For the second straight season, George “Moose” Hewitt won the Modified Track Championship. It was the second time Hewitt won back-to-back Modified titles at the Speedbowl (1977-1978). This season he won twice and beat out Jerry Pearl by a slim 14 points to successfully defend his title. Pearl’s car owner Jack DeNino won the Owners Championship over Glynn Shafer led the division in wins with 3, two of which were 50 lappers. Bob Potter also had 3 wins and won his second straight Matco Tools 100. Joe Tiezzi won the Thompson 300 qualifier in July while Larry Lanphear won the Race of Champions qualifier in August. The season opening Blast Off event was revised so that the lap count reflected the year it was held. The 82-lap 1982 edition was won by Dick Ceravolo. In 17 overall Modified events during the season, there were 13 different feature winners.
With the closing of the Danbury (CT) Racearena following the 1981 season, the all-time Danbury Modified feature winner and 5-time Champion Don Lajoie moved to the Waterford Speedbowl to compete weekly in 1982. Randy Lajoie, Don’s son, also came to the shoreline oval. Randy was Danbury’s all-time Sportsman Modified feature winner and was coming off the 1981 Sportsman title during the track’s last season of operation. Both Lajoies enjoyed success during their first Speedbowl season. Randy won first, taking the victory in an 82 lapper in August, while Don won the last event on the schedule – a 35 lapper in October. They both finished among the top 10 in points as well. Randy was also named co-Rookie of the Year with 2-time defending Super Stock champion Harry Rice. Randy would go on to win back-to-back NASCAR Nationwide Series titles in 1996-1997.
The very first NASCAR touring division competed at the Speedbowl when the NASCAR North Stroh’s Late Model Tour debuted in the summer of 1982. The series was formed in 1979 by Ken Squier and Tom Curley. The event was won by Dave Dion. Randy Lajoie made his debut in the series during this event. He would go on to win Rookie of the Year (1983) and then the NASCAR North Championship (1985).
Brian McCarthy and Bobby Gada, son of 2-time LM Champ Bob Gada, waged a season long battle for victory lane. Collectively, they won 14 of the 18 Super Stock races held – including the last 10 in a row – with each winning 7 times overall. McCarthy won the season’s longest race – a 50 lapper during the Busch Bash event in late September. But at season’s end, it was one-time winner Andy Guimond who went on to win the Championship. He beat McCarthy by a slim 2 points for his first career track title at the Speedbowl.
At the Street Stock Race of Champions event in Pocono (PA), hometown product and weekly super stock competitor Mike Lovetere finished 4th in a starting field of over 50 late model stock cars from throughout the northeast region. Second generation driver Bobby Gada also competed in the event – finishing 20th in his familiar #36.
Lee Smith and Drew Fornoro won the last 2 NEMA midget events on the schedule. The first 2 events were cancelled due to rain. Dick Houlihan swept the New England Mini Modified (now Pro-4 Mod) shows, winning both 30 lap events held at the Speedbowl and giving him 3 straight NEMMA victories at the shoreline oval.
There were 7 straight rain-outs during the early part of the season from mid-May to early July. It is the longest stretch of consecutive weather-related cancellations in Speedbowl history.
SPEEDBOWL DOC SERIES
3 combined segments on Dick Williams’ Coastal Racing Association from Vault Productions’ documentary series on Speedbowl history.