2009 Year in Review

Terry Eames And Tom Fox Meeting (courchesne)
Terry Eames (left) returned as track operator in
2009 with former track champion Tom Fox
(right) as his new Race Director
(Shawn Courchesne photo)

The 2009 season was secured when the courts pushed any foreclosure proceedings initiated by lienholder Rocky Arbitell against owner Terry Eames until after the season was completed.  Eames returned to the day-to-day operations with a newly formed Board of Directors.  Former competitor Tom Fox, who had over 60 wins and 2 Championships at the track as a driver, was appointed the new Race Director; track historian and program Editor-in-Chief Tom “Sid” DiMaggio served in the multimedia capacity, long-time track supporter Brian Darling would handle promotions and sponsorship while former competitor Shawn Monahan would be a managing partner with Eames.  However, before the season started, Monahan resigned citing an inability to agree with Eames over operational control of the track.  4 days later, DiMaggio resigned from the board as well, although he would remain as the track’s program publisher.  The remaining three then appointed former Mini Stock competitor Mark Caise to the board in a business development role. Former track standout and 2008 NASCAR CWE Champion Matt Kobyluck was also announced as a board member, although not part of the operational team.  Meanwhile, Monahan and Eames had a public & initially unpleasant split.  Early in the season Monahan was banned from the track for interfering with track operations during a race night, but later was allowed back on track grounds and eventually returned behind the wheel of both a SK Modified and Street Stock during the last weeks of the season.  After the season concluded, Eames’ ownership group filed for bankruptcy to avoid the rescheduled foreclosure auction scheduled for Oct 31st.  The motion allowed Eames to restructure his business model under supervision of the courts and essentially preserved the 2010 season as well.

Ron Yuhas Jr_2009 (Douglas)
Ron Yuhas Jr won the 2009
SK Modified title driving
Mike Murphy’s #4 car
(Lauren Douglas photo)

Rules were reviewed after Fox took over, but only slight revisions were made in the rule book.  The Sportsman division was re-named the Street Stock division for the first time since 1977-1979 and the track also introduced a new Truck division that would compete in a 8-race schedule between Wednesday and Saturday events.  A few weeks into the Wild N’ Wacky Wednesday schedule, the track also introduce the INEX Bandoleros point division as well.

SK Modified shoe Keith Rocco returned behind Mike & Mark Pane‘s #57 machine and led the point standings from the first week (he won the first 2 events) up until the Finale 100 event.  He entered the season-ending event with a 6 point lead on 3-time winner Ron Yuhas Jr.  Rocco led early in the 100 lapper, but then lost the lead to Jeff Paul, eventually pitting for a broken panhard bar around the halfway mark.  But the #57 was unable to get back out on the track before they went green and went several laps down, ending his championship hopes.  Yuhas finished 2nd in the race to clinch his first ever Speedbowl Track Championship.  Paul ended up winning the Finale 100, while Yuhas won the postponed Budweiser Modified Nationals SK 150 and became the first driver ever to earn the Career SK Triple Crown.  For the second consecutive season, Rocco led the division in wins (6), including the 100-lap SK Modified portion of the Pepsi 300, and also set fast time during both SK Time Trial events during the year.  Defending Champion Dennis Gada finished 5th in points, his lowest finish in the championship hunt in 12 years (7th – 1997)

Bruce_Thomas_Jr_2009 (G.Thomas)
Bruce Thomas Jr won his 3rd straight Speedbowl
LM Championship in 2009 (Glen Thomas Jr photo)

Bruce Thomas Jr continued his amazing run of Late Model dominance.  For the 3rd consecutive season, he won the Track Championship and put up double-digit wins (10) – a duel feat only previously accomplished by 6-time LM Champion Phil Rondeau from 1987-89. Thomas also set a new time trial lap record during BMN qualifying, then broke it again during a May 5th event that also had time trial qualifying due to poor car count.  The Late Models were drawing around 13 cars most weeks, with only point runner-up Rich Staskowski competing in very scheduled event.  2006 Champion Timmy Jordan ran a limited scheduled after wrecking in 3 of the first 5 weeks, but did manage to score 3 wins, including the Finale LM 100.  Marc Curtis Jr scored his first Speedbowl victory during the Budweiser LM 50 in the season opener.  Thomas repeated as winner in the LM 100 portion of the Pepsi 300.

The American-Canadian Late Model Tour returned as well for a 100 lapper in June, but it’s completion was postponed til August 15th after rain stopped the race after 28 laps.  Speedbowl was again well represented, this time by 2006 LM Champion Timmy Jordan.  He was running 3rd behind the leaders when lapped traffic created chaos before the final lap.  The race ended under caution, and due to ACT rules (opposite of Speedbowl rules) where leaders race back to the stripe for position after a caution, Jordan was credited with a 5th place finish.  Brian Hoar took the win.  Jordan and 3-time Champion Bruce Thomas Jr were invited to the inaugural ACT 50 lapper at Loudon (NH) Motor Speedway and qualified well.  Jordan started 4th while Thomas started on the pole, led during the middle of the race and ended up with a Top 10.  Jordan was in third behind Thomas early in the race before mechanical failures ended his day.

Brandon Plemons (Douglas)
Brandon Plemons won his 2nd overall
Championship at Waterford in 2009
(Lauren Douglas photo)

The newly-renamed Street Stocks enjoyed a rebirth as the top 7 competitors in the previous season’s championship run all returned for full seasons.  Thompson competitor Ed Puleo , who started back at the Speedbowl in the 1990’s, returned to his home track for a full season, as did 2000 Street Stock champion Ted Dupre.  2005 Champion Norm Root Jr also returned to run the last half of the season.  Defending Champion Al Stone III won 5 races to co-lead the division with Walt Hovey Jr – who won the 50 lap SS portion of the Pepsi 300.  2-time winner Josh Galvin won the 30 lapper during BMN weekend and 4-time winner Ronnie Oldham Jr won the Finale 50.  Oldham led the points for much of the summer, but it was Brandon Plemons who captured the point championship.  He became the first driver in history to win both a Street Stock and Mini Stock (2002) Track Championship.

Danny Field returned to the Speedbowl after winning the 2008 Mini Stock title at Thompson (CT) International Speedway. He led the division in wins (5) as well as the points for most of the season – holding off Louie Bellisle III and Kyle James into the Finale event – to score his 3rd Mini Stock Championship.  Ken Cassidy Jr won the BMN Mini Stock 30 for his record 7th divisional Triple Crown win.  Field won the Pepsi MS 50 for the second year in a row, while Bellisle won the 50 lapper during Finale Weekend.

Palmer (maratta)
Jason Palmer won an incredible 22 Legend Car
feature events in 2009 at Waterford

2nd generation driver Jason Palmer rewrote the Speedbowl’s Legend Car record book when he won both the Saturday and Wednesday series championships and an amazing 22 feature events overall – 1 shy of the all-time mark set by Speedbowl great Don Collins back in 1960.  Palmer set fast time for a record 3rd time during the INEX National Qualifier event, won a record 6 straight feature wins to start the Wednesday series and a record 10 consecutive victories overall between the two series – obliterating the old mark of 7 set by Ted Stack in 1961.  He joined his father as the only drivers to win the Saturday and Wednesday titles in the same season.  Teenagers Ryan Morgan (3), Anthony Flannery (2) and Steven Ross (1) were the only other Legend Car drivers able to score victories at the Speedbowl in 2009 other than Palmer.

Multi-Track Champion Allen Coates was the dominate driver in the new New England ATV Truck division, winning 7 of the 9 events, including the first 5 behind Scott Gregory‘s #84 truck.  Coates became only the 6th driver to earn 5 Track Championships at the Speedbowl and the first to do it amongst 3 different divisions.  He ended the year with 71 career feature wins – 5th best all-time on the Career Wins List.  Bill Leonard, who also won twice in the Mini Stocks behind Scott Bellisle’s #20 won the other two NEATV features. 

Coates-Truck (blog)
Allen Coates won his 5th Speedbowl
Championship by dominating the new Truck
division in 2009 (Shawn Courchesne photo)

The Wild N’ Wacky Wednesday series returned for it’s 9th season and once again drew around 100 cars overall.  In addition to Legends Champion Jason Palmer, other Wednesday Champions were Patrick Williams in the X-cars, John Yagmin in the Super X-car (his second title in 3 years) and Dean Christensen in the X-Modifieds.  Tyler Chalue was crowned the first-ever Speedbowl Bandolero Champion.  Nicole Harris was crowned the Women on Wheels X-car champion while Taylor-Marie Moran and Kathy Civardi shared W.O.W. Super-X car honors.

One of the biggest events of the year was the 2nd annual Wings N’ Wheels event.  Russ Stoehr (NEMA), Liquid Lou Ciccone (ISMA) and Rowan Pennink (TVMS) were the touring feature winners.  It was the second visit of the year to the Speedbowl for all 3 series.  Adam Cantor won the Nostalgia Weekend NEMA 25, Doug Coby won the TVMS 100 lapper in May, with Dave Shullick Jr grabbing the first ISMA 50 lapper two weeks later.

The Allison Legacy North Series returned after being absent in 2008 with Paul Tuthill and Tommy Barrett Jr taking down the feature wins.  The Pro4 Mods came in May where Norm Wrenn was victorious for a record-tying 4th time in his career at the Speedbowl, and Wayne Coury won the Outlaw Stock race during Finale Weekend in his familiar #10 Late Model.  After boycotting the 2008 Finale and with the addition of the NEATV Truck division, the Allstar Race Truck series did not visit the Speedbowl.


Segment on the Late Model divisions transition from G-metric chassis cars to ACT Late Model rules