1981 Year in Review

Dick Williams signs  lease2
Dick Williams (right) once again leased the
Speedbowl from Harvey Tattersall Jr (center)
in 1981 (Paul Bonneau photo)

Dick Williams‘ Coastal Racing Association returned to run the Waterford Speedbowl for the 1981 season. Williams was now one of the busiest promoters in the northeast. In 1981, he also operated Thompson (CT) Speedway, Westboro (MA) Speedway and Monadnock (NH) Speedway.  Dick Grota would serve as Chief Steward at the Speedbowl.  After a collective rules meeting with competitors during the winter, the Modified division voted for a “no-head rule, with engine displacement at 358 cu. in. maximum and no strokers“.  Anyone caught with an illegal engine would be suspended for the remainder of the season.  Much of the new rule book was compliant with the NASCAR type rules used at Williams’ other tracks.

1981_Moose_Hewitt_Modified_Champ (Kennedy)
George ‘Moose’ Hewitt won his 3rd Modified title at Waterford in 1981 (Steve Kennedy photo)

Moose Hewitt led the Modifieds in wins with 3 to capture his 3rd Track Championship in 5 years.  He finished 86 points ahead of runner-up Joe Tiezzi, who won twice.  1979 Champ Rick Donnelly also won twice, including the season opening Blast Off 100, which also pre-qualified him for the Thompson 300 event later in the year.  2-time champion Bob Potter ran a limited schedule but scored 2 victories including the season ending Matco Tools 100.  Glynn Shafer won the Race of Champions qualifier in August – the first of two wins in a row for him in the Ron Yuhas #6.

NASCAR Cup Series driver Ron Bouchard returned to the Speedbowl in July to take Open Mod show in the Boehler #3 (Steve Kennedy photo)

On Wednesday July 16th, NASCAR Nextel Cup driver Ron Bouchard returned to the northeast and drove Lenny Boehler‘s famed #3 to a victory in the Modified All-Star 50 open comp at the Waterford Speedbowl.  It was his first win at the shoreline oval since 1978.  Rick Donnelly led early and again around the midway point, but he couldn’t hold off Bouchard who lapped all but the top 6 finishers when the checkereds flew.  Only 18 days later, Bouchard drove Jack Beebe‘s Race Hill Farms #47 to his first NASCAR Cup victory during the Talladega 500 on August 2nd.

Harry Rice won his 2nd consecutive Super Stock title in 1981 (Steve Kennedy photo)

Harry Rice repeated as Super Stock champion.  Rice also led the division in wins with 5 – including a special 25 lap event during the Modified All-Star 50 event and 2 in one night on July 25th to cap a streak of 4 in a row.  Mike Lovetere, who finished second in points (-100) to Rice, won the longest race of the year – a 30 lap event during the Blast Off season opener.

Nokie Fornoro won 2 of the 3 NEMA events, Butch Walsh won the first event in May.  The NE Mini Modifieds (now Pro4 Mods) returned with 3 visits during the season.  Their 25 events were won by Jerry Perantoni, Paul Gariepy and Dick Houlihan.


3 combined segments on Dick Williams’ Coastal Racing Association from Vault Productions’ documentary series on Speedbowl history.