1984 Year in Review
The racing community loss one of its legends when “Steady” Eddie Flemke passed away in April of 1984. Flemke was one of the most respected competitors in modified racing, as a driver, mechanic and chassis innovator. A member of the famed Eastern Bandits who would traveled along the east coast and won many big money races and a man that 9-time NASCAR Modified Champion Richie Evans would call for advice. Recently retired at the dawn of the 1980’s, Flemke’s last job in racing was as competition director at the Waterford Speedbowl alongside Dick Williams in 1983. His position was discontinued after his death and no replacement was made for the 1984 season
At a meeting held at the Cohanzie Fire Dept on Wednesday March 14, 1984 between competitors and Speedbowl management, it was voted that the Hoosier budget tire would be the tire used at the Speedbowl for the upcoming season.
Former Seekonk (MA) Speedway Modified Champion Bruce “Gomer” Taylor and 4-time Speedbowl Champion George “Moose” Hewitt tied atop the final Modified point standings with 514 apiece and were declared co-champions. As was the case with the 1978 Grand American co-champions, there were no tie breaker rules for points in 1984. Each driver won a feature event during the season. Gomer edged out Hewitt’s car owner George Brennan for the Owner Championship. For Hewitt, he tied Hall of Famer Don Collins with 5 Modified Champions at the Speedbowl. The championship went down to the final race of the season on Sept 8 – the Matco Tools 100. Bob Potter went into the event as the point leader, with Taylor trailing by 6 pts and both Hewitt & Tom Fox tied for 3rd place, 10 points behind. Potter had the worst luck, dropping out by lap 10 with front-end issues. Fox and Taylor were involved in a lap 30 accident. Moose was then black-flagged on the track around lap 82, but a caution came out and he was able to pit and return still on the lead lap. In the end, Hewitt finished 4th, 2 spots ahead of Taylor.
Bob Potter led the division in wins with 5 – including a 50 lapper, a 84 lapper (see below) and a 100 lapper. A year after he vowed to never return to Waterford for having his 1983 Blast Off victory stripped, Rick Donnelly returned to win this season’s 84 lapper. Donny Fowler won a 50 lapper in July and longtime competitor Dale Holdridge won 3 times, including a 75-lapper & 100-lapper in back-to-back weeks to close out the season.
On Wednesday August 22, 1984, the Speedbowl held the MJ Sullivan Chevrolet Open – an 84 lap open competition event for the Modifieds. One of the many stars to compete in the event was former Modified hot-shoe Ron Bouchard was who was competing full-time on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series at the time. In fact, he would race 4 days later at Bristol, TN in the NASCAR Busch 500 (where he finished 14th). The event was heavily promoted with Bouchard’s appearance, but he hit the wall early in the event trying to avoid a spinning car and recorded a DNF. His younger brother Ken Bouchard had a better day, battling with Bob Potter over the final laps before settling for second. It was Potter’s 5th win of the year. Also in the field were Bob Polverari who finished 3rd and Leo Cleary who finished 5th.
For the 3rd season in a row, Brian McCarthy led the Super Stocks in wins, taking down 5 victories in 1984 – including 4 in a row during the middle of the summer, but the Track Championship would once again elude him. Mike Lovetere started the season with a win & 3 seconds in the first 4 races to establish the point lead. By the end of August, he had won 2 out of the last 3 races to maintain that lead with only 2 races remaining. But he wrecked in the next race and C.J. Frye took the point lead by 6 points going into the final event, then Frye won the 30-lapper for his 4th win of the season to clinch the championship by 10 points over Lovetere. It was the the first championship for Frye and car-owner “Flash” Gordon Rodgers. Lovetere won three times, defending champion Art Moran Jr won twice.
On September 13th, the Speedbowl took the week off to allow competitors to compete in the annual Race of Champions event at Pocono (PA) International Raceway. In the Modifieds, Speedbowl veteran Jerry Pearl started 19th and finished 11th in the 55 car field. Defending Speedbowl Champion Bob Potter started 28th, but finished 48th. Brian Ross won the 250 lap event. C.J. Frye finished 2nd in his heat and started the main event in 11th, but finished a disappointing 46th in the 57 car Street Stock event.
As the season came to a close, Dick Williams’ Coastal Racing Association was also coming to an end. Started in 1978 at the Speedbowl, with a peak season in 1981 when it sanctioned 4 tracks (Waterford, Thompson, Monadnock & Westboro), before returning to the Speedbowl exclusively from 1982-1984. While a popular promoter with the race teams, Williams struggled to turn a profit consistently. Williams would never promote a race track again. It was also the only time in track history that a banquet was not held to honor the season’s Track Champions. Tattersall would turnaround and lease the track to Stafford Motor Speedway owner Jack Arute after Williams’ exit from the scene.
There were no regional touring events during the ’84 season. Outside of the 2 weekly Saturday point divisions, 5 demolition derbies were additionally scheduled. They were 6 rainouts during the year.
SPEEDBOWL DOC SERIES
Segment on the 1984 Super Stock Championship from Vault Productions’ documentary series on Speedbowl history.
3 combined segments on Dick Williams’ Coastal Racing Association from Vault Productions’ documentary series on Speedbowl history.