1956 Year in Review

‘Wild Bill’ Slater with Baldy Simons’ #11 which he drove to the 1956 Sportsman Championship at Waterford

The Speedbowl had some internal struggles prior to the 1956 season. At one point, the track was even up for sale. There was little reported on the situation in the local papers, with the ownership group repeatedly saying “no comment” through spokespeople. But after a two month delay, the Speedbowl finally opened on June 30th. It remained the latest opening for a race season until the 2020 season. The reign of Rex Records‘ American Auto Racing Club lasted only one season, and the Speedbowl returned to racing under the United Stock Car Racing Club sanction. Lou Guiliano was appointed the new Race Director.

Bill Slater won his first Championship at the Speedbowl driving Baldy Simons #11 car to 3 wins during the season, including two 50 lap victories. Don Collins led the division in wins with 7, including two 100 lap and a 75 lap win late in the season. Red Bolduc won the other 100 lap event and Dick Beauregard won the September Championship 50 lapper.

Charlie Webster dominated the Non-Ford division, driving the Simons Bros (no relation to Baldy Simons) #9 “Excavator Special”. It was the first of many championships to come at the Speedbowl for both Webster and Simons. Most of the Non-Ford events were anywhere from 10 to 15 laps in length. Webster won a 25 lap and a 20 lapper. Ted Stack and Ted Dean won the other 20 lappers.

In 1956, Charlie Webster won the 1st of 3 Non-Ford Championships driving the Simons Bros. ‘Excavator Special’

The season wasn’t without controversy however, as the Non-Ford competitors went on strike and boycotted the Speedbowl Saturday August 19th event and the following Wednesday event as well over what they felt was too small of a purse for their division. According to John Brouwer’s A Racing History of the New London-Waterford Speedbowl, the car counts were so bad during those events that many patrons demanded their money back. This ultimately led to the track operators to settle the disagreement and racing resumed the following Saturday.

In early August, flagman Al Parent was the subject of controversy when competitors felt a race should have been stopped after a bad accident on the back stretch. A near riot ensued when many in the pits emptied out across the track headed for the flag stand. Parent resigned on the spot.

Jacko Maggiacomo won the Late Model 200 event during 4th of July weekend. It was his 2nd Late Model victory at the Speedbowl in 4 seasons.

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