Shocked: Waterford Speedbowl Personalities React To News Of Conviction Of Track Owner Bruce Bemer

As one of the elder statesman veterans in the ranks of the New London-Waterford Speedbowl pits, longtime SK Modified division veteran Rob Janovic Jr. has been through plenty when it comes to the staying power of the New London-Wateford Speedbowl. 

This week the questions concerning the future of the Speedbowl came racing back to the forefront for all competitors at the historic shoreline facility after a jury in Danbury Superior Court Wednesday found track owner Bruce 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 and could face up to 60 years in prison. 

Like many longtime veterans at the track, Janovic has raced on for years with the clouds looming of the possible demise of the facility. Before Bemer was the high bidder on the track in a foreclosure auction in October 2014 the facility was in financial distress for nearly a decade, with questions seemingly annually of whether the track would open or continue operating or be foreclosed on or sold. 

“We can only get punched in the gut so many times before we can say ‘Ok, my stomach is starting to hurt.’” Janovic said Thursday on a taping of Unmuffled. 

It’s unclear what the future holds for the track and much of that murkiness is thanks to the fact that Bemer has been silent about anything regarding the track since he was originally arrested in March 2017. Track general manager Mike Serluca said Wednesday he could not comment on anything regarding the track. 

“The issue is the black cloud over the track,” said Al Stone III, the track’s all-time winningest Sportsman division racers. “We just can’t get rid of it. It was there with [former track owner Terry Eames]. And we thought we finally got past it with [Bemer], and he was the savior and things were going well … and the bottom fell out of it again. 

“We hold out hope for this place because we’re racers and the Bowl is our family. I mean, you race the Bowl, you race the Bowl. People that race Stafford, race Stafford. You hope that it just gets past that point, and that’s why we keep going back. It’s almost like an abusive relationship, you just keep going back for more.” 

Said SK Modified division driver and former Late Model division champion Timmy Jordan: “We could sit here and wax poetic forever about the situation and the charges and the judicial side of it. But for our case, the racing side, it’s a pretty down situation. A lot of people spent a lot of time, a lot of money getting ready to spend their summers there with family, with friends, for entertainment. I just personally am kind of like kicked to the gut.” 

“… It’s hard to even talk about this because there’s a really terrible side to this that led to this side of it affecting our lives. Those people, their lives are completely shattered where ours are just inconvenienced. I think that’s important for people to keep in my mind when they get angry about it or disappointed about. … Hopefully he can sell it for the sake of the people that have gone and supported the track.”

Since Bemer’s arrest car counts at the track have steadily declined. Many have openly said they’ve stayed away from the track to disassociate themselves with Bemer. 

“It’s almost an impossible spot for the racers because since his arrest there was obviously a lot of varying emotions throughout the Speedbowl community,’ Speedbowl historian Sid DiMaggio said. “Some people chose not race there, some people chose not to race at all, some people went to other places and some people continued to go there. That was important because if nobody went there he would have padlocked the place and then we’d be having this conversation much much earlier than we are. But at the same time, in order to do that, in order for … guys to continue to support the place in the hopes that it ultimately survives, you have to take the risk that this day could potentially happen. Where you invest all this money to go racing for a full season and then the rug gets pulled out from underneath you. That’s just a tough spot for the races because everybody’s heart is saying that they want the place to last forever, so there’s a lot of people that continued to support the place with the risk that this day could come.”

Janovic said he is enraged at how the Speedbowl racing community has been intertwined with Bemer in mainstream media reports. 

“Unfortunately the Speedbowl is thrust into the spotlight, unfairly I might add,” Janovic said. “I’m watching the news [Wednesday] night and every single time Bruce Bemer’s name is mentioned it’s mentioned synonymously with the Waterford Speedbowl, and then immediately they’re showing Modifieds driving around a race track. I think it’s unfair that the media is dragging the drivers and our sport and our race track into these ugly events. … I’m more angry, I’m more enraged right now because of what the media is doing to our race track and our sport. They’re making it difficult on all of us. … Unfortunately because of this man’s actions and what the media is doing, it’s tarnishing it for everyone. … I’m at my breaking point.” 

Jordan said he won’t compete at the track if it does somehow open with Bemer still as the owner. 

“It’s probably the right the thing do unfortunately is to not go there,” Jordan said. “I want to race on that race track and drive on that asphalt more than anybody on the planet and hopefully there’s a way he can sell it. 

“You can’t in good faith go back there and race unless he sells it. … I don’t care if people do, I can’t really judge them. I don’t really want to be judged either. But, I can’t go back there and race in good faith. And I’m not the perfect human in life. … It’s just a shame.” 

Shawn Monahan has been a longtime competitor at the track and worked as Bemer’s first general manager during the 2015 and 2016 seasons at the track. 

“It’s a little overwhelming to say the least because I think at this point in time it’s easy to draw to conclusion as to whether this is the end or not,” Monahan said. “But only God knows. We’re one day into what came across. We knew that if the court case went this way it would be detrimental to the survival of the race track. But who could speculate at this point in time besides [Bemer] or his lawyers as to what the fate of the race track would be. 

“…This our blood, sweat and tears. This is what we’ve done before [Bemer] even came along. It’s unfortunate that it’s gone down the way that it has. 

Monahan was a part of planning and completing a number of major projects done during Bemer’s first two years of ownership of the track. 

“[Bemer] made an attempt, before everything went the wrong direction in his life, to make it the best facility that he could,” Monahan said. “We were going to show up there whether there was grass growing up through the cracks of the asphalt and somebody was scraping two pennies together or it was a multi-millionaire who wanted to drop money into it and make it a beautiful playground. We breathe, sweat and build race cars and race them and that’s what makes us stand on the train tracks per say and even though we know the train’s coming, the shitty thing is we all don’t want to jump off the tracks.” 

Diego Monahan, like his brother a lifer fan and longtime competitor at the Speedbowl, was planning on competing with his SK Modified at the track in 2019 along with fielding a ride in the Truck division for his teenage daughter Emma. 

“I’m still plugging along and hoping that there is a saving grace somewhere and something miraculously happens or [Bemer] decides, ‘That’s it, I’m going to sell.’ Diego Monahan said. “I don’t know why, but it’s just so disheartening right now.  

“This is all hobby and fun stuff for us. In the grand scheme of things, who’s the real victim here? It’s not me. I love the place and I hope it succeeds and I hope somebody comes in or something happens, but I don’t feel like a victim at all.” 

Keith Rocco, the track’s all-time winningest driver, stopped racing regularly at the facility following the 2017 season. He holds out hope for a track sale and also for the hope that NASCAR renews its relationship. NASCAR pulled its sanction of the track just days after Bemer’s arrest in 2017.

“It’s sad to hear that news, but at the same time, with the amount of lives the Speedbowl has had, you always hope that it’s going to come out on top,” Rocco said. “This could be a thing for the better or could be a thing for the worse. Maybe we think positive and hope that somehow it will get sold or turned into somebody else’s hands that will be able to bring the Speedbowl back where it needs to be, with NASCAR. It’s a just a waiting game to wait and find out what’s actually going to happen. Just like every other racer, we’re going to keep our fingers crossed and hope we don’t lose a race track.” 

Kyle James won his first SK Modified championship at the track in 2018 and was planning on defending that title in 2019. 

“I was a little shocked to hear the outcome,” James said. “At the same time some of that shock was the fact that the doors could close to a place that I’ve grown up at since getting into cars. As a racer, you don’t want to see any race track close … we can’t really afford to lose anymore of them.” 

For much much more from the Monahan Brothers, DiMaggio, Jordan, Janovic, Stone, Rocco and James listen to this special one hour and 23-minute special episode of Unmuffled, featuring conversations between all these Speedbowl personalities 


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Comments

  1. That was terrific.
    Did I miss it. The part where drivers were told the track is closed indefinitely.
    I don’t see the black cloud quite as black. It’s a meaningful reset time. Prison is a bad place and if the owner has lost his freedom hasn’t justice been adequately served? If by some strange happenstance there is a way forward why continue to kick a dead horse?
    Why not support the link to the future.
    People know where this is headed. Maybe even Mr. Courchesne who may be prohibited from disclosing things that were stated off the record. Certainly Mr Serluca.
    Until the site is shut down and an announcement made in these pages it’s not over as far as I can see.

  2. Frank Carpenter says

    Why Mr Beemer has done a dispicable thing and I do understand why people would boycott racing there I do believe it is the wrong decision to make for the betterment of the track. Tracks are disappearing at an alarming rate and we can not afford to lose another. By supporting the track in hopes for a better outcome does not mean you support this man.

  3. The man and the track are one and the same. Supporting the track means you support the man. As a minimum, it means you have no problems be associated with the man. Supporting the track is tacit approval of the man.

    I don’t think anybody wants the track to go away, except maybe a few neighbors. In order for the track to live to see another day, it needs a new owner, and there’s no better way than a boycott to get that message out there and speed the process along. The property is severely distressed already.

  4. Ray Packer says

    I grew up going to the “Bowl” along with many others of many generations. Moved away from CT. in 1981 and now reside in TX.. Every time we come up to visit, the “Bowl” is a must go to place for me. I’m gonna be positive and believe that the facility will outlast me and be there for the next generations. Negative folks……go somewhere else and voice your displeasure.

  5. Dareal, I totally agree with everything you said. And let us not forget, the real victims are those who were trafficed by Mr Bemer, and his associates, not the racers from the bowl. Anyone who still chooses to race there is doing nothing more than supporting a convicted feeling, and pedifile.

  6. Viva race fan says

    The track doesn’t make money . If you do the math with a purse the employees I’m sure there’s quite an electric bill insurance excetera excetera. Nobody’s getting rich from this place. And people are a little bit holding on cuz it’s a place a lot of us grew up and we enjoy as our local entertainment. Nobody wants to go to the casinos and spend their money with no return the speedball is a great place for friends, Real Racing and generally a really good time. So we hold on we hope we pray.

  7. Bill Stergios says

    To all you self righteous people who say that you won’t go to Waterford as long as Bemer owns it, if you are a Patriots fan are you going to stop watching the NE Patriots, going to their games, and getting rid of all your Patriots stuff now that Bob Kraft got caught in a similar situation as Bremer? I didn’t think so. Hypocrites!

  8. Bill Stergios, the Bemer and Kraft situations are very different. The FBI was investigating and surveilling the spas under the suspicion of illegal activities. The johns for the most part were collateral damage.

    Kraft is or will pay dearly. The Patriots franchise will lose hundreds of millions in value because he will be thrown out of the NFL. He’s more concerned about that than any legal issues. We can only hope for new Patriots ownership. Kraft denied he did it, then when he found out he was documented on video, he tried to argue the video was obtained illegally. 🤣 Okay, so now we know it was him in the video. Oh well. 😔

    But maybe we will find out that Kraft was funding the spas where the hooking was going on. Time will tell. After all, Kraft, the woman that started the chain of spas, and Trump have known each other for a long time, and many photos of them together have shown up. Even all three of them at the Kraft Super Bowl party. Maybe she was the madam.

  9. You do prattle on DGF.
    Everything you said……..not happening.
    We love our Pat’s here in New England. There has been almost no drum beat for the Krafts to sell the franchise. Most likely scenario is a suspension and record breaking fine. Worse case he’s forced to resign and Jonathan Kraft becomes the CEO.
    Winning begets loyalty. The backlash in New England were the Krafts to be made to sell the franchise would be epic.
    As of yesterday a judge ruled that the video’s of Kraft can not be released to the public and as part of the proceedings that no one would be charge with human trafficking.
    My personal opinion is that Kraft deserves every bit of the embarrassment and humiliation this has caused. In Krafts case the legal penalty is nothing compared to the reputation lost that he will never get back. After all he was getting “messaged” in Fla in the morning then flies to KC for the playoff game. Who does that?
    But the Kraft family losing the franchise is not even a blip in the radar at this point. Could change but for now no.

  10. Doug, other NFL participants have been banned from the NFL for far less unacceptable behavior. And an owner with the status of Kraft will be held to a higher standard. He’s terrified about being banned from the NFL, and what that would mean to his franchise. The NFL would look very sick and corrupt if Kraft is not banned from the NFL.

    So Doug, Kraft had a judge keep the video from going public. Why would Kraft want to keep a video about something he originally said never happened from going public? 🤣🤣🤣🤣

    I’d like the ‘bowl purchased by a stable owner, or ownership group, so this constant concern over if the place is going to be operating the next day is over. That’s what the ‘bowl and all the racers, teams, team owners and fans need.

  11. Viva race fan says

    Started with President Sick Willy . Even the head of the free world has had some affection from other than his spouse. It’s just the world we are in this stuff is as old as life . But not with technology there are consequences for your actions. More people can talk to each other through blogs, emails and so many more sources I believe are out there. So people can start protecting others and themselves and hopefully move on in life. If the internet is used for the purpose it was put there it could be a good thing. As in the case of mr. Kraft and mr. Beemer it shows that it reaches people of all walks of life. Look at the guy the so-called doctor preyed on her Olympic gymnast.

    I like most people just want the Speedbowl open continue to do what I can to provide entertainment for the racers the fans the owners and everybody involved. The local police department and ambulance crew and fire department also benefit from this. I’m pretty sure that this track got a perfect deer with no rainouts probably only makes a very little profit. Sometimes people buy properties that just barely sustain or lose money due to weather to write off for other companies they have. I just want to go back and watch racing. I don’t care what happens from this point forward towards what’s going on in court it will probably be years before it’s all figured out. I hope my cats can get something done.

  12. “NFL participants have been banned” who and for what for?
    “an owner with the status of Kraft will be held to a higher standard” …..true but legally and by the franchise rules he is exactly equal. As far a public opinion goes he’s now kind of a punchline.
    “He’s terrified about being banned from the NFL”……….I have no idea why you say such things. Could be true and I don’t know it isn’t true but it’s so speculative how is it worth saying?
    “So Doug, Kraft had a judge keep the video from going public. Why would Kraft want to keep a video about something he originally said never happened from going public? ” ……… First I tried to find where he said it never happened and couldn’t which is not to say it didn’t happen. I just can’t find it. As for not wanting himself shown getting a handy……that’s just common sense.

    What you want for the Speedbowl is exactly what we all want. Failing that I am satisfied that Bemer will be adequately punished. Resulting from the criminal verdict and later from civil judgement’s.
    Bemer is losing his freedom and likely most of his wealth……and he’s old. I’m satisfied so if he wants to assure the Bowl has a future that may be the first bit of redemption. Hopefully leading to new ownership.
    I am from Enfield, CT. A proud Connecticut Yankee despite our current financial and tax issues. It would be nice to know where you are from DGF. You always struck me as a southern New Yorker. Long Island? It’s interesting in all this time I can’t recall you saying where you live.

  13. Got it. No answer. Expected that. I’m thinking you like to be the generic fan with no location that enables you to lay claim to being a local fan in every location with a vested interest. When you don’t. All this time and no idea where you call home. Your home track or the place you stick by no matter what.
    My guess DGF is Long Island. You remind me of my daughter in law. Opinion on everything, always right and zero humility of what she doesn’t know.
    Love her to pieces but very Long Island. Like you maybe.

  14. Bill Stergios says

    We’ve raced at the Bowl several times and want to continue racing there. I hope that the grandstands get rebuilt soon and racing resumes. It’s a nice racy track. If Bemer has to sell I hope that it stays a race track. We don’t need to lose another one. I’ll also continue to be a Patriots fan. Have been since day 1 when we listened to them on the radio cause they weren’t on TV.

  15. Doug reposted, “NFL participants have been banned” who and for what for?

    Do you demand that others peel your grapes? Pay attention to the news. Many others, they are listed and discussed when the Kraft report comes up. Mostly players for substance abuse issues, and beating someone up, often a spouse or girlfriend. Google “people banned from NFL”. Help yourself, Grasshopper. It’s so easy, that when you claim you can’t find it, you can’t be believed.

    Doug reposted, “an owner with the status of Kraft will be held to a higher standard” …..true but legally and by the franchise rules he is exactly equal.

    You forgot about the NFL league rules. Kraft is called the co-commissioner because he is so close to the NFL and powerful. It won’t look good at all if he gets away with this.

    Sybil reposted, “As far a public opinion goes he’s now kind of a punchline.
    “He’s terrified about being banned from the NFL”……….I have no idea why you say such things. Could be true and I don’t know it isn’t true but it’s so speculative how is it worth saying?

    You’re not expected to understand, Sybil. This incident is costing the Patriots franchise tens or hundreds of millions in value of the franchise. The NFL and other sports have gone through great efforts to attract women. Then when someone like Kraft does this, it sets the league back to the stone ages. This impacts the league. Why do you think the league has a code of conduct and bans, suspends, and penalizes NFL participants for such deplorable conduct? Not because of virtuosity, but 💰🤑💸💵💰🤑💰.

    Doug reposted, “So Doug, Kraft had a judge keep the video from going public. Why would Kraft want to keep a video about something he originally said never happened from going public? ” ……… First I tried to find where he said it never happened and couldn’t which is not to say it didn’t happen. I just can’t find it. As for not wanting himself shown getting a handy……that’s just common sense.

    WeldingWonders, just because you can’t find it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist or didn’t happen. Kraft denied it immediately, reflexively, instinctively.

    https://www.nbcsports.com/boston/patriots/robert-kraft-categorically-denies-prostitution-allegations-statement

    Well, he had some lawyers deny it for him through a statement. That’s what you do when you get chauffeur driven in a Bentley to a spa to get serviced, and you have a full-time staff of lawyers. As for not wanting to be exposed, that was just a test for you.

    Okay, time for you to rage and attack me because you just begged to be whipped.

  16. My my DGF that was quite the rant.
    It had it all. Taunts, insults, condescension, anger.
    Long Island……….definitely.

  17. Doug, aka: Insipid Sybil, Welding Wonders, you are definitely wrong… again.

  18. Really DGF, I don’t think so. Nonetheless you have chosen to hide your geographic identity which is consistent with your on line persona. Why I don’t know.
    In my case I get ribbed all the time for being a Stafford devotee. I’m neither proud nor think it makes me any less an avid fan. It’s just the way it is. From Enfield it’s 35 minutes over the back roads of some of the most beautiful countryside Connecticut has to offer. I raced a Street Stock at Stafford and on occasion Thompson and Riverside Park but Stafford was always my favorite
    On a Friday night I love having a history with the track. I love seeing the people around me that I don’t know other then to say high to on occasion but are always in the same spot. I love knowing about racers in all the divisions and not just the top names in modifieds. I love knowing who they are when they ascend the stairs to the control booth for an interview after winning a feature. I love knowing who Mr. Courchesne is as he sits casually chewing the fat with someone in the stands prior to the racing action. I love viewing the drivers in the drivers meeting, knowing who they are, who they are interacting with and what they are being told. I love knowing the rhythm and sameness of the surroundings as the races unfold hoping to see things that are new and unpredictable.
    From the first visit in the late 1970’s it was love at first sight. Stafford was different from the racing at the Danbury RaceArena I grew up on. They rolled out the races one after the other. Ben Dodge was the best announcer I’d ever heard and listening to the theme from Shaft and the showmanship was new and exciting. It was just a regular Friday night race but the crowd was intense and we had to sit deep in the turn 1 stands. It was the golden age of modifieds with deep loyalties and the top names that I didn’t really know at the time but would come to appreciate. Imagine, all this time and I remember the first time like it was yesterday.
    I think you miss the boat DGF not being willing to share your unique history other then to weaponize some vague reference of expertise to slay one of your victims or beat back a tormentor.
    Rob, humphry, Crazy in NY and most others share their locations and history when it’s appropriate to enrich a comment they have offered. It helps give the forum a point of reference. Like me being ribbed for being a one track guy it makes each of us vulnerable depending on the subject being discussed. You DGF seem to revel in that vulnerability while being the only regular to hide his geographic identity.
    In the old days I confronted you thinking there was some upside to getting you to open up more or be more civil. I may not be the sharpest tool in the shed but I’m not stupid either. That ship has sailed. I’ve also tried to change my behavior. Not the length that many find annoying but to be less confrontational and especially avoiding taunting and name calling.
    Going forward if you want to exchange thoughts on any topic I’m happy to do so if you can be civil and control yourself. Otherwise I will simply let you be who you are bad behavior and all realizing you can’t change. Like we all do with President Trump whether we love him or hate him.

  19. Insipid Sybil, you have used numerous handles, promised to leave these forums numerous times, flip flopped more often than a freshly landed bluefish. With me, you have zero credibility. You want to drone on and on trying to convince people to support Bemer so his victims might have access to more assets, go right ahead. It’s your reputation and credibility, or whatever handle you are using at the time.

    I don’t care where you or anyone else are from. I see no benefit or reason, not even curiosity. There is no reason for anyone else to know where I am from.

    WeldingWonders, since you are the one using numerous handles, you clearly have issues, trust being top of the list. You are in no position to try to get someone to open up and be more civil. Your behavior is not role model or conducive to civility. That’s about as absurd as listening to Trump call himself the most presidential president there ever was. You want to go on a rampaging ranting tantrum because you were caught using numerous handles or other absurd anomalies, go right ahead. I laugh at your pathos and your version of civility. So Sybil, going forward, you need to understand that when you fling the 🐂-💩, be prepared to get caught and called out. I practice ‘see something, say something.’ Your rages over being caught and called out are not only neutered in a forum like this, to me, when some one rages like you do when called out, it’s a representation of the person doing the raging, and nothing at all to do with me. It means I hit the bull’s eye. 🎯

  20. I’ll take that as a no to civil. Very well.

  21. Calling you out on your bloviating, flip-flopping, multiple handles, etc. is not uncivil.

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