Future Of New London-Waterford Speedbowl Looks Dire After Conviction Of Owner

Big questions once again loom concerning the future of the New London-Waterford Speedbowl

The New London-Waterford Speedbowl has long been the track many have looked at like the cat with nine lives. 

For more than a decade question marks have often lingered about its future because of financial issues involving former track ownership and recent legal issues involving current ownership.

It seems to have become an annual rite of winter to wonder if the track will open or not. 

Today that danger of the facility not continuing as an operating race track seems more real than ever after Wednesday’s conviction of track owner Bruce Bemer. 

A jury in Danbury Superior Court Wednesday found Bemer guilty of four counts of patronizing a trafficked person and one count of being an accessory to human trafficking.

Bemer is scheduled to be sentenced on June 6. He faces a possible 60 years in prison. 

The Speedbowl had originally been scheduled to open May 11-12 for Blastoff Weekend. Even before Wednesday’s verdict that opening weekend was in question. The main grandstand at the Speedbowl was razed in January and beyond demolition work there has been little progress moving forward in construction of a new grandstand. 

Reached late Wednesday evening Speedbowl general manager Mike Serluca said he could not comment on the situation. Bemer, who is free on a $1.25 million bond, was not available for comment Wednesday.

Sources close to the Speedbowl said that internally a decision had already been made before Wednesday that the track would have likely had to have postponed opening weekend. 

Now the question is will there even be racing at the track in 2019, or ever again?

Immediately following his arrest in March 2017 Bemer said he was entertaining offers to sell the facility. Sources have said Bemer was close multiple times to selling the facility to longtime racer Norm Wrenn Jr. in 2017, but Bemer backed out of at least two deals just before final agreements were made. Wrenn has since purchased Lee USA Speedway in Lee, N.H., Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, N.H. and also has entered into a co-ownership deal for Claremont (N.H.) Speedway. 

Sources have also confirmed that Bemer had been in talks to sell the Speedbowl as recently as three months ago. 

The Northeastern Midget Association has three events scheduled at the Speedbowl in 2019. 

“At this point we’re just waiting to hear what the plan is,” NEMA president Tim Bertrand said. “We have a practice on May 5 and we’re part of the opening weekend. We’re just waiting patiently.” 

The Granite State Pro Stock Series is also scheduled to have three events at the track in 2019. 

“I haven’t talked to Mike Serluca yet,” Parks said. “I was going to give him a couple days and touch base with him over the weekend and kind of see where we’re at and where it’s going to go from here.” 

Bemer was an unknown to the local racing community before he was the high bidder in a foreclosure auction of the Speedbowl in October 2014.

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  1. As a result of the trial, the ‘bowl is now a severely distressed property. Bemer has no choice but to accept any reasonable offer, even if it means he takes a huge loss. Especially now with the grandstands gone.

  2. Andrew Bombara says

    To be honest seeing how Norm Wrenn Jr & Group have created the New Hampshire Short Track Racing Association by purchasing several of the NH Tracks it would be cool if Norm Wrenn Jr & Group and other form racers could purchase Waterford and talk to Thompson & Stafford and see if they would want to make a Connecticut Short Track Racing Association with one rules package that would allow drivers to race at Thompson, Stafford and Waterford and be able to collect NASCAR National Series Points towards National Track Championships

  3. Wrenn could get the track for a song now. but may no longer be interested.

    I would be shocked if the track opened AT ALL in 2019; certainly not while Bemer still owns it. who would give that convicted felon their money???!!!

  4. sour grapes of foreclosure says

    LOL you people know nothing about business…. LOL

  5. Viva race fan says

    They sure don’t. See what Bruce says this week I am sure he has alot to process. I’m sure they’ll be motions from Mis trials. The prosecutor hold some pretty sketchy stuff and I believe there’s grounds for possible retrial motion. This could drag out more years. So all you people who thinks he’s walking into jail. I’m sure there’s a lot going to go on between now and then. Kind of sad we may not see racing this year. But I’m sure the track is not Mister Beamers first concern. He has many many employees in all of the businesses he’s a good employer. You have to have empathy for all those people and it was what’s going to happen with those companies. The racetrack is just a place that people go to play. It’s part time work at Best for some people. But they work all winter and other jobs and they’ll probably be okay. It’s the 40 Hour Week full time employees who have families and children that we all should pray for. Let’s see what happens let’s not guess. And let’s pray for all.

  6. Viva,
    There’s no such thing as a “motion for a mistrial” after there has been a judgment. He was convicted. He has the right to an appeal, and it sounds as if that is something that is at least possibly in the works. But there’s no “mistrial”. A mistrial is something that happens before a judgment is rendered.

  7. If you’re going to go to bat for a guy that has been convicted and give the impression you know him so well the least you could do is stop spelling his name wrong.
    The employees of all the Bemer businesses are victims as well and have been victims for two years. Not of the justice system. They are victims of a selfish man with no moral compass that routinely put their livelihoods at risk. So self absorbed he passed on the opportunity to take a plea deal that would have put a large percentage of this mess in the rear view mirror. Would have let him move on to settling with the victims. Would have given the situation a chance to stabilize and start the sorting out process over a year ago. Passed it all up and decided to keep everyone including employees, race teams and most importantly people he used in turmoil on the chance he could escape it all on a technicality.
    A good employer? You’ve go to be kidding!

  8. The jury has spoken, the verdict has been determined, and there is no chance of a mistrial. The trial is over. Once the trial is over, there can be no mistrial. doh.

    Bemer has had an appeals lawyer in court during the trial, so clearly he was prepared for this, and he is going to attempt an appeal.

    Clearly these were trafficked people, and Bemer used these trafficked people. And he did so for admittedly 20-25 years. There’s no way Bemer didn’t know he was using trafficked people over that period. No way. How the defense is going to try to concoct an explanation and to make it look like it was not trafficking, or Bemer didn’t know they were trafficked, will be interesting to watch. You don’t do business with a guy like King for 20-25 years and not know what’s going on. So the defense is going to try to poke holes in the prosecution’s case, or they will end up cementing the jury’s decision.

  9. We certainly have a lot of 💩 house lawyers on this site. This is not over yet and will be dragged out for years to come with appeals etc. He will get what is coming to him however it will take some time to shake out. I think you will see the new stands get erected, the place will open at some point however the following will be less that anticipated because of the outcome that of the trial. Read the article in the NL Day which will provide some insight as to where this is potentially headed.

  10. The guy admitted guilt under oath then rejects no jail plea???? Now…

    NH thanks you all for rejecting Mr. Wrenns offer. Have you seen the upgrades he is doing up there? Replaced grandstands in under 3 months at Monadnock. That will be Waterfords ultimate demise, turning down his offer. If it is done look for Seekonk to be a player for some of those teams. Possibly adding some SK races.

    Point, set, match for DaReal. He lost some battles but looks like he won the war. So long Waterford.

  11. Why doesnt Stafford buy it. I imagine they could get that place running smoothly

  12. I really want to know the grounds for the appeal. A trafficking case like this is rare, or this may have been a precedent setting case.

    No matter what happens, Bemer will never be clean. What was revealed and made part of the public record, even admitted by himself and his attorney, can not be erased, reversed, or overturned. The legal conclusion at this point is irrelevant.

  13. The rule of thumb is to never buy a troubled asset with a checkered history with knives hanging over it in a declining industry. Stafford won’t be buying the Speedbowl.
    There are all these overtures that have gone on in the past with Doug Wrenn and other possible suitors we will never know the details on. JD’s taunts about what could have been but is long gone are well deserved. The optimistic future moved to New Hampshire.
    Dire is right. But it was dire two years ago and a time or two before that. I wouldn’t bet the farm on the Speedbowl being down for the count permanently.
    In the meantime change the gears in your cars, rejigger the set ups and come the Stafford. It may rain on occasion but it never rains knives at Stafford.

  14. Stafford, Stafford, Stafford I am hearing Stafford in my sleep. Give it a rest, we all know the sun rises and sets over Stafford in your eyes and I am happy it does. I still think you may be and employee of Stafford and take the opportunity to plug them when ever you can.

  15. Everyone’s quick to say Stafford and Seekonk, when it’s just not that simple. There’s more to life than modifieds.

    Stafford HATES Mini Stocks. No ACT option.
    Seekonk in my experience has been very unwelcome to outsiders, plus they don’t pay their “X Car” divisions. Tack on the extra hour, for a similar or lesser pay and thats sure to turn off people. Especially from Western CT

    If the Bowl doesn’t open I’d expect to see more early retirements than any other track benefitting.

  16. not an employee, I just want to see the speedbowl remain open and operating for more than 1 consecutive year

  17. Hey Doug, remember when this all started a couple years ago and you advised that folks should support the track so Bemer could have more money available to the victims?

  18. It’s nice to have a Dad on this site.
    Dad’s always know best and give the best advice. Get a hair cut you look like a hippie. What’s with the bell bottoms and flowers on your shirt. Sailors wear bell bottoms not young punks like you and flowers are for weddings and funerals. That’s a dead end job, get a real job with a future. Your girlfriend, she’s a tramp. Find a nice girl.
    But Dad, she’s my wife.
    Humphry’s like I have my own Dad. Those comments you write….too long. Too many words saying too little. You’re not an attorney, what gives you the right to say anything. So you think Stafford is the only track in the world do you. It reminds me of the first girl that let you get to second base and you never realized there was another base and home plate. And you won’t stop talking about second base.
    Get in your car, put a few miles on it and see what’s out there.
    But Dad I like Stafford and I’ve been dating her for 30 years.
    Thanks Dad, I mean humphry.

  19. Why yes I do DGF. I also remember dozens of other things I’ve said that have been wrong, ignorant, disingenuous and/or ill conceived. So what’s your point?

  20. josh paradis says

    we the racers are the real ones being punished and dragged through the mud and we have done nothing to deserve this. we are also victims of bemer.

  21. josh, you are not a victim. Collateral damage maybe, but not a victim. You aren’t going to get any sympathy by trying to play the victim card.

    How is Serluca doing? The grandstands built yet?

  22. Anyone who built a Waterford only car after 2017 is not a victim, just stupid. When NASCAR pulled out, the writing was on the wall. Yes they did manage to race in 2018, but everyone who raced there knew 2019 would be a coin toss with Bemers upcoming trial. Now here we are in April 2019, and to no surprise the other shoe has dropped. If you were planning on racing there, pick a track, and change over your car, plain and simple.

  23. Second Rob. After this all broke a team had do know they were taking a risk.

  24. For what it’s worth the Courant weighed in with an editorial.
    May not come up if you don’t subscribe but here it is anyway.

  25. James Scott says

    Its sad that the place a lot of us grew up at may go out this way. Waterford has always been a great track with super potential. Just a few short years ago after the auction things looked so positive. Then this mess. I don’t totally blame Bemer for the tracks possible demise. Previous management ran the place into the ground literally. I do believe the old girl is on life support but something tells me she has a kick left. One can only hope. I bought my power ball tickets.

  26. sour grapes of fake news.. says

    LOL again !!! this is a manufactured story. until reliable true info comes from a representative of Bemer NLWSB or Bemer himself (not likely) the tracks future is unknown. just like the past 10 or so years .. the funny thing is the tracks real problems started when Terry Eames great business man chose not to pay the mortgage, borrowed money that HE personally never paid back from several people and put all the money in his pockets .. bounced checks ..failed to pay a purse….jerry robinson..???? then all hail bemer came in to save the day ..began making improvements and was admired until his sexual orientation and deviant habits came to light .enter George Whitney .. did the same thing as Eames… you cannot say there wont be racing ….the track has nine lives ..not until its confirmed as fact. so yes where is Mr Transparency Mike Serluca and his trusty sidekick the born again Shawn Monahan ??? who still hopes beyond all hope to be a track owner himself one day. as always I will wait for the FACTS . business as usual for the dysfunctional speedbowl. Seekonk should add sk`s and lites to their roster .. or Thompson and Stafford need to align with rules packages..in the meantime racers and fans are out in the cold.. what else is new for NLWSB

  27. I heard today that speedbowl personel are privately telling series promoters they intend to forge ahead. I dont know how that can be, Shawn reported that even before the verdict was released they agreed to postpone the opening dates. Hope a statement from the Track is released soon about imediate future.

  28. I believe Mike Serluca, Racers and Race Fans that choose to support the bowl sre not doing it to support Bruce Bemer. They are doing it because they love racing and the speedbowl. I know I don’t want to lose another race track. So many racers and fans use this track for their enjoyment, my mom always supported racing – because she always said “ I know where my kids are on the weekend “. Live on NLWSB.

  29. Bill Realist says

    Manufactured story? I didn’t know the courts were putting out fake news directly now. Surprised nobody from the jury has spoken up and said they really found him not guilty then.

  30. Viva race fan says

    Most of us grew up at the new London Waterford Speed bowl. Saw great racing , Enduros , Car Shows , Concerts , Flat Track Racing and even yes a Rodeo .

    Alot of us had hope we had the best new owner ever he threw a bunch of money at the place and we couldn’t thank him enough .

    Bam Black Friday . FBI spoils it for all us NLWSB fans, drivers ,owners and fans.

    I’m sure Bruce didn’t buy the track with a chance he was being investigated and eventually arrested and convicted of his crimes .

    So alot of us hope the track moves fwd. But I’m sure this is now not high on the list for Bruce now. Maybe sell it ? Not sure anyone would please from him now . Its just a sad day . I have empathy for all involved . There are so many regular Cast of Clowns the help out run the Speedbowl for nothing or next to nothing. But they do it for love. Hopefully something good happens. Only time will tell.

  31. Sad, just sad……Love going there….so let’s hope for the best and pray for the victims.

  32. A manufactured story?

    The FBI spoils it for all NLWSB fans, owners and drivers?

    Please explain.

  33. The FBI spoils it for the fans? Really Viva? Who else are you going to blame? The man screwed up, he got caught, he was convicted by a jury of his peers. Game, set, match. Finished business, end of story!

  34. Rob P,
    I promise you, it is not “plain and simple”.

  35. On April 2 Mike Serluca posted this on his Facebook account.
    “Attention competitors!!! All rules for all divisions are now up on the Speedbowl website. Please visit http://www.speedbowlct.com and pull down the rules tab. Thank you for your patience with this!”.

    That’s the second day of the trial. That kind of lead me to believe that regardless of the verdict there was a path forward. Unless one believes the on site management at the facility was completely oblivious to the possibility the the trial might not go their way.
    One doesn’t simply go to Home Depot to pick up some stands do they? Aren’t they ordered? Aren’t there contracts with subs and engineering plans ready to go? Now everything freezes in place because it all depended on acquittal and that didn’t happen.
    For better or worse there now is a measure of closure. I don’t think it 100% guarantees the closure of the track.
    In a way isn’t this good. Now if improvements somehow do go forward the track will have a future with legs and the cloud mostly lifted. Even if the ownership stays the same for a while as long as justice has been served and punishment executed doesn’t that lift most of the cloud?

  36. Doug,

    No way with Bemer in place will the Speedbowl have closure. Before he was convicted the races were basically glorified heat races because teams stayed away. The stands were empty, if you think that its going to get better because a long awaited judgement(not in his favor) has been achieved you are mistaken.

  37. The recent guilty verdict does not calm the storm, does not achieve closure. The guilty verdict was just a step along what will be a long tortuous path. The guilty verdict has initiated a 💩-storm of more issues. There will be appeals, and the civil suits will soon be unleashed. This is going to go on and on for years.

    And now with the guilty verdict, Bemer has been exposed as a person that many do not want to be around or associated with in any way. This was not the closure needed to say it’s safe to go back in the water. This is not going to help the patronage of his businesses.

    With Bemer still the owner, attendance will be nil this season, if a season ever happens. There are no stands, that’s an issue. Pay attention to that. A month to go for opening day.

    For those that wanted to deny what was going on, that just got impossible.

    The ‘bowl needs new ownership.

  38. Not sure why people think Seekonk would be unwelcoming. The Moltz kid showed up after leaving Waterford a couple of summers ago and he won at least one feature that year. Rocco has had his Late Model car there for the Oct show. In fact, a few of the Seekonk regulars have announced intentions to go run the Star ACT late models this summer. Even more reason for them to extend an olive branch. Either track could be a landing spot for Waterford LM guys. Need a Nascar license for both places though. I could see Seekonk running a few SK shows with Waterford rules. Maybe Monadnock reaches out too if rules match their weekly modifieds. Time to make lemonade out of lemons. It was hard not to have not seen this coming. You always need a Plan B.

  39. Hey, is Serluca still inviting people to stop by the ‘bowl office to see what’s going on?

  40. sour grapes of optomism says

    LOL love that da real..I really do … perhaps another day of buying pizza and beer to have free labor to erect the stands before the season can start????..don’t worry Shawn Monahan if I read correctly essentially says Bemer must now sell HIM the race track?? ..I am hoping to have my chair back attached to the new bleachers opening day we shall see. don’t care what deadbeat non mortgage paying born again degenerate thief, convicted felon / person runs /owns the place as long as there is racing … isn’t that whats important .. SUPPORT OUR RACERS !!!!!! LOL!!!

  41. Sour, the perp had to put up $25 million in assets against future actions, and an additional $750,000 in bail with the recent guilty verdict, and you work for pizza and beer?

  42. Mark A Stanton says

    To the Nay-sayers……Try and read the following with an open mind, these are just my feelings, and you are entitled to your opinion as well. …Please PLEASE, don’t confuse my comments with loyalty to the Speed Bowl as loyalty to Mr. Bemer, I’m as repulsed by these activities as all of you.
    Stafford, without a doubt is “The Arutes”. Owned by the family for many, many years, loving, caring parents if you will. And Thompson, again, no one would argue is associated with no other name than “The Hoenig Family”. Waterford on the other hand has had no such family, she is the abandoned child, the orphan, adopted, as it were, by parents (promoters), some with less than moral motives. I’ve been there through many, starting with, Dick Williams, The Kortewegs, (thank you to them, they were the kindest to her) Terry Eames, who in parent speak, had her remanded to the custody of DCF and now Bemer. By “Hoping it will die” is to spit on every single one of the past owners that have taken the reins over the years. For any business owner to take his/her capitol and invest it in a racetrack, is I’m sure not the wisest FINANCIAL move as far as R.O.I. (return on investment) is concerned, what I’m alluding to is, that to some degree, I believe every past owner (good and bad) started out with some sort of personal affection for her. Jack Arute, already a successful business owner and modified car owner, had a love and passion for the sport, that same money put into his construction business, I’m sure could have yielded a much better return money wise than the track did, but that decision was I believe more about passion than money.
    The Speed Bowl opened in 1951 a full 8 years before Daytona International Speedway, that’s 68 years of which Mr. Bemer has been a part of only 3 of those 68 seasons. Again and this is Just my opinion, but The only constant the “Old Girl” has ever had in her life is us, her fans. Mr. Bemer is not the first and I hope, not the last “Parent” to adopt her. Lets face it, where we live, the TAX ME state …..if any racetrack closes, it’ll be gone forever, never to return and there won’t be any new ones either. That being said, I don’t view my ticket price as supporting Bruce rather, I’m supporting the Racers and I guess to some degree, eventually his victims. Of all the business’s Bruce owns (look it up) I’m am 100% sure all the others make MORE money than racing does. Are you screaming about those that buy Propane, where he boldly has trucks traveling the state emblazoned with his name BEMER PROPANE? Those that are into motorcycles or the other businesses? He has owned them much much longer than the Speed Bowl. Stick it out, at some point Bruce will be just a small blip in the 68 plus year history of the Speed Bowl and we can go on doing what we enjoy. Shawn the moderator of this forum and I have agreed to disagree on what is and what is not racing news or good for racing in general but I hope that a different point of view can be objectively offered. I hope this meets your approval to publish and I will respond to anyone who SIGNS THEIR NAME to have a discussion about this without name calling or hostility.

  43. Mark, Bemer and the other previous owners did not buy the ‘bowl to lose money, they did so to make money. Nobody buys a place for $1.75 million and expects to not make money, considerable money. So you had better start believing that a good portion of your ticket price is indeed going to Bemer’s pocket. Along with concessions, souvenirs, etc.

    If I were in the market for propane, Bemer would not be an option, and the same if I were in the market for a motorcycle, Bemer would not be an option. It’s that simple, acting and voting with the wallet is perhaps the most American demonstration of democracy in action.

    In order to support the racers, you first have to support Bemer. The argument that you are supporting Bemer’s victims is absurd. In order to support them you have to first support and enrich Bemer. One of Doug’s personalities made the argument that people should support the track so Bemer has more assets available to the victims. That’s still stupid today as it was when he wrote that some two years ago.

    Advertisers and sponsors of the ‘bowl are putting their businesses at risk.

  44. Mark A Stanton says

    If any person of sound mind and body were to take their hard earned $1.75 million and sit down with a room full of financial advisers, I’d think restaurant ownership may be somewhat more appealing than buying a racetrack (Fun Fact 90% of new restaurants fail in the first year) and you’d have those advisers questioning your sanity. As far as enriching Bemer I gotta say the court system is I’m sure watching what he spends so he can’t skip town and leave the country with a giant bank account. So operating expenses and peoples salaries are probably allowed but a new Rolls or yacht probably not,
    I can be a Republican but not like all Republicans.
    I can Like the Speed Bowl and not Like Bemer………just how I see it.
    My comment about supporting the victims is that at some point Mr. Bemer will probably be separated from a fairly large amount of that wealth to pay them. If there was great profits in operating a racetrack then the Speed Bowl should not have previously been in financial straights . Lets face it, neither I nor anyone else commenting here has first hand knowledge of the bottom line from the Speed Bowls bank account. I guess I’m bothered about how the Speed Bowl has been singled out among all the Bemer business’s, there are family’s with mortgages and sick kids that need insurance and I’m sure they all hope they keep their jobs, as do I.

  45. Dareal, you said something there, that could turn into something. What if, the court seizes the bowl, as assets earned through the human trafficking charge? Just something for people to think about. If seized the track would most likely be auctioned off. Given the sad state of the property at this moment, it could end up condos, rather than a race track. I say this because the new owner would have to invest allot, and getting a NASCAR sanction could be tough. In short, a smart investor an gonna build a track, there gonna split it up for an instant return.

  46. “If seized the track would most likely be auctioned off. Given the sad state of the property at this moment, it could end up condos, rather than a race track.”

    In a past interview, Mr. Bemer stated that a business associate or advisor had suggested it would be a great location for a truck stop. If that were ever to happen, the neighbors would probably wish they still had a race track.

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