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Women at the Speedbowl

SK Light Modified feature winner Victoria Bergenty watching heat race action from her pit stall in 2013

Click here for more info on all-female exhibitions held throughout the years

 

Over the years, auto racing has been a male-dominated sport.  The history of the Waterford Speedbowl is no differernt, yet there have been several notable achievements by females both on and off the track over the years.  It's important to remember that for the first two decades, women's involvement was relegated to Powder Puff Derby exhibitions.  In fact, those events were the only time women were allowed in the pits, a rule that remained enforced until the mid-1970's.

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Peg Gaudreau with (l-r) driver Dick Dunn and her husband & car builder Al Gaudreau (Rene Dugas photo)
Arguably the first prominant female figure in Speedbowl history was Peg Gaudreau.  Peg was the car owner for the #3 car that Dick Dunn drove to 4 consecutive Modified Championships from 1972-1975.  The car was called "Buddah's Bullet" as a nod to her husband Al Gaudreau who built and maintained the car.  In 1976, Gaudreau won a 5th consecutive Car Owner Points Championship (Bob Potter won the Drivers Championship) – a record matched only by Harry Wyant (1999-2003 with Dennis Gada driving another dominant #3 car).  For a majority of Dunn's dominant streak on the track, Peg was not allowed in the pits and watched from the grandstands.  In fact, Gaudreau was one of the first who finally gained permission to enter the pits from track owner Harvey Tattersall Jr in the mid-1970's.  

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Rae Williams became the 1st female to qualify for a Speedbowl feature driving her #03 Super Stock on May 3, 1980 (Steve Kennedy photo)
On the track, the first woman to qualify for a feature event racing amongst the men was Rae Ann Williams in 1980.  Like Peg Gaudreau, Rae Ann's story is a reflection of how times have changed, as car counts for the Super Stock division in which Rae competed attracted 30-40 competitors attempting to qualify on Saturdays.  Qualifying for a feature was much more of an accomplishment than it is today.

While Rae Ann's qualifying for a Super Stock feature was unprecedented, she did not fair well in the feature and never captured a feature victory in the handful of seasons she competed.  In fact, it would take almost 26 years still until a female would win a feature event at the Waterford Speedbowl competing against male competitors.

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Emma Coates celebrates the first of 6 straight W.O.W. feature wins in 1993 (Rene Dugas photo)
During that span however, there were still several all-female exhibitions.  Originally called Powder Puff Derbies, by the early 1990's, they were called Women On Wheels and ran a bi-weekly schedule as part of the Sunday Stocker Series that existed from 1991-1994.  One of the most accomplished in those events was Emma Coates.  Emma is matriarc to one of the Speedbowl's most accomplished families.  Her husband Bob "Ink" Greene, sons Allen & Joe Coates, grandson Corey Coates and nephew Phil Evans have all won features at the Speedbowl.

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Talya Orleans became the first women to win a non-W.O.W. event at Waterford with a ALNS victory on April 2, 2006 (uncredited photo)
The destinction as the first female to win a non-WOW feature event goes to Talya Orleans, who won an Allison Legacy North Series event during the season-opening Budweiser Modified Nationals event on April 2, 2006.  It was just shy of 26 years after Rae Williams first qualified for a feature in 1980.   At the time, Talya was also the youngest feature winner in Speedbowl history at 12 years old.  Talya won 2 more ALNS features at Waterford in 2006-2007.

In the 2010's, there were more and more females competing weekly amongst the men, especially in the Wild N' Wacky Wednesday divisions.  Taylor Martin and Rachel Forte both won numerous Bandolero races from 2010-2012 while 3rd-generation driver Taylor-Marie Moran won 2 Super X-car features during the 2010 season.  While the list of female feature winners grew, by the summer of the 2012 season, no female had yet to win a feature in any weekly Saturday division at Waterford.

Then in 2013, women broke through the Saturday ranks in grand fashion.  First, during the annual Mid-Season 300 event in July, Victoria Bergenty (daughter of former competitor John Bergenty), set fast time for the SK Light Modifieds during time trials.  She became the first female to set fast time in track history.  A few months later, on September 21st, she won the SKL feature, becoming the first female to win in any modified-type division and the first to win a NASCAR division feature.  A couple hours later, her good friend Nichole Morgillo held off Ted Christopher to win the SK Modified feature.  Nichole accepted the marraige proposal from her boyfriend Shawn Thibeault in front of the Speedbowl crowd earlier that night.  Watch our Sid's View webisode "Ladies Night" to the left about this historic day.

Off the track, in 2014 long-time scorer/handicapper Julie Winsor was named Assistant Race Director.  She became the highest ranking female track official in Speedbowl history.  Today, you can walk around the pit area at the Speedbowl and not only see women as drivers, but crew members & spotters as well.

Female Feature Winners List

Below is the complete list of female feature winners in Waterford Speedbowl history.  Remember they include feature event wins only – they do not include heat wins, consi wins or any exhibition type events (Enduros, Powder Puff Derbies, WOW, etc).  The events below are when the females came out victorious against mostly male competitors. 1 notes the first female winner in a division at NLWS

DATE DRIVER EVENT DIVISION
April 2, 2006 Talya Orleans Bud Modified Nationals Allison Legacy North Series 1
October 8, 2006 Talya Orleans Finale Weekend Allison Legacy North Series
April 28, 2007 Ginny Quinones Saturday weekly event USAC Ford Focus Midgets 1
September 22, 2007 Talya Orleans Finale Weekend Allison Legacy North Series
May 12, 2010 Taylor Martin Wild N' Wacky Wednesday Bandoleros 1
May 19, 2010 Taylor Martin Wild N' Wacky Wednesday Bandoleros
June 16, 2010 Taylor-Marie Moran Wild N' Wacky Wednesday Super X-cars 1
June 16, 2010 Taylor Martin Wild N' Wacky Wednesday Bandoleros
June 30, 2010 Taylor Martin Wild N' Wacky Wednesday Bandoleros
July 28, 2010 Taylor Martin Wild N' Wacky Wednesday Bandoleros
September 2, 2010 Taylor-Marie Moran Wild N' Wacky Wednesday Super X-cars
April 2, 2011 Taylor Martin Saturday Showdown Series Bandoleros
April 9, 2011 Taylor Martin Saturday Showdown Series Bandoleros
April 30, 2011 Melissa Fifield Saturday weekly event Allison Legacy North Series
May 11, 2011 Rachel Forte Wild N' Wacky Wednesday Bandoleros
May 14, 2011 Taylor Martin Saturday Showdown Series Bandoleros
May 18, 2011 Taylor Martin Wild N' Wacky Wednesday Bandoleros
June 8, 2011 Taylor Martin Wild N' Wacky Wednesday Bandoleros
June 29, 2011 Taylor Martin Wild N' Wacky Wednesday Bandoleros
July 20, 2011 Rachel Forte Wild N' Wacky Wednesday Bandoleros
July 27, 2011 Rachel Forte Wild N' Wacky Wednesday Bandoleros
August 10, 2011 Rachel Forte Wild N' Wacky Wednesday Bandoleros
September 21, 2011 Taylor Martin Wild N' Wacky Wednesday Bandoleros
October 8, 2011 Emily Packard Finale Weekend Allison Legacy North Series
May 16, 2012 Rachel Forte Wild N' Wacky Wednesday Bandoleros
May 30, 2012 Rachel Forte Wild N' Wacky Wednesday Bandoleros
July 4, 2012 Rachel Forte Wild N' Wacky Wednesday Bandoleros
September 12, 2012 Rachel Forte Wild N' Wacky Wednesday Bandoleros
September 21, 2013 Victory Bergenty Saturday weekly event SK Light Modifieds 1
September 21, 2013 Nichole Morgillo Saturday weekly event SK Modifieds 1
October 6, 2013 Bethany Stoehr Finale Weekend NEMA Midgets 1
May 31, 2014 Robin Berghman Four-Cylinder Fury Pro-4 Modifieds 1
August 20, 2014 Shelby Donovan Wild N' Wacky Wednesday Mini Cup Series 1
September 27, 2014 Taylor Bowser Saturday weekly event Mini Cup Series
June 27, 2015 Cassandra Cole Saturday weekly event Legend Cars 1
August 27, 2015 Hayley Desaulniers Thursday Night Thunder Bandoleros
June 4, 2016 Robin Berghman Saturday weekly event Pro-4 Modified
June 25, 2016 Robin Berghman Saturday weekly event Pro-4 Modified

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