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1988 Year in Review

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.  Although still commonly referred to as the SK Modifieds, the open-wheel division would be promoted as Connecticut Modifieds with the departure of the Arute family.

1988_Bruce_Adams_SS_Champ (Dugas-Merchant)
1988 saw the return of a Strictly Stock division with Bruce Adams earning Championship honors (Dugas-Merchant photo)
The weekly racing format was also revamped as the 8-cylinder stock cars returned as the 3rd weekly Saturday division for the first time since the end of 1979 season.  Similar in concept to the late 70's Street Stock division, 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) 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, who won the Strictly's longest race of the year (50-lap portion of Autumn Excitement), equaled Barnett's win total to co-lead the division.

1988_Dick_Ceravolo_SK_Champs (Dugas)
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.  He joined the likes of Joe Trudeau ('71 Modified) and Art Moran Jr ('83 Late Model) as the most recent champions who did not visit victory lane.  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.

Phil Rondeau continued his assault on the Connecticut short tracks.  After winning the Connecticut Tri-Track Championship the previous season, "Farmer Phil" was named Connecticut Dual Track Champion (which combined points from both Waterford and Stafford) by NASCAR's Winston Racing Series.  Rondeau also won the individual track titles at both tracks for the second year in a row.  He won 11 features at the Speedbowl during the season, breaking the previous division record he held jointly with Mike Daignault. Phil also finished runner-up at the R.O.C. Street Stock race as well. 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 Busch Racing Series events, not one scheduled event was cancelled in its entirety due to Mother Nature throughout the entire season.

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