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1988 Year in Review

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The Korteweg family (l-r) Wayne, George and Dan took over Speedbowl operations in 1988 (Rene Dugas photo)
Prior to this season, Harvey Tattersall Jr sold the right to purchase the track to the K Corporation – a family operation headed by George Korteweg and his two sons Dan and Wayne.  The new regime immediately made their impact on the facility with various renovations – the most significant of which was repaving the track, which eventually gave the shoreline oval its unique two-groove racing surface which continues to provide exciting side-by-side action to this day.  Other improvements included installation of a concrete armco barrier around the track's perimeter, a new pit catch fence, renovated restroom facilities and refurbished concession stands. 

The Kortewegs did not continue the NASCAR sanction. ending the affiliation after only 3 seasons.  Their events were sanctioned independently as the Busch Racing Series.  Also, as the Arute family was no longer involved, the headline division was referred to as Connecticut Modifieds or simply Modifieds, although their rules remained similar to the SK style cars.

1988_Bruce_Adams_SS_Champ (Dugas-Merchant)
1988 saw the debut of the Strictly Stock division with Bruce Adams earning Championship honors (Dugas-Merchant photo)
The weekly racing format was also revamped as the the new Strictly Stock division was designed to give low-budget racers an affordable opportunity to compete on a weekly basis.  The first event (a non-point 25-lapper during Blast Off '88) had four cars and was won by Hank Green.  Their regular feature events ran at 15-laps, usually last on the schedule and postponed 8 times due to curfew throughout the season.  2-time winner Bruce Adams earned the point championship by 20 points over 4-time winner Larry BarnettAllan Wohlstrom won the Strictly's longest race of the year – a 50 lapper during Autumn Excitement.

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Dick Ceravolo ended his long Speedbowl career with the 1988 SK Modified Championship (Rene Dugas photo)
Dick Ceravolo won his first track championship in the Modified division despite going winless during the year.  The popular "Dickie Doo" rode off into the sunset on top as he announced his retirement from racing at the season-ending awards banquet.  Ted Christopher led the division with 5 wins including two 50-lappers and the 100-lap SK portion of the Modified 250 non-point event in early November.  Richie Gallup won 3 of the first 4 events, including the 88-lap Blast Off event while Harry Rice won the Race of Champions qualifier.  Rice's 3 wins were his first Modified victories since 1982. John Anderson also won 3 times.

Phil Rondeau continued his assault on the Connecticut short tracks.  After winning the Connecticut Tri-Track Championship the previous season, "Farmer Phil" won the Championships at Waterford (and Stafford) for the 2nd year in a row.  He won 11 features at the Speedbowl for the 2nd straight season. The Rondeau and Cote families dominated the Late Model division winning 22 of the 26 events during the season.  It wasn't until mid-August when Ricky Shawn broke the Rondeau-Cote dominance in victory lane.  Al Rondeau finished second in both points and wins (5) to his brother Phil.  Long-time veteran and 2-time track champion Ron Cote won 3 features (his firsts at the Speedbowl since 1979) joining his nephews Larry Cote (2) and Conrad Cote (1) on the season win list.  The Cote's also won consecutive features (Larry, Conrad, then Ron) during the month of May.

1988_Phil_Rondeau_LM_Champs (Dugas)
Phil Rondeau won another Late Model Championship at Waterford in 1988 (Rene Dugas photo)

Tom Bolles set a new overall track record when he posted a 13.478 time during qualifying for the Modified 250 event in November.  The 100-lap open competition portion of the Modified 250 was won by Mike McLaughlin.  The event also featured a 50-lap Pro 4 Modified race and a 100- lap SK race won by Ted Christopher

Once again, the Speedbowl Late Models were well represented at the Pocono Race of Champions.  Phil Rondeau won a qualifying heat and finished 2nd in the Street Stock event.  Ron Cote started 54th in the 57 car field and gained an incredible 43 positions to finish just outside the Top 10 in 11th.  Brian McCarthy started 10th and Ricky Shawn 12th after both finished second in their qualifying heats, although neither finished in the top 25.  With the SK Modifieds® now the premier division at the Speedbowl, Waterford representation at the ROC event was now primarily in the Street Stock event.

Although some individual races would be postponed to later dates when rain interrupted a few events, not one scheduled event was cancelled in its entirety due to Mother Nature throughout the entire season.


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