Statement: New London-Waterford Speedbowl To Reopen Under Lease Agreement

The 2017 racing season at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl is not lost it seems.

It was announced Monday that the track will open for the 2017 season under a lease agreement.

Longtime Legends car competitor, team owner and crew chief George Whitney will operate the track under the lease agreement.

Details of the track’s opening and reconfigured schedule are expected to be released within a week.

The announcement marks the end of weeks of drama, speculation and mystery surrounding the track’s possible opening for the 2017 season following the arrest in late March of track owner Bruce Bemer.

“The Speedbowl is my home track and I am proud to be given the opportunity to give back to a track that not only has supported family racing for generations, including mine, but has the best short track racing in New England,” Whitney said in a statement from the track.

Neith Bemer not Whitney were immediately available for comment. Terms of the lease were not disclosed.

The track had originally been scheduled to host its Blastoff Weekend May 6-7, but that event was officially postponed on April 26, with no word at that point about rescheduling or any modifications to the season scheduled.

On May 21, at about 11:30 p.m., a message was posted on the Speedbowl’s Facebook website stating that there was a “working agreement for the Speedbowl to be Leased for the 2017 racing season.”

That announcement, which was also on the track’s website, was gone from both places by the afternoon of May 22. On May 24 track officials released a statement officially retracting the announcement of a possible lease.

Bemer was the high bidder in a foreclosure auction of the Speedbowl in October 2014. Bemer was charged in late March with patronizing a trafficked person.

On April 4 former racing director Tom Fox led a group of high ranking track officials announcing their resignations from the facility. On April 6 it was announced by NASCAR that they were terminating their NASCAR Whelen All-American Series sanction of the track and also cancelling the scheduled July 22 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event at the facility. NASCAR is not expected to revisit a possible sanctioning of the track for the 2017 season.


  1. WOW !!! Good News!

  2. Fantastic!Darealgoodfella and your doomsday expert buddies-STAY HOME! Sppedbowl fans will be celebrating soon!Thanks George Whitney.

  3. bystander says

    I will stay home.

  4. darealgoodfella says

    How are the grandstands doing?

  5. Fast Eddie says

    A BIG HUGE THANK-YOU TO MR. GEORGE WHITNEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Hey bystander…You stay home. Good Idea. I am looking forward to great racing returning to the Speedbowl.

  7. Poprocks says

    Dareal, why don’t you take a ride to the Speedbowl and find out for yourself. This is great news for everyone who calls the Speedbowl home. Don’t like It? Don’t go. Very simple. Thank you, George!

  8. i’ll beleive it when i see it. who will get the money from the concessions and admissions.?

  9. I hope this to be true!!

  10. Billy Parker says

    I WILL be there!!! EVERY race this year!!! I don’t care who owns it, I never did care, I don’t care what “Private life” issues the owner has, I WILL be there, and I WILL be bringing people with me!!!

  11. justafan says

    Is this 100% fact that is definately opening and only the exact details are forth coming? Or could the upcoming details prevent the opening at all? If they really open i will most definately be there and while i realize there are people saying they wont go because of no new ownership to me is just ridiculous. Yes what he did was wrong, yes it was immoral and all that hey i agree. But this is not about that for me,this about showing support to the bowl. peroid……I will not let all the bad stand in my way of supporting my favorite race track until the day it is no longer there which i hope is not for a very long time. I have been to stafford,thompson and seekonk this year and folks i have to say…….Its not even close. The Sk’s at stafford are awsome but as a whole The bowl trumps them all

  12. Enjoy watching minimal cars. Friday drags mite get some action lol check town hall for bleacher permits

  13. I was patiently waiting for an official statement from daidiot and I must say I’m pretty dissapointed.

  14. I agree, I’ve also been to many tracks and one huge important difference, especially regarding Stafford is the bowl not only has great sk racing, on any given night you could have 5 awesome feature races. The support divisions at Stafford are useless.

  15. Watch the sk lights at Stafford lately?

  16. Should have said the fendered support divisions

  17. Bowl4life says

    Can’t wait for the opener! I need me a jumbo Budweiser a slice of pizza some scantily clad woman and ohh some racing!

  18. Dareal, how many times are you going to ask the same question? Go down there and find out and let us know!

  19. David jackson says

    If this turns out to be true it’s a good think many racers that raced at the bowl worked hard all winter looking forward to the up coming season when news came about the track status many people were crushed it wasent about the owner but where are we going to race a lot of people work Friday and just can’t get out of work early Saturday worked for them and me I’m self employed my guys count on me to be at work so they can work also my fellow racers and supporters it’s about the love for the sport remember racers don’t make money at this we do it for the fans and our love for it

  20. JimBinCT says

    Cautiously optimistic. I will be there to support the drivers and team owners and Mr. Whitney. I’ll be there to do my part to ensure 65+ years of history are not ended by one scumbag that has been there 2 years. This scumbag will face judgement, be it by the court, karma, or God. Hopefully the money he makes on this lease never reaches his pockets and ends up in the hands of the victims. Perhaps as fans we can come together in a show of support for the victims by raising funds for a charity that helps fight human trafficking.

  21. Geez… I hope your right… I hope the scantily clad women are worth looking at!!! Sounds like a pleasant change… All I’ve seen before is ones I wanted to buy a snowmobile sute for!!! Bring it in!!

  22. wmass01013 says

    Hope all works out but still lots of questions about sanction, officials, sponsors and will teams and fans support, Love the racing at the Bowl hope we can see 1 MODFIED race at least in 2017!!!!!

  23. Sharpie Fan says

    Bring back Wings & Wheels!

  24. darealgoodfella says

    This was announced once before, right?

    It’s deja vu all over again.

    Details to be announced within a week about the opening date. Mark your calendars.

    Let’s see who shows up.

  25. James Scott says

    I wish somebody knew what the zoning agreement is meaning does the track need to run at least one event or if it does not open it can sit indefinitly as long as it’s not used for any other reason. If the track is smart Whitney will make himself available to answer questions and outline his goals.

  26. To all the naysayers including myself early on I say nuts. A lease is perfect. It’s just a guy that loves the Speedbowl and is taking a risk to support the shoreline treasure. Support him and the odds increase for a new owner to step in, in the not too distant future. Only downside is modified car counts at Stafford have been outstanding but if the Speedbowl is your home track you should be able to race there. Yeah Speedbowl.

  27. “The support divisions at Stafford are useless”

    I’m not a huge fan of the Late Model division, but the SK Lite, Dare Stock and to a Limited Late Model features have been quite good lately.

  28. racer14231 says

    Looking at the Stafford rundowns so far this year. Very few of the SK or SKL guys are speedbowl guys. Only a few come to mind. Seems like most waterford guys went to thompson or just stayed home

  29. Just my personal opinion I will not spend a penny there if there is any chance that low life sees on cent.

  30. James, I suggest you call the Waterford town hall and ask the planning and zoning department that question. Maybe they can give you an answer or point you in a direction to obtain the answer.

  31. The reason the SK Lights are getting full fields is purely the Waterford shut down. On June 3, 2016 the SKL started 18 cars in the feature. They’re starting 27 cars now and turning some away from the feature. In the SK’s Abele is a Speedbowl guy that has come up and done quite well. 38 SK’s have started at least one race.Rocco brought his new Waterford car up just last Friday and had someone run it.
    It’s made a difference, clearly.

  32. racer14231 says

    Doug, run down the roster. Who in the SKL finish from last week is a waterford driver?

  33. racer14231 says

    Also, Rocco did not have his speedbowl car there last Friday. Check your facts

  34. Man this is tedious.The guys that don’t put in the time looking at the results, that don’t pay careful attention to the races always saying check the facts. Mainly because they are to lazy.
    French, Goss,Gombos,Nooney, Korner, Williams.Rufrano are a few of the names I came up with.Particularly Goss, Nooney and Korner all Stafford rookies that raced last year at Waterford. And that is only scratching the surface not counting others that may have raced in lower divisions at Waterford that moved up to Lights at Stafford.Get real.You don’t get a 10 plus bump in the car count unless some outside factor is afoot. A bump that isn’t a Sizzler bump it’s a bump with legs that is still around 4 races in.
    In the SK feature last Friday Rocco racing against another car he owned was specifically referenced. Maybe someone could chine in and give the scoop on it since Rocco is quite popular just about everywhere.

  35. Justafan says

    We all know the situation here but what we have is a long time racer doing all that can be done to save this great race track. Eventually there will be a new owner just have to get there. I will support Mr Whitney 100% for his efforts. Look what bemer did is despicable,but he will get what is coming in the court room. Know this once the track is gone it is never coming back…..ever.

    The bowl will open this month so either come and support the efforts to save it,or shut up and stay home.

    Btw I believe that the car able is running at Stafford is Keith’s speed bowl car…. could be wrong but that is what I have been told

  36. racer14231 says

    Rocco owns Abele’s car – its been there all year. Its not his Waterford car.

    French – stafford driver for the last 5 years, Nooney – rookie, Korner – rookie, and Rufrano – dare stock kid. Hard to call these guys Waterford drivers

    Gombos was there for the first time last week, Goss was not there last week. Williams was planning on running Stafford through the big show. So Even if you take Gombos and Williams out of the rundown there’s still 27 cars as 2 cars did not make the show.

  37. I checked into it and indeed. Rocco extended a lease agreement as it was termed and it was described as his Thompson car.
    Clearly there is an ebb and flow in any season where some teams make an occasional trip to another track at different times of the year. It is also difficult to track movements from lower divisions.To really track the impact you’d need about a month of research and an excel spreadsheet. Here’s what we know. Last year the Lights averaged 17 to 20 cars in the features with 24 showing up for the Fall Final. Through 4 races this year we know each night had a full field of 27 cars with some turned away from the feature.
    We also know the divisions that do no cross over to the Speedbowl have seen no noticeable bump in car counts. Clearly there has been an impact.
    But who cares I keep rewatching the races and can’t believe the competition in the modifieds, SK’s and Light. The only down side to watching the races too many times is the elephant at the track. And that is the pathetic announcing that has incorporated an elephants trunk, mesmerizing and so many other ridiculous descriptions.Really why does elephants trunks, nostrils and tongue depressors have to replace car lengths in describing car intervals. Matt Buckler has made a mockery of calling a race and wrecked the Stafford announcing icon Ben Dodge who has fallen into the same habit.
    Can’t wait for the big SK Light show on Friday and extra laps for the Sk’s and am just hoping the weather cooperates.

  38. The Korners ran most if not all Stafford Legends races over the last two seasons, and Rufrano started in Dare Stock, then ran SK Light at SMS last year. Rufrano won his first SKL race at SMS. French owned an SK Light run by Joe Graf at SMS for most all of 2016.

  39. BillyVee says

    Listen to yourselves, rah rah speedbowl. With all there is to do in the area, other tracks to go to and all you can think of is NLWSB. Pull down the sign that says closed due to sexual difficulties. If you want to drive race cars there are 4 other tracks around. Can’t afford it then find more / better sponsorship. Can’t do it then go get a boat or race at the go kart track. What does it matter the name of the people stepping in, yes i do know who they are and when you get out in the real race world you’ll realize they are nothings. You folks who get down on your bellies and slither back to that track. Remember When you bite down on that hotdog that your being there is putting money in B’s pocket. You are now enabling him. Cough up a MCP and maybe you can get a season pass. Jeeez years ago when drivers from other New England Tracks would say if you race NLWSB bring a lead lined helmet because their brains are fried there was a man who got in trouble for stating a line from a television program but how fitting it was.
    Scotty beam me up, there isn’t much intelligent life down here. He was obviously right. Beaming out, bye.

  40. darealgoodfella says

    I endorse what BillyVee said ^^^

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