NASCAR Rejects Request For Whelen All-American Series Sanction At Speedbowl

The New London-Waterford Speedbowl will open its 2017 season Saturday with the running of their Blastoff event, but will do so without a sanctioning agreement from NASCAR.

A NASCAR official confirmed to RaceDayCT Thursday that the body has rejected a request by new track operator George Whitney to have Saturday night events this season sanctioned by them as part of the Whelen All-American Series national short track program.

NASCAR informed Whitney of their decision on Thursday.

“With the race season well underway in New England, NASCAR has declined the application of a New London-Waterford Speedbowl sanction for the 2017 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season,” read a statement from NASCAR. “Likewise, adding a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race back to the 2017 schedule is not logistically practical.”

The track had previously been sanctioned by NASCAR, but that sanction was terminated after track owner Bruce Bemer was charged with patronizing a trafficked person in late March.

The decision means the track will not be recognized as part of NASCAR’s national short track racing program and drivers at the track will not be eligible to race for NASCAR’s national short track titles. It also means drivers at the track will not be eligible for the insurance provided as part of being a NASCAR licensed member.

It was announced on June 5 that Whitney, a former competitor and team owner at the track, would lease the facility for the 2017 season from Bemer. Whitney – who is also serving as the track general manager – said upon finalization of the agreement to lease the track he immediately reached out to NASCAR officials in an attempt to bring the sanction back to the track for weekly Saturday divisions.

On April 6 NASCAR announced that it was terminating its sanction with the track, citing actions detrimental to the sport. The terminated sanction was in Bemer’s name. NASCAR also announced the cancellation of a previously scheduled July 22 Whelen Modified Tour event at the track at that time.

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

The track will open its season with an eight-division racing card on Saturday highlighted by a 100-lap feature for the Valenti Modified Racing Series.

“NASCAR Whelen All-American Series sanctions are reviewed and issued on an annual basis,” a statement from NASCAR read regarding a possible future sanction at the track. “Tracks are welcome to apply for the 2018 season. Similarly, NASCAR touring series schedules are a mix of one-year and multi-year sanctions, and the conversations regarding the 2018 calendar are ongoing with current and prospective race tracks.”


  1. JimBinCT says

    I didn’t expect Nascar to sanction for 2017 after the racing season is well underway. Hopefully things will work out for 2018.

  2. Shaun,

    Any idea what the insurance situation is going to be at the Bowl for this weekend and subsequent weeks? Hopefully they have addressed that, or there is no way that I would race or attend an event, regardless of the ownership situation.

  3. Let’s just all be happy there making the place keep its zonning non conforming use status this year by running some races. Otherwise we would loose another track.

  4. The General says

    Do you know of any business on the planet earth that would even open its doors without full insurance coverage? Lets not stir the pot and put that ridiculous thought in peoples heads.

  5. @General – I’ve seen FIRSTHAND many unsanctioned short tracks run events with minimal or no insurance, that’s why I brought it up.

  6. I was informed that the tracks insurance reads as such . If you get hurt at the track a crew loads you onto a flatbed and brings you out onto RT 85 where the ambulance comes and gets ya after The track Calls the authorities and tells them you’ve been hit by a passing car .

  7. darealgoodfella says

    Shawn, how can you do this???? This is negativity. It is not helping the ‘Bowl. It is all true and factual.

    Oh, the humanity!!!!


  8. Insurance is a non issue. Whether it’s a craft fair, parade, county fair, virtually any activity involving the some fiduciary responsibility to provide a safe environment for the public towns require proper insurance. Certain insurance companies specialize in providing event by event coverage. It’s expensive with substantial binders paid in advance. It’s a whole thing with attorneys providing letters of credit and site inspection by the insurance company to control risk of loss. It’s a given. Can’t hold a race without it.

  9. Not surprising at all. Yet reading the comments on facebook you would think the end of the world has arrived. How in the world can the track survive without almighty nascar or nascars insurance? The mental midgets are out in full force.

  10. darealgoodfella says

    How’d the town inspection go?

    Grandstands pass inspection?

  11. No surprise here. I highly doubt Nascar will return until the place is sold. They don’t need the headache of sanctioning a track owned by a guy who is is the news for all the wrong reasons. Too much of a PR nightmare.

  12. Please stop the negativity its not helping anything!
    Just stop and look for something else to write about..
    maybe another sport!

  13. Does anyone know if Inex (legends cars) is back on board as our sanctioning body? If not I have two questions, do we have insurance coverage through the track and are we continuing to compete using Inex rules? I also wonder I am told George Whitney is affiliated with the 51 legend/Modified car is this a conflict of interest?

  14. i bet all these people complaining about no insurance have no clue what it was like to race back in the 60’s or 70’s. that’s when men raced hard, crashed hard, got hurt, and came back the next week.!!!!!!

  15. Positivity POTUS says

    NASCAR will be back to the Bowl, believe me!

    And do you know who’s going pay for that sanction??

    NASCAR is going to pay for that sanction!! Believe me!

    Let’s make the Bowl great again!

  16. As long as Bemer owns it, NASCAR will not sanction it, and the WMT will not race at the bowl.

    Does not matter if there are lease agreements. From a PR standpoint for NASCAR, it’ a no-brainer decision.

    Additionally, pretty sure you will see quite a few drivers, car owners and even fans make that decision to not go to the bowl.

    But, there are those that will, and we’ll all see what happens.

    I have my opinion, but I can not judge if folks should go or not, and thus to each his/her own.

  17. The General says

    Bemer is loaded and will be facing lawsuits for years to come with his legal problems. Highly doubt the place will be underinsured and open him up to more lawsuits if something were to happen.

  18. Beleive me nascar does not pay nobody anything and whoever owns the track will be paying nascar .

  19. Poprocks says

    ModMom, if you want to know if the track has insurance, then call them and ask. I wouldn’t think that after everything they would open or even think of opening without any. INEX did not come back as the sanctioning body. John Kelley – the INEX tech inspector the last couple years – said in a facebook comment a while back that he would be there. INEX rules apply as it was said in a press release that all rules already in place will remain the same. George has been affiliated with teams in the past everyone knows that. But I’m sure if you have questions for him he would be more than happy to answer them for you rather than throwing accusations on this site.

  20. I don’t know, was GM Shawn Monahan a conflict of interest when his brother and niece raced? Don’t mean to be snarky but maybe you are new to the speedbowl.

  21. NASCAR can care less about modifieds . Have open races with good purses and tel nascar to take a hike .non nascar tracks put on a better show . Don’t like nascar better off without them ……

  22. Racer 28 says

    I believe Seekonk dropped the NASCAR sanction for a few years and they did just fine. The bowl will be fine. I can’t wait to go back on Saturday😁

  23. I certainly don’t know the details on the new track operator George Whitney. But one could guess he is a man of substance with some wealth and a pretty smart guy. The idea that he would put that all on the line unprotected in a highly speculative venture is just absurd. Nascar I’m sure can provide cheaper insurance for the racers but it’s not a deal killer. I don’t even believe they have anything to do with the track liability insurance but maybe Shawn can weigh in on that. The real loss is national points for guys like Rocco.
    Regarding conflicts of interest in racing that is a low bar starting with the Arutes that race at Stafford. Conflicts of interest generally don’t exist in racing. If the Arutes wanted to use the track constantly for private practices and tell the inspectors they could do basically anything they wanted they could do it. It would be a public relations nightmare and they wouldn’t do it but they could.

  24. darealgoodfella says

    The lease agreement most likely stipulates that the lessee assume all liability for operating the track and MUST have insurance, and proof of said insurance must be made evident. The lessee totally indemnifies the lessor.

    Bemer should not allow otherwise for it would be a direct risk and exposure against himself.

    Doug, I can’t believe that you dismiss all the business risks involved for the track lessor and lessee, and instead claim, ” The real loss is national points for guys like Rocco.”

  25. Crazy in NY says

    NASCAR Mods race at non NASCAR tracks.. Read Oswego. Hard to believe that they won’t be at
    Waterford next year.

  26. Dareal, how many more times are you going to ask about the stands. Who really cares except for you!

  27. My view darealgoodfella, you’re like mild arthritis. Always there, always a little painful but if ignored and worked through generally a non factor in a productive day. You lost me we the stands thing at the Speedbowl, political nonsense and taking one point out of context and beating the living daylights out of it. And that’s all I shall ever have to say about darealgoodfella.

  28. Bob Freeman says

    The Speedbowl has historically operated longer without a nascar sanction than it has operated with one. The same is true for Seekonk. Nascar is little more than an expensive franchise or marketing fee that today has a questionable cost to benefit ratio. Few Speedbowl teams are truly out there chasing regional points.

  29. darealgoodfella says

    I’m guessing NASCAR won’t grant a sanction without a season schedule.

  30. I’m guessing NASCAR won’t grant a sanction because of the reason they provided in the above article. Try reading, it helps.

  31. darealgoodfella says

    There was no reason in NASCAR’s statement, that was an enormously large amount of nothing.

    As long as Bemer owns the ‘Bowl, there will never be NASCAR sanctioning. Not good for the whole family image thing.

  32. Mike Serluca says


  33. Finally the day has arrived! Dareal can personally inspect the Speedbowl grandstands and also investigate whether there has been any collusion between Russian agents and Speedbowl officials. I await his report.

  34. Hey duhreal,I have my Speedbowl pit pass; imagine that.The North pits are full,many SK modifieds,SK lites etc.I had to wait in line(10:45am) to get signed in.The grandstands are perfect,as usual.All of you nay saying know it alls knew nothing.You have under estimated everyones love and appreciation of the Speedbowl.Please await my race report in your arm chair.

  35. The grandstands appear to be in pretty good shape.

  36. Victor Phillips says

    Money grubbing NASCAR won’t charge me the extra money to go into the pits. That’s a good thing! Waterford is in the right place to prove, there’s more racing than NASCAR. Waterford has always had great competition and if they use their heads will figure that out. BACK TO BASICS!!!! The next thing I want to see is another racing guy/gal buy the place. Remember, the Speedbowl makes good the only thing Bemer gets is rent until he sells it.

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