This past weekend was the #BowlStrong Big Show season finale for The New London Waterford Speedbowl. We at Mod Squad were honored they used the hash tag that we started “#BowlStrong” early this year. We have become very close with the Bowl crew/family and are thankful for the relationships and friendships built and/or grown over this season. What a picture perfect weekend it was for late October with temperatures in the 70’s and 80’s. There were 15 divisions on hand to do battle. We all were anticipating good car counts and lots of fans as well as a good number of campers. Well, I think all expectations were shattered. The weekend provided some great racing as well as on and off track fun and “entertainment” as many had made some great memories. It also did not go with out some controversy, as we would expect to see some with the shear amount of racing and teams on hand. But more on that in a min...
I have to step back and put this whole weekend in perspective. I did the same as we were pulling out Monday morning with the camper for the last time this season from the Bowl. I felt a little down and some sadness as we were pulling up the Speedbowl drive way. However, I then stopped and looked back at the track and smiled. Sad, what the hell was I “sad”for?! We are leaving after camping at the track for a week and seen some great racing and had a blast with some great people and friends. But above all we WERE RACING at a track only a few short months ago we did not know if it would even open this season or ever again for that matter. It was not until late June when the cars hit the track for the first time it was made a reality, when the nay sayers were finally shut up, where the “experts” realized they were anything but… It not only opened, but stayed open and grew and sustained itself. This was the first time many of the new management and staff members have ever tried to run a race track, some of the staff that had been at the Bowl for sometime were thrown in positions they were never in and had to adapt and learn quick. Sure there were some bumps along the way, sure some people had to get moved around or weeded out. But in the end there was obvious harmony among most of the staff and management, it all just seem to flow well the last part of their season.
So for all the ones crying out there (many I bet did not even set foot at the track this year or if so only for a short time…). Most fans and drivers that ran there were actually very happy and grateful that we were able to salvage part of a season and have fun doing so. Those very few that are complaining and being ungrateful really need to step back and look at the big picture and should be thankful they had a play ground to play at this season. For someone to step up and put a lot on the line to give fans and teams a place to race, and then catch flack…Really? When these people sacrificed family time, work and finances to bring us what we all wanted really piss’s me off. Then again that’s why most of these complaining or talking about nothing they really know about, only have Social media, that is their self proclaim to fame and is what most of their lives revolve around and their only way to feel of much “importance” how ever false it may be….. So I will say “hell ya” we had racing at the Bowl this year! The good, well outweighed the bad, there were some issues for sure but when is there not? Especially in a new venture thrown together under pressure, in the middle of a fire storm and with the deck stacked before the lights even went on. To The New London Waterford Speedbowl staff and crew of 2017 do not let anyone tell you it was anything less than successful. You guys did great and from many of us die hard teams and fans we thank you for what you all did for us!
Now on to the racing, there were 15 divisions and we can not get into detail for everyone of them but we will do some highlights. The pits were packed with cars with teams and fans as The Speedbowl has very fair pit prices and allows kids in free. The stands also had many fans in them. According to track management the pits and stands have been roughly equal with tickets sold this past season. There were more campers than I have ever seen at the Speedbowl! They had to use The Harvey Windows company next door for overflow of cars and a couple campers. Thanks to Harvey for allowing this so fans could enjoy some great racing. There were 309 cars this weekend at the Bowl! That is pretty incredible considering everything this season. The world Famous Thompson World Series that has been going on for well over 50 years had a record of just over 401 this year. The Speedbowl not only had their regular Saturday night divisions there they also had their Wednesday divisions and brought in multiple Touring Series. Such as the EXIT Realty Modified Touring Series, Granite State Pro Stocks, NEMA Lites, ATQ Midgets, Mr. Rooter Pro Trucks, 375 Pro Sportsmen and the Pro 4 Modifieds. Wednesday Champions were crowned last month but there were still most of the Saturday divisions needing a champion as well as GSPSS and the MTS would have their $10,000 Champion by the end of their race as well.
Randy Cabral won the NEMA Lites. Buddy Sload captured the super fast ATQ Midgets event. In the Bandoleros, Maddie Harkin took down the win. Keith Scalia put on a show in the Super-X division for the win. Christopher Lee crossed the line first in the X-Cars. The Mr. Rooter Pro Truck Series/Waterford dual division race saw Andy Linderman win but it was Duane Noll the third-place finisher who took championship for the Waterford Speedbowl Truck Series. Brett Meservey won the Pro-4 Modified race. Frank L'Etolle took down the win in the first ever 375 Pro Sportsman Tour race. These cars and series are fast and have the potential to be action packed and put on a show. It will be interesting to see where it goes. The Granite State Pro Stock Series would crown Mike O’Sullivan Champion and Seeing the checkers first was Joe Squeglia taking down the win after 100 laps.
Peter Bennett would be the winner in the legends after making a pass on Alex McCollum. Young gun “Champion Spark plugs” driver Teddy Hodgdon who won the Legends World Championship last month in Finland would close the podium off after starting very deep in the field and wheeling his way to the front of the pack. P4 was Brad Vanhouton and finishing in the fifth spot, it was Kyle Rogers and that would be enough to make him the track champion. In a drama filled Mini Stock race it would be Shawn Monahan to take the win.
With roughly 10 laps to go Jacob Perry's championships hopes would be robbed while he was fighting in the top 5, a non championship contender Jordan Hadley would hook Perry and send him violently into the turn one wall. There has been bad blood all season between these two. The officials would agree with most the crowd that it was intentional and would eject Hadley from the grounds and he would be told to take his Limited Sportsmen car with him as well off the grounds, and further penalties are expected. This would ultimately give Charles Canfield his first championship after driving a hard race. There were only a few points between Perry and Canfield to start the race. Incidents’ in the pits between teams following the on track altercation would lead to Perry not being able to pilot his SK mod for the feature. Rounding out the top five, Monahan, Canfield, Bourgerois, Guertin and Ken Cassidy Jr. After 30 laps it would be Anthony Flannery for the Late Model win. Keith Rocco already was crowned champion a couple weeks back. Top 5- Flannery, Palmer,Morgan, Mitchell and P5 Gray.
One of the more popular divisions at the Bowl is the Limited Sportsmen and they would crown a well deserving Chris Meyer champion for his first time. Meyer would also win the race in commanding style. Rounding out the top 5- were Meyer, Monte Gibbs, Phil Evans, Bo Norman and Norman Root Jr.
In the SK Lite division Dana DiMatteo and Andrew Molleur came into the final race with just four points separating them. Dimatteo would start deep in the pack as he struggled with motor issues all day. But he would work his way towards the front where Molleur would run most the race in the top 5. Up front the crowed would have a show as
Bryan Narducci was battling with Brett Gonyaw who was looking for win number two in as many starts at the Bowl this season. The best finish of the weekend, maybe year would come on a last lap front stretch outside pass attempt coming off four by Gonyaw. Narduccui would squeeze Gonyaw up to the wall, Gonyaw would not back down and would hammer his Dunleavy/Johnny’s Mud run #81 to the line with sparks flying and him riding the wall to the line. With a .038 of a second gap between 1st and 2nd as they crossed the line Narduccui would win another! The crowd was thrilled by the show just put on by these two very talented wheelmen. DiMatteo would finish P4 one spot behind Molleur and by doing so would be the SK Light champion by 2 points! Matt Galko would get P5.
The Exit Reality Modified Touring Series race would run Sunday as the headliner and would crown their first champion in their inaugural season. There were five eligible drivers who could win the championship by their unique format. The MTS took its top 5 points drivers from the last race, stuck all five in the rear of the feature, zeroed their points and who ever of the these five finished best would win the $10k and championship. There also was a $5k first place race winner’s purse. This $5,000 to win was up for grabs to any of the 22 cars in the race. The show of the race was watching these 5 championship chase cars coming from the rear to the front. Tommy Barrett and Eric Goodale would make holes working through the field early as they worked to the front. The #29 of Jon McKennedy looking for the $10k as well would get to the front from the rear multiple times during the race. He put on his own show most of the race working back to the front. Lap 53 would find champion contender Woody Pitkat into the turn 3 wall and his day done. By lap 76 non chase driver Rowan Pennink would find himself in the top three with Goodale and Barrett (who both were looking for the $10k) as Pennink worked by Pasteryak,who was battling in and out of the top five all day. In the end Pennink would win the race after having to fight his way from the back after an early race incident and take the $5k prize money. Eric Goodale would finish 2nd and doing so he would win the $10k championship. Third would be Pasteryak, followed by championship contenders Tommy Barrett and Jon McKennedy for the top 5. Savary also who was chasing the championship would finished P13.
The last race of the show would be a 80 lap $3K to win SK Modified feature. There were three twenty lap qualifying races that paid $300.00 to win each. There was a close point’s battle between Kyle James and Keith Rocco where Rocco had the advantage by 18 points. As James would get out front early and stay there Rocco would have his luck change as he would be involved in a wreck while in the top 10 and have heavy suspension damage late in the race. Rocco would come back after a yellow 7 laps down and with 9 to go. James would still be up front. Some of Rocco's teammates cars now would pull off the track. This is where the controversy would start. Rocco's suspension fix would not last as it broke with 5 to go and his left front would snap back and be locked in the left position. With smoke bellowing from the tire he would be given the black flag with 4 to go for multiple laps he would wheel the #88 hammer down around the track. I have never seen something quite like this. He was almost turning competitive times with his car like this! It was impressive to say the least as he would do this for 3 laps before pulling off. The controversy would continue as Kyle James would take the win and do the best burnout I have ever seen in a modified. During his interview in victory lane it would be announced he won the championship as well….
Rocco's team would confront race director Chris Forester and protest the decision. While this happened I was standing right next to General Manager George Whitney and he said to me while looking from a distance at the protest “There is no favoritism here[The Bowl]. If that’s what the points show, and if the tower says James won then that is that” 5 minutes or so latter race officials would walk over to Whitney and say “we may have a problem and a mistake may have been made as Rocco's and his team pointed out specifics in the rule book about black flag rules.” Whitney not impressed said “Everyone up to the tower and we are going to stay there until this is figured out and done “right”, no phones, mics or radios.” The officials went up to the tower and after sometime had Rocco and James brought up as well where things were shown and explained to them both. The end result would be Rocco would be the 2017 SK champion. The real mistake was when the announcement for James as champion came premature before things could be double checked. The scoring mishap was that the tracked stopped scoring Rocco when he “received” the black flag. The rules brought to attention by Rocco say “a driver has two laps to heed the black flag before scoring ceases.” This would give Rocco a 1 point lead. Further explained, if there was even to be a tie Rocco would win as he had more wins this season. Rocco would win by one point.
I personally do not feel that there was anything shady or any favoritism shown from all that I seen and heard right in front of me that night. I will say there were mistakes made and the Speedbowl officials openly acknowledge it and have regrets about jumping the gun on the early announcement as that is were the mistake was made. If they had waited and looked over the scoring then there would not have been a issue at all. But, they did the right thing as to bring both competitors in the tower and go over the math multiple times and shown them how the outcome was to be. Short of the first mistake with the announcement I am not sure what else anyone could ask for….
James has absolutely nothing to hang his head about, as I do get the disappointment but he had a hell of a season and wheeled and won a hell of a race, the biggest of the year at that! During all this the real show that has been over shadowed was the impressive run of the weekend by 14 year old Andrew Molluer who finished P2 in just a few starts in a SK mod! He battle up front most of the 80 lap race and held off some of the best and even gave James a few challenges for the lead. This kid is the real deal and looked like a seasoned pro as he smoothly rolled his #35 around the unforgiving Speedbowl. When talking with Molleur about the night we said to him “ Great job wheelman you could not ask for a better night” Young Molleur responded in true racer fashion and said to Mod Squad Racing Media “I sure could, I could be where he [James] is pointing to the winners car with a smile“. Dylan Izzo would rock the Dipisa #13 that is still sporting Ted Christopher’s name on the roof to an impressive podium finish. Fourth would be Michael Gervais and Steve Masse would round out the top 5 of the last race of the season at the shoreline oval. Click HERE for more info about The New London Waterford Speedbowl
We had a great time and enjoyed the racing, some of the most fun we had all year to be honest from on track and off. It is a work in progress at the Bowl and the progress is showing. There are some great things in the works for the 2018 season and we will have more on that in the future. We are glad that we even had a show like this and it was as successful for the Bowl as it was. There was not a professional race management and promotion team brought in to run the Bowl. It was a man and his family who stepped up, risked personal finances and time along with a bunch of people with the same goal at the end to save the Bowl. None claim to be perfect or even experts as many will openly admit, they are learning with open minds and this is new to many of them. Most that did not have the common goal of saving and making the Bowl successful or did not mesh well were no longer there by seasons end. This was the first time many have even done anything like this and this somehow easily or “conveniently” gets forgotten as the armchair experts offer their negative opinions… How many drivers and teams won a race their first times out, or hit grand slams their first swing or how many Superbowls were won by teams in the first season.. Not many businesses have instant success without issues in their early years.
Things need to be kept in perspective with all the negative comments and criticisms by those who probably have never risked as much or stepped up to any plate in their lives and layed it all on the line for others. Be part of the solution instead of the problem before we don’t have any racing anywhere to complain about down the road. Big difference in constructive criticism and straight out bashing with agendas… Just my thoughts on that. We also want to thank everyone who was rocking their "Mod Squad Racing Media" shirts. There were tons of our #BowlStrong and #ModOn shirts all over from fans, teams, drivers and series staff. It really was awesome to see and thanks for all the support! Congrats to all the winners and champions!
Now on to the last races in New England. The Tri Track Haunted 100 at the cement palace, Seekonk Speedway. It is this Saturday the 28th at 1 PM. There is a legends race that pays $750 to win, a Late Model race that pays $2,000 to win. The Tour Type mods pay $6,000 to win with a $1,500 bounty going to the driver that can beat Hirschman for the win. The entry list boasts just shy of 40 cars at this time. With many heavy hitters from all over. Just look at this list:
06- Les Hinckley
7- Kurt Vigeant
7- Rich Parker
8 - Nick Salva
9- Tommy Barrett
12 Vinnie Annarummo
12 Rob Richardi
13 Steve Masse
13 Cameron Sontag
14 Blake Barney
15 Chris Pasteryak
15 Karey Stular
16 Max Zachem
16 Colbey Fournier
25 Rowan Pennink
24 Andrew Krause
25 Brian Robie
27 Matt Galko
35 Derek Ramstrom
39 Calvin Carroll
40 Kyle Trayner
43 Ron Frees
43 Kirk Alexander
44 Bobby Santos
48 Jon Kievman
55 Ryan Doucette
58 Sal Accardi Jr.
60 Matt Hirschman
73 Andy Jankowiak
76 Ryan Vanasse
78 Walter Sutcliffe
82 Woody Pitkat
85 Ron Silk
88 Russ Hersey
88 Keith Rocco
92 Anthony Nocella
93 George Sherman
99 Richard Savary
This race is set to be an incredible race as many of these guys have nothing to lose and have a winter to fix cars as for many it will be their last race for the year. Most rosters boast 10 or so drivers that any one of them could win the race. With this list it is likely to be any one of at least 20 entries and there’s always the chance of a surprise as well. Seekonk may not be the fastest track, but it sure can make for some great modified racing as the same can be said for the Tri Track series. The legends and Late Models entry list looks good as well and they will be looking to put on great shows of their own at the concrete palace. Click HERE for more info on Tri-Track. The weather looks good so come on out and get your racing fix in before there is no more racing and we are sitting inside during the winter. There may be some tricks dealt this weekend and we all will sure be in for some treats, bring the family out this weekend for this close out race of the New England race season. They also will be having a costume contest all welcome to pertisipate. Until the next green flag drops. #BowlStrong and #ModOn RG
KYLE ROGERS #32 2017 SPEEDBOWL LEGENDS CHAMPION
CHARLES CANFIELD #25 2017 SPEEDBOWL MINI STOCK CHAMPION
DUANE NOLL #2VT 2017 SPEEDBOWL TRUCK CHAMPION
KEITH ROCCO #88 2017 SPEEDBOWL LATE MODEL CHAMPION
CHRIS MEYERS #87 2017 SPEEDBOWL LIMITED SPORTSMEN CHAMPION
DANA DIMATTEO #176 2017 SK LITE SPEEDBOWL CHAMPION
KEITH ROCCO #88 SK MODIFIED 2017 SPEEDBOWL CHAMPION
ERIC GOODALE #58 2017 EXIT REALTY MODIFIED TOUR CHAMPION