1979 Year in Review

United logo

Despite the success of the 1978 season under the Dick Williams‘ Coastal Racing League, Harvey Tattersall Jr did not renew their lease and once again took over the day-to-day operations of the Speedbowl under his United Stock Car Racing Club banner.  With the switch came the return of the schedule format from 1977 – including the Blast Off season opener, extra distance events during Memorial Day and 4th of July weekends, the Waterford 200, Grand Slam Series and season ending Fall Stinger open competition.  However, the Sportsman points championship was not reinstated. Tattersall formed the Summer Corporation as the promotional team that operated the track.  The Summer Corp also included PR Director & track announcer John Janisaitis, Al Peck and Dick Jensen.  Chris Hopkins took over as the Chief Starter. 

Rick Donnelly had one of the most dominant seasons
in Speedbowl history in 1979 (Steve Kennedy photo)

Also returning were the stock head and tire rules for the Modified division.  The stock head rule, in concept, is similar to today’s crate-engine programs in that its intent was to restrict horsepower and level the playing field for a more competitive balance while keeping the cost of racing from increasing too rapidly.  The one-brand, one-compound tire rule was also adopted for both the Modified and Grand American divisions.  Modifieds were to run Firestone 46 tires beginning with the first Saturday night event on April 28th, while GA competitors had to switch to McCreary tires after 3 races.  The first 3 GA events were non-point events designed to help race teams run off their tire stock from the previous season.  Rain cancelled all but one of the first 5 events, but by Memorial Day weekend, all divisions had adopted to the new rules.

Bob Gada won his 2nd Speedbowl championship
in 1979 (Steve Kennedy photo)

Rick Donnelly debuted a new Troyer Race Cars Pinto-bodied modified and dominated Victory Lane by winning 10 of the 14 features held – a winning percentage over 70%. His dream season also included victories in the Blast Off 100, another 100 lapper on 4th of July weekend, and a clean sweep of the Grand Slam Series (75, 100 & 125 laps) which included the Thompson 300 qualifier.  He won the points title by more than 125 over Bob Potter.  Potter won the Waterford 200 and held the point lead into July.  Joe Tiezzi won the Memorial Day 100 and John Rosati won the Fall Stinger 100.

Bob Gada won his second career track title when he finished 41 points ahead of Keith Eves at the end of the season.  Gada won 4 features, as did Ron Cote to co-lead the division.  Cote won 3 straight early in the year, Gada won 3 straight late in the year.  3-time GA Champion Donny Fowler won 3 times..  With the return to the United sanction, the Grand Americans once again went the whole season without an extra distance event.  All features held were 25 laps.

Ed Yerrington Jr was the 1979 Street Stock
Champion at the Speedbowl (uncredited photo)

2-time feature winner Ed Yerrington Jr, won the Street Stock title by a mere 2 points over Scott Poirier.  Yerrington’s father was a longtime competitor in the region and was currently the GM of Stafford Speedway. The highlight of Yerrington’s season was a win in the Firecracker 100 – a special open competition event held for the stock division on 4th of July weekend and was worth 4x the amount of points of a normal 20 lap event.  It remains the longest Street Stock race in Speedbowl history, although it has been equaled on a few occasions.  It was also the second straight year Poirier finished less than 10 points behind the eventual champion.  1977 Champion Bob Faiella led the division with 4 feature wins. 

The only touring division event was a 25 lap NEMA event won by Bobby White in June.  Their second event in September was cancelled due to rain.  Their were 10 rain outs during the season – including 3 straight weekends in the month of August.