Big Tease: Phantom Series Operator Announcing 2020 Speedbowl Events Is An Awful Decision

It’s one of the most common questions thrown about when it comes to short track racing in Connecticut. 

What’s going on with the Speedbowl? 

And it’s been a question that’s been quite difficult to answer for the last 12 months when it comes to predicting the future of the historic New London-Waterford Speedbowl. 

This much is certain, despite mountains of hope by those involved, and a lot optimistic rhetoric through the spring and summer months of 2019, there will not be events at the facility in 2019. Obviously even without confirmation from an entirely muted owner, we can feel confident making that assertion. 

Speedbowl officials have been silent for the last couple months regarding the future of the track, and for good reason. 

After months of creating too much false hope for a possible 2019 opening, Speedbowl management decided that silence was the better option for the last couple months. 

That’s a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you look at it. It’s a bad thing in that it makes the months of expectant hopeful chatter seem all too bogus now. But a good thing in that it stops creating false hope and rampant rumors.

So Sunday night’s pronouncement by Bob Carrita of the American Modified Tour that the phantom series will be competing at the Speedbowl in 2020 seems almost to have the feel of a scam artist preying on victims.

Speedbowl owner Bruce Bemer was convicted in April of being an accessory to human trafficking and patronizing a trafficked person. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison, but remains free on bond waiting appeal of his case. 

Despite the legal maneuverings happening concerning Bemer, Speedbowl general manager Mike Serluca announced a 2019 schedule late last year and track management then began moving forward in the long awaited project to replace the track’s main grandstand, which had been targeted for replacement by town officials for about a decade. The grandstand was leveled last January. 

Bemer’s conviction in April looked like it might spell the end of the line for the Speedbowl under current ownership, but track management – despite being far behind on construction plans – publicly stated they were staying the course for improvement plans and racing in 2019. 

As of today there are no grandstands at the Speedbowl and there will be no racing in 2019. 

Will there be racing in 2020? Track management isn’t saying a word. And there is no indication on the property that there’s anymore hope today for racing than there was in April or June or August. 

A lot of race teams and drivers who own equipment that’s gone unused for a season are clinging to hope for turning laps again in competition at the track. A lot of fans who have built up years of emotional equity in the facility are hoping to see more green flags fly there.

And at this point, it’s entirely unfair and just plain cruel to tease those people in any form. 

The American Modified Tour has never run a single event in its history. The formation of the series was announced by Carrita in Oct. 2017, with the hopes for launch for the 2018 season. That didn’t happen. In November 2018 Carrita once again announced the launch of the series for the 2019 season. That didn’t happen either. 

On Sunday on the American Modified Tour Facebook page Carrita posted: “American Modified Tour is proud to announce we will be at the Waterford Speed Bowl for the 2020 racing season. We have 4 races scheduled with a 5th date in the works. More info to come”

Imagine your pet goes missing for a week, or two, or three or months even. You post posters all over the neighborhood, at local businesses, on the internet searching for the pet you so dearly cherish. Then one day a stranger calls your phone and says they just saw your pet. You ask them where and they hang up. 

That’s about the feel of Sunday’s announcement by the American Modified Tour. There’s literally been no good reason for Speedbowl devotees to have any sort of rise in hope. And properly so that track management has made a decision to stop creating false anticipations. 

And then there is a racing series that has never run an event in its history, that has never had an event even scheduled anywhere but the Speedbowl, essentially telling fans now to get up and celebrate because racing is coming back to the Speedbowl in 2020. 

Why? Why do that to people?

Why continue to torment people when there’s even the slightest chance it could all just be fairy tale like so many others at the track in the last 12 months?

The people that have stood behind this facility and hoped so hard for it’s rebirth deserve so much better after all this turmoil than being served Facebook fairy tales from a phantom series operator. 


  1. Saw the post last night and just had to shake my head, from a guy that doesn’t have a legit series, that has never paid a purse or even created a website or rulebook. Should be no word of racing at Waterford untill construction is completed and the town signs off on opening, untill then its a bunch of BS.

  2. Shawn, I couldn’t agree with you more. I have gone from being one of the more optimistic fans regarding the Speedbowl opening to a more cynical “show me, I’m from Missouri” attitude. It would be a shame to lose yet another New England racetrack, but it sure doesn’t seem very promising at this point. Deep down I still hope I’m wrong on that.

  3. Uh-oh. You did it now. Just kicked a hornets nest. Well done. Now we may actually learn something about what’s going on.

  4. I had to check the calendar… nope, it is not April 1.

    Two wrongs make a right? 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

    Stuff like this happens because there are plenty of people that are ready and willing to believe it.

    And the shysters, hucksters, conmen, vermin and other cretins will take advantage of them. Somebody is trying to make a buck at someone else’s expense. 🤑🤑🤑🤑🤑🤑🤑🤑🤑🤑🤑🤑. WATCH OUT!!!!

    So if you are asked to pay fees in advance, DO NOT DO IT. Wait until the track is rebuilt, properly permitted and officially open.

    Get your cars converted over to run Thompson, Stafford or Seekonk will be a wiser choice.

    Anybody drive by the ‘bowl lately? Doug, do something helpful and take a ride to the ‘bowl and check the status. This can be a rare opportunity for you to provide an actual first person report.

    Interesting that this “announcement” comes out soon after the news that Schaeffer and Williams are leaving the TTOMS. 🤨 🤨 🤔 💭

  5. Great piece Shawn, on a situation that’s become no-more than a cruel joke. I feel terribly sorry for local racers that have equipment sitting idle waiting for some actual truth to come from 1080 Hartford Turnpike. Very unfortunate situation for the racing community….

  6. Just my thoughts and guesses on the matter I don’t know any of the parties referenced below or involved in the Bowl.

    I honestly don’t think anyone knows what is going on. Serluca was posting information and has stopped providing information. I think if he knew something he would tell us and when they posted mid summer there was a plan to reopen. There hasn’t been much visible progress at replacing the grandstands so the track can reopen. Bemer has several ongoing legal issues and is probably not providing the money to complete the renovation project. Either his assets are frozen due to legal issues or he or his lawyers suggest not spending significant money at this time given the legal issues. They are just in a holding pattern until the owners legal issues are resolved or he decides to sell the facility. At this point a sale would be the best thing that could happen to the bowl. Hopefully I am wrong and they start erecting grandstands next week.

  7. Here is what I didn’t see in the article. Efforts to contact Mr Carrita directly were___________ (left answered, ignored, unsuccessful , no comment etc). Very curious.

  8. I’d hope some of the drivers and team members could weigh in on the situation. They are after all the ones who have paid the greatest price in this debacle with regard to the racing aspect.
    What is a crying shame is the track itself. Just a great racing surface and perfect size for all divisions. You could see the entire track from the stands and hopefully will be able to in future.
    In other news got the scoop FanschoiceTV on the switch over to pay TV.
    “For the NASCAR Roots package (which includes ARCA Series, Whelen Modified Tour, grassroots racing and select NASCAR Practice and Qualifying): $2.99 Monthly or $19.99 for an Annual pass.”
    A bargain at $19.99f and they may be offering a better deal for those that had been signed up.. Hopefully it will include New Smyrna in February and now we can see the race on the big screen.

  9. This may be a dumb question but what is the status of Bemer’s other businesses? Are they still operationaL? Are they possibly up for sale?

  10. Crazy,
    It’s a column not a story. And I spoke with Mr. Carrita this morning. But thank you for taking on the role as my editor now too. I know you just think this all the Saturday morning cartoons level information here, you made that clear the other day.

  11. Muddbus,
    His other major businesses are still in operation as normal.

  12. I hope Mr. Carrita is the real deal and opens the Speedowl to great success in 2020. A lot of good people both racers and fans deserve the truth. Now is the time when racers spend a lot to update and rebuild for next season for whatever track they plan to race at. Like so many other supporters I hope all of this is true. If this is more BS by someone I wish them sudden diarrhea while stuck in traffic…..with frequent sneezes.

  13. Crazy in NY says

    Shawn, easy easy big boy nobody taking any role as anything I just read it as a shot at Carrita without mention if you had taken to contacting him. Nothing more. As to the cartoon comment..really? You can’t see I was referring to the comments section here which degrades quickly with some of the shear
    lunacy written? You’re a bit on edge it seems. My bad for not knowing the difference between a column and a story.

  14. Crazy in NY, if you had the slightest understanding of the American Modified Tour and how nothing has materialized in a couple years of blowing smoke, and the pathetic ‘bowl and all the years of it’s promises of reconstruction, and that the ‘bowl did not operate in 2019, and then there is a posting on FB with the American Modified Tour claiming to have 4 races with a possible 5th race at the ‘bowl, you seem to be gobbling down the sinkers, hooks and lures. Do you really want to question questioning the entities that have been big fat zeroes when it comes to delivering?

    Do you have any idea what is going on with the owner of the ‘bowl and understand what that means for the ‘bowl?

    Do you have any cognitive ability?

    So the AMT is letting the proverbial cat out of the bag that the ‘bowl will be operating in 2020?


    The AMT and ‘bowl are working on a season schedule. 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

    Crazy in the Head, have you been by the ‘bowl frequently and recently? If you have only a pulse and normal body temperature, you would exceed the minimum cognitive ability to figure out that not much has been going on at the ‘bowl. Lots demolished, nothing constructed. And it’s been like that for a loooooooooooong time. Zero chance it will be open and operating by May 2020. That’s only 6 months away. Why don’t you drive by the ‘bowl once in a while and keep us apprised of the progress.

    Do you live adjacent to a Superfund toxic site? Lots of lead and heavy metals in your water?

  15. Let’s review. A dude starts a modified series in 2017 in hopes of racing in 2018, but no racing happens. In 2018 he announces plans for 2019, again nothing happens. Now he’s announces plans for a closed track. I’d wait before buying tickets

  16. Next announcement is Bullring Bash is looking forward to 4 races in 2020.

  17. Shawn, great article keep up the great work you do. Thank you for allowing us to debate the issues, even at times the debate ends up having nothing to do with you article. I would ask it you could go in depth on the Qualiying and provisional system for the tour. Would like to see a sids vault piece on Melissa Fifield showing the weeks leading into a tour race. I think if people realized how much these teams work away from the track preparing for the race. Anyways you do a great job with Race day At. Keep up the great work reporting, and moderating the comments section. If there was an award for journalism I’d nominate you and your team

  18. Rob P.,
    Thank you.

  19. Hillary 2020 says

    First of all you’ll never see sid do some video of Fifield. Second do you really want the world to see the time, hard work and money put into her “race” operation? It would be cringe worthy at best. Well maybe it would be a good tutorial of what not to do if you’re thinking about running the tour.

  20. Would like to see a sids vault piece on Melissa Fifield showing the weeks leading into a tour race. I think if people realized how much these teams work away from the track preparing for the race.

    If they are spending all this time preparing then why so many failures? Why is the car consistently slow?

  21. RichO, nowhere in the COLUMN does it say Mr. Carrita is in anyway involved in the opening of Waterford. Please read the words. Beyond that, this is a nonstarter issue for the slow winter months. A Phantom Series announces a schedule at a non operational track that insisted they were opening last season but didnt. I’m good. Any other news?

  22. Doug thanks for the info on fanschoice. At 20 bucks a year for live coverage of the modified tour, I don’t think too many will complain. I will sign up for sure. Some of the Dirt track video coverage runs $29-39 a month. It is a bargain in comparison.

    I wonder what is the sticking point on that 5th race at the Bowl. Certainly cant be the fact there are no grandstands and they dont have a permit to open. I hope these guys get together and hammer out a deal for that 5th race.

    How long can the bowl stay closed and reasonably expect to re open with success. We were talking about it and some people seem to think drivers find other hobbies and its gets tougher and tougher to reopen after awhile. Especially if there isnt any news coming from the facility as to what the plans are. I thought they had the best racing in CT. Its a shame there always seemed to be off track issues with ownership and finances which took away from the great racing on track.

  23. Crazy in NY says

    Dareal, That’s quite a diatribe but of course a perfect excuse to rehash the Speedbowl and it’s collective ills according to the goodfella for 1001 time.. I asked a simple question and BOOM out go the lights. Have I been to the Bowl? Since it closed you mean? No, I’m letting others like you drive by looking for Bemer nailing his stands together? If it opens and they hold a Modified race there, I’ll be there. If it doesn’t I still have to inhale and exhale. ( something you should try)
    Do I know Bobby C? The long time official that has the respect of many? We’ve spoken but I don’t ask when the AMT is getting off the ground so I can report to the Raceday faithful. It’s possible just possible he doesn’t give a crap what the chatter boxes on the Internet think. Who knows…silly season indeed.

  24. Crazy, are you saying that Bobby C doesn’t care what the chatter boxes think? 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣 Those chatterboxes are his potential customers. What a coincidence… clearly the chatterboxes don’t give a crap about what he has to say about his conceptual AMT and 4 or 5 races scheduled at the defunct ‘bowl. What kind of business acumen does it take to put on races at a defunct and demolished track?

    Shall we say opening day for the ‘bowl is 5-½ months away? There’s plenty to get done in that time. Oh, and it’s winter in New England, not the construction season.

    Hey Crazy, maybe you can get tickets at preseason discount prices. Hurry up before the tickets sell out.

  25. I’ll never believe anything out of Carrita’s mouth. I tried to ask him questions about his series at Race-A-Rama last year and he had no clue. He didn’t know anything about what the rules were going to be, what the specs for the cars were going to be, or really anything at all about his own series. People have been trying to get information so they can set up cars for when the series starts, but we can’t get any information from him. If this series does ever finally start, I seriously doubt anyone is going to sign up because this whole thing has been a joke for the past 3 years.

  26. I have to ask more in the rhetorical sense. Is Carrita and his tour with Speedbowl dates for 2020 the main curiosity or is it Serluca and to a lesser extent Brodeur. Is there a Speedbowl underground that has the whole story while we all flail away and scratch our heads?
    Someone is updating the Speedbowl web site and posting on Speedbowl Facebook page. Nothing regarding the tracks status but postings none the less. A couple people curious about it’s status for 2020 and even someone selling T shirts. Racing jibber jabber, the upcoming toy drive but nothing substantive. It’s bizarre.
    Did I miss it? The part where they announced no racing this year and teams money would be returned.
    Serluca’s ever changing Facebook page still lists him as the Speedbowl General Manager. Most here saw the cheer leading including the video indicating something could happen. Then the Speedbowl light was switched off, he is off reporting on all things Serluca excluding the Speedbowl and as far as I can see never said anything publicly about it dying for the year. Congratulations on the engagement by the way.
    Surely all the teams that paid the track money must have gotten it back. Surely there must be some indication of a faint hope for the future or no hope at all circulating among the Speedbowl competitors and fans. Or is the vague hope of an uninformed but very loyal fan and competitor base all there is. Is it Carrita’s shame to hold out false hope or Serluca’s for providing the fertile ground for such people to sew the seeds of misinformation if it is misinformation.
    The Marketing arm of the track Blaise Brodeur was dropping Speedbowl hope bombs all through the spring and early summer. Now the shortest tenured marketing director in local racing is 100% Trump, 100% of the time except when he’s trashing Pelosi. “Get rid of the bitch and all of the other Democratic idiots that back her” . First Warren, now Pelosi. He does love the B word. A loss to local racing promotion for sure..
    I get it, The buck stops with Bemer and he’s preoccupied to say the least.
    Serluca is the mystery man to me.Few are as prolific in their Facebook presence as he yet when it comes to the Speedbowl the well dried up. He could end the Carrita drama and cruel false hope if that’s what it is with one post. The guy has lived, eaten and breathed the Speedbowl forever. Mixed it up in this forum labeling himself a truth teller. Even if his position has ended you’d think being so close to everything Speedbowl there’d be a final statement but nothing. Like it never was a thing. What I miss?

  27. The Speedbowl will go nowhere until the town grants the permits necessary to proceed. We have many permits including but not limited to construction, electrical, food, beverage, and then there are the big elephants in the room; environmental issues that exist that need to be addressed and the owner. Once the grass starts growing through the cracks in the racing surface the track could be done.

    I don’t know how anyone can even speak about a schedule, what divisions will race, what outside series will be included or anything else until there is a track to race at and the track has been granted the permit to operate.

    I just wish someone from the facility would come clean and tell everyone what is going on. However, I guess how can that be done when they don’t know the answers.

  28. Nothing like articles on Melissa F. and the Bowl to rile everyone up during the off-season!

  29. Only 5-½ months until the apparent ‘bowl blastoff 2020 and the AMT is announcing 4, maybe 5 races. Why haven’t we been informed about the reconstruction progress? Shawn? What’s going on here? With only 5-½ months until opening weekend, there must be very little left to do to get the place ready for inspections and permitting.

  30. Any truth to the rumors that the AMT is close to announcing additional dates at Riverside Park Speedway and Plainville Stadium?

  31. Googled American Modified Tour saw 2 old articles from Raceday CT, and 1 from speed 51. Nothing about rules, no website, only a FB page. Don’t do FB so can’t tell if there are rules. To me it looks like a third year of blowing smoke.

  32. Wow Hillary, such negativity.maybe a video production would uncover what they are doing wrong, but don’t realize it is wrong. Maybe it would show they’re doing everything right, and give you biggots bragging rights. Are you sure your a Hillary, and not a Hank, because you really sound like an old sexist make at times.

  33. Would love to see an updated Speedbowl reopen. With updated grandstands restrooms, Android/ beverage vendors along with an expanded paved paddock. Maybe even resurface the track. Now is the time to revamp the place and open a 22nd century facility. A NASCAR sanction would help too. The place is ideally located to draw competitors from CT,MA and NY, as well as fans from the same. Too many tracks are closing, and soon racers may not have a place to race.
    Would also like to see a venture in Western Massachusetts, possibly a multi use facility with a 3/8 to 1/2 mile variable banked oval, and also an 1/8 mile drag strip for no prep racing, which is the fastest growing Motorsport in the country. Again you’d have a facility that draws from multiple states. But I fear I’m dreaming in both instance’s.

  34. Hillary 2020 says

    Things were looking up for a second. But here we are. Most agree the place needs to be sold to someone that wants to keep it a race track. Until then it will never thrive. It may stay dorment for years or it could open next year, who knows. In the grand scheme of things I don’t think the track is on the top of Bemers list of important things he’s dealing with. His other businesses that are actually making money ,are. Is it better the track open up sooner rather than later? Are the loyal speedbowl fans and drivers already gone? Sad situation all around. Or maybe staying closed is actually the best thing at this point. Tracks do close and come back to life.

  35. Hmm. Staying closed in the short term to increase the odds of success should it be resurrected by another owner further down the road. I do believe that’s the first time someone has suggested that and it makes a lot of sense. Especially considering the crew that would be running it in the short term were it somehow to shock everyone and open in 2020.

  36. Given all the press about Bemer, it is very unlikely that many fans will show up if he is the is still the owner. The place tried to tout itself as a family place. What family will bring their kids to a place run by a person with the admitted history and legal record of the owner? I feel dirty just driving by the place.

    The place will not get any credible series sanctions.

  37. sour grapes of smoke and mirrors says

    gee where are all the “sources” you journalists have at town hall ???.. is the permit process /construction being held up?? suddenly no word from the GM and your contacts at town hall dried up?? what’s funny is the bowl is NOT Bemers most valuable asset ..cant figure out with the other business entities up and running at full steam everyone thinks a contaminated property / race track that hasn’t shown a profit in years is somehow so valuable?? lets wait for the “mouthpiece ” Serluca to come out of hiding with some facts before making any judgements.. must be a slow news day in racing.. my question is why Seekonk hasn’t added sks and lite modifieds to its roster.. game over speedbowl…

  38. Serluca… that’s the guy. He’s not going to come out in the sunlight for a long time. I was predicting that the place wasn’t going to open, he came back raging how I didn’t know what I was talking about. I was right, he was wrong. That was too easy.

    The ‘bowl has gone silent.

    The ‘bowl barker would have reported a shovel of gravel being tossed as HUGE BIGLY BEAUTIFUL progress.

    It’s winter in New England. Not construction season. Five months until opening weekend!!!!



  39. For Sale: Racetrack in southern CT, no grandstands , no imenities, not sure if town will grant needed permits, no sanctioning body, and maybe no racers. Make offer.
    I would really like to hear from town officials as to wether or not the track will even be allowed to reopen. You can tell Bemer and crew could care less about the lives they’ve affected,but somewhere out there, there is a person, or group passionate about racing who might be able to restore the bowl to it’s former gloy…provided the town will let them and Bemer will sell.

  40. Rob p., it was published back when Bemer was arrested that his assets have been frozen, including limiting business transactions to those necessary for the normal day-to-day operations. Big sales of properties would probably not be allowed, or need permission of the courts.

    You gotta stop thinking that Bemer sits around worrying that racers lost a place to run. He does not give a 💩 about that.

  41. “Any truth to the rumors that the AMT is close to announcing additional dates at Riverside Park Speedway and Plainville Stadium?”

    I heard the season will open and close at Danbury with joint SNYRA / NASCAR events.

  42. Heard they inked a date at Westboro in July. Can’t wait, ultra fast 1/4 mile should be a great race.

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