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1987 Year in Review

1987_Bob Potter_SK_Champ (Hodge)
Bob Potter scored his 5th Speedbowl championship in 1987 (Howie Hodge photo)
Prior to the season, the Super Stock division was officially renamed Late Models after years of being casually referred to as such since the Sportsmen Sedan days of the early 1970's.  Except for a brief stint at the turn of the century, the division has been named Late Models ever since.

Bob Potter continued to etch his name into the Speedbowl's history when he won his record-tying 5th Waterford track title – tying Don Collins and George "Moose" Hewitt for most overall Speedbowl championships.  He again led the division in wins as well with 5 – capping his season with a double point 100 lap win during Finale Weekend.  Rick Donnelly won his 4th Blast Off event and first since it was converted to an SK Modified® event in 1985.  Potter, Mark Lajeunesse and Ted Christopher won the 50 lap events while former Plainville (CT) Stadium Modified Champion Ronnie Rocco won the Winston 75 on Labor Day weekend.

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'Farmer' Phil Rondeau won his 2nd Late Model Championship in 1987 driving his future rival Jay Stuart's #66 car (Rene Dugas photo)
Phil Rondeau had his most dominate season to date when he won his 2nd Late Model Championship and captured 10 feature wins – tying Mike Daignault's record (1971) for most wins in a Late Model season.  This season he drove future-rival Jay Stuart's #66 car at the Speedbowl instead of his own #19 machine. Rondeau's season included streaks of 3 and 4 wins in a row.  On July 18th, he won 2 features on the same day.  Dennis Gada won two 30 lap features and became the 7th member of his family to earn a Saturday division feature win.  Bob Greene won the season ending double point 50 lapper during Finale Weekend.

NASCAR presented a new Connecticut Tri-Track series which combined points from all 3 Connecticut short tracks (Waterford, Stafford and Thompson).  Inaugural Champions were Thompson SK Champion Ted Christopher and Stafford & Waterford LM Champion Phil Rondeau.

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Jimmy Spencer was the 1987 winner of the NASCAR Modified Tour event at Waterford (Peter Lawlor photo)
MJ Sullivan 100 returned for a third season as the NASCAR Featherlite Modifed Series' lone Speedbowl event in 1987. 3-time NASCAR Champion Carl "Bugsy" Stevens broke the Modified Track record with a 15.090 lap time in qualifying.  It was the 4th straight NASCAR Mod event where the lap record was broken.  Eventually series champion and future Nextel Cup star Jimmy Spencer won the 100 lap June event.  Spencer made uncomplimentary comments about the Speedbowl's racing surface during his Victory Lane interview.  It was the only touring series event as both the NEMA midgets and New England Mini Modifieds did not compete at the shoreline oval this season.

The Finale Weekend was delayed a month due to inclement weather and scheduling conflicts.  The weekly point division's seasons finally concluded on October 25th.

After months of speculation that they were going to buy the track from Tattersall, the 1987 season would be the last for the Arute family running the Speedbowl. They turned their focus back solely on their own track in Stafford Springs, CT which remains one of the most successful short tracks in the country to this day.

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