Jon McKennedy Grabs Valenti Modified Racing Series Win At Speedbowl

Jon McKennedy celebrates victory at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl Saturday

Jon McKennedy celebrates victory at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl Saturday

WATERFORD – The log jam at the top of the all-time leader list in Valenti Modified Racing Series action at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl got a little more jammed Saturday night.

Jon McKennedy of Chelmsford, Mass. scored victory in the 100-lap Valenti Modified Racing Series feature Saturday at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.

It was the third career series victory at the track for McKennedy. He joins Keith Rocco and Chris Pasteryak as the only other three-time Valenti Modified Racing Series winners

McKennedy also won at Waterford in 2010 and 2012.

“You put your name with a good group of guys,” McKennedy said. “A kid like Keith Rocco, he’s arguably one of the best drivers in New England. He’s a really good driver. It’s cool to say we’ve all got the three wins here. I look forward to the future and hopefully we can win some more.”

Richard Savary of Canton, Mass. was second and Woody Pitkat of Stafford third.

McKennedy rallied after being involved in a lap 32 crash that collected more than half of the 29-car field. The wreck started when third place running Ted Christopher got loose off of turn two and collected much of the field on the backstretch.

“We had a wheel that was pretty bad,” McKennedy said. “I don’t know if we had something bent in the rear end. It was kind of driving a little funky down the straightaway there. Obviously it was still good enough. We had a real good car. I wasn’t too sure what to think, we got gobbled up in the wall pretty good. It looked liked Teddy just got really loose and overcorrected and I was right there.”

Savary went to the lead by Pitkat on lap 70 restart with McKennedy following to second place. Three laps later McKennedy went to the outside to take over the lead for good.

“It’s unfortunate that he got involved in that accident because it allowed him to put a new right rear [tire] on and that was the difference of the race,” Savary said. “I think on equal tires I was just as good. But good for him.”


  1. Longest night of racing in the history on racing. 6 hours to run a show is ridiculous. Some good racing but way to much talking.

  2. I agree, seems like the bowl has no sense of time – Also why only 16 Super-mods, last week they started 23. Although even 16 Super-mod are fun to watch. Put a fork in the NEMA’s, first visit to the bowl they brought 10 cars, with half NEMA Lites, this time 11 car’s, both times was like watching hot laps. Rest of the racing was great, love the 3/4 midgets, they put on a great show.

  3. Open wheel fan says

    There is no question Waterford runs the worst racing program in New England. All their special events are very long 6-8 hour venues. I got to Stafford Friday at 730pm Friday and program was over at 1030. We no longer go to Waterford because of the long endless racing program. Wings and wheels was once 4 features and now up to seven features. Great racing but too bad management ruined the racing venue. My advice is stay away from Waterford unless you like misery. They need to contact the Stafford family how to run a racing program. Waterford lost 10 of us and will loose more fans as time goes on.

  4. wmass01013 says

    IF you have a touring series why are u running heats for local divisions with 12 cars
    handicap them and features only, move show along with less talk def with rain in area, no feature should be starting @11

  5. I agree as well. I know of alot of people who came for the VMRS left early. Great night of racing all around but the show took a bit too long. Maybe have the VMRS not the last event would have helped a bit.

  6. So what time did the show end? I left after TC went boom.

  7. As for NEMA, pavement midget racing is essentially dead. USAC no longer runs their midgets(or sprint cars either) on pavement tracks. With THE supermods last week was one of their bigger races of the season and they were in an area that has another supermodifed series so they could probably draw some cars from them. With NEMA and ISMA I am pretty sure the issue is the engines cost way too much $$$ these days. I ended up staying home since the last few years this event took way too long and the weather forecast was pretty iffy for the late afternoon and evening. I figured it there was any delay they would never get the whole thing in.

  8. Didn’t wind up going last night. But they really need to just do what Stafford does and handicap the weekly series to save time. Friday was really smoothly ran.

  9. I’ll start with “I love the Speedbowl”.Last night’s racing program was at least an hour too long.Rolling introductions and timely starts would make a huge difference.The supermodifieds took forty minutes to start.The VMRS race barely finished at curfew time(12:00).Great track, great racing,however far too much time wasted.

  10. James Scott says

    I stayed home as well because I knew it would be a long drawn out affair as usual. Waterford GM has no clue. 40 bucks to get in and suffer through hours of misery . I stayed in the pool! Glad the track is on solid ground now but I would like to see management get it together. You need to reward your regulars more not the touring guys. Some day somebody will figure this out. Stafford has always been and remains the class of the field in Connecticut. That’s why I buy a season pass every year.

  11. To much time in between races. There is no need to talk to the second and third finishers. Once a race ends the next one should be ready to go right away. Every race last night took at least 20 to 30 minutes in between. Let the racing be the show not the announcers.

  12. Midnight…it was a very long and hot day. Everything was behind. Too many divisions. They need to get Wings n Wheels back to what it used to be.

  13. I was listening to VRMS race control last night, and heard that McKennedy changed 2 tires after the “big one”, but only one was “approved”. I gather this matter was resolved in McKennedy’s favor???

  14. Either of the options mentioned above (dumping the NEMA events or pre qualifying the SKs and SK Lights) would make sense. Regardless, the racing should end by 10:30 pm (or 11:00 pm, at the latest).

  15. Everybody crying about the late night must have never gone to the speedbowl back in the 80’s when every week ran till curfew. Why scrap heat races when they count towards points and the point battles are so close. They didn’t need to rush because of weather in the area. The only threatening weather was around early, like 630, not later at night. The only big delay of the night came during the mrs pileup. You can blame TC for that one. And an 8 hour event open wheel fan? That’s a bit of an exaggeration wouldn’t you say? This event is always one of the biggest and longest of the year and the place is always packed. And it will be next year too. For the people that didn’t show up I don’t really blame them if they were going by the weather report. At one point I saw 100% chance of rain around 4 and 6. And here’s the shocker . It didn’t rain at all in Waterford even though it may have in the rest of the state. Because we all know that never happens on race night…… I will say they should have started the program at 5. 530 didn’t make much sense.

  16. First time i have missed Wings and Wheels at the ‘Bowl, but not sure that I could have held out for a midnight ending, eesh.

    Agreed, start the lower divisions on points / handicap, let the Supers and VMRS run their heats, and move things along sooner.

    I say take the NEMAs off the card. They used to be great, but car counts are so low they are running the Lites in the features now and it just is not enjoyable.

  17. The matter was taken care of. There was only one tire changed and it was approved by an official

  18. Waterford has the TriTrack event on the 25th. They took 30 minutes for driver introductions at Seekonk. A race that didn’t start until 10:35 pm on a Wednesday. Ben Dodge took 22 minutes to introduce drivers at Star. Yes, I timed it. Star started and ended at a reasonable hour but enough with the dead time on track. Sounds like everyone is in agreement that rolling starts is the way to go. Ben Dodge, you are on the clock at Waterford.

  19. JMB needs to fact check…..Usac runs Sprints and Midgets on asphalt….Ever hear of the Little 500??

  20. Heat Races in this day and age are a waste of time. The MRS let everybody race, Why have heat races. Line them up by a points handicap and lets go racing. Everybody is living in the past with these heat race deals.
    Keep these 7 or 8 or more division races for the beginning of the year or the end of the year.
    The Wings and Wheels was great with only 4 Different Divisions of racing. Keep it simple.
    6 or 7 car heat races for the locals are a waste of time, if you don’t have at least 10 cars in a heat race it is a waste of time. Everybody starts anyway.
    How do you keep kids interested in races when the races last all day & night.
    Everybody thinks bigger and longer is the way to go. BIG MISTAKE.
    Let’s see if Thompson really runs the WMT @ 8:00 PM Wednesday with TT @ 7:00 PM. Sounds to good to be true.

  21. Craig – Agree on all your points, except that i believe the VMRS awards points for Top 5 finishing positions finishes in the Heat Races (i think it is top 5, someone can correct me please. 🙂 ) So, if that is true, I would say keep those heats. Not sure on the Supers and their Heats (I’d rather see them time trial myself).

  22. I will not go to the Speedbowl anymore, takes forever there to watch junk divisions that nobody really cares to watch. This is how they make money they have 7-10 division with 100 cars in pits at 40/person. They care less about what the fans think since the back gate is the key to pay the bills. Get rid of Buckler, I dont care what the 3rd place legends/bando/mini/street stock/sk light/ drivers have to say.

  23. Wow Rich, that’s a bit harsh no? Weather you like it or not buckler is an icon at all CT tracks. So what would you like to see. A 45 minute show of just sk’s? Those junk divisions as you call them are sometimes the best shows of the night. I’m sure when you go to Stafford you love the 6 car legends race, or Thompson with the 7 sk lites and the Rusty Wallace racing school 20 lap feature 😃

  24. knuckles mahoney says

    How about that McKennedy win?

  25. Never coming to speed bowl again Track is poorly run and over priced

  26. Harsh people. I would’ve loved to go to this show. I was there last October for the big show, which ended WELL after dark. I was there 2 years ago, when they ran the whole Finale Weekend in ONE day with 14 divisions and 400+ laps. With my new job I don’t have Saturday’s off…next week will be my first Saturday off since May. Guess where I’ll be Saturday night? At the track I love. There are no “junk” divisions, imo. The track supports side-by-side racing for all cars. It’s not Stafford where everything that’s not a modified runs in a single-wide parade. It’s not Thompson where fields get strung out in three laps because of the size of the track, and equipment matters more than skill.

  27. getserious says

    We skipped this one. We went a couple times in the past and just knew that they would be pushing midnight even with no rain/track-drying delay at all. The place has terrible time management down there. 6-1/2 hours? You’ve got to be kidding. And then leave there at Midnight with a 2 hour ride home? But Rich hits the nail on the head; they don’t care about people are in the stands because they are making money at the back gate. More than a dozen long dragged-out Yellow flags add up to a far bigger diddling-around waste of time than a quick Victory lane does. That’s where they really drop the ball. —They need to do what Claremont did years ago; Record the whole event and force the officials to sit through the whole 6-1/2 hours on Monday night and they will get to see what a waste of time they have created. Seriously.

  28. Mr Ragers says

    It was a Saturday Program, so if the support divisions want to run heats just run them an hour earlier. Or does that make too much sense?

  29. Mr Ragers says

    It was a Saturday Program, so if the support divisions want to run heats just run them an hour earlier. Or does that make too much sense?

  30. Mr Ragers says

    It was a Saturday Program, so if the support divisions want to run heats just run them an hour earlier. Or does that make too much sense?

  31. Some guy,
    The Little 500 for sprint cars is not sanctioned by USAC. It is sanctioned by the “Must See Xtreme Sprint Car Series” That is usually a winged series, but they sanctioned that 1 race as wingless now.

  32. Fast Eddie says

    Too late, too long, too inefficient, too many complaints! Yes, it could have been a little more efficiently run; it’s easy to make those observations after all is said and done. Heats are more racing, although for most classes I would enjoy more cars in each heat and less heats overall. Too all those complaining about the length of the show, maybe you should only watch racing on your TV or computer so you can turn it off when you’ve had enough! Racing for the most part is exciting and unpredictable competition; who knows the length of time involved and the outcome? I left my home @ 1:30 pm and got home @ 2:30 am, tired but very VERY HAPPY I made the trip!!

  33. Yes it is harsh sorry but it’s true, most people that are in stands really only care about Modifieds. If Modifieds were 1st feature more than 75% of crowd would leave when checkers came out. They are the draw in CT. Would you like to sit and watch hours of commercials until your favorite show comes on? Tracks are smart, they make you sit there for hours, drinking beer,eating food because they know we won’t leave until the Mods are done. Waterford runs kid divisions because if kids are in pits usually so is Mom,Dad,Grandparents and brothers and sisters wich equals $$$$ but a crappy show!!!

  34. JMB,….USAC Easten Midget series has 20+ races on their 2016 schedule….again JMB, check facts.

  35. Fast Eddie says

    Rich, if you only like the modifieds, I suppose your view is valid, although many people left after the supers with the Valenti race still left to run. Just because they are not modifieds, doesn’t mean they’re terrible. Being a fan of RACING, I can look at and appreciate the support categories for what they are; an opportunity for people to race that can’t or don’t want to run a modified! Don’t get me wrong; I choose my events based on the modifieds, as they are my favorite racecar. BUT… I have been to just as many races where one of the “other categories” was the best RACING of the event as I have when the modifieds were the highlight.

  36. Some Guy – You might want to do your own fact checking, as the series that you are referring to is a spec engine regional series. It’s called the USAC Eastern HPD Midgets, and is a spec Honda powered series that runs a combined dirt / asphalt schedule. The spec engine series was developed to specifically combat the high priced engines necessary to compete at the national level. A nationally competitive midget engine is right now in the $40,000+ range.

  37. Grey Matter says

    Boy.. It seem Rich has his panties to tight. You do realize that without the supporting divisions, there won’t be a division #1 right?

  38. Some guy ,
    The USAC Eastern Midgets are a sealed spec engine series. They are pretty much the same idea as the NEMA Lites. They are not considered “full blown” midgets like the ones that run on dirt with the national tour or the Western Series.

  39. Usac does not have a pavement sprint series anymore on the national level or a pavement midget series on the national level.
    Yes they have the focus type pavement midgets and out west have pavement midgets but nothing in the mid west .
    The little 500 is a one of sprint on pavement race and there is no usac points and I’m pretty sure they don’t even sanction it

  40. JMB, You said that Usac did not run Midgets or Sprints on pavement…You are incorrect on both counts…..Just sayin…..I mean I have seen a USAC Sprint car race on asphalt this year with my own eyes….????

  41. How did this get into an argument about USAC Midgets???? And who cares?????

  42. Open wheel fan says

    The bottom line is Waterford puts on very lengthy night of racing. Those who don’t mind spending 7 hours at speedway can do that and the other fans can stay home. The program is dragged out purposely to sell concessions probably. Nobody had anything good to say about wings and wheels show. You could not give me tickets for tri track race on August 25th. For those attending get ready for extremely long night of racing MISERY Waterford Style. At least you will be out of speedway by midnight.

  43. SomeGuy – Here’s the link to the USAC Sprint Car Schedule – Go look at it and find an asphalt track … I dare ya …

  44. Also, from the 2016 Little 500 Entry form (directly copied) – “GENERAL RULES: Must See Racing Xtreme Sprint Series is the official sanctioning body of the Little 500”.

    Please take the time to do your research and get it right folks. There are many people on this site that actually KNOW what they’re talking about. Every now and again.

  45. Fast Eddie says

    Well, I guess I’m a pretty happy nobody! I saw seven different classes of open wheel cars, with good car counts in VMRS, SK, ATQMRA, & NEMA Lites. The ISMA count was respectable also. That’s 5 of 7, pretty darned good in my book! The NEMA midgets and SK Lite fields were a little short, but there was still good racing in all classes. To all the complainers, good luck finding that 2-3 hour show with cheap tickets, no cautions, no heats, three top classes, and no down time! I can’t wait to hear about it!

  46. Looking at Thompson schedule for Wednesday they are running one weekly feature before 8pm tour start. Everything else to follow the WMT. That’s the way to do it if they are sticking to it.

  47. Well Richc has spoken…..JMB said, in reference to Midget racing, that their were no USAC sanctioned Midget races on pavement …….Someone should tell the Easten USAC Midget series. They race at tracks such as, Caraway, Kentucky Motor speedway, Hickory Motor speedway, Andersen speedway, ACE Speedway, East Carolina Motor speedway. etc, etc…..But on second thought I am sure JMB and Richc are right….PS….In 2015 USAC sanctioned the KING of the wing pavement series…..I dont care what kind of engines they run….Spec, built, sealed etc….It is USAC SANCTIONED…Is it like it was in 1992 on ESPN Thursday Night thunder? No, But to say it is dead is incorrect….Here is where Richc and JMB go, ” well, yea but….Well you see its not the same blah blah blah…Spec motor blah blah blah”.

  48. wmass01013 says

    we will see if that happens, that actually shocks me!!!!

  49. Frankie tree says

    How about how great the speedbowl looks after a season and a half with the new owner. New lights and poles . New Score board , News Walls , cleaned up and painted and repaired old stands , rebuilding of pits with added parking. Wiring ect. They wI’ll figure out the scheduling. This winter I’m told all new aluminum stands and concessions. Let’s build on that note a bad choice of heats . Still the best track and car count in CT. Thanks Bruce Bemer

  50. Some guy,

    You really should do some fact checking. “In 2015 USAC sanctioned the KING of the wing pavement series” … from – “The ‘King of the Wing’ Sprintcar series was founded by former Indy Car Driver Davey Hamilton in 2014. The series was developed to work with all teams, promoters, fans and sponsors to strengthen pavement winged sprint car racing from coast to coast working directly with all existing pavement sprint car series.” Just to point out one more thing … USAC has never sanctioned winged sprint car racing to my knowledge, but certainly not in recent history.

    But yes, I will agree that you could call a spec-engine regional series that was developed to try and create an open-wheel presence where there traditionally has not been one a midget series. Will you agree that the SK-Lights that run at Thompson / Stafford / Waterford are the same as the WMT mods? That’s your equivalent comparison.

    I grew up with the midgets, spent most of my childhood with one in my garage, helping my father work on it and going to Seekonk, Waterford, Westboro, Norwood, Thompson, and many other tracks that don’t exist. I HATE that the midgets are dying, but JMB is correct. The cost of asphalt midget racing has gotten so high that you need to have a million dollar sponsor* to continue to race.

    * – Disclaimer – Exaggeration to make a point.

  51. Fast Eddie says

    Frankie Tree, I absolutely agree! The Speedbowl looks great! THANK-YOU MR.BEEMER AND CREW!!

  52. Richc…..IMO…Not comparing then and now……..IMO…..Change is not the same as death……Its like a Digital music person saying CDs are dead, but you can walk into a store and buy plenty of them….The cost of asphalt racing was out of control 20 years ago…….Fact is USAC has a series that races Midgets on asphalt….I too am a huge fan of the Rich Vogler era but 40k engines were tough to afford then also so I will take some change over death every time…..IMO.

  53. Funny to read all the “race fans” complaining about a track having too much racing.
    Anyone could have looked at the schedule and figured out when the division they wanted to see was likely to race, and showed up later. Your ticket does not require you to be there from the first green flag on. Instead you come here and whine.

  54. wmass01013 says

    sorry pete but whether a sports event, concert or race I like to get there early and leave when done, not one to show up at 8 when shows starts at 6 or leave at 9 when show ends at 12

  55. You [people are complaining about too much racing.STAY HOME. and watch sprint cup.Great job to Shawns and Mr Bemers crew.

  56. Wmass, if you aren’t interested in watching the opening act for a concert, you plan accordingly (arrive later, drink in the parking lot, shop for t-shirts, etc) and find your seat when the main band comes on. You bought tickets to a music festival just to see the closer – only to complain that it’s a festival. Don’t expect sympathy from us real fans.

  57. wmass01013 says

    Pete if you can read I said I like to get there early and leave after all done not 1/2 way either way.
    When u have 6 or 7 divisions running, have a rain threat, have a 12 curfew, I think as track management you should find a way to streamline the night, that means u eliminate needless talk between races and u don’t run 5 or 6 car heat races, I understand all the good things WATERFORD has done with the facility, I understand the want to sell food and beer, but most people don’t want to sit for 7 hours or wait til 11 to start the feature race!!!

  58. Tony Membrino says

    I was completely unaware there were this many track management extraordinaires on here… who knew!? Call up Shawn and offer to be his consigliere if you’re so sharp!

    Congrats to Jon McKennedy on another awesome drive and win. And I hate to break it to Mr. Savory and the other critics, but I don’t think a tire that was 10-15 laps fresher was the reason the 29 dusted the field lol #makeraceworksgreatagain

  59. Liz Cherokee says

    Hey! Sometimes Melissa only completes a few laps, but I always watch the whole race, as it gives me time to enjoy a little crab with tomato mayonnaise dressing…

  60. I believe McKennedy’s new tire was 32 laps fresher. But, still a legit win for him – no rules were broken. He’s been strong all year. And, kudos to Raceworks.

  61. wmass01013 says

    sorry Tony didn’t know we are not allowed to express opinions

  62. Open wheel fan, did you go to the seekonk tri track show?. Was that a night of misery because it ended so late? And open wheel fan, there are two features before the tour. Don’t you think that maybe the reason they are mixing up the schedule is because of the double sk features? Any other wmt event would be run last just like any other track around here.

  63. Hey Tony Membrino….As a PAYING CUSTOMER I will say what I want, when I want, how I want and to whom I want….Don’t like it??…Too bad.

  64. Hey Some guy.If you are so into saying everything.POST YOUR NAME. Keyboard tough guy.

  65. Steve Devine says

    It was more like 30 laps with a fresh right rear and it does make a big difference! Furthermore having an unnapproved wheel change when it wasn’t flat is a big help too..

  66. LOL…”Kevin t”…..Anyone can post a name…fake or not…..I did notice you left out part of yours as well…ROFL!!!..Show me where I am being a “tough guy” in any of my posts???…..As a paying customer in America am I not allowed to voice displeasure?….Or are you just to Stupid to understand?

  67. OK kids, this is about Jon McKennedy’s win so lets stay on track. Congrats Jon!

  68. Folks, we’ve said it before, but it seems like we have to put up the reminder every 2-3 months. No swearing in comments. Any comments that contain vulgarities will be deleted. We don’t edit or clean up comments here. And also, getting creative with the keyboard won’t pass either. If it’s symbols or numbers or spaces added, whatever it is trying to infer a vulgarity, that’s gone too. I’m quite sure everyone here is adult enough to make their points without having to emphasize those points with vulgarities. Thank you.

  69. Tony Membrino says

    It would make a big difference if the tire didn’t already have some laps on it… and unapproved tire change complaints now? lol c’mon now

  70. Tony Membrino says

    Not sure my comment was directed towards you lol, but if you thinking it was soothes that “paying customer”, “customer is always right,” “I want to speak to the manager” attitude of yours, then I’m happy to help *thumbs up*. By the way, not sure what you’re paying for, this site is free to use, free of charge, last time I checked…

  71. Tony Membrino says

    Of course you can, that’s the beauty of this site. I’m doing the same, I’m just expressing mine without saying that it’s all too probable that the people crying about track management the most are probably the ones wouldn’t be able to keep a lemonade stand from going under, let alone a racetrack… oops

  72. Don’t speak too soon Tony….That place will still be turned into a mini mall sometime in the next dozen years…Count on it…..Greed and Money will always find a way…..Sorry to say.

  73. Tony Membrino says


  74. Maybe grammar lessons are in line here, WOW………..

  75. Tony Membrino says

    THAT we can agree on. Anyone who wonders what happened to the good old days of racing… greed happened

  76. Feel free to educate us with all your wisdom and knowledge humphry.

  77. Henry Lecomte says

    If you guys don’t like the Bowl DON’T GO

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