for big money? It’s Mr. Bemer’s money and he is certainly entitled to decide how he wants to move forward, but as I’ve said in an earlier post and it seems to be borne out by other posts expressing mistrust in track management, if this track is going to be successful he needs to establish credibility with the competitors as soon as possible. Disclosing his plans for the track should be first priority in my opinion.

  50. Everyone got paid at the final event of the 2014 season and Terry is a great person to work with and Just want to thanks to Terry hiring me as the flager looking forward 2015 season

  51. Doug DiPisa says

    Hate to burst your bubble. I still have not been paid for the last event. And it’s for the premier division at the track. They have my address. Even a message was sent to Terry on his facebook. It was read with no response.

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