1961 Year in Review
The ownership group once again changed dynamics when Anthony Albino bought out members Conrad Nassetta and Fred Benvenuti. This left Albino as 75% owner of Waterford Speedbowl, Inc. with Frank Benvenuti now the Vice-President and 25% owner. They were the only 2 members remaining from the original group who built the track. Shortly after, Albino sold 12% each to local businessmen Jack Brouwer and Lou Esposito. At 51%, Albino remained majority owner.
The group was faced with a changing landscape in auto racing in the Northeast as NASCAR’s presence began to grow. Bill Slater left Waterford the previous year to race at the NASCAR-sanctioned Norwood (MA) Arena. Harvey Tattersall’s United Stock Car Racing Club was also a strong force at track’s like Riverside Park Speedway in Agawam (MA). Like Waterford, both Norwood and Riverside held their weekly events on Saturdays, and this would partly contribute to sub-par car counts in the Modified division in the early 1960’s. So on June 28, 1961 the weekly divisions were revamped, eliminating the Non-Ford division and making the headlining division a flathead 6-cylinder division called Sportsman Modifieds. Wednesday night attendance began to drop as well and track management decided to run Fridays instead starting on June 23rd, but attendance was so bad that they lost money after paying the purse. The Friday night racing experiment was scrapped after one week. Wednesday night racing returned, but only during July and August, then discontinued permanently.
Ted Stack remained a dominate figure at the track opening up the season with 5 straight wins (including a 50 lapper) in the Sportsman division. He also won 5 of the 8 Non-Ford events before the division was dissolved. On 4 occassions, he won the Sportsman and Non-Ford events on the same night and at one point won a record 7 straight features between the 2 divisions across 4 straight race dates. Stack won 14 Sportsman features (3 of them 50 lappers) to win his first Track Championship in the premiere division. Dick Beauregard won 6 features, including 3 in a row during August. There were 11 different winners during the year.
As dominate as Stack was in the Sportsman division, Ed Moody was even more dominate in the Bomber division. Moody had streaks of 3, 4 and 6 wins in a row, won 17 total features including the only extra-distance event at the end of the year. Despite all the victories, he lost out on the championship to 1-time winner Hugh McAvoy. Moody’s 17 wins remains the highest win total for any driver in any season without winning a track championship.
Dick Brown swept the two NEMA midget events held during the year.