RPW Column: Looking Back A Bit- Fourth Week Of June

Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WAVERLY, RI – Seventy years ago in 1950, Mickey Gill was the big winner at Seekonk.

Sixty five years ago in 1955, rain-washed out the Saturday night programs at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl and at the Seekonk Speedway. In Wednesday night action at the bowl, Ray DeLisle was the Wednesday night Modified winner at the bowl. Ted Dean was the non-Ford winner.

Sixty years ago in 1960 rain was the big winner at the Stafford Springs Speedway. The Waterford Speedbowl began their summer schedule which consisted of race dates on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Joe McNulty won the opening night Wednesday Modified feature. Red Foote, who in later years would make a name for himself in Virginia was the non-Ford winner. Dick Dunn was the Bomber feature winner. Don Collins won double features on Saturday night at the Speedbowl. Ed Moody was the Bomber feature winner. At Seekonk, Leo Roy was the A main winner. Johnny Roberts was the 100 lap Modified winner at South Boston in Virginia.

Fifty five years ago in 1965 it rained again at Stafford. At the Waterford Speedbowl Dick Watson won the 50 lap June Championship for the Modifieds. Jerry Glaude was the Bomber feature winner. Kenny Shoemaker recorded his fourth feature win of the season at the Fonda Speedway on Saturday night. Holly Wildler won at Riverside Park and at Seekonk, Tex Barry won the Modified 30 lapper and Hank Korlacki won the B division main. On Sunday at Utica-Rome it was Jerry Cook over Eddie Flemke and Don Moon.

Fifty years ago in 1970, the long holiday weekend started on Wednesday with an All Star League at Lancaster where Maynard Troyer and Roger Treichler finished one-two to beat out the best in the business at the time, Ray Hendrick. The following night, the league moved to Oswego where Troyer made it two for two with Hendrick finishing second. Geoff Bodine finished third with Richie Evans finishing fourth followed by Roger Treichler and Bill Greco. Rain washed out weekend events at Malta, Stafford, Fonda and Plattsburg. The rain at Stafford was the final nail in the coffin as it was announced that the track was almost bankrupt and would be shut down. Bill Slater was the race director at the time and was devastated. Rather than sit idle, Slater contacted Connecticut Construction Company owner Jack Arute and somehow convinced him to lease the track and keep it going. Arute agreed and the rest is history but he was left holding the bag with a few thousand rain checks.

Seabury Tripler was the Modified winner at the Waterford Speedbowl. George Allum was the Late Model Daredevil winner. Eddie Hoyle was the A main winner at Seekonk and Buzz Stiles won the B main. The skies cleared on Sunday for the twin 25’s at Thompson. Ray Hendrick remained in the north and won the opening event over Leo Cleary and Lou Austin. Cleary won the nightcap over Fred DeSarro and Hendrick. At Utica-Rome on Sunday night, Lou Lazzaro beat out Jerry Cook and Robbie Kotary.

Forty five years ago in 1975, Stafford began the Fourth of July weekend on Thursday night with a 150-lap event. Satch Worley in the Clarences’ Steak House No.26 paid a visit and walked off with the top money. Bugsy Stevens finished second with Eddie Flemke Sr, third. Stafford ran again on Saturday night with Ray Miller taking the win over Geoff Bodine and the Bugman. The Stafford management announced that the speedway would be running small block modifieds beginning on Sunday, July 20 in addition to their regular NASCAR modified program on Saturday. At Islip, Fred Harbach took the win over Gary Winters and at Shangri-La, Richie Evans won twin 50’s. Bob Potter made it two in a row at Waterford after winning the 35 lap Modified feature. Big Mike Daignault was the Late Model Daredevil winner. Russ Webber was the Late Model winner at Seekonk.

On Sunday, Maynard Troyer outran George Kent. At Thompson, Don Hoenig on hearing that Stafford was going to be running against him raised the modified purse to pay $600 to win instead of the $500 that had previously been paid. Leo Cleary won the 30-lap feature at Thompson over Freddie Schulz.

Forty years ago in 1980, the weekend started on Wednesday with events at Westboro and New Egypt. At Westboro, Bugsy Stevens in the Brady Bunch No.00 took the top spot and at New Egypt, John Blewett Jr held off Tony Siscone for the win. Monadnock ran on Thursday with Ronnie Bouchard taking the win over John Rosati and Punky Caron. Holland also ran on Thursday with George Kent taking the win. Stafford ran on Friday night with Richie Evans taking the win over Ronnie Bouchard and Ray Miller. Spencer also ran on Friday with Kent continuing his win streak. Just about everything on Saturday with the exception of Islip rained out. Islip ran a 100 lapper with Tom McCann taking the win over Fred Harbach and Tom Baldwin. A Race of Champions qualifier was run at Trenton on Sunday. New England competitors boycotted the event because of the then considered high pit fee of $15.00 and $25.00 entry fee. Needless to say the event was run without them. The event ran 81 of the 134 laps that had been scheduled when the rains came. Geoff Bodine who was leading when the event was stopped was declared the winner. Richie Evans ended up second and was followed by John Blewett Jr., Bob Riley, George Kent and Charlie Jarzombek. Thompson was also scheduled to run on Sunday but was also rained out.

Thirty five years ago in 1985, the modified tour was at New Egypt on Wednesday. Jim Spencer took the win over George Kent and Brian Ross. Rain washed out Stafford on Friday night but at Spencer, Richie Evans took the win over Jan Leaty and George Kent. Rain also washed out Waterford, Riverside and Thompson. Randy Hedger scored a popular win at Shangri La over George Kent and Bill Park won the Race of Champions qualifier at Riverhead. Closing out the weekend was a special event at Oswego where Richie Evans was boss as beat out Mike McLaughlin, Jim Spencer, Brian Ross, and Charlie Jarzombek.

Thirty years ago in 1990, the Featherlite Modified Tour stopped at Riverhead Raceway on Wednesday night. Mike Ewanitsko and Tom Baldwin scored a Long Island sweep as they finished one-two in the 151-lap event. Reggie Ruggiero finished third with pole sitter Bob Park finishing fourth. Stafford rained out on Friday and Phil Rondeau got his first modified win at Waterford on Saturday night. Stan Gregger won at Riverside where it was announced that Ben Dodge had decided against leaving after tendering his resignation. The mods invaded Oswego where Tony Hirschman beat out Jan Leaty and John Preston.

Twenty five years ago in 1995, Steve Chowanski won a 100 lap SK Modified event at Stafford. Steve Park finished second with Lloyd Agor, third. The Featherlite Modifieds were at Beech Ridge in Maine on Saturday. Steve Park in the Banzul No.8 went pole to pole to win the 100-lap event with Mike Stefanik in tow. Satch Worley, Ed Flemke Jr and Jan Leaty rounded out the top five. Ted Christopher borrowed his brother Mikey’s car and won at Waterford with it on Saturday night. Bert Marvin finished second with Jim Broderick, Todd Ceravolo and Jerry Pearl rounding out the top five. It rained at Riverside and at Riverhead it was Don Howe over Ed Brunnhoelzl. In Winston Cup action, Jeff Gordon won the Pepsi 400 at Daytona.

Twenty years ago in 2000 the weekend started on Thursday night Thompson where Ted Christopher took the SK modified win over Todd Ceravolo and Darrell Tiezzi. Christopher carried his winning ways over to Stafford on Friday night where he won the Busch North Series-150.Christopher started 20th and had broke into the top 10 by lap 30.In taking the win, Christopher went the entire 150 lap distance non-stop. Curt Brainard won the crash fest SK-50.Kerry Malone finished second. Ron Yuhas beat out veteran Mark LaJunesse at Waterford and Howie Brode got the best of Wayne Anderson at Riverhead. Ralph Nason, at the age of 60,won the Oxford Plains 250 for the third time. In Winston Cup action at Daytona, Jeff Burton took the win over Dale Jarrett and Dale Earnhardt Sr.

Fifteen years ago in 2005 The Fourth of July weekend got its start at the Thompson Speedway on Thursday night. Ted Christopher, who had been winless in two previous tries, got it all together to take his first win of the year in the Sunoco Modifieds. Christopher dodged an opening lap tangle to take an early lead and the eventual win. For the season which has seen him run in 42 different events the Thompson victory was his 13th win overall for 2005. Bert Marvin turned in a strong showing to finish second with Kerry Malone, third. Bo Gunning finished fourth with Todd Ceravolo, fifth. Other Thursday Night Thunder winners were Ben Seitz in the NEMA Midgets, Woody Pitkat in the Late Models, Chris McGee in the Pro Stocks, Larry Barnett in the Limited Sportsman, Terry Boudreau in the Mini Stocks and Chad Gaudiosi in the TIS Modifieds.

The Stafford Motor Speedway fell victim to rain on Friday night. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series made up their rained out Haynes 150 from Memorial Day weekend on Sunday night. Ted Christopher took the win after taking the lead with three laps to go. Doug Coby in the Curt Chase No.77 dominated almost the entire event only to lose it due to worn tires. Coby ended up third behind Chuck Hossfeld. Jamie Tomaino and Rick Fuller rounded out the top five. Ronnie Silk was the SK Modified winner while Carla Boticello won in the DARE Stocks and Mike Quintiliano won the Late Model feature.

In Saturday night action at the Waterford Speedbowl Ron Yuhas survived an early race accident and came back to record his second SK Modified victory of the 2005 season. In what turned into a marathon session of close to 90 minutes for the 35 lap feature, Yuhas’ crew did some thrashing and was able to make the necessary repairs to get him back in action. Yuhas made a bold outside move with two laps to go to take the lead from Ted Christopher. It was Christopher’s race to lose and had it not been for a right rear tire going flat the outcome would have been different. Dennis Gada ended up in second spot with Chris Pasteryak, third. Jay Miller originally finished third but was disqualified when his car failed to meet ride height requirements. Diego Monahan ended up fourth with Christopher, fifth. Allen Coates made it two in a row in the Late Models and Vinnie Esposito was declared the winner of the Legends feature after Len Beebe was disqualified. Al Stone was the Sportsman winner and Bill Leonard won in the Mini Stocks.

While rumors of doom and gloom continued to circulate concerning the demise of the Waterford Speedbowl and the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island word came of an impending project that could have resulted in increased racing activity on Long Island. Top Gun Sports and Entertainment was proposing multi-venue motorsport and entertainment facility in Yaphank which is in Suffolk County. The complex which would include a ¾ mile oval with a 3/8 or ¼ mile oval inside would also include a drag strip is adjacent to the Grucci fireworks plant, the Firematic training facility and the County prison farm. In a somewhat related announcement one of the Waterford Speedbowl owners, Terry Eames told the New London Day that there had been no decision made by a proposed developer on an option to buy the Speedbowl property.

Tony Stewart made it two in a row in Nextel Cup competition as he won the rain delayed Pepsi 400 at Daytona.

Ten years ago in 2010, The Thompson International Speedway Thursday night Thunder Series was cancelled because of rain and tornado warnings in the northeastern Connecticut area.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was idle as teams made preparations for the first of two trips to Loudon, NH. Bobby Santos who had won an a record setting three out of four races led Mike Stefanik by 89 points. Although winless, Stefanik had been the model of consistency with four top fives. Todd Szegedy sits third, six points behind Stefanik. Ted Christopher the only other winner on the tour is 49 points out of third spot and 95 points in arrears of Santos. Rounding out the top five was Ryan Preece. Rookie Justin Bonsignore along with Jimmy Blewett, rookie Richie Pallai, Jr., Erick Rudolph and Ron Silk made up the top ten. Forty six different drivers had entered into tour competition so far.

The Modified Racing Series was scheduled to appear at the Seekonk Speedway on Saturday June, 12. Rain forced cancellation with no rain date.

In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series division racing at the Stafford Motor Speedway the 37th Annual Coors Light SK Modified® 100 was on tap. Keith Rocco defended his 100-lap victory from one year ago and scored his fourth win of the 2010 season, Ryan Posocco picked up his first win of the 2010 season and the 40th win of his Late Model career at Stafford in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Frank Cardile scored his second victory of 2010 in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Dan Flannery scored his third win of 2010 in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Cory Casagrande picked up his second win of 2010 in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

The Waterford Speedbowl fell victim to rain

The Bowman-Gray Stadium, in Winston-Salem, NC avoided the rain that played havoc in the northeast. Lee Jeffreys started the first of twin 25’s race in second place behind pole-sitter Terry Gaither, but quickly took the lead to pick up his second win of the season and 16th of his career. Jeffreys survived two late cautions and a hard-charging Gaither, and then drew No. 10 for the inverted-start second race. He was able to battle his way to the runner-up spot but couldn’t muster a charge to pass leader and eventual winner Jonathan Brown. Burt Myers qualified 19th out of 20 cars in the first race and finished 14th. Myers finished fourth in the second 25 lapper.

At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island it remained dry as four-time Modified champion Bill Park outdueled three-time and defending Modified champion John Fortin for the Modified feature win. Park took home his 31st career victory landing him in a five way tie for third on the track’s all-time win list. Park is now tied with Wayne Anderson, Chris Young, Jack Reinhard and Tommy Washburn in career wins.

Denny Hamlin, his No. 11 Toyota becoming a distant spec on the horizon to the rest of the field late in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at the Michigan International Speedway, heard the caution call come over the radio and tried not to roll his eyes. He knows nobody wants to watch a driver lead by 10 seconds, as he was doing at the time. It makes for bad TV. And even though Hamlin didn’t see any debris on the track when the yellow flag flew, he didn’t exactly panic when his massive advantage was wiped out.

“I understand this is show business,” Hamlin said. Hamlin easily pulled away from Kasey Kahne on the restart with 14 laps remaining and rolled to his fifth victory of the season, dominating the 400-mile race.

Joey Logano became the first Nationwide Series driver to win three consecutive races at the same track when starting from the pole as he held off Carl Edwards to win the Meijer 300 at Kentucky Speedway on Saturday night.

Les Richter, an eight-time Pro Bowl selection for the Los Angeles Rams who became a top NASCAR executive after retiring from the NFL, died. He was 79.

His second career started as president of Riverside International Raceway in 1961. He joined NASCAR in 1983 and grew into an adviser to then-chairman Bill France Jr. Richter was named NASCAR’s executive vice president of competition in 1986, and the senior vice president of operations in 1992.

Five years ago in 2015, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series visited the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island in what turned into a two day affair. Moments before the 28 car field was about to take the green a large rain storm moved in forcing officials to re-schedule to Sunday afternoon. Topping the charts of the 35 cars on hand was local runner Tom Rogers, Jr who toured the 1/4 mile oval to the tune of 74.888mph. Second fastest was Timmy Solomito at 74.788mph. Vinnie Boindolillo, Justin Bonsignore and Doug Coby. Rogers made an unapproved impound adjustment after time trials, however, and will fall to the rear of the 28-car field prior to the start of the race on Sunday.

Justin Bonsignore passed Timmy Solomito in Turn 3 on Lap 9 and waited out a rain delay and a late charge by Todd Szegedy to score his seventh career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour win and second at his home track. Bonsignore piloted his No. 51 M3 Technology Chevrolet around some late race traffic to hold off Szegedy and continue of his streak of scoring at least one tour win every year since 2011. Doug Coby followed Szegedy in third to score his best career finish at Riverhead with Eric Goodale fourth and Woody Pitkat fifth. Timmy Solomito, who led the first eight laps of the race, followed in sixth while pole-sitter Tom Rogers, Jr. rebounded from having to start the race at the rear of the 28-car field to finish seventh. Current points leader Ryan Preece was eighth with Vincent Biondolillo and David Sapienza rounding out the top 10.

There were six cautions for 74 laps. Among those who failed to finish was Ken Heagy who dropped out on lap 149 with handling problems, Rowan Pennink parked it as a result of a black flag, Frank Vigliarolo parked it after being rear ended by Heagy, Ron Silk lost a rear end and James Civali driving the Hillbilly 79 wrecked on lap 18. Sixteen of the original 28 starters finished on the lead lap.

Thankfully NASCAR did not elect to start all that showed up. Not making the starting grid was Wade Cole, Gary McDonald, Anthony Nocella, Paul Hartwig, Danny Watts and Melissa Fifield.

This event was showed taped delayed, according to TVGuide.com on Thursday, July 2 at 6:00pm. on NBC Sports Net. NASCAR says it will air at 6:30pm.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series would now go on a three week vacation before heading to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway for All-Star Shootout (non-points) event on Friday, July 17 and the New England 100 on Saturday, July 18.

At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night the Valenti Modified Racing Series made its second of three visits during the 2015 season to Stafford Motor Speedway for the 5th Annual VMRS 80. Woody Pitkat took the checkered flag to make himself 2 for 2 in 2015 at Stafford in VMRS feature action.

Pitkat used lapped traffic to his advantage as he went by Steve Masse for the lead on lap-43 as they were navigating their way through a pack of lapped cars. Todd Szegedy was third, with Rowan Pennink fourth and Mike Willis still running in fifth. Dylan Kopec brought out the race’s first caution flag with 56 laps complete as he spun in turn 3.

Pitkat took the lead back under green with Szegedy and Masse side by side for second. Chris Pasteryak was fourth and Willis was fifth, just in front of Keith Rocco. The caution came back out with 58 laps complete as George Sherman and David Schneider spun in turn 3.On the restart, Schneider got turned around and into the turn 1 wall to bring the caution right back out. Pitkat took the lead back under green with Pasteryak moving under Szegedy to take second. Szegedy was side by side with Rocco for third with Masse right behind them. Rocco got the better of the duel with Szegedy to take third but the action was slowed again by the caution flag for a spin by Dan Meservey in turn 2 with 61 laps complete.

Pasteryak got a great restart and powered to the lead, but Pitkat came back strong in turns 3+4 and they were side by side at the line. Pitkat moved to the front on lap-63 and Szegedy was also able to get by Pasteryak as Rocco and Masse were fourth and fifth. Pennink’s car dropped off the pace on the backstretch on lap-65 and he limped back to pit road. Rocco’s bid for a top finish came to an end on lap 73 as he began to lose power which ultimately put him out. Pitkat was stretching out his lead over Szegedy, Pasteryak, and Masse. Pitkat cruised to the checkered flag to pick up his second consecutive Valenti Modified Racing Series victory at Stafford. Szeged finished second, with Pasteryak, Masse, and Richard Savary rounding out the top-5. Sixth thru tenth were Carl Medieros, Jr, Mike Willis, Jr, Todd Patnode, Dennis Perry and Dan Meservey, Jr.

In regular NASCAR Weekly action at Stafford, taking down weekly feature wins on the night were Keith Rocco in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, Tom Fearn scored in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Joey Ferrigno in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Andrew Hayes in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, Tyler Trott in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature, and Devin O’Connell was the winner of the 20-lap Legend Cars feature.

Rocco’s win also brought him closer to a career overall total of 200 wins which now total 199 which also include victories at Thompson and The New London-Waterford Speedbowl.

The New London-Waterford Speedbowl held a somewhat abbreviated program because of rain. Craig Lutz, who hails from Long Island, scored his second career SK Modified win at the speedbowl in an event that was red-checkered at the 20 lap mark. John Montesanto was running second at the time with Matt Gallo, third. Among the missing was Keith Rocco who was at Riverhead for a Whelen Modified Tour Series event. Rocco’s car was on hand in the event that Riverhead had postponed early. Other winners at the shoreline oval on Saturday night were Jack Aqualina in the Limited Sportsman, Anthony Flannery in the Late Models and Dana DiMatteo won the 25-lap Legends feature.

Down in the southland at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem NC racing was cancelled due to thunder storms. Racing resumes on July 11.

Kyle Busch’s hopes of making the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup improved significantly on Sunday at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway. Busch used a late-race caution to pit for four fresh tires, then he drove past leader Jimmie Johnson with five laps to go to score his first win of the season in the Save Mart 350. He needed it to have any shot of making the Chase, since Busch will have to be in the top 30 in points after the 26-race cutoff in September.

Last year, 2019, At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night the Street Stock division took center stage with the extra distance Casagrande Builders Street Stock 30, the second leg of the RSMPCO.com Street Stock Triple Crown. Jason Lafayette was the big winner of the night, taking the checkered flag in the Casagrande Builders Street Stock 30. Other feature events saw Todd Owen outlast Glen Reen in a thrilling finish to collect his second consecutive SK Modified® feature win, Tom Fearn scored his second consecutive Late Model win, Noah Korner was the winner of the SK Light feature after Bryan Narducci’s car came up light in post race inspection, and Matt Clement was also a winner for the second consecutive week in the Limited Late Model feature.

In the Street Stock feature, Lafayette got clear of Fuller in turns 3+4 on the final lap and he took the checkered flag to pick up his first win of the 2019 season. In the Late Models, Tom Fearn scored his second consecutive win and third win of the 2019 season. In the Ltd Late Models, Matt Clement led Jeremy Lavoie to the checkered flag to pick up his fourth win of the 2019 season.

In the SK Lites, Bryan Narducci took the checkered flag for the second week in a row and was again snake bitten as his car failed to make weight. A piece of lead fell off during the feature due to broken bolts that secured it to the car. Narducci was placed 22nd in the final order. Noah Korner was awarded the win for the second time in 2019 with Steven Chapman, Wesley Prucker, Alexander Pearl, and Chris Matthews making up the top-5.

In the 40 lap SK Modified main, Todd Owen cleared Glen Reen in turn 4 on the final lap and he picked up his second consecutive SK Modified® feature win. Reen nipped Ron Williams at the line for second with Stephen Kopcik and Eric Berndt rounding out the top-5. Sixth thru tenth were Michael Christopher, Jr., Keith Rocco, Michael Gervais, Jr., Matt Galko and Joey Cipriano.

The Valenti Modified Racing Series part of the third annual New England Short Track Showdown which was held at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. Ronnie Williams made certain he’d be leading when it counted, on lap-50 and he did by about a foot, to capture his second win of the season.

William’s outran Anthony Nocella, in a drag race to the checkered flag, with Jeff Gallup, who finished third, Chase Dowling, fourth, and Mike Willis Jr, fifth. The victory was worth $5000, 00. Four caution flags slowed the race on laps 2, 20, 39, and 42. A red flag was displayed on lap-20 after veteran driver Roy Seidell spun in turn two and was struck by Dave Etheridge. Seidell was transported to a local hospital alert and conscious. Less than 500 fans were in the grandstand. The Valenti Modified Racing Series next competes at Monadnock Speedway July 6.

At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island defending NASCAR Modified track champion Kyle Soper won his fifth race in seven starts Saturday topping the 50-lap Whelen All American Series feature event. The Manorville resident is now halfway home to tying the single season win mark of 10 that was set twice by the late “Charging” Charlie Jarzombek (1976 & 77) and once by Gary Winters (1962). Twelve point paying NASCAR Modified races remain on the 2019 Riverhead schedule and with the early season roll Soper is on he may very well not only tie but break the record for wins in one season.

John Baker had his best outing of the year with a runner-up finish in the Staria Automotive Chevy while veteran John Fortin Sr. was third in his John’s Tree removal Chevy. Tom Rogers Jr. and Timmy Solomito rounded out the top five.

In racing at the Bowman Gray Stadium in North Carolina Brandon Ward took advantage of a restart with 10 laps remaining Saturday night to slip past Burt Myers and hold on for the win. When Burt Myers won the 100-lap race three weeks ago, he also won the $3,000 Fans’ Challenge after electing to start in the back of the field and finished in the top four. Saturday night Tim Brown won the pole, followed by Lee Jeffreys, John Smith and Jonathan Brown. Jonathan Brown and Smith elected to go to the back of the field, and Jonathan Brown started 22nd. Jonathan Brown went all the way to third and was able to collect the $3,000 Challenge.

In NASCAR cup racing, Martin Truex won on the hilly road course at Sonoma Raceway for the second straight year and the third time in his career, comfortably holding off Busch for JGR’s 10th victory of the season.

The New London Day reported that despite longer-than-anticipated grandstand construction delays, the general manager of the New London-Waterford Speedbowl says the track will open and run events this year, even if the season stretches into November. General Manager Mike Serluca and town officials say plans and permit applications are under review for the first time this year for new grandstands at the Speedbowl, owned since 2014 by wealthy businessman Bruce J. Bemer, who is appealing a recent 10-year prison sentence on sex trafficking crimes, for which he also faces ongoing civil suits.Serluca, who took on the management role last fall, and Town Planning Director Abby Piersall said applications were submitted earlier this week to get the ball rolling on grandstand replacement, a first in the popular track’s 69-year history.

“We are 100 percent planning on running events this year,” Serluca said in an interview “I don’t know how many I can guarantee at this time. If I have to run into November, it’ll be cold but I’ll get these guys as many races as they can race.”

Serluca said he’s meeting with a contractor who will help establish a timeline, and he added that “the town of Waterford has been absolutely remarkable to work with. We’ve met zero resistance from them the whole time.”

Piersall said the town technically has 30 days to complete its review of permit applications; as long as applications are complete, building “officials try to make that effort to do it quicker,” she said. The track can’t open without the permits, inspections and a security plan in place with town police, she said.

Serluca, working directly for the track’s management company, of which Bemer is president, said he plans on managing the track “for the long haul,” if given the chance. The 40-year-old New London resident said his father took him and his brother to the Speedbowl as kids, and “if you go once, you’ll get bitten by the bug and want to come back for more.”Serluca added that “there’s been a ton of interest from people that want to buy it, but it’s hard to buy something that’s not for sale,” noting he hasn’t had “any indication” from Bemer that he intends on selling it.

Glastonbury Connecticut businessman Bruce Bemer was sentenced Monday, June 17 to 10 years in prison for his role in a Danbury sex trafficking ring that preyed upon vulnerable young men who were suffering from drug addiction or mental illness. Bemer, 65, was also sentenced to five years’ probation and must register as a sex offender. He faced as many as 60 years in jail after a Danbury jury convicted him April 10 of being an accessory to human trafficking and four counts of patronizing a trafficked person.

Judge Robin Pavia set an appeal bond for Bemer at $750,000 that he expects to post. He will wear a GPS monitor, have a 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew and will not be able to leave the state.The defense had asked Pavia to toss out the conviction, arguing the jury reached its verdict based on a faulty explanation of the law. In the alternative, the defense asked the judge to order a new trial.

At Monday’s sentencing, prosecutor Sharmese Hodge asked the judge to send Bemer to prison for 25 years. Bemer’s attorney Anthony Spinella argued in favor of probation. A 25-year prison sentence is what murderers get, he said. Bemer turned down a plea agreement that would have allowed him to avoid jail.

Bemer is the owner of several businesses, including the Waterford Speedbowl and Bemer Petroleum of Glastonbury. He had been free on $500,000 bond since his arrest. After the guilty verdict, Judge Robin Pavia increased Bemer’s bail by another $750,000, which he posted.

That’s about it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly, and R.I.02891.Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467.E-Mail,smithpe_97_97@yahoo.com.


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