NORTHEAST: Clock’s Ticking; 2015 Season In Doubt For Waterford Speedbowl

Kyle Souza Featured, Northeast 2 Comments

WATERFORD, Conn. — Story by Race Chaser Online New England Corespondent Kyle Souza — NASCAR Home Tracks photo —

Ever since the final checkered flag flew at Waterford Speedbowl in 2014, rumors have been circulating about the future of the track.

It is well-known that over the past few seasons the Speedbowl has been at risk of not being able to hold racing.  The facility needs renovations and also has had financial issues that have plagued the historic track.

The beginning of the current saga at Waterford Speedbowl was back on October 18th, 2014.  An auction took place on a Saturday morning at the Speedway in October and had four bidders that were registered and set to bid on purchasing the track.  With four people registered, many fans and supporters of the local oval showed up to support anyone who wanted to keep the facility open for racing.  Registered bidders included Rocco Arbitell, Peter Borelli (both of the plaintiffs in the action), along with Bruce Bemer and Bob Mrowka.

Mrowa did not place a bid that day, but Bemer did.  His bid of $1.75 million was the leading bid, beating out a bid of $1.7 million by Arbitell and Borelli and winning the auction. Bemer is sixty years old and is also the owner of Bemer Petroleum, which is housed in Glastonbury, CT.

Bemer mentioned on that day that he had every intention of keeping the Speedway up and running as a race track and had plans to prepare for racing in the 2015 season.

At that point, it seemed like a dream come true for Connecticut race fans.  The Speedbowl seemed like it was going to get the necessary help to stay open and have racing return to the shoreline oval for the 2015 season.  That was, before the foreclosure sale was brought to the court and was delayed by judge Emmet Cosgrove.

Part two of the saga came when an objection to the agreement was filed to the court in Connecticut.  Creditor Edward DeMuzzio filed the appeal and stated that there was a prior agreement between some bidders to keep the price at a low level.  After two weeks of discussion and rumors, a memorandum of decision was posted to the State of Connecticut’s Judicial Branch website that stated that Judge Cosgrove was prepared to approve the sale to Bruce Bemer. At that point, the fans, teams and drivers of Waterford were buzzing with excitement.  It once again seemed like the Speedbowl was going to be open for 2015 and was going to be a racing facility.

However, when Creditor DeMuzzio put forth a motion for the court to “reconsider” the approval of the sale, things changed yet again. The judge denied that motion this past Monday in a New London court and now it seems like Bemer is in place to take the facility as it originally looked.

The only issue at this point is time. If DeMuzzio puts in an appeal to the court, it could further delay the sale of the facility from former owner Terry Eames to Bemer and could jeopardize the 2015 racing season.  A full appeal could take enough time to get through the courts that the renovations needed would not have enough time to be completed.

“I don’t think (Bemer) is concerned at this point, but if an appeal is filed then I’m sure there will be some concerns, because of the additional delay,” said Bemer’s lawyer, Edward Taiman, to the Norwich (Conn.) Bulletin following the court decison.

For New England race fans, this is both a win and a loss at this point.  It comes across as a win, because if the appeal is not filed, it appears that racing will take place in 2015.  It comes across a loss because if the appeal does go through, racing most likely will not take place.

Current track owner and promoter Terry Eames was on hand at the courthouse during the denial of the DeMuzzio court motion and says it would not be impossible to open the track at the last moment.

“In the course of the last 20 years, I’ve opened it virtually at the last minute,” Eames added. “I think the season has been damaged, because of the delay so far, but it definitely could still be opened.”

If racing is not held in 15’, the permits could be in jeopardy and could put even the 2016 racing season in question.

Despite all the uncertainty, however, the 2015 schedule at Waterford if the track opens seems to be taking place in New England.  The Valenti Modified Racing Series has expressed interest in returning to the oval and the door has not fully been slammed shut on a chance that the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour could return for one event.

Right now, it all depends on what happens in the courts.

Comments 2

  1. the bowl is part of new England racing history. let’s get these legal problems solved and make ct. race fans and race teams happy. so sad what is happening to a GREAT race track.

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