After over 15 years of the track surface having a 10-12′ sand strip around the outer perimeter, the ownership group spent over $10,000 to repave the entire track all the to the retaining walls. The project was done during the season in early August. The first event held with the track completely paved was on August 13th. Don Collins won the Modified event and Jerry Glaude won the Bomber event. The Daredevil event was postponed due to curfew.
Charlie Webster, driving Fred Beaber’s “Checkerboard #716”, won 6 features to beat out Dick Dunn for his first Modified Championship. Webster, who won 3 Non-Ford titles in the 50’s driving the Simons #9, tied Don Collins for most Speedbowl Championships with 4. Webster won a 50 lapper and June. It was a great year for long-time competitor Fred “Fuzzy” Baer . He won his first career feature on May 7th after 16 years of competing, then won a 75 lap event in August in what was the most successful season in popular driver’s long Speedbowl career.
Two of the most spectacular wrecks in track history happened in 1966. The first involved Bob Savard, driving the Congdon #76 machine, who violently flipped his car in turn four and over the fence. He escaped unharmed but retired from driving afterward. Later in the year, Larry Crandell flipped his car in the heat, after they got his car back on all 4 wheels, he went back to the end of the field to continue his attempt to quality. But he was involved in a second wreck and flipped his car again. According to John Brouwer’s A Racing History of the New London-Waterford Speedbowl, his car flipped a total of 7 times between the two incidents yet he amazingly was unharmed.
For the first time since 1953, time trials were held in the Modified division for the season ending Fall Championship 100 event. Johnny Sandberg set fast time with 17.320 for the new track record. (This time is slightly faster than the modern day 4-cylinder Mini Stocks). Newt Palm, who recently took over driving duties in Stan Miezejeski’s L&M car, took the victory in what would prove to be a successful partnership for Palm and Miezejeski in the coming years.
It was the last season for the Bomber division, which continued to dwindle in car counts as the Daredevil class began to flourish. Ed Bunnell started the season winning 7 of the first 8 races, including a record-tying 6 in a row, and led the points for the rest of the season to take the track championship. Jerry Glaude won the 25 lapper on Labor Day weekend, the second year in a row he won the longest Bomber race of the season.
In their first full season of competition, the Daredevils ran 12 lap features on a weekly basis. Bill Sweet would lead the division in wins with 5. Like the Modifieds, they had 13 different winners throughout the year, yet it was the winless Roy Lee who took the championship honors.
4-time Midget Champion Ed “Dutch” Schaefer won the lone midget event run in July. Once again the popular Powder Puff Derbies returned with two 8-lap events won by Joann Barnett and Mary Beebe. The very first Demolition Derby was held May. Bud Carlson and Bob MacDonald were declared co-winners as the last two competitors remaining yet both stuck in the mud.
SPEEDBOWL DOC SERIES
Segment on 1966 Modified champion Charlie Webster & Fred Beaber’s “Checkerboard 716”