Shawn Monahan Living The Dream At New London-Waterford Speedbowl Season Opener

New London-Waterford Speedbowl general manager oversees the track driver's meeting on the backstretch Saturday afternoon

New London-Waterford Speedbowl general manager oversees the track driver’s meeting on the backstretch Saturday afternoon

WATERFORD – As New London-Waterford Speebdowl general manager Shawn Monahan addressed competitors at the driver’s meeting Saturday at the Waterford Speedbowl he fought back tears in front of the massive crowd of racers.

“It’s almost like your first win,” said Monahan, a longtime competitor at the track who was named general manager of the facility in February by new owner Bruce Bemer. “It hasn’t hit me yet. I’m looking down and getting nervous talking to them. I was forgetting half the stuff I wanted to say. I felt a tear coming up so I changed the subject. It’s awesome because the track is alive and it’s here. To see everybody grouped together, I know they’re filled with appreciation just like we are. We couldn’t be more proud.”

It’s been a long road since Oct. 18, 2014 when Bemer was the high bidder in the foreclosure auction of the facility. Legal wranglings left Bemer fighting to get control of the facility and many wondering if there would even be racing at the track in 2015. It wasn’t until early February that Bemer was able to close on the track.

Bemer was on hand for the first driver’s meeting on Saturday, and was actually jokingly scolded by new racer director Scott Tapley when Bemer’s cell phone was ringing during the meeting.

“It’s a dream come true for me,” Monahan told competitors at the driver’s meeting. “I appreciate you all being here. … We’re very blessed to have Bruce Bemer as a track owner.”

Kevin Nevalainen, director of weekly operations for NASCAR, was on hand and also addressed drivers Saturday.

“It’s pretty exciting for me to be here and see all the excitement in the air,” Nevalainen told drivers. “I’m really excited for Bruce and all the staff here. They’re really working hard and we can see they’ve cleaned up a lot already. … I just wanted to say thanks to each and every one of you. Without you guys here supporting this track, and all the other NASCAR Home Tracks in the area, we could haven’t a series.”

Tapley implored drivers to make the first night a clean one on the track.

“You don’t have to like each other when you [leave the track], but you have to like each other when you’re out here racing,” Tapley said at the driver’s meeting. “You’ve got to treat each other with respect. Race hard, but race clean.”

Monahan was going non-stop around the track before the start of feature racing Saturday afternoon, tying up loose ends as fans poured in.

“Today is so busy for me that I haven’t had a chance to shake hands and kiss babies and pass out lollipops, and that’s what I really want to be able to do,” Monahan said. “It’s a dream come true. I hope that when 7 pm rolls around there’s a lot of people [in the grandstands]. … I just want to keep the good vibe going. I’ve been told by staff and people in the pit area that there’s just a good vibe. I’m just really glad to hear that. That makes it all worth it.”

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  1. Great Job and good luck to Shawn Monahan,Bruce Bemer, Scott Tapley and all the workers at the New London Waterford Speedbowl.

  2. I agree with Frog, best to all who worked so hard to make this day possible.

  3. JimBinCT says

    Congratulations to Shawn, the staff, volunteers, and drivers on a great opening day. Thank You again Mr. Bemer! Had a great time tonight. A few little bugs to be worked out at the concessions, and with the scoreboard. Really impressed at all they accomplished in a short time to get the track ready for today.

  4. Great job by all involved for opening night. As JimB mentioned a few bugs to be worked out, but overall a good night of racing at a track we feared might have been gone forever. No complaints about the feature winners but it will be more exciting to see the fast guys starting farther back and working their way to the front rather than starting in the front row.

  5. Infield Guy Bob says

    It was really Great to be back at The Bowl tonight with my Daughter Chelsea. It was a busy night for sure. I feel a good vibe for this year too. I was a bit humbled after the event talking to Mr.Bemer when I asked him how he liked his first night as the owner of the Bowl and he said he liked to see the smiles on everyone’s faces the most. He and Shawn are class’s act’s. Oh ya, our infield crew are second to none also!!!

  6. justafan says

    As a racefan I am very glad that the track was saved and remains a racetrack so thank you Mr Bemer for that. Place did look good for the time they had to prepare and I was a bit surprised by the turn out and was nice to see the local support. That being said I must say a few things I did not care for.
    When I first entered the gate I was quickly told no Dunkin coffee allowed will let you slide tonite but from now on not allowed, no burger king,mcdonalds cups and so on because they are not clear. I say really? why?? Alcohol control he says. Give me a break for real, I can buy a 16oz pepsi dump half the pepsi,fill it with Jack and put in my cooler bag,enter the track and then proceed to buy beer after beer and get bombed but I cant bring in a coffee or a personal thermos and drinking cup?????? I even said can I just crack the lid or open the thermos for inspection….nope But an iced coffee is fine cause the cup is clear…..give me a fricken break

    Concesion prices?? OMG totoaly ridiculous. $4.50 for a stupid ice cream cone? $3 last year don’t ask for sprinkles that 5 bucks. I knew the prices would be a bit higher but the prices I was seeing are just obscene, I guess family friendly does not mean affordable or even somewhat reasonable. 20 mins to get a hot chocolate that I downed in a minute because it was more like chocolate milk,barley even warm. $9 for 2 pizza slices in which the cheese was hardly even melted.

    As for the racing? Same old same although I believe TC woulda won that race had Keith not rode him into the wall or if they had not allowed them to race to the finish with a car stopped on front stretch,driver side facing traffick. Was so glad nothing happened causeing that car to get drilled. I don’t know who made that call but WOW!!!

    Maybe they just need some time to tweak some things but man being told I cant bring in a stupid coffee just really upset me, yes it may be a small and stupid issue to some,but I can have my carry bag inspected and cleared yet I cant simply crack my lid and verify im drinking coffee?????

    That being said I am glad the place is still running,I just don’t see it being a weekly affair for me.

  7. Michelle says

    It was a great opening night, the stands had more people in them than i have seen in a long time. The pits had a lot more cars than it did at the end of last year, and people were just happy to be back.
    Thank you Bruce for going out on a limb for the Bowl and good job Shawn.

  8. My Opening Night grade would be an A. Minor things need to be tweaked. Concession lines were horrible and prices were ridiculous. Missing some core items like fired dough. That “Best in Show” competition is gonna be bad on nights where the program is running late. The gate fiasco was quickly fixed. Racing was great. High car counts minus the Late Models. Racing was close. Officiating was good. Track clean up crew still isn’t the best in the business but they get the job done. I think the PA system was improved because I could actually hear announcing during the races. Bathrooms are mostly disease free. Lots and lots of smiling staff everywhere. During the old regime the only staff you’d encounter was at the front gate and the concessions. Bemer and Monaham did a great job. If they can survive the craziness of May ( 3x town nights then the WMT), then this track will survive anything!

  9. justafan, you might want to double check the price of the pizza next time because the girl charged me $7 for two cheese. As for them not allowing you to bring in a dunkin donuts cup anymore, well I know a few people that won’t be happy about that.

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